13 June 2007

Bodybuilders puff up with ‘Popeye’ oil jab

The substance, produced by various companies but known colloquially as synthol, binds with the muscle fibres creating a freakish, bloated appearance. Without any weight training, recipients of the injections can end up with arms larger than their legs.

The drug is said to be attracting the interest of British gym-goers looking for instant “bulk” and unconcerned about any associated health risks. Gym-goers unconcerned about health risks? I love it.

Synthol, which is a mixture of triglyceride oils and benzyl alcohol, was originally intended as a form of “posing oil” for bodybuilders. When injected into a muscle, however, the body is slow to break it down, so giving an inflated appearance.

It doesn’t actually develop the muscles as such; it just sort of sits in the tissues and makes them larger. One of the main problems people have with this is deformity as gravity plays its part, giving you droops within your muscles. There are some terrible cases of inflamed tissue from it. Also, because it gives a fast swelling, you will get cramp from a squashing of the nerve. Then you can get crushing of the actual blood vessels and blood flow cut-off.

Some authorities in the US have said bodybuilders also risk giving themselves a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal, by injecting synthol directly into a major blood vessel.

The use and purchase of synthol and similar derivatives is not illegal. They can be bought off British internet sites for £125 for 100 millilitres. The Centre for Public Health said such sites were exploiting a legal loophole: “It was never developed for this purpose so it isn’t really covered by any legislation.”

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