Last Updated June 13th, 2021
What exactly is the DHEA?
Dehydroepiandrosterone commonly known as DHEA is a natural steroid hormone produced in our body. This steroid hormone is produced by the adrenal glands which are located above the kidneys. Some quantity of DHEA is converted into testosterone (male hormone) and estrogen (female hormone). It is also termed as androstenolone, 3β-hydroxyandrost-5-en-17-one and 5-androstane-3β-ol-17-one. It is indeed surprising that a naturally produced hormone is consumed as a supplement in various scenarios.
The reason is that with aging the production of DHEA deteriorates. It is evident that there high levels of DHEA found in younger adults that eventually decrease with the increase in age. Studies have proved that DHEA decreases up to 80% throughout adulthood. This decrease in DHEA is noticeable after the age of 30.
DHEA is also known as the “super hormone” or “the fountain of youth hormone”; and most recently was titled as “the mother of all hormones” by several news reports. It plays a vital role in the development of androgenic effects or masculinization, which includes the production of oilier skin, the growth of pubic and armpit hair and changes in body odor.
This steroid hormone is also found in the dietary supplement form. The dietary supplement consists of the synthetic form of DHEA which is produced from diosgenin, which is a combination of a substance found from soy and wild yams. People are driven to take DHEA to compensate for their aging and hormonal issues in the long run.
What are the major health benefits of DHEA?
DHEA has been a critical topic of research for a number of studies. There were various conditions that initiated the research on DHEA proving that a DHEA supplement is essential when it is found in a lower amount in our system.
Several kinds of research and proofs provided were carried out or performed mostly on mice or rats that were fed daily doses. The researches related to DHEA started way back in 1972. This study was conducted under the supervision and guidance of Dr. Barrett-Connor’s. The study showed the relevance and risk of heart disease caused by DHEA in both men and women.
- Controlled aging: Though several speculations have been made, that DHEA combats the aging factor in our body and helps us remain young, with improved cognitive function.
- Osteoporosis: With the increase in age the level of DHEA tends to reduce. The lower amounts of DHEA cause several bone deficiencies and reduces the density of the bone but this condition could be treated with the administration of DHEA supplements.
- Anti-depressant: People diagnosed with/ or reported to have depression were administered with substantial quantities of DHEA which help treat their depression. The results were satisfying and DHEA was used as a replacement for placebo. It is safer to consume the prescribed dosage under attentive medical supervision to avoid any adverse effect.
Other advantages it might have
- The effect on Addison’s disease is still unclear. Though some researchers have proved a prescribed amount of DHEA taken on a daily basis for a year, orally, can contribute to weight loss and help increase bone density.
- Early research has proved that DHEA taken through a vaginal insertion for a period of 6 months can help remove abnormal growth in the cervix region.
- It is evident that the administration of DHEA during 37th or 38th week of pregnancy can shorten the time span until labor starts.
- Research has proved that taking 25-100mg of DHEA for the stipulated time frame of 6 months helps reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Consumption of 200mg of DHEA on a daily basis for 3 months is said to improve lung functionality for people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- There is a mixed result on the effects of DHEA for women who are planning to undergo IVF. Some research shows that it is effective and helps in getting pregnant while some research has been contradictory.
What are the primary uses of DHEA?
- DHEA helps in regulating the anti-aging factors, thereby preventing rapid aging as it is constituted of testosterone and estrogen.
- Due to menopause, the surrounding walls of the vagina tend to become thinner making sex difficult and painful. This can be reduced with the use of DHEA in the form of a vaginal insert. The product Intrarosa and Endoceutics Inc. are prescribed for the above-mentioned condition.
- A high dosage up to 500mg of DHEA on a daily basis has been helpful in reducing depression.
- DHEA supplements are used by several individuals to increase sex drive.
- Helps strengthen the immune system.
- Tackles mood swings and regulates mood and memory related issues.
- Enhances bodybuilding by building bones and muscle strength.
- Helps treat Alzheimer’s disease.
- Cures low bone density issues.
- Regulates sexual dysfunction in both male and female.
- There is some evidence that proves that DHEA helps in weight loss. A review from 2013 concluded that “DHEA supplementation in elderly men can induce a small but significant positive effect on body composition.”
- The administration of DHEA supplements, 100grams for 6 months helped to increase body mass index (BMI) and helped enhance moods.
- Treats adrenal insufficiency.
- Helps regulate and manage lupus symptoms.
- Treats Fibromyalgia, a condition associated with widespread pain in the muscles, tendons, ligaments, fatigue, and multiple tender points on the body.
How much DHEA should you consume?
50 milligram of DHEA taken on a daily basis for a year can help in aging skin.
- A percentage of DHEA supplement cream applied to the face and hands twice daily for a period of four months can help reducing aging in skin.
- Vaginal insertion of 0.25% to 1% of DHEA on a daily basis for twelve weeks.
- 30-500 milligram of DHEA administered on a daily basis for a time period of 6 to 8 weeks reduces depression. This can also be taken along with antidepressant drugs or alone.
Are there any side-effects of DHEA?
There are several renowned sources that advise against the use of DHEA. Such medication should be taken under the supervision of a physician or medical personnel. However, the constant use of DHEA and the quantity administered can affect the endocrine system responsible for the hormonal activity. The adverse effects of DHEA are governed by the age factor, the period of usage and the quantity of consumption. The following are the common side effects caused by the DHEA, they are
- Alteration in the rhythm of the heart.
- Chest pain.
- Mood swings and emotional disruptions.
- Tiredness and fatigue.
- Affects patients with a bipolar disorder causing them to develop several manias.
- Loss of sleep or insomnia.
- Pimples or acne and the presence of oily skin.
- Lowers blood pressure rapidly.
- Causes irregular menstruation.
- Increase in facial hair growth.
- Blood-clotting issues.
- Reduce the breast size
- Increases the size of the genitals in women.
- Reduces the testes size in men.
- Causes tenderness and growth of breast in men.
- Increase in perspiration.
- With prolonged usage, it increases the levels of testosterone in both men and women paving a way for the growth of several cancers.
DHEA drug interactions
- It is safer to avoid using DHEA along with estrogen as it causes nausea, headache and lack of sleep or insomnia.
- Avoid using DHEA with testosterone as it can result in lowering sperm count, increase breast size in men and develop typically male characteristics in women.
- Central nervous system depression is caused when DHEA is used with It affects the breathing and heart rate.
- DHEA should never be combined with Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol, and Epitol), can reduce the effectiveness of the drug and hinder in curing seizures, nerve pain, and bipolar disorder.
Though several studies and theories have made DHEA the most wanted supplement for several disease and disorders, it is still uncertain of its usage. The researchers from various streams concluded that DHEA may reverse the age-related accumulation of abdominal fat in the elderly. They also dangled out the possibility that the hormone could be used to prevent the development of prediabetic syndromes. If either came true, we’d be celebrating a fairly significant medical advance.
According to a publication in, the Journal of the American Medical Association, dated November 10th, 2004, brought to the conclusion that their findings are fundamental and were too brief to elaborate on the danger that DHEA poses to mankind. Several weight reduction centers have made use of this propaganda to increase their revenues but it hasn’t been proven as an effective weight loss agent.
It is essential to educate the community or society about the use of DHEA supplements to avoid any complications that could arise from consuming the same. The risk associated with the use of DHEA can lead to permanent stunting of growth, aggression in a person’s behavior, psychological problems, and liver issues and alters the cholesterol level. It is necessary that a physician or a doctor prescribes the same to you and care should be taken when consuming DHEA.
If used at a higher quantity it can cause cancers of various kinds and can have a negative effect on the hormones. It is safer to scan the odds before taking DHEA supplements as it can alter the effectiveness of several drugs and cause any symptoms to worsen, making it difficult. It is also evident that the use of DHEA supplements can hinder the natural production of DHEA in the body and alter the whole system causing adverse effects.
On the whole, DHEA supplements cause an adverse reaction when taken with antipsychotic drugs, HIV medication, barbiturates, estrogen, and oral contraceptives, testosterone, benzodiazepines, corticosteroids, insulin, lithium, cancer medications, and prescription drugs that are broken down by the same liver enzymes as DHEA. It is therefore advisable to use a DHEA supplement under medical care to avoid the above-mentioned contradictions.
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