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Pop quiz time!  What do the following compounds have in common?

  1. 3β-Hydroxyandrost-5-en-17-one
  2. Diandrone
  3. Androstenolone
  4. 5,6-Didehydroisoandrosterone
  5. Prasterone

The answer is that they have everything in common…they’re the exact same thing.  These are just a few of the different ways you can write dehydroepiandrosterone, otherwise known as DHEA.  Just as there are a lot of ways to skin a cat, there can be a lot of different ways to write a compound.

This is a trick that a number of supplement manufacturers use. “Chemicalese” is often used to make familiar compounds look unfamiliar.  There’s a bonus too, as it makes the label look all high-tech and “sciencey.”

A twist on this trick is to use archaic terminology, so that it won’t come up in a search.  A classic case came up on the “Bodybuilding Revealed” forum, when a member asked a question about a supplement compound he was trying to ID: ”3-beta-hydroxyetioallocholan-5-ene-17-one.” 

Yup, DHEA again – but the older, non-standard terminology made it almost impossible to trace.  I had to walk through the nomenclature to make the connection.

The moral of the story?  Don’t be blown away by the presence of chemical jargon on a label.  There’s a good chance that the terminology is being used to conceal, rather than reveal, useful information.