Aldactone is a diuretic and belongs to the subgroup of potassium--sparing diuretics. Aldactone is an aldosterone antagonist. It influ-ences the body's own hormone, aldosterone, which accelerates the excretion of potassium and reduces the excretion of sodium and water. Simplified, aldosterone regulates the endogenous water household. The higher the aldosterone level, the more water is stored in the body. The use of Aldactone results in a significant reduction in the aldosterone level so that an increased excretion of sodium and water occurs while, at the same time, potassium is reabsorbed. This also explains why Aldactone is called a potassium-sparing diuretic since it does not cause a loss of potassium like thiazides and furosemides (lasix)do.
Athletes must strictly observe that during the use of Aldactone no additional potassium is taken since this would cause a life-threatening increase in the serum potassium level. Potassium--sparing diuretics have relatively low diuretic effects so that Aldactone can be called a mild diuretic. It is interesting to note that Aldactone is also an antiandrogen since it reduces the androgen level.
Female athletes take advantage of this characteristic by using it to minimize the virilization symptoms during steroid treatment or the symptoms after treatment. For this purpose Aldactone is normally taken daily for 10 to 14 days, usually in a dose of 50 mg/day.
In men this could cause problems since the relationship of the androgen level to the estrogen level changes in favor of the latter. Thus, common side effects in men include pain in the nipples and breast swelling(gynecomastia).
Bodybuilders use Aldactone almost exclusively during the last week before a competition. Since this causes neither a dramatic nor an immediately noticeable draining effect, it is usually taken over 5-6 days in a dosage of 2 tablets of 50 mg daily. Both male and female athletes take it. The main problems in men consist of gynecomastia and possible impotence. Other side effects can be low blood pressure, muscle spasms, dizziness, gastrointestinal pain, vomiting, irregular pulse rate, and fatigue.
Aldactone by Boehringer Mannheim of Germany is often found on the black market. A package contains 50 dragees of 50 mg each and costs approx. $30 on the black market. There are currently no Aldactone fakes available.