There has been some heated controversy surrounding the benefits of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation lately, with it being called everything from “an anti-aging miracle” to “a snake-oil-like fraud”. While there some real benefits to DHEA supplementation, especially for women, the truth seems to be getting lost in all the controversy.
DHEA, a natural steroid and precursor hormone produced by the adrenals, is available as an over-the-counter supplement, both at health food stores and online. DHEA supplementation has been hyped by its manufacturers as a magic wonder-cure for many health issues, like muscle loss, weight loss, osteoporosis, depression, and even menopause.
A patient of mine recently came into the office suffering from an array of symptoms, including subclinical hypothyroidism, depression, stomach bloating and crippling fatigue. In short, she felt “completely spent, and just exhausted with life”. After we did some testing, it was revealed that she had a subclinical thyroid. However, her tests did show a severe adrenal imbalance and very low levels of DHEA. I have personally seen DHEA help patients like this one, who have been feeling their absolute worst, do a complete turnaround, and start feeling great again after starting a course of DHEA supplementation.
The truth is that DHEA supplementation can reap huge benefits for women in need of adrenal support. However, things are never as simple as just popping a pill. To safely gain the best possible benefits from DHEA, it should be used in a therapeutic setting, under proper medical supervision. Without appropriate use and supervision, the patient may risk an occurrence of excess DHEA levels. When used appropriately, DHEA can be an important catalyst to good hormonal balance.
Check out our patient testimonials – after just 8-10 weeks of treatment, including lifestyle changes, targeted nutritional support aimed at the Thyroid and adrenals, and daily doses of DHEA, many patients’ lives have been transformed.
So, What’s All This I have Been Hearing About DHEA?
DHEA is a steroid hormone synthesized from cholesterol and secreted by the adrenal glands – about 25 mg a day on average for an adult. The adrenals are walnut-sized organs located right above your kidneys. The adrenals peak their DHEA production when we are in our twenties, with natural production decreasing with age from there. Men at all ages produce more DHEA than women. The production and decline of DHEA levels is natural process of the body and aging. It is also a precursor to of the major sex hormones, like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This is why self-prescribing DHEA could bring some unwanted, and perhaps even dangerous, consequences. With a molecular structure similar to that of testosterone, we call it the “mother hormone” — the source that fuels the body’s metabolic pathway:
But DHEA production is not your adrenals’ only job. They also produce cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones. When dealing with chronic stress, the adrenals can become fatigued. The sources of stress could be poor nutrition and dieting, emotional turmoil, or financial or job-related stress, to name just a few. When you go through this sort of stress, your adrenals work overtime, pumping out cortisol, leaving little time or energy for sufficient DHEA production. This leads to an unhealthy hormonal imbalance, leaving you feeling tired, exasperated, or even depressed.
While more research needs to be done on how DHEA reacts through the hormones it get metabolized into, the improvements in the moods of patients supplementing DHEA points to a relationship between DHEA and adrenal functions and neurotransmitter release rates. When DHEA levels decrease, endocrine function slows down which results in a hormone imbalance, which can create some pretty undesirable emotional and energy related symptoms. We know that your body needs adequate DHEA to produce necessary hormones when they’re needed, promoting positive emotions, mental clarity, and increased energy. When taken as directed by a medical professional, DHEA is the quickest and most effective mood-improving hormone supplementation we know.
Despite there being no consensus about DHEA’s benefits, research has shown evidence that healthy levels of the hormone help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, heart disease and obesity. As with any medical treatment or supplementation, there are possible risks in taking DHEA, especially for women with a history of breast cancer, so we stress, once again, that medical supervision is very important if you feel that DHEA might be benefit to you. We will make sure that you get the safest and most effective treatments that are right for you.
Our Next article will outline common mistakes people make that further aggravate symptoms associated with Adrenal Fatigue