DHEA is the hormone most heavily discussed in medical papers. It is a hormone with a reputation. The body converts DHEA to major hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.
DHEA has a broad range of amount in the blood and its normal levels in men and women are 250 – 1500 ng/dl and 150 – 1000 ng/dl, respectively. The blood level of DHEA declines with aging.
Effects of DHEA:
Medical papers and research have attributed amazing effects and benefits to DHEA. Some of these effects are proven and medically approved, but before rushing to use DHEA, consult a physician who has a specialized knowledge of hormones, because it is not for everybody. So it is reasonable to exercise caution before deciding to take DHEA. Many books discuss DHEA and its advantages.
DHEA is a multifunctional hormone that can influence on many parts of the body. We have summarized the impacts here:
Some researchers call DHEA a neurosteroid, because the brain can metabolize it, and also it can affect serotonin levels—a naturally occurring hormone that improves sleep. It is claimed that it can improve memory, elevate mood, reduce stress, and improve brain function.
DHEA has an anti-obesity activity and facilitates weight loss. By affecting fat metabolism, it reduces body fat. It seems that DHEA exerts this effect through the elevation of IGF-I, the most potent fat burner. Other possible mechanisms offered by investigators are inhibition of an enzyme named G6PD, and stimulating the release of cholecystokinin—a hormone released from the small intestine and acts as an appetite suppressant by sending satiety signals to the brain.
DHEA modulates the immune system and rejuvenates it. It is believed that immunity improves as a result of IGF-I stimulation. This increases the number of immune cells and results in improvements in immune-related diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Reports indicate that DHEA may reduce the risk of heart diseases by lowering LDL cholesterol (bad fat) levels and increasing HDL (good fat) levels. Most research support this as affecting men, but not women.
It seems that DHEA can suppress cancers in their earliest stages and decrease the aggressiveness of tumors by blocking the enzyme TKTL1. Indeed, it has cancer-preventing feature. In addition, as mentioned earlier, DHEA inhibits an enzyme called G6PD. This enzyme may activate inactive cancer-producing agents in the body.
People with insulin-dependent diabetes have been reported to have low levels of DHEA. It is reported that patients who take DHEA, need less insulin.
Reportedly, people with osteoporosis have low levels of DHEA, and treatment with it increases the density of the bones.
Supplementing with DHEA increases testosterone levels in both men and women; subsequently, it enhances sexual desire.
Aging and longevity:
Studies have shown that the level of DHEA declines with age and that falling DHEA levels accelerate the aging process. DHEA blunts aging, and the explanations for the anti-aging activity of DHEA include the following:
1) Antioxidative effect.
2) Increased production of IGF-I and GH.
3) Reduction of the cardiovascular events.
4) Reduction of the aging impact of stress hormone.
5) Increased production of melatonin hormone levels.
Based upon reports, DHEA promotes the healing process following a burn. It speeds up repair of damaged cells.
Source of DHEA:
The natural source of DHEA outside the body is an herb named wild yam, often called Mexican yam. The outer bark of the wild yam root is rich in saponins including diosgenin and in alkaloids including dioscorin. The synthetic form of DHEA that is available as a food supplement in tablet, capsule, liquid, and sublingual form is made from diosgenin extracted from wild yam through a series of reactions in the lab.
Manufacturers of food supplements make false claims, saying that using diosgenin or wild yam extract increases the production of DHEA in the body. But keep in mind that the human body does not have the enzymes needed to convert wild yam to DHEA. So buying these kinds of supplements is just a waste of money, because taking wild yam extracts will never increase DHEA production.
Side Effects of DHEA:
The side effects of DHEA appear at high dosage and are those of testosterone. These include the following:
- Acne (in more than half of cases).
- Unwanted hair growth.
- Voice deepening.
- Increased sweating.
- Mood swings and irritability.
- Breast enlargement and tenderness.
- Unwanted weight gain.
- Irregular menstruation.
- Oily skin.
- Increased risk of cancer.
- Feeling of fatigue and loss of energy.
Athletic Benefits of DHEA:
The anabolic effects of DHEA and its ability to increase testosterone and IGF-I levels are attractive to athletes. Regardless of ban by sports – governing bodies and sports organizations since 1999, abuse of DHEA in sports continues.
The FDA does not control the claims about the actions and benefits of DHEA, as it is produced naturally in the body. Even though DEA (drug enforcement administration) does not consider DHEA as an anabolic steroid, the WADA (world anti – doing agency) has banned using DHEA in sports with zero tolerance policy.
DHEA benefits athletes through the following activities:
1) Increases testosterone and IGF-I levels.
2) Burns fat and builds muscles.
3) Improves physical performance.
4) Prevents burnout and post-workout muscle soreness.
5) Creates an antioxidative effect on working muscles.
6) Energizes and increases stamina.
7) Reduces stress and neutralizes the effects of stress hormone.
8) Elevates good fat levels and lowers bad fat levels.
9) Strengthens the immune system.
10) Improves athletes` mood and mental status for competitions.
11) Protects joints and bones.
12) Reduces recovery time after workouts.
13) Accelerates energy storage by the body.
14) Elevates melatonin levels, the sleep hormone.
Non – Athletic Benefits of DHEA:
The following conditions may benefit from DHEA:
- Compromised immune system.
- HIV support.
- Addison`s disease.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Low libido.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn`s disease and ulcerative colitis).
- Systemic lupus erthematosus (SLE).
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Weight management.
- Wound healing.
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Heart disease (prevention only).
- Low function thyroid (to correct deficiency).
How to Elevate DHEA Levels:
Age – related decline of DHEA leads to changes that weaken the body, lower resistance to diseases, deteriorate mental and emotional health, and undermine overall health. Accordingly, maintaining DHEA levels in the normal range can prevent many of those changes or, at least, halt them. To give your body the benefits of DHEA, you need to keep its level in normal range. For this reason, we suggest you follow DHEA or ABAZAR programs. Both of them are DHEA-increasing programs. To our experience, the ABAZAR program is more effective than the DHEA program.
Decrease stress and stressors in your life.
Habituate your body to food supplements.
Alter your life style.
Alter your life style.
Banish negative thoughts.
Affirm positive thoughts.
Zinc your body fully.
Augment your body with food supplements.
Regulate an exercise program.
Alter Your Life Style:
There are many things you can change in your life that will help you enjoy it more. Organize your life. Try to wean yourself from smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, and using stimulants including caffeine. Avoid using tranquilizers. Sleep sufficiently. Take a warm shower at bedtime to help you fall asleep easily and have a restful sleep.
Banish Negative Thoughts and Affirm Positive Thoughts:
Stopping negative thoughts and affirming positive thoughts help you relieve anxiety, decrease stress, and enhance your overall health. Set aside 10 to 20 minutes for yourself each day. Sit down in a quiet place and think about your life, about stressors, and about how you can cope with them. Negative thoughts undermine our well being and can destroy one`s life. Try to stop them because they will get stronger. The best way to deal with them is to do affirmation of positive thoughts.
Chronic patterns of self-hate, guilt, and self-criticism raise the body`s stress levels. Get rid of them. Think positively. There is a tremendous power in your spoken words because they are the foundation of what you continually experience in your life. Give yourself positive affirmations.
Enroll in yoga and meditation classes. All of them help you lower stress, a factor that reduces your body`s DHEA levels.
Zinc Your Body Fully:
Zinc is a mineral that participates in the formation of the body`s normal steroids including DHEA. One of the most important causes of zinc deficiency is stress, which can result from things as different as hard exercise to hearing a bad news. Supplementing your body with zinc aids it in counteracting the effects of stress. It also elevates your DHEA and testosterone levels.
For detailed information about zinc, see "Zinc", under the section of "Testosterone Boosters".
Augment Your Body with Food Supplements:
Supplementation with dietary supplements improves your body`s ability to produce DHEA. The food supplements include DHEA itself and zinc. Other antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, co-enzyme Q10, and beta-carotene are good for the body (see “Antioxidants”). They help you in a variety of ways.
Another nutrient that is thought to link with DHEA levels is chromium. You can find plenty of food supplements as chromium citrate or picolinate. The suggested daily dosage is 400 – 1000 micrograms (see “Chromium” under section of “Minerals").
Interestingly, it is claimed that plant steroids (phytosterols) including stigmasterol and sitosterol can be metabolized to pregnenolone and, therefore, to DHEA. Furthermore, sitosterol helps Omega-6 fatty acids convert to Omega-3 fatty acids easily. Plants steroids, also called sterols, strengthen the immune system.
Regular an Exercise Program:
One of the best ways to increase your hormone levels is exercise. But, what kind? For "Hormone-Releasing Exercises", see “GH Enhancers”. In fact, the exercises for releasing growth hormone, testosterone, estrogen, and DHEA are the same.
How to Take DHEA:
Most people do not need to supplement themselves with DHEA. Before making a decision to use it, seek advice from your physician because there is a controversy about DHEA correct dosage. Some experts recommend 5 to 15 mg for women and 10 to 30 mg for men; others suggest 25 to 50 mg per day. Athletes need a higher dosage. We recommend that non-athletes take 25 to 50 mg daily and athletes take 50 to 75 mg daily. It is better to start at a low dose, 5 to 10 mg, depending in part on the blood levels of DHEA. If you do not experience any effects, you may be advised to increase your dosage by 5 to 10 mg weekly. If you are a non-athlete, do not take more than 50 mg per day; if you are an athlete, do not exceed 100 mg per day without consultation.
Because DHEA is a normal hormone, some question whether taking external supplements will suppress the body`s own production of DHEA. Some experts claim that it does not, except in very high dosage. But this has not been proved. So it is better and it is a “must” to consult a medical doctor, specializing in endocrinology, to have your DHEA levels monitored before and after supplementing.