What is DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)?
- An endogenous hormone (made in the human body) secreted by the adrenal gland.
- The most abundant steroid in the body.
- Foundation for male and female sex hormones (androgens and estrogens).
- Acts as a precursor hormone (plays a role in the production and function of many other hormones throughout the body).
- Also known as the "mother of all hormones" because it is needed to help us reach maturity and to keep our systems on track for good health and internal body system.
How the body produces DHEA?
- In the body, cholesterol is the starting material to make all steroid hormones in the body. In the adrenal glands, cholesterol is converted to pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is then converted to DHEA.
- DHEA can be metabolized into other sex hormones, including testosterone, estrogens, and up to 150 individual metabolites.
What are the functions of DHEA?(to mention a few from its many functions)
- Functions as an androgen (a male hormone) with anabolic activity. Anabolic refers to the building or synthesis of tissues.
- Is a precursor that is converted to testosterone (a male hormone). Is a precursor to estrogen (a female anabolic hormone)
- To generate the primary male and female sex hormones during the time of intercourse. (This is extremely important to create a balance of hormones in human body for the proper reproduction system.)
- Plays a crucial role for the treatment of diabetes, because increased or decreased levels of DHEA are the clear indication of blood insulin level imbalance. (So it is important for diabetes patients to keep their DHEA level maintained to control their blood sugar level.)
- Acts as an important factor in muscle building processes. (This is because, DHEA helps to boost blood streamline which further gives energy to lift heavy weights and build muscle mass.)
- Capable to combat auto-immune disorders, obesity, senile dementia, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.
- Also used for the treatment of various health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, depression, HIV and lupus.
- Reverses immune suppression caused by excess cortisol levels, thereby improving resistance against viruses, bacteria and Candida albicans, parasites, allergies, and cancer.
- Stimulates bone deposition and remodeling to prevent osteoporosis.
- Improves cardiovascular status by lowering total cholesterol and LDL levels, thereby lessening incidences of heart attack.
- Increases muscle mass. Decreases percentage of body fat.
- Involved in the thyroid gland's conversion of the less active T4 to the more active T3.
- Reverses many of the unfavorable effects of excess cortisol, creating subsequent improvement in energy/ vitality, sleep, premenstrual symptoms, and mental clarity.
- Accelerates recovery from any kind of acute stress (e.g.: insufficient sleep, excessive exercise, mental strain, etc.).
According to a recent research conducted on DHEA use for HIV/AIDS patients, it helps them to cure depression and also increase their energy level. In rare cases it is also reported that DHEA doses can help HIV patients to strengthen their immune system.
From birth, both men and women gradually produce more DHEA until about the age of 25. After the age of 25 we produce about 2% less per year each year. So by the age of 35, we make about 20% less than we did at age 25, and by age 50 we are making half as much.
Women, who tend to have lower levels, lose DHEA much more quickly than men as they age. (Orentreich 1984).
DHEA levels also vary according to ethnicity (Orentreich 1984; LaCroix 1992; Hornsby 1995). By the age 70, most people make minimal amounts of DHEA.
Eventually, after the age of 30, DHEA levels begin to decrease, which "aids" the aging process.
With attention to DHEA for being critical to our delicate interaction of hormones, DHEA imbalances commonly lead to imbalances of other hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone and cortisol.
Generally, DHEA level is on the lower side in people who have history of various diseases or if they are currently suffering with any diseases.
Other causes of DHEA deficiency includes
- A diet lacking in nutrition or a low-calorie diet
- Stress and emotional disturbances such as depression
DHEA levels are low in people suffering from anorexia and AIDS.
What are the symptoms of low levels of DHEA?
- Loss of strength and muscle mass
- Aching joints
- Decreased sex drive (especially in women)
- Weakened immune function
- Poor memory
- Difficulty in losing weight
- Dry skin and eyes
When low levels of DHEA causes weakened immune system, the body is more likely to be exposed to various infections and may easily and frequently fall sick. Therefore, low levels of DHEA results in increased bacteria, viruses and other microbes in the body.
Patients with low DHEA also complain of sleep disorders. The DHEA hormone is also made in the neurons of the brain. Although it is produced in small amounts in the brain, a decrease in DHEA may lower the thinking capability.
Decreased DHEA levels have been implicated in heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, inflammation, immune disorders, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, HIV, and osteoporosis (Hauffa 1984; Valenti 2002; Valenti 2004).
What are the benefits of DHEA?
- Increases bone mineral density
- Increases testosterone levels
- Restores muscle mass
- Improves the body fat ratio
- Improves memory
- Boost the immune system
- Promotes flexibility
- Raises endurance levels
- Boost a sense of well being
- Increases libido
- Advantageous effects against skin atrophy (thinning of the upper layer of skin), type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent) and obesity.
- Provides important advantages in postmenopausal women because it compensates for the declining secretion of DHEA by the adrenals with age.
THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT YOUTHFUL DHEA LEVELS ARE CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH GOOD HEALTH, AND THAT LOW LEVELS HAVE BEEN CONNECTED TO VARIOUS DISEASES.
There are two important reasons why DHEA is preferred in the formulation of bio-identical cream than capsules.
When DHEA is ingested orally, most of the DHEA will have to be filtered through the first pass effect of the liver. Only the available balance, which is DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S) gets into the bloodstream.
Oral consumption of DHEA has been recommended by health professionals for years. However, DHEA and DHEA sulfate are not the same and are not completely interchangeable in the body. This means, the body can make DHEA-S from DHEA, but it cannot make DHEA from DHEA-S. Moreover, blood levels of DHEA-S are 300 times higher than those of free DHEA.DHEA is a base for many sex hormones whereas DHEA-S is not. This is why; transdermal DHEA cream is preferred as the route of administration. This is shown in medical research done by Dr. Fabian Hammar published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Most DHEA metabolism occurs in the skin, proved by Dr. Fernand Labrie and a team of Canadian researchers in an important study published in February 2008. Most DHEA is actually used by the body in the biggest organ we have that is the skin, or the dermis.
Usage of DHEA will vary from one person to another. In some patients, only a small amount of DHEA is converted into estrogen, while the rest is converted into testosterone. While in others, it is vice versa. In such situations, taking DHEA pills can provoke hormonal imbalance and further worsen the problem.
Hence, a complete test should be performed on the level of other hormones in the body (estrogens and testosterone) before determining the dosage for DHEA. Additionally, the testosterone and estrogen levels need to be monitored regularly in patients who are on DHEA.
According to a small study it is suggested that certain lifestyle tips enhances DHEA levels.
- A happy and peaceful life
- Carrying out and participating in some activities that brings satisfaction and pleasure
- Following an exercise routine
- Involving in any sport or recreational activity uplifts the mood and further enhances DHEA levels.