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Ligandrol (LGD 4033) Side Effects & Dangers

Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:

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Ligandrol is sold illegally to athletes and bodybuilders

LGD 4033 is allegedly the most potent SARM on the market. It’s among many other research chemicals that are illegally sold to bodybuilders and those seeking appearance enhancement. Read on to find out what the evidence says about its side effects and risks vs. what the users and manufacturers claim.

Disclaimer: By writing this post, we are not recommending this drug. Ligandrol is an unapproved research chemical without a complete safety profile, and we simply don’t know enough about its adverse effects or efficacy. Some of our readers who were already taking the drug requested that we commission a post on it, and we are simply providing information that is available in the clinical and scientific literature.

We do not recommend taking Ligandrol for any reason.

Ligandrol (LGD 4033) Side Effects & Safety

LGD 4033 is a popular and fairly new oral selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM). Some bodybuilders believe that SARMs are safer alternatives to steroids, but there are no data to suggest that unapproved SARMs are safe at all.

After our previous review of the research behind Ligandrol’s potential uses, this post will focus on its side effects and dangers. We’ll go over up-to-date safety research on LGD 4033 and provide a summary of user experiences to give you a clearer picture of what to expect from this compound.

Clinical Trials

Remember: these early studies are not designed to prove whether a compound is safe—they are only designed to weed out very dangerous substances from future testing. Much larger studies with many more participants are required to determine the safety of an experimental drug.

That being said, no serious adverse events were reported in a small study of doses up to 22 mg/day. In the only proper clinical trial on 76 healthy men, low doses (0.1, 0.3, and 1.0 mg/day) were well tolerated over 3 weeks. None of the participants reported significant adverse effects [1].

The most common side effects from the clinical trial were:

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Pain related to muscle biopsy
  • Upper respiratory tract infections

The frequency of adverse events was similar in the treatment and placebo groups. Side effects were not influenced by the dose—0.1 mg/day and 1 mg/day caused similar side effects [1].

However, this clinical study suggests that LGD 4033 can cause mild suppression even at 1 mg/day, which is 10 times lower than the typical bodybuilding doses. It suppressed testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Luteinizing hormone (LH) levels were not affected. Hormone levels returned to normal after stopping treatment [1].

These findings seem to indicate that, even if this compound is later found to be effective, it will probably cause many of the same problems as traditional testosterone therapy. Given that people often take Ligandrol in an attempt to avoid these side effects, this study undermines the purported usefulness of this drug.

LGD 4033 did prove tissue selectivity when it comes to vital organs in this trial. It didn’t alter hemoglobin levels, prostate-specific antigens, liver enzymes (AST and ALT), or heart rate (QT intervals) [2].

LGD 4033 reduced HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which returned to normal after the therapy. No effects on fat mass were noted [2].

The fact that LGD 4033 appeared to be safe and bioavailable and increased lean body mass over a short span of time with low doses calls for longer trials to fully evaluate its efficacy and safety [2].

Reported side effects in clinical trials of Ligandrol included headaches, dry mouth, testosterone suppression, and respiratory infections. Due to a lack of proper safety data, other side effects can’t be ruled out.

Limitations and Caveats

The only proper clinical study was supported by Ligand Pharmaceuticals, who developed LGD. The ongoing studies are funded by Viking Therapeutics, a company that bought over the rights to LGD 4033 research. It’s difficult to objectively assess the quality of studies funded by pharma companies, their conflict of interest, and bias. The company-funded studies were furthermore very limited, without much of value to say about whether Ligandrol is effective or safe or what the correct dose might be.

Reviews

Some users reported the following:

  • Mild growth of breast tissue
  • Mild testosterone suppression, especially with higher doses (normalized 3-4 weeks after stopping it)
  • Some water retention
  • Most gains were keepable but a bit of loss post-cycle was common

We don’t know what the quality of the product was or if users were taking other drugs/supplements.

PCT

Users claim that LGD 4033 doesn’t cause aromatization but that mild testosterone suppression is not uncommon. A subset of users recommends mild PCT (Clomid or Nolvadex) cycles for ~4 weeks to stimulate natural hormone production. Some feel no need for PCT after stopping LGD 4033, while others take only testosterone boosters.

Urine Screening

Since Ligandrol earned the Florida quarterback Will Grier a suspension, professional athletes are becoming more aware that routine urine tests can easily pick up this SARM. Anti-doping agencies are well-aware that LGD 4033 is used by athletes despite the ban and are always developing new ways to screen for it. Precise screening tests make it hard for any professional athlete to get away with using LGD 4033 [3, 4].

How Long Does LGD Stay in Your System?

LGD-4033 has a long half-life of 24–36 hours, which is the time it takes the drug levels in the body to be halved. This means that your levels will be halved ~1 day after stopping it, quartered within ~2 days, 1/8th the following day, and so forth until they become undetectable [1].

In one case study, a healthy man received a single 10 mg dose of LGD-4033. With more precise instruments, the unchanged drug was detected in the urine for up to 7 days. However, its metabolites could be detected for the whole duration of the study lasting up to 21 days. The detection window is probably even longer with repeated and higher doses [5].

Routine urine drug tests can pick up Ligandrol. Its metabolites might be detected for 21 days or longer.

Ligandrol (LGD 4033) Anecdotes

Bodybuilding & High-performance Sports

The single clinical trial conducted on healthy men hints at what people who take Ligandrol for bodybuilding may experience [1].

We are providing some user experiences here, to discuss why some people take Ligandrol and to explore anecdotes of possible adverse effects. None of this can replace proper clinical testing.

Note: All the information below is anecdotal and based only on personal experiences of LGD 4033 users. We can’t attest to its accuracy. We also can’t say to what extent these experiences are affected by other SARMs or different drugs/supplements taken at the same time. We cannot be sure about the actual content and quality of LGD 4033 in numerous products users bought online.

And most importantly: this is an unapproved drug. We do not know how safe it is, or even if it works. We highly recommend against taking Ligandrol for this reason.

Reviews

Many athletes and professionals who are seeking to build muscles and optimize body composition are turning to LGD 4033 as their SARM of choice. Its use is not limited to weightlifters and bodybuilders but also includes models, crossfitters, and exercise enthusiasts.

For a lot of people who are willing to experiment with SARMs, LGD 4033 the first drug from this class to try. While most SARMS are stacked together, a lot of users take LGD 4033 alone and claim to experience great results. Others stack it with Cardarine, Ostarine, and Testolone. Some compare it to Anavar with Dianabol.

Note that we don’t even know how safe Ligandrol is, let alone Ligandrol in combination with other (often illegal, unapproved) drugs. Taking Ligandrol alone or in combination is a very dangerous practice, and we believe you are better off talking to your doctor about lifestyle changes and proven therapies that can achieve the same goals.

Users report:

  • Lean muscle mass gains (5-10 lbs/month)
  • Great keepable gains even with lower doses (5 mg/day)
  • Easier fat loss
  • Increased stamina and libido
  • Quicker recovery
  • Less pain
  • The best SARM for bulking
  • Good results for body recomposition
  • Combined with Cardarine for cutting cycles
  • “Amazing pumps”
  • Increased lifting and cardiovascular strength (by the 3rd week)
  • A heightened sense of wellbeing without mood swings or crashes
  • Much stronger than Ostarine
  • The closest you can get to testosterone, especially for body recomposition
  • No bloating or only slight water retention
  • No male-pattern body hair growth or hair loss
  • No liver damage
  • No changes in cholesterol or blood pressure

Although gyno (gynecomastia or breast swelling in men) was rare, men who are more estrogen-sensitive and taking higher doses did report it.

Dosage & Cycle

Users reported taking the same dosage for cutting, bulking, and body recomposition cycles. However, there is no safe, effective dosage of Ligandrol because no high-quality clinical trials have determined one.

  • Up to 10 mg/day for men
  • Up to 5 mg/day for women

Some athletes reported using doses as high as 20 mg/day but most don’t recommend going above 10 mg/day. Cutting cycles were for 8-12 weeks. Users recommend shorter bulking cycles (3-6 weeks) and experiencing tolerance after 6 weeks. One user recommended limiting cycles to 4 weeks and then taking 4 weeks off to allow for the recovery of natural testosterone levels.

The half-life of LGD 4033 is 24–36 hours, so most users take the whole daily dose at once. Something to keep in mind is that blood LGD 4033 levels nearly tripled in clinical studies after 3 weeks compared to day 1, suggesting that its concentration builds up in the body over time. However, this conclusion is speculative at best [1].

Remember that this is one limited study without outside data to back up its claim. Even in this single study, however, Ligandrol seemed to suppress testosterone.

Further Reading

Takeaway

Ligandrol is an unapproved drug that may increase muscle size and strength.

Although users tend to believe that it has fewer side effects than steroids or TRT, data to support this idea are still lacking. In fact, Ligandrol produced the same side effects as testosterone in most of the limited studies available.

We recommend talking to your doctor about lifestyle changes or other strategies that may fulfill the same goal, especially given that we don’t know the correct dosage or even whether Ligandrol is safe.

About the Author

Puya Yazdi

Puya Yazdi

MD
Dr. Puya Yazdi is a physician-scientist with 14+ years of experience in clinical medicine, life sciences, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals.
As a physician-scientist with expertise in genomics, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals, he has made it his mission to bring precision medicine to the bedside and help transform healthcare in the 21st century.He received his undergraduate education at the University of California at Irvine, a Medical Doctorate from the University of Southern California, and was a Resident Physician at Stanford University. He then proceeded to serve as a Clinical Fellow of The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine at The University of California at Irvine, where he conducted research of stem cells, epigenetics, and genomics. He was also a Medical Director for Cyvex Nutrition before serving as president of Systomic Health, a biotechnology consulting agency, where he served as an expert on genomics and other high-throughput technologies. His previous clients include Allergan, Caladrius Biosciences, and Omega Protein. He has a history of peer-reviewed publications, intellectual property discoveries (patents, etc.), clinical trial design, and a thorough knowledge of the regulatory landscape in biotechnology.He is leading our entire scientific and medical team in order to ensure accuracy and scientific validity of our content and products.

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