A pretty good write-up by Par Deus:
GHB and Bodybuilding
Does GHB truly have a place in a bodybuilder’s arsenal, or is the whole GH thing just an excuse to get twisted?? I believe it does have a place – though, as I will show, many of its positive effects on body composition are more indirect than direct.
The first thing we should look at is its most commonly touted effect – its stimulation of Growth Hormone release. It has, in fact, been found to raise growth hormone levels sharply in numerous studies (23, 30, 33). Some have claimed that these increases are only with intravenous administration or are the indirect result of GHB inducing sleep, as the onset of slow wave sleep is associated with increased GH levels. However, studies using oral delivery, have indeed shown increases in conscious subjects (23,30). With administration of 1.5 g of GHB, GH levels begin to rise almost immediately, reaching a peak of 3 times normal levels within 45 minutes, then rapidly falling back to within 25% of baseline by the 90 minute mark. Clearly, it does increase growth hormone.
Nonetheless, reports in both the literature and the real world on body composition, even with growth hormone injections, have been something less than spectacular. In the literature, GH has been shown to increase protein synthesis, however, it is not contractile protein (muscle) but rather visceral (organs) (34). Data on fat loss and muscle sparing with GH is a bit better. It has been shown to inhibit protein breakdown during dieting and fasting, leading to increased retention of muscle mass (35) . It is also known to be lipolytic (36). Real world reports of GH run along the same lines – it not effective on its own for increasing muscle, but an increase it fat loss is definitely noticeable. But, again, this is with injections. Once a day use of GHB is not likely to mirror these effects. However, if someone would like to take 1.5 grams every 90 minutes for an extended period, please report back with your results.
At doses of 2.5 - 3.5 grams, GHB causes increased release of prolactin, doubling levels by the 45 minute mark, followed by a gradual return to baseline (33). Increases in prolactin have been shown to proportionally raise leptin levels, so this represents a possible positive effect on fat loss and muscle retention (37). Unfortunately, similar doses also raise cortisol levels, which has exactly the opposite effect of leptin on body composition (33). This antagonism might account for the lack of effects observed with GHB, and could perhaps be remedied with a drugs or supplement such as Cytadren or phosphatidylserine.
In addition to these, there are several other lesser known effects of GHB which have implications for bodybuilders. It increases gastric emptying (38), which is likely what causes the temporary increase in appetite observed with GHB use . Obviously, this is not particularly beneficial on a diet, though it might be on a mass phase. It also would likely make a good addition to a post-workout drink, as it would make glucose and amino acids available more quickly. Increased protein synthesis in brain and gastric tissues has been reported, whether this is accompanied by increased skeletal muscle synthesis is not known (39). Obese rats were found to have lower brain levels of GHB than their lean counterparts, despite identical diet, which suggests GHB as a potential signaler in the regulation of bodyweight (40) – GHB metabolite GABA increases with fat feeding, which lends further support to this hypothesis. It has been shown to function as a powerful an antioxidant, blocking free-radical formation and lipid peroxidation (10). This could aid in recovery, as well as in overall health.
One of the more fascinating possibilities, comes from a study in rats (21) which showed a remarkable increase in body temperature after administration of very low doses. Following intraperitoneal injection of 5mg/kg, body temperature rose rapidly to 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal at 15 minutes, and reached a peak of almost 2.2 degrees at the hour mark. It was still elevated by 2 degrees at the 75 minute mark, and dropping only quite gradually – in humans, this would be a profound thermogenic effect (Clenbuterol might raise body temperature by 1 degree).
Considering GHB has a half-life of 5 minutes after injection (41), it would seem that GHB was not directly mediating these effects, but rather caused the release of something with a longer half-life. I am going to go out on a limb a bit and propose that the mediator might be norepinephrine – which has a peripheral half-life of several hours – as long as 12 in some tissues (42 ).
As mentioned above, GHB does not seem to effect central norepinephrine levels, however it HAS been shown to effect peripheral levels – with high doses causing profound depletion of heart and brown fat norepinephrine levels (10). And, perhaps not coincidentally, in contrast to the increase in body temperature with the low dose, these high doses consistently cause a DECREASE in body temperature (21, 43). As we have seen, GHB has been conclusively shown to exert a biphasic effect on dopamine, so the possibility certainly exists with this compound.
I want to make clear that the above is very speculative, both as to why it occurred and to its having any relevancy toward humans. First, it is only one study. Second, it used intraperitoneal injections rather than oral administration. Third, the mechanisms were not looked at. And fourth, rats have much higher levels of brown fat, thus the thermogenic effects of an increase in norepinephrine would be exaggerated compared to humans.
Nonetheless, it is certainly enticing enough to give a try, with a couple of adjustments that take into account the use of human subjects (I would not expect the pharmacokinetics of oral and i.p. administration to be significantly different with this low of doses). GHB is metabolized by rats much faster than humans, thus a lower dose would be recommended. I would estimate 1-2mg/kg at most – meaning around 100-200 mg for a 200 lb person – this is a tiny dose – one which would produce no subjective psychological effects and, in fact, probably no increase in brain GHB levels (21).
Perhaps the most important applications of GHB for bodybuilders do not involve direct effects on hormones or hormone systems, anabolic or otherwise. The first is that GHB is a MAGNIFICENT sleep aid. As mentioned previously, at sufficient doses, it rapidly and predictably causes the onset of a sedation which has been characterized as identical to human sleep (17), but with a greater portion of the time spent in stage IV and R.E.M. sleep (44), which are the most beneficial for recovery. I trust I do not need to mention the importance of sleep for a bodybuilder. I trust I also do not need to mention the detrimental effect on sleep of certain common components of the bodybuilding arsenal such as EC and androgens. I will mention that GHB makes waking up in the middle of the night for a protein shake much more feasible. And, again, I trust that I do not have to mention the effects of a 6-10 hour fast on the anabolic/catabolic state of the body.
The other application for GHB is as an alcohol substitute. In addition to containing 105 calories per drink – more if you are having beer, alcohol lowers testosterone (45) and has a tendency to cause less than optimal workouts the following day. As dedicated as we might be to improving our bodies, most of us do not want to be a slave to this pursuit when it comes to socializing/partying.
GHB is a life saver here. Its biochemical, electrophysiological, and and pharmacological effects are quite similar to alcohol (46, 47). And, in fact, it has been successfully used clinically in the treatment of alcohol dependency, where it is thought to work through a substitution mechanism – meaning it mimics alcohol’s actions on the central nervous system (46). Both activate the dopamine system – a characteristic commonly shared by drugs of abuse, they exhibit cross-tolerance – meaning frequent consumption of one causes tolerance to the other, and both are preferentially (vs. water) self-administered by rats (16).
Subjectively, the effects are not identical. Some prefer a GHB intoxication to alcohol, some the vice versa. I find GHB to be more sedating and slightly less uninhibiting than alcohol, but I know others for whom the opposite is true. Without question, one feels considerably better the next day with GHB vs. alcohol.
A combination of the two can allow a a shitfaced intoxication subjectively quite similar to that produced by alcohol, but with the consumption of only a few drinks, thus only a few hundred calories. It is typically strongly suggested that the two not be combined, with the argument that they have synergistic effects. However, based both on experience and the available scientific data, I tend to think the effects are mostly additive. Thus, I do not necessarily consider this activity contraindicated. The problem is that downing a “cap full” of GHB is like bonging a 6 pack, so for someone who is already quite intoxicated, this can put them over the edge.
Also, keep in mind that the metabolism of the two drugs are different – GHB’s in not saturable at typically utilized doses, thus it has a half-life (of probably 1 hr when taken orally), while alcohol’s is quite saturable, thus only one drink is metabolized per hour – meaning if one has 6g of GHB and 6 drinks at hour one (do not do this), at hour three, you would have only 1.5g of GHB in your system, but 4 drinks. As you can see, if one kept drinking, as the night went on, it would get a bit complicated, so if you do experiment with this combination, start with small amounts until you get a feel for it.