Bodybuilders all have one common goal: to gain more muscle. Building mass involves lifting weights and eating a lot to develop a balanced, symmetrical physique. In an effort to “bulk up,” an amateur bodybuilder in the United Kingdom blew out his arms in a unorthodox way — through natural oil injections.

The 25-year-old man was rushed to the hospital after injecting coconut oil to improve his muscle definition, according to the case study in BMJ Case Reports. The bodybuilder first went to the doctor because his arm hurt, and he had trouble moving it for several months. The man told doctors he’s been doing bodybuilding for four years, and attends the gym three times a week.

An ultrasound scan revealed a rupture in the tendon that connects the tricep muscle to the bone near the elbow. Multiple cysts were also spotted inside the arm muscle.

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"The patient subsequently admitted to injecting coconut oil to improve muscle contour lost secondary to injury," wrote the researchers.

In other words, the bodybuilder admitted to injecting coconut oil, among other substances, to improve his muscle definition and size. Non-prescribed and self-administered insulin, vitamin B12 injections, steroids, and protein supplements were also part of the bodybuilder's concoction for bigger muscles.

Doctors concluded the oil was responsible for the development of cysts inside the arm muscles, while the ruptured triceps were linked to steroid use.

Anabolic steroids, a synthetic steroid hormone similar to testosterone in promoting muscle growth, are the most well-known abused substance by bodybuilders. However, injecting other substances, including natural oils like sesame oil, walnut oil, and paraffin are gaining more traction because they make muscles appear bigger. According to the report, bodybuilders may be more attracted to natural oils because they're an inexpensive option compared to anabolic steroids.

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"Alarmingly, this practice, used for the short-term enhancement of muscular appearance, seems to come at a significant cost," wrote the researchers.

Although this is more common in Arab and Middle Eastern communities, the practice has gained momentum in Brazil. In 2015, former bodyguard Romario dos Santos Alves, 25, put his life at risk when he injected oil, painkillers, and alcohol to pump his biceps to new heights, which reached 25 inches. His experiences in using the synthetic filler became so extreme that he couldn’t even inject his arms because they were full of rocks. He was even scheduled to have his arms amputated.

The filler was causing the bodybuilder constant pain, and he almost suffered kidney failure due to the toxins in the oil.

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In the most recent case, the amateur bodybuilder has not refrained from practicing his dangerous methods in pursuit of the perfect body.

The researchers are using this as a cautionary tale, writing: “We need to be aware of these cases to enable correct clinical diagnoses, and also to recognize other self-abusive and potentially life-threatening practices.”

Inevitably, self-administering and self-prescribing substances without a doctor's consent can lead to bad health repercussions.

Source: Hameed M, Sahu A, and Johnson MB. Muscle mania: the quest for the perfect body. BMJ Case Reports. 2016.