A Systematic Review of Natural Steroids and their Applications
The term “steroid” often carries with it a negative misconception. We often interpret the word to mass gaining, bodybuilding substances often connected to athletes for doping purposes. In earlier days, athletes could eat raw animal testicles to enhance their performance in sports activities. Currently, athletes use synthetic steroids, which are organic compounds chemically altered to mimic hormone testosterone.
Natural steroids, on the other hand, are organic compounds that also mimic hormone testosterone but not chemically altered. Some of the physiological benefits of natural steroids include immune responses, stress response, carbohydrate metabolism, protein catabolism, blood electrolyte levels, regulation of inflammation, and behavior. The term, therefore, has a more profound implication other than muscle building.
An in-depth look into Steroids
Steroids are active organic compounds arranged in a particular molecular configuration. Steroids have two principal biological functions: signaling molecules and as essential components of cell membranes that alter membrane fluidity. Cells from sterols lanosterol or cycloartenol (plants), process steroids.
The steroid core structure is made up of seventeen carbon atoms infused in four fuse-rings: three six-member cyclohexane rings, and one five- membrane cyclopentane ring (ring D). They vary by the functional groups attached to the four-ring core and the oxidation state of the rings.
Hormones are chemical compounds produced by specialized cells in the body and released into the circulatory system. These hormones reach the target cells and interact with hormones receptor proteins to elicit specific physiological processes.
A steroid hormone acts as a hormone. Steroid hormone helps control metabolism, inflammation, immune function, salt and water balance, development of sexual characteristics, and the ability to withstand injury and illness.
Types of steroid hormones
Commonly used steroid hormones include:
- Progesterone-it is in the form of progestin steroid and estradiol [estrogen steroid]. Progesterone controls events during pregnancy, while estradiol controls female characteristics. Both steroids are components in birth control pills whose role is to prevent ovulation.
- Cortisol is a steroid hormone and one of the glucocorticoids made in the cortex of the adrenal glands. Cortisol has a wide range of effects on the body that includes controlling the body’s blood sugar levels, an anti-inflammatory in arthritis, controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure and assisting in fetus development. It is also used to fight skin conditions and in inhalers to treat asthma.
- Anabolic- the body produce these hormones to maintain male characteristics and promote bone and muscle growth. These steroids are used medically in osteoporosis treatment, fighting against chronic wasting disease and late stages of AIDS.
Anabolic steroids influence the body’s hormonal system to produce additional testosterone, which leads to an increase in muscle mass. The steroids’ main property is its muscle-building capability either orally or via injection. Sustanon 250 is one such steroid, and one of the most recognized on the sports pharmacology market.
Species Distribution and Function
Fungi, animals, and plants contain steroids
- Fungal steroids
Include the ergosterols and fungus prevalent in yeast.
- Animal steroids
Include compounds of vertebrate and insect origin. Vertebrate examples include steroid hormones and cholesterol.
They comprise of:
- Sex hormones, which affect sex differences and support reproduction. These include estrogens, androgens, and progestogens. Progesterone regulates cyclic changes in the endometrium of the uterus and maintains pregnancy. Testosterone maintains male characteristics while estrogens maintain female characteristics.
- Corticosteroids including synthetic steroids, and natural ones which include glucocorticoids (regulates metabolism and immune functions) and mineralocorticoids which main blood volume.
- Anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are both natural and synthetic. These interact with androgen receptors to increase bone and muscle mass.
- Steroids in plants
Steroidal alkaloids are common in Melanthiaceae, Solanaceae, cardiac glycosides, phytosterols, and brassinosteroids.
Classification by structure
These are the categories for steroids based on their chemical composition.
What are the Medical uses Steroids?
Steroids application extends into the medical field to combat several disorders. Corticosteroids combat asthma, arthritis, skin conditions, autoimmune issues, and some cancers.
1. Asthma and Arthritis
According to the study, steroid mechanism of action is to lessen inflammation in conditions such as arthritis, mainly where the inflammation leads to pain and swelling. Corticosteroids pills may be swallowed to treat arthritis, and this medication spreads all over your body. Alternatively, the doctor can inject into the inflamed joint to ensure that your joint retains more of the drug.
In asthma, corticosteroid drugs suppress inflammation as well as control your body’s immune system. You can use steroids as an addition to your usual care when struggling with asthma. It helps fight asthma symptoms and thwart severe attacks. In hospitals, steroids given as intravenous injections treat acute asthmas.
- For eczema and cancer
Many conditions have the inflammation element, and that is why steroids are applicable in the form of creams and ointments in various skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Oral steroids can be used to treat autoimmune conditions like lupus, disease as well as multiple sclerosis.
The drugs can also help treat certain cancers. Corticosteroids may help reduce nausea as a result of chemotherapy and reduce some allergic conditions, like those which arise because of blood transfusion.
In prostate cancer, hormonal therapy is well established in the treatment of prostate cancer where patients have reported an improvement in appetite, weight gain, and pain control. In advanced cancer, patients can live up to 10 months longer than expected.
- Anabolic steroids
Anabolic steroids treat low levels of testosterone, delayed puberty, mainly in boys, and fight some types of blood and bone disorders.
- Steroids in birth control pills
The pill, which is a combination of estrogen and progestin, inhibit female fertility. When adhered to, this birth control method is very efficient.
Steroids’ Side effects
Steroids have potential adverse effects. Therefore, consume steroids on doctor’s prescription. Possible adverse effects are:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Distressed stomach
- Personality changes
- increased blood sugar
When used for a long time, it might lead to glaucoma, brittle bones, thin skin, liver damage, muscle weakness, and cataracts. Not often, an allergic response can occur, which can come out as a rash or breathing complexity.
Warning and precautions
Your body might not be able to generate the normal natural corticosteroids if you use a small dosage of the drugs daily. Also, stopping the drugs suddenly might lead to severe issues. Talk to your doctor when you start taking corticosteroids to discuss all possible outcomes.
Steroids are the ultimate anti-inflammatory drugs, and their applications have benefited the medical field greatly. Their use has also significantly reduced deaths and prolonged lives. Its use should, however not replace appropriate endodontic treatment.