Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Bodybuilder injected coconut oil into his arms

Bodybuilder injected coconut oil into his arms
British surgeons operated on a bodybuilder who had injected coconut oil into his arms, resulting in a torn triceps. The doctors wrote up the case in BMJ Case Reports.

The case
The bodybuilder who ended up on the operating table of the London surgeon Maira Hameed and her colleagues was a 25-year-old man. He'd been training three times a week in a gym for four years, and went to his doctor because he had pain in his elbow when he moved his right arm.

Because the triceps on his right arm looked unusual, the doctors made a scan of his arm. The scan showed that the man had torn his triceps, which you can see in the photo below, between the two red arrows.

Bodybuilder injected coconut oil into his arms

Bodybuilder injected coconut oil into his arms

But there was more: the doctors also noticed that the man had lots of abnormalities on his triceps and biceps. These are the white bubbles in the photos above. The photo above on the left shows a side view of the arm, the middle and right-hand photos show the arm from behind.

When the doctors asked the bodybuilders what might have caused the abnormalities, he confessed that he’d been injecting his arms with coconut oil to make them look larger. So the bubbles were encapsulated oil.

When the doctors analysed the man's blood they found that he had an abnormally high testosterone level, and that his LH level was so low as to be undetectable. So the man was using synthetic testosterone and was no longer producing any of his own.

Moreover, the concentration of thyroid hormones in the man's blood was extremely low. The bodybuilder had been taking so much tsynthetic hyroxine that his body had stopped making its own supply, and hormone recovery had apparently not yet started.

Besides coconut oil, testosterone and thyroxine, the bodybuilder said that he also injected insulin and vitamin B2.

The doctors operated on the man's triceps. After some physiotherapy the man's arm recovered, after which he returned to his old lifestyle. "However, despite being counselled about the potential future risks, the patient continues to practice unsafe techniques to achieve his desired body image," the doctors wrote.

Shocked, the doctors went in search of more information and found only a few studies. On the internet, however, they discovered that tens of thousands of bodybuilders inject themselves with oils to make their muscles look bigger.

"The few cases of natural oil self-inoculation formally reported are likely to be the tip of the iceberg," the doctors wrote. "This is partly due to this practice being relatively unknown among clinicians compared with anabolic steroid use in this patient cohort, and the reluctance of patients to volunteer the information."

"As demonstrated in our case, there is a risk of late and/or misdiagnosis. Diagnosis can be further confounded by a latent period before reaction to the enhancement oil."

"By reporting this case, we hope to raise awareness of the varied practices among the bodybuilding community and the variety of their potential presentations in the community, clinics and in the accident and emergency setting."

BMJ Case Rep. 2016 Dec 1;2016. pii: bcr2016217208.

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