- What is DHEA?
- Who should take DHEA?
- When to start?
- When to take DHEA?
- What dosage?
- Should athletes take DHEA for muscle mass enhancements?
- Should pregnenolone be used together with DHEA?
- Are there any drug interactions between DHEA and prescription medications?
- Can DHEA be taken long term?
For fast reading, scan through the topic headings in BOLD BLACK, important conclusions in BOLD BLUE, and “Must Know” in BOLD RED. To jump to specific sections in this article, click on the respective LINKS in the Table of Contents.
Information presented here is for general educational purposes only. Each one of us is biochemically and metabolically different. If you have a specific health concern and wish my personalized nutritional recommendation, write to me by clicking here.
DHEA is the most abundant of all steroids and is released from the adrenal glands. DHEA is involved in the manufacturing of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and corticosteroids. The decline of DHEA parallels that of growth hormone. By age 65, the body makes only 10-20% of DHEA that was made at age 20. It has been shown in animal studies to act as an agent of anti-obesity, anti-cancer, anti-autoimmune disease, anti-stress, anti-infectious disease. In other words, it is an all around anti-aging drug. It may also boost the function of the brain as the brain tissue contains 6 times more DHEA than any other tissue in the body.
The most common use of DHEA is for people who want to take it as hormone replacement therapy. This is particularly true for women than men, as they experience a more significant drop in hormones during peri-menopausal and post menopausal years. Supplementation with DHEA can improve wellbeing, energy levels, moods, and libido.
You can usually start after age 40, but for those who need more energy; you can start in the mid-thirties as well. For those who are younger, it is a good idea to get a blood DHEA-sulfate for baseline before commencing.
It’s best to take DHEA during the morning due to its energy enhancing effects.
Different doses appear to do different things. Low dosages (15- 25 mg) tend to bring improved specific health benefits and well-being. High dosages (100-200 mg or more) can lead to a repartitioning of body mass as a result of the conversion of the DHEA into more androgenic steroid hormones.
That is not too good an idea because there are much better alternative means, such as using creatine.
Many on the forefront of anti-aging research are advocating the use of both pregnenolone and DHEA, both in low doses. 15 mg to 25 mg each of pregnenolone and DHEA seems to do the trick in many women to bring them a renewal sense of well-being. Men are less hormone sensitive and the results may not be as evident. For men, direct testosterone precursors such as androstenedione (and its metabolite androstenediol) may be more effective.
Since DHEA is a slight mood elevator, it could potentially clash with anti-depressants. Theoretically, the dosage of anti-depressants could be lowered if DHEA is taken. People on cholesterol lowering drugs as well as blood thinning medications, such as coumadin, may need to watch their medications, as well as the requirements, because these may well be reduced since DHEA has both a cholesterol lowering and blood thinning effect. Studies have shown that DHEA also reduces appetite, so those who want to lose weight may benefit from DHEA, and those who are already on weight reduction pills may need less.
There are currently no long term studies to conclusively lead us to the proper conclusion. In hormonal replacement therapy, it is important not to overdo it. Low dose DHEA supplementation, if monitored with blood test to ensure physiological level, is very safe and an effective anti-aging tool.
Message from Dr. Lam
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. If you have areas you don’t understand,
or if you have a specific health concern, feel free to write to me by clicking here.
About The Author
Michael Lam, M.D., M.P.H., A.B.A.A.M., is a western trained physician specializing in nutritional and anti-aging medicine. Dr. Lam received his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California. He also holds a Master’s degree in Public Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine where he has also served as a board examiner. Dr. Lam is a pioneer in using nontoxic, natural compounds to promote the healing of many age-related degenerative conditions. He utilizes optimum blends of nutritional supplementation that manipulate food, vitamins, natural hormones, herbs, enzymes, and minerals into specific protocols to rejuvenate cellular function.
Dr. Lam was first to coin the term, ovarian-adrenal-thyroid (OAT) hormone axis, and to describe its imbalances. He was first to scientifically tie in Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) as part of the overall neuroendocrine stress response continuum of the body. He systematized the clinical significance and coined the various phases of Adrenal Exhaustion. He has written five books: Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome - Reclaim Your Energy and Vitality with Clinically Proven Natural Programs, The Five Proven Secrets to Longevity, Beating Cancer with Natural Medicine (Free PDF version), How to Stay Young and Live Longer, and Estrogen Dominance. In 2001, Dr. Lam established www.DrLam.com as a free, educational website on evidence-based alternative medicine for the public and for health professionals. It features the world’s most comprehensive library on AFS. Provided free as a public service, he has answered countless questions through the website on alternative health and AFS. His personal, telephone-based nutritional coaching services have enabled many around the world to regain control of their health using natural therapies.