DHEA is a hormone naturally produced in the human body in the adrenal gland. It is the sole precursor hormone responsible for the production and regulation of every other steroid and sex hormone in the body. DHEA is the only hormone that declines with age in both men and women. It’s decline signals age-related disease. It is being seen as an anti-aging treatment.
French researcher, Dr. Emile-Etienne Baulieu, who isolated DHEA in the 60’s, stated “DHEA won’t make people live longer, but it will improve the quality of life over a longer period of time and will postpone some of the unpleasant effects of aging, such as fatigue and muscle.”
Claims and Common Uses:
- It maintains normal sex hormone levels
- Increases the production of antioxidant enzymes in the liver
- DHEA blocks an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase (g6pd) which is needed to produce fat tissue and also promotes cancer cell growth
- Stimulates levels of cholecystokinin, a hormone in your body that functions to tell you that you are full and it’s time to stop eating
- Relieves stress and inhibits the damaging effects of stress
- Strengthens the immune system
- May play an important role in fighting AIDS
- Improves mental clarity in aging people
- Has the ability to help the body burn calories for energy rather than store them as fat
- Declining levels of DHEA are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, obesity, cancer, atherosclerosis and heart disease, depression, osteoporosis and lupus
- Increases muscle strength and mass
- Beneficial in increasing feelings of well being and libido.
- The best way to know how much to take is to have your DHEA levels checked by a physician. If you are under 40 you may not need additional DHEA.
- If you are under 40 years of age, don’t–you’ve already got plenty of DHEA coursing through your veins. If you are above 40, start small (5-15 mg/day) and have your saliva tested in order to regulate your DHEA levels. 25-50 mg/day will raise a 70 year-old’s DHEA levels to that of a twenty year old and
- Women who are past menopause and wish to take DHEA should take between 5-15mg/day. For women and men over age 50 who wish to improve mental clarity and function 25-50mg/day seems sufficient.
Side Effects and Warnings of DHEA:
- Side effects only occur with doses over 50mg per day. Normal dosages appear quite safe.
- There are no studies that have investigated long term supplementation, because it is just too new a substance.
- There are many considerations to be made when taking a hormone, some of which extend well beyond the realm of “side effects”, and they are not to be taken lightly.
- Use DHEA under the supervision of a qualified medical professional
- Do not use if you are pregnant, nursing, or have prior ovarian, adrenal or thyroid tumors
- Women should not take DHEA just prior to menopause because their levels typically increase right around that time anyway
- Side effects include acne, irritability, fatigue, accelerated growth of facial hair and hirsutism in women.