What is DHEA? Very simplistically, DHEA is manufactured in the adrenal glands. The hormone breaks down in the body into testosterone and estrogen in men and in women. Supplemental DHEA and some of the possibilities by over 4000 scientific studies conducted throughout the world over the last 40 years. In a study at the University of California School of Medicine, La Jolla, DHEA was given to 13 men and 17 women aged 40 to 70 years. The subjects took either 50 mg. DHEA or a placebo every day for 6 months. Results showed that 84% of the women and 67% of the men taking DHEA showed "a remarkable increase in perceived physical and psychological well-being" as compared to the placebo group. The subjects taking DHEA reported an improved ability to deal with stressful situations, increased energy, deeper sleep, improved mood and more relaxed feelings. Dr. William Regelson, MD, a worldwide leading expert on hormones in health and disease says DHEA is the "superstar of the super hormones" and that DHEA "actually makes you look, feel and think better." Dr. Arthur Schwartz from Temple University believes that DHEA shows promise as an anti-cancer agent and has found that DHEA protects laboratory animals from cancers of the breast, lung, colon, liver, skin, and lymphatic tissue. DHEA has been linked to a reduction in fear. It has been noted that it operates as an anti-glucocorticoid. The negative physiological process of fear is dependent on activity in the hippocampus, which is known to be dense in glucocorticoid receptors. DHEA replacement therapy has been shown to reduce the rate of breast cancer by 73% in a study where rats where given a mammary cancer-inducing substance called DMBA. The breast cancer rate in control animals remained at 95% compared to 27% for those with DHEA supplementation.
DHEA has been shown to significantly enhance immune function. In a study by SS Yen, with 9 health men with an average age of 63 years old taking 50mg. per day of DHEA orally over a 20 week period, post DHEA immune function was significantly enhanced. Levels of 13 different immune agents were increased by 20 to 62%. DHEA supplements have been shown to increase energy levels, enhance memory and cognitive functions, reduce the ill effects of stress, improve immunity to diseases (including cancer), decrease body fat, enhance sex drive and possibly even extend life, improve mood. In several animal models, DHEA was shown to provide 100% protection against the potentially lethal effects of stress on the immune system. In recent human studies, DHEA has been shown to significantly activate immune function and DHEA has powerful immuno-enhancing properties. DHEA has been called the "ultimate antioxidant" and it has been suggested that DHEA can block cancer during its early stages in animals. Aging The body's production of DHEA drops from about 30 mg at age 20 to less than 6 mg per day at age 80. According to Dr. William Regelson of the Medical College of Virginia, DHEA is "one of the best biological bio-markers for chronological age."
DHEA levels are directly related to mortality (the probability of dying) in humans. In a 12-year study of over 240 men aged 50 to 79 years, researchers found that DHEA levels were inversely correlated with mortality, both from heart disease and from all causes. This finding suggests that DHEA-S (DHEA sulfate) level measurements can become a standard diagnostic predictor of disease, mortality and life span. Furthermore, if animal results hold true, supplemental DHEA may prevent disease, reduce mortality, and extend life span in humans. Brain Function Dr. Eugene Roberts found that very low concentrations of DHEA were found to "increase the number of neurons, their ability to establish contacts, and their differentiation" in cell cultures. He also found that DHEA also enhanced long-term memory in mice undergoing avoidance training. It may play a similar role in human brain function. Alzheimer's Disease Evidence increasingly suggests that DHEA is essential in maintaining the function of brain cells. Neurologist speculate that DHEA supplementation in humans may be an important ingredient both in slowing the progression of Alzheimer's and in treating the sort of degenerative memory disorders that often arise in old age. NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -November 21, 2002 Two hormones are roughly equal in terms of helping women with anorexia nervosa rebuild their bones, but one may help to restore their mental health as well, study findings show. One of the hormones, DHEA, seemed to have a positive effect on psychological symptoms among anorexic women, including body image concerns and attitudes toward eating, researchers report in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Nearly half of all people with anorexia experience early bone loss and bone fractures. Young women with anorexia have low levels of the hormone estrogen, which helps keep bones strong, so one approach to improving bone density has been to prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, the evidence to support the use of HRT in women with anorexia has been mixed. There are some signs that low levels of another type of hormone, DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, also weaken bones in anorexia. Preliminary research has suggested that DHEA supplements may improve bone health in women with anorexia. In the new study, Dr. Catherine M. Gordon of Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and colleagues compared HRT with DHEA in 61 young women who had anorexia nervosa. The women were randomly assigned to take one of the hormone treatments each day. Over the course of a year, women in both groups experienced an increase in bone mineral density, but the increase was mainly due to the weight the women gained. Both treatments also seemed to reduce bone destruction, or resorption. Gordon's team did detect signs that DHEA not only slows the destruction of bone but also promotes its growth. This difference suggests a "theoretical advantage of DHEA over standard estrogen/progestin," according to the report, although the researchers point out that bone density did not differ between the groups after one year of treatment. The investigators found that women taking DHEA experienced a decrease in several psychological symptoms related to anorexia. In the DHEA group, concerns about body image declined 24%, unhealthy attitudes toward eating dropped 26% and anxiety decreased 12%. Based on the findings, the authors conclude that DHEA "may help reverse some of the emotional disturbances associated with the disease." SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2002;87:4935-4941. Other potential benefits of supplemental DHEA noted by researchers: Improved immune system Great ability to cope with stressful events Elevated mood Feeling of well-being Decreased fat Lift in energy Making bodies leaner More relaxed feeling Improvement in concentration Promotes deeper and more restorative sleep Increases muscle strength and physical mobility Also, DHEA is being investigated for possible treatments of: Osteoporosis Epstein-barrviral infections Chronic fatigue Syndrome Depression Menopause Herpes Aids Cancer Anti-obesity Diabetes Lupus Dosage for DHEA Daily dosages vary from 5 to 10 mg to as much as 2000 mg. Generally suggested dosage is 25 to 50 mg taken in the morning before breakfast. 50 mg for men and 25 mg for women. It is generally suggested that the proper dosage would be that amount to bring blood DHEA and DHEA-S measurements towards young-adult (around 20 yr. old) level. These blood tests can be done by your physician.