Anabolic steroids are defined as being synthetic derivatives of testosterone. This information precedes any explanation of these drugs. Synthetic means artificial or man made. This infers that man has created a complex substance from a simpler substance by chemical reactions or synthesis. Most anabolic steroids are made from Mexican Sarsaparilla root. This natural plant is chemically altered and synthesized to form the active anabolic steroid ingredients. This is not to infer that the Mexican Sarsaparilla root is an anabolic substance on its own. It is virtually inert when ingested before this synthesis has been applied. It would be almost like assuming that since wine is made of grapes, one could be intoxicated by ingesting grapes. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone found in men. It is produced primarily by the testes and controls a great number of metabolic functions. It is an androgen which stimulates growth in tissues in which it acts, one of them being muscle.
Testosterone has anabolic and androgenic effects. The anabolic effects are isolated to be the ones which affect muscle tissue directly. The androgenic effects are primarily responsible for secondary sexual characteristics in men: facial hair, deepening of the voice, sex organ development and erection, as well as aggression. The term anabolic instead of androgenic steroid implies that some effort has been made to alter the testosterone molecular structure so that the drug exerts more of an anabolic effect than an androgenic effect. If we want a simplified interpretation of the original definition anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of testosterone. We might do so by saying this: "anabolic steroids are man made copies of a male hormone. The hormone which makes boys men, and which makes muscle tissue grow."