Chapter: Hormones

AKA: Astenile, Deandros, dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), dehydroisoandrosterone, Diandron, Prasterone, Psicosterone, transdehydroandrosterone.

A steroid manufactured in the adrenal gland that is similar to testosterone and is a precursor to all steroid hormones in the body, including testosterone and estrogen. It is found in the bloodstream in greater amounts than any other steroid, and exists in normal brain tissue in amounts six and one-half times greater than in other parts of the body. It is found at its highest levels in the body between ages 20 to 25; after that, its production declines steadily. Those with Alzheimer's have levels lower than healthy individuals of similar age. Individuals under 40 should have their levels checked first, as they may not need supplementation.

Food Sources: Mexican wild yam.

Effects: Improves physical and mental health, as well as memory and thinking, by keeping the level of cortisol low and by helping neurons grow new dendrites. Its advocates believe it useful for those struggling with obesity, depression, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, viral and bacterial infections, cancer, and heart disease. It may increase the regeneration of body tissue and accelerate healing by encouraging the growth of the protein collagen. Levels of this hormone in the body decrease with age (by as much as 95 percent), so taking it may protect brain cells against mental deterioration such as Alzheimer's and senility, may increase mental abilities in those with normal capabilities, and may even extend life (it has been shown to extend the life span of animals by as much as 50 percent and, in humans, the amount of DHEA in the body has been found to bear an inverse correlation with mortality levels).

It has been used to treat epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, angina, diabetes, ulcers, alcohol and drug withdrawal, pain, cardiac arrhythmias, PMS, menopause, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, fatigue, memory loss, autoimmune diseases, sexual problems, cryptosporidium infection, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Additionally, DHEA has been administered to those battling such disorders as depression, compulsive eating, moodiness, violent behavior, chronic anger, irritability, fear, impulsiveness, hostility, insomnia, impatience, agitation, worry, anxiety, and pessimism. Its use against such a wide range of disorders maybe attributable to its ability to normalize and promote electrical activity in the body and brain in several ways.

Serum DHEA levels can be increased by taking supplements of chromium, and decreased by stress. Nonsupplementation methods of increasing DHEA are simple and basic: exercise regularly, avoid smoking, avoid alcohol, avoid synthetic steroid hormones, avoid stress, get plenty of sleep, maintain ideal body weight, and reduce the percentage of fat in the body.

It works synergistically with vitamin E.

According to author Michael Hutchinson, it has also shown some success in treating AIDS, though the drug company involved is keeping silent until it can develop a variant that is patentable.

Precautions: Men with prostate problems should not take DHEA. For others, it is recommended that it be taken only under the guidance of a physician, and then only after having tests to determine the levels in the body and whether the liver is functioning properly. Side effects include acne (regardless of a person's age), anxiety, a sense of tightness in the chest, night restlessness, hair loss, voice changes, fatigue, oily skin, high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes, irritability and mood changes, overstimulation, aggressiveness, headaches, insomnia, heart palpitations, and heart irregularities, some of which are irreversible. Women may experience a slight increase in body hair and a deepening of the voice at dosages greater than 25 mg a day, and DHEA may carry the same risks as testosterone, such as the promotion of the growth of prostate cancer in men and breast and uterine cancers in women. Though stress may cause the body to decrease its production of DHEA and increase its production of cortisol, taking a DHEA pill cannot repair the damage to the body caused by stress. High doses (above 10 mg) may cause irritability, aggressiveness, and anxiety. Because sufficient research has not yet been done, use is experimental, and nothing is known about long-term effects, though epileptics have been taking it for nearly half a century. In tests where lab rats were given doses equal to dozens of times that normally taken by people, it has caused liver damage leading to the formation of tumors. It is not known if this same effect occurs in humans, but further tests with rat have shown that vitamin E can offset this damage.

Some researchers state that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that it has any beneficial effect on aging or any diseases (most studies have been short-term and involved a dozen people or fewer); any reports of people feeling better physically or mentally (especially with regard to sexual drive) are purely anecdotal. Over-the-counter brands are unregulated by the FDA, and their ingredients and purity may be questionable. Oral DHEA may be at least partially destroyed by the liver, making supplementation questionable. It is also possible that the increased energy levels felt by those taking it may be only short-term.

Caffeine can lower DHEA levels and raise cortisol levels, increasing stress to the body and decreasing the individual's panic threshold. It may cause harmful interactions if used in conjunction with aspirin or blood thinners, stimulants (including herbal stimulants), and thyroid medications; it may also interact with such anti-depressants as Prozac and Zoloft. Those on estrogen replacement therapy may have to adjust their dosage of DHEA accordingly, because the estrogen may induce a deficiency of DHEA. Too much insulin can also lower levels of this hormone.

Dosage: For humans, the optimal dosage is as yet not known, though usage has ranged anywhere from 50 to 2000 mg/day. For general health, some recommend a more modest dose of 19 mg/day for women, 31 mg/day for men. Most supplements are 25 mg. Michael Hutchinson recommends 100 to 300 mg/day (in two or three divided doses) for life-extending and cognitive-enhancing purposes, about half the dose normally taken by epileptics. However, one expert, Dr. Ray Sahelian, recommends starting out at 5 to 10 mg/day, and increasing the dosage by 5 mg/day until reaching the optimum daily dosage (which may be as little as 25 mg/day for women, 40 mg/day for men). He also recommends that users take only DHEA or DHEAS and avoid any product sold as a precursor to DHEA. Stephen Cherniske, M.S., also cautions against using any supplement that contains additional ingredients such as ephedra or yohimbe.

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Questions and Answers

How much dhea is necessary to increase testosterone significantly?, I am curious, for every milligram of dhea taken, how much testosterone would be produced in the average male. The more technical data in your answer, the better. Please, no flippant answers (such as "i don't know"), thanks in advance.

It would really depend on your metabolism. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a precursor of both androgens (actually, DHT, dihydrotestosterone, is the most active androgen, not testo) and estrogens. It is transformed by enzymes in your body.
DHEA is naturally produced in your body by the adrenal glands, which are located atop your kidneys. The level of DHEA starts low at birth, and increase until adulthood, then slowly decrease with age. Testo/DHT in men does not necessarily decrease accordingly (DHT gets produced pretty steadily thoughout life, which causes the prostate to become too big), probably because there is a change in the production of some enzymes.
I don't think there is reliable data available yet on this use of DHEA. Actually, the role of DHEA in the body, and the uniqueness of its production in primates, is very mysterious at the moment.

Can someone tell me where can i purchase dhea from?, some women are taking DHEA before starting IVF to increase the quantity of eggs.if a woman wants to concieve naturally, can she takes dhea to increase her quantity and quality of eggs.is it available in any drug store.

No, it is not recommended. Also make sure it's FDA recommended. Which it isn't.

Has anyone taken DHEA supplements to increase egg quality prior to IUI od IVF?, With a high FSH, endometriosis and following a miscarriage, my RE has indicated that DHEA supplements will improve egg quality. Has anyone ever used this; Were the results positive; did you encounter any side effects; and how long before the next conception try did you stop taking them?

I have not but there are some women I know of who have. Check out fertilethoughts.com and/or ivfconnections.com and I know there are lots of threads about DHEA.

I have a high FSH, highest was 14. I took wheatgrass (powdered Amazing Grass from Whole Foods) 1T. daily for 3 months. I also started acupuncture and took fish oil. My first 3 IVF attempts I had some poor and some okay embryos. After the supplements and acupuncture, my FSH dropped to 8 and my embryos were "Beautiful." I have known a lot of women on fertile thoughts take just wheatgrass who saw an amazing improvement in embryo quality. I say go for the DHEA! I wish I could find it but I read about a women who had very poor quality embryos and her RE said to used donor eggs. She decided to try one more time with her own eggs. She took DHEA for 3 months and her RE told her those eggs looked like the eggs from a 20 year old. I know that this clinic (It was a clinic's website where I read this story) now uses DHEA in some patients' protocol.

I really hope you find your answers! I'm sure you'll be able to find more on those websites! You can search or join for free and post questions. The women there are amazing!

Why can the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) be taken orally whereas other hormones cannot?, I thought that all hormones were proteins and that they had to be injected (insulin) or applied topically as gels (testosterone & estrogen); the reason being that proteins are broken down into amino acids by the stomach acids and therefore are rendered ineffective. How is it then that the hormone DHEA can be taken orally?

The question has many false assuptions.
1) "whereas other hormones cannot".
Untrue. There are many hormones that can be taken orally.
Ever hear of oral contraceptive pills?
Estrogen? Progesterone? Hormones.
How about synthroid? Yep. Hormone.
2) "all hormones were proteins"
DHEA and all androgens are steroid-ring compounds, not proteins. Proteins are molecules constructed of amino acids. There are no amino acids in DHEA, testosterone, progesterone, estrogen and many other hormones.
3) "How is... DHEA... taken orally?"
Because they are not proteines, there is no denaturing. Oral meds are synthesized in anticipation of the Hydrogenating effects of the gastric pH. Pills are either coated or the active ingredient chemically altered to be changed to the active state in contact with Hydrochloric acid.

Is it a bad idea to take DHEA as an 18 yr old female?, I know that DHEA levels decrease with age, however I feel that despite my age, i could benefit from this supplement. Will this, however, affect my body's production of natural DHEA?

Ok. DHEA plays a heavy role in your body.

I'm 20 years old, and I'm taking hormonal products that help increase my testerone, and yes that includes dehydroepiandrosterone/DHEA amongst other things.

What you have to realise is that when taking this product it is meant to improve many things aside from keeping your hormones at its healthiest. Many things DHEA will result in is better state of mind, better sleep but also helps in losing weight and building muscle <-- the building muscle part you don't have to worry about, instead you'll see that you'll be toning up more because you lack enough testosterone in your body to produce bulging muscles like us fellas.

As well because of your age, it is quite dangerous using DHEA if you do not know what you are doing.

Because you are 18, you really don't need DHEA - you're hormones are at it's best. Unless you are physically active and are aiming for the things i've noted above, then yes I'd suggest using DHEA in moderation. As in use it for 3 weeks then stop using it for 1 week - to avoid heavily detail as to why you should do this, lets just say it'll benefit you and not permanently **** up your hormones, to be as blunt and simple as possible.

Through my own personal experience, and words of wisdom from my mentors at your age you don't need unless you plan on being a fitness model or losing weight and toning up.

Other then that you shouldn't be concerned about using it until you hit your 40's.

does the military approve of the use of dhea?, I am leaving for boot camp in 22 days. I regularly use dhea products. Is that frowned upon by the military and will they be testing me for it at boot camp?

yes, they do.

Some supliments have banned products in the supliments.

Even if the banned products are not listed.

The excuse, " I didn't know "

Doesn't work.

Plus, dhea will do you no good, if your body already produces enough.

Your body can only use so much dhea, the rest is eliminated in your waste.

All dhea is doing for you now, is making it hard for you to wake up.

And sucking energy out of your body.

Think about it, have you noticed since you have been taking dhea, that you have a harder time waking up in the morning, don't seem to have as much energy ?

Those are side effects of dhea, for those who do not need it.

What is DHEA and how will it change my life ?, I have been told that since im a marathon runner , my body doesnt produce enough testosterone naturally so I need to take DHEA . How will an increased testosterone level and DHEA change my life ?

You will be more manly.

What are the benefits of a woman using DHEA?, As far as health goes. Any specific medical conditions that DHEA seems to improve?

The older we get, the less DHEA we produce. I started taking supplemental DHEA two years ago when I was 48, and the difference in how I feel, how I am able to think and my energy levels is nothing short of amazing. My blood pressure went down, I lost weight, and my mood improved like 500%!! I recommend it highly for anyone over 45.

Where can I get DHEA from in Sydney NSW?, I've been TTC a baby for 4 years and have had 4 m/c in that time and read on other fertility forums that DHEA helped some women in the USA. Any help appreciated.

not sure wot DHEA is??????
u might want to explain a little more... hav u been to a fertility doc for tests???
ttc1 for 8 months +2mc

Why is it that DHEA can be taken orally whereas testosterone cannot?, If testosterone is a steroid-ring hormone and not a protein, then why can it not be ingested like another hormone, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)?

DHEA is a precursor to other hormones. It is stable when it goes through your digestive tract. Testosterone will break up in the acids. If you were to take the testosterone orally it would be broken down by your liver before it got to do much of anything. Liposome creams can carry hormones into the body very effectively and raise the levels of the hormones better than oral administration. DHEA and pregnenolone are taken orally.