A lot of Americans think that the muscle building world begins and ends at the shores and boundaries of North America. Call it snobbish; call it provincial; call it whatever you want; just make sure you call it incorrect. If you're one of those that thinks the physique world sun rises and sets on American shores, brace yourself because I'm going to pour the metaphorical equivalent of a bucket of ice-cold water down the front of your pants and baby, the shrinkage factor is going to be mighty, mighty, high.
Case in poin T: Brian Batcheldor is an English bloke a 230-pound power-lifting English bloke who's hefted weights between his tea and crumpets that would make most run-of-the-mill bodybuilders cry big, weepy tears into their runny scrambled egg whites. He's also an engineer by training and some years ago he turned his likewise powerful brain to the subject of sports supplementation. Think a lot of the current trends were discovered in America by self-appointed drug gurus? Think again. Many were being used by Brian and others like him in England and Europe years ago.
In a lot of ways, it's like the rock and roll scene in the sixties. Sure, we had Elvis (and I'm sure as hell not talking about that faux-Elvis freak Lonnie Teper, either) and Bo Diddley, but England had the Beatles, the Stones, and about a million other bands that helped make American music what it is today. The muscle building world is the same way. Think Americans discovered creatine? Ha! It was being used by British track athletes back in the 80's!
It's time to open up our minds. It's time to acknowledge some of the great minds of other countries. For starters, meet Brian Batcheldor. Brian spoke to us from his home in England:
T: Brian, very few people in America know anything about you. And furthermore, those reading this interview might well wonder what your credentials are
BB: Well, I trained as an engineer specializing primarily in chromatography and that's where my interest overlapped with my training since a lot of the stuff I did was involved with producing chromatography units for the IOC [International Olympic Committee]. So I picked up some useful information on drug testing. The rest of it was sort of self-practice through my association with some other people in the field, in particular on the IOC side.
T: When did you first start training?
BB: I started training 23 years ago [Brian is 36 now]. I started with Olympic lifting and you have to start very young with that and then progressed into powerlifting. I was British Junior Olympic champion, and I then went on to powerlifting and I was British Junior Olympic powerlifting champion. I stayed with powerlifting, competitively, until about 4 years ago when I got meningitis. It did a lot of damage to the nerves in my spine, so I had to take a break from it.
Currently, I work with about 15 powerlifting athletes and I'm also an investor in the gym [The Bournemouth Health Studio].
T: How is it that you're also interested in bodybuilding? I mean, typically, powerlifters generally regard bodybuilders with disdain
BB: Uh, I've always been interested in bodybuilding as well, because I'm also a bodybuilding judge, so basically I train pretty much as a bodybuilder. I've always been pretty...how shall I put it? Concerned with the way I look as much as how strong I am.
T: I understand you're knee-deep in the supplement business; not just selling them or anything, but actually developing them. With that in mind, tell me about some of the things you've been working on, starting with this phytic acid stuff.
BB: There's a lot of work that's been done on phytic acid in both human and veterinary fields that indicates it dramatically increases the uptake of nutrients. It's been used in several countries like Russia and Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia as a tonic in restoring appetite. The Bulgarians have even studied its effects when combined with creatine. It enhances its uptake. It might also enhance the uptake of other nutrients or supplements. As such, I'm surprised nobody's started to market it yet. For instance, it could very well make creatine delivery systems using ordinary glucose and the amino acid taurine look primitive in comparison.
T: I understand you're also working on a liquid androstenedione
BB: I haven't really said a lot about it, but we're looking at using a portal vein delivery system. I'm doing some stuff with a gastroenterologist who specializes in liquid-based delivery systems. In other words, it would bypass the liver, much like the sophisticated steroid, testosterone undeconate [otherwise known as andriol]. We're looking at androstenedione used in a similar system.
T: You were the guy who worked with Biotest Labs on the "super flavone," FGP, right? Tell us about this stuff. I understand, from an article that appeared in Muscle Media a few years ago, that it was once used as an anti-osteoporosis drug in Hungary
BB: That's right. Going back a long time ago, I read some stuff that the original pharmaceutical company did that showed FGP, or 7-isopropoxyisoflavone to be anabolic in farm animals, so I contacted them about their research. They sort of intimated that ipraflavone had been shown to be more effective as an anabolic, but because they were seeking to obtain a medicine license in Europe, they didn't want to explore or market that aspect of it. They're partners with an English company and I got the research from them about its anabolic potential, and what I found out was that they didn't bother to renew the patent in the US.
I thought then that there was a lot of potential for the product which, incidentally, is derived from herbal sources. Originally, they wouldn't tell me which ones, but I think it was because it wasn't an avenue they wanted me to pursue. It has, however, been sold on the black market in Europe for quite awhile.
T: Why wasn't the patent renewed?
BB: I don't know. The company itself, I believe, was in financial trouble, so my guess is that the financial implications of protecting all their patents world-wide was too great. It might have also been because steroids were so readily available back in the 70's, when the patent was first awarded. This stuff's good, but steroids work better as far as promoting strength gains and muscle growth.
T: What's the mechanism? How does it work?
BB: The research I've read was on pigs and they gained quite a bit of more lean muscle on ipraflavone, and my guess is that it's through it's anti-estrogenic capabilities. That's what the documentation suggests, too. A lot of the anti-estrogens like Promethene and Tamoxifen probably cause gonadotrophic stimulation because they block testosterone receptors at the hypothalamus level, thereby simulating the release of more gonadotrophins. So, I would guess its anabolic properties probably come as a direct result of these anti-estrogenic properties.
T: How would you compare it to the other anti-estrogen that's been popping up all over the place, chrysin?
BB: I've used ipraflavone quite extensively with women athletes and men when they come clean and I would say it compares quite favorably with some of the weaker anabolics like Stanazolol. Although I've used chrysin, there hasn't been enough of it around until now to say. It's been shown to be quite anti-estrogenic in in vitro tests, but regarding its anabolic potential, I can't honestly say I've noticed anything dramatic.
T: Tell me more about your personal experiences with FGP.
BB: Women in particular get quite a bit stronger on it. I know a female athlete that weighs about 130 and she hasn't used a thing since her last competition about 4 weeks ago other than ipraflavone and she's actually gotten stronger on the ipraflavone than she did when she experimented with oxandrolone. She benched 290 at a 130 body weight and the most she ever did on oxandrolone was 264.
T: What about its effect on males?
BB: The effects are measurable. Some of my athletes who have used the ipraflavone who went off steroids certainly lost a lot less than those steroid-using athletes who just went off steroids.
T: Biotest has incorporated FGP in its Tribex-500 product, but that product also lists "Tribulus Terrestris"as an active component. Now, in my experience, most of the Tribulus products just don't work. What's your take on the herb?
BB: Most companies are barking up the wrong tree with Tribulus they're going for the Chinese and Korean sources and they only use the fruits. The Orientals harvest the fruits for its diuretic properties and its effects on skin conditions like eczema. The fruits, however, have the lowest concentrations of saponins, so the bodybuilding supplement manufacturers have used Tribulus that contains the wrong part of the plant, basically. Also, the Chinese tribulus is closely related to tribulus terrestris, but it's not exactly the same. The Tribulus Terrestris we're using is harvested from the right parts of the plants; those with the highest saponin concentration. However, the saponins aren't solely responsible for the activity of the plant there are other components as well. For instance, there's a type of chemical called a tribuloside that is specific only to Tribulus, and we feel this and one or two other things might be responsible for its effects on luteinizing hormone.
T: Tribex-500 also contains something called "Avena Sativa." Personally, I've yet to find a whole lot of research on the stuff
BB: I'm drawing on a lot of veterinary research, and it's been used quite a bit with horses and racing greyhounds for its so-called anabolic potential. It contains very high amounts of saponins and with the right extract, it has shown anabolic properties in various farm animals, such as pigs, in which the compound increased their appetites and led to weight gain.
T: What happens when you combine Avena Sativa and Tribulus Terrestris? Do they work independently of each other, or together?
BB: I believe they probably are working through the same mechanisms. I don't think Avena Sativa effects a particular part of the gonadotrophic axis that Tribulus doesn't, but the mechanisms of Tribulus still aren't fully understood. Even SoPharma, who has probably done more marketing of the product than any other company, really doesn't understand it. They try to say it's one particular saponin that's responsible, but I don't believe it. There are probably several things working on the hypothalamus and pituitary.
T: What do you see for the future of supplementation? What area is going to be the hottest in the next few years?
BB: I think the future of nutrition is very promising at the moment, but I think the big breakthrough has come with the advent of these hormone analogues like DHEA and androstenedione and there are quite a few permutations of those products, some better than others. This area seems to be Biotest's forte, hopefully the FDA won't come down on these kind of products. The herbal things are quite interesting, too. We're testing 4 or 5 herbs right now. There's a lot of promising stuff among them. I believe anti-catabolics are going to be very, very hot, too. We're looking at a system for measuring cortisol/test levels and putting together a prescription package. I think that if and when we do it, a lot of people are going to be very excited.
We're proud to announce that Brian Batcheldor has recently joined the ranks of the Biotest Laboratories research team. The goal? To create a globally-based supplement company that has ears in all parts of the world; that will keep introducing drug and nutrition concepts and keep the rest of the supplement world stumbling along after us with their pants around their ankles and their shoes untied.