Beta Blockers for Alpha Males I first heard of beta-blockers and their potential “performance enhancing” uses in the documentary “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” and was interested how musicians use them for steadying their nerves. One particular comment from an interviewee struck a chord when he said, “not even 5:00 o’clock traffic bothers me anymore”. When a friend who was prescribed them palmed a bottle off to me, they sat untouched for a while until I had to address an assembled crowd of a few hundred people at an awards presentation night. I’m good at speaking to a class of 32 kids. In front of adults I feel my stomach do barrel rolls and imagine my voice hitting the high range of nervous octaves when I talk. I wasn’t sure how much to take so I popped a couple of the little red pills 30 mins before I was due to present. 80mg – the recommended dose is 10-20mg. Within minutes I felt my heart rate and breathing slow. I began to feel calmer and almost slightly euphoric. When it came my time to present I stuff the prepared notes I was going to glance at (read from) into my pocket and spoke off the cuff. The words flowed naturally – my voice, the projection of calm. Long story short I’ve pretty much incorporated beta blockers into my supplement mix. I’m naturally hypertensive and nervous in social situations.
Cold approaching a girl on the street or at a club is a nightmare to do and comedy gold to observe. When I pop a few of these little helpers, there’s no such thing anymore as approach anxiety. Theanine is often touted by pick-up-artists to aid in steading troubling nerves during a cold approach; propranalol kicks theanine’s weak ass. Speaking of kicking ass, I’ve noticed that in confrontational situations, the fight or flight response is reduced almost completely. Good if you like your fists to do your talking, bad if you depend on fight or flight to save yourself from getting your teeth handed to you in a small cup.
I remember driving last year when a guy stepped out into the middle of the street giving zero fucks that I had to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting him. When I let him have the horn, he turned around with arrogant nonchalance and gave me a shit eating grin with the accompanying middle finger. Normally I would have carried on, my fear of confrontation and it’s cause/effect ramifications saving the day, but with beta-blocker induced ice now running through my veins, I stopped the car and reached for the bat in the backseat ready to casually smash this guy’s head into the pavement. I can only thank the girl I was with whose tearful cries broke the spell of violence making me realise what I was about to do. I was becoming Patrick Bateman; and I liked it.
I was also able to scrape a few points off my consistently high blood pressure allowing me to bring it down to almost normal ranges after a few months of use. Even though there’s no studies showing reduced cortisol levels from taking propranalol, I would make a leap of logic by inferring that if you’re not walking around in a heightened, anxious state and maintaining normal blood pressure levels, your cortisol levels will respond in kind. A major plus considering reduced stress levels are a major prerequisite for building muscle and learning. Studies have also shown that chicks dig men with high testosterone and lowered levels of cortisol; i.e. manly chilled guys.
Negative Effects Noticed
I’ve since used beta-blockers (BB’s) when giving important presentations and although it kills any kind of nervous response allowing me to concentrate on the content and subtleties of giving a good performance, I’ve found that sometimes having a little bit of anxiety/nerves present allows me to give a more passionate, from the heart speech. Sometimes while presenting on BB’s I almost felt my voice slipping at times into an almost nonchalant monotone. I also recently listened to Rhonda Patrick on the Joe Rogan Experience (first 10 minutes) mention that when a performance is preceded by a level of nervousness and adrenaline rush, the body responds with a compensatory dopamaine response which gives the presenter a post-performance buzz or high. Think the post-workout endorphin high as a similar analogy. Similarly when I use BB’s on a workout day, I find it very difficult to generate levels of “arousal” or psyching up which requires a temporary inducement of adrenaline before attempting a PR or big lift. I do notice that the beetroot-red-my-head-is-going-to-explode blood rush to my face is reduced somewhat during high rep squats which I suppose is a plus.
The first 6 months of using beta blockers I also found that I would get horrible insomnia as a side effect – That first night’s dose of 80mg ensured I didn’t sleep the entire night. Strangely enough, I was able to go to work the next day feeling fully rested. I was able to counteract the effects of sleeplessness with some sleep assisting supplements (Melatonin and GH Blast), but I found that the insomnia effect reduced itself over time.
When consulting with a few doctors about this medication (which I recommend anyone to do if they’re thinking of trying any kind of drug) all of them said that the side effects are very benign. They would only refuse to prescribe it if a patient’s blood pressure levels were already low, because taking propranalol could drop BP even further. The doc’s also mentioned that when I come off prop, I would need to carefully monitor my blood pressure as there could be a potential rebound effect sending my BP levels sky high without the medication present. Propranolol is a dirt cheap choice for those wanting to reduce their stress levels for that big speech, important interview or night at the bar. As with any drug, there’s no “free-lunch” and there are some side effects. For me, I’ve been able to control the side effects and realise its potential benefit over time. For now, it’s staying in the mix as a regular part of my daily supplement stack.