What is DHEA and Hormones

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

What is DHEA and Why Is It Important?

What is DHEA? DHEA is the most abundant of all steroids and is released from the adrenal glands and DHEA is involved in the manufacturing of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and corticosteroids. The decline of DHEA parallels that of a 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.

Who should take DHEA?

What is DHEA used for? 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.

When to start?

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.

When to take DHEA?

It’s best to take DHEA during the morning due to its energy enhancing effects.

What dosage?

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.

Should athletes take DHEA for muscle mass enhancements?

That is not too good an idea because there are much better alternative means, such as using creatine.

Should pregnenolone be used together with DHEA?

MuscleMany 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.

Are there any drug interactions between DHEA and prescription medications?

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.

Can DHEA be taken long term?

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.

DHEA and the neuroendometabolic (NEM) stress response

Blood sampleAs previously mentioned, DHEA levels produced become significantly lowered over the age of sixty five, and one of its functions is that of anti-stress. A long with cortisol, DHEA is produced by the adrenal glands and they both play a role in reducing stress. The adrenals are a part of the neuroendometabolic (NEM) stress response complex , responsible for managing levels of stress in our body and maintaining at a level that does not affect the body negatively. However, in situations chronic stress is experienced and the systems and organs under the NEM’s complex are overburdened, such as the adrenals, decapitating symptoms can occur such as adrenal fatigue. The interference of the hormonal response can present with symptoms such as an intolerance for exercise, lowered libidos, low energy in afternoon, infertility, reproductive complications and hair loss. It is therefore important to allow the body to recover in stressful periods and to also consider supplements when ageing.

What is DHEA

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Thank you so much for your help. I will read/re-read your articles. I’ve wanted a sex hormone test for years - my doctors put me on HRT without doing any tests - I’ve been off it for a year, on my endocrinologist’s orders.
Thank you again. I’m afraid I won’t be phoning as I’m in the UK and not in a position to pay, and hence, why I am so grateful for your help. I had expected a few words about DHEA, not all this information.