Creatine Category: Performance and Image Enhancing Substances
How it’s used
Creatine is naturally produced in your body from three amino acids (arginine, glycine, methionine) for your muscles to use. Most of your body's creatine is in your skeletal muscle. You can buy it as a diet supplement in powder or tablet form. You can also buy foods with creatine in them. These are used by body builders to provide energy to muscles for movement. It does this by increasing the amount of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in your body. Creatine can also be used to help people with neuromuscular disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.
Short term effects
- Weight gain
- Increased body mass
- You become stronger, bigger and fitter
- More energy for physical activity
Long term effects
- Can cause asthma, shortness of breath
- Can cause allergies, rash or itching
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as loss of appetite, stomach pain, diarrhoea or nausea
- Large quantities of creatine can increase the production of formaldehyde, which may cause serious unwanted side effects
- Do not take creatine if you have kidney disease as it can cause interstitial nephritis
- May alter the activities of insulin. Do not take creatine if you have diabetes or hypoglycaemia or if you take drugs, herbs or supplements that affect blood sugar
- May alter your liver function
- Anxiety, irritability or aggression
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Deep vein thrombosis
- May reduce your sex drive
If you are pregnant
Do not take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as we don’t know enough about the risks to your baby.
It is not addictive, but if you use it to improve your body image you may come to rely on it.
How long does it stay in your system?
As you naturally have creatine in your body there are no tests for it.
What help is available?
- Self-help support such as Narcotics Anonymous
- Counselling or psychotherapy
- Complementary therapies, such as acupuncture
- Residential treatment programmes (clinics)
- One to one or group family support
- Contact the Drugs Helpline 1800 459 459 to find out about options in your area