DHEA: is it beneficial? Expert’s Suggestion and Fact of DHEA

DHEA: is it beneficial? Expert’s Suggestion and Fact of DHEA

Dietary supplements have been gaining widespread popularity to treat a myriad of health conditions and physical complaints. However, the extent of this use along with prescription medications is widely unknown or underreported by primary care physicians. The following herbal supplements are most popular: Chondroitin, Coenzyme Q, DHEA, Echinacea, Garlic, Gingko biloba, Ginseng, Glucosamine, Melatonin, Saw Palmetto, St. Johns Wort, vitamin, or other.


DHEA is produced by the adrenal glands. In humans, levels of DHEA peak at about age 20 and then gradually decline. By the time we are 70, we have only about 20 percent of the peak amount circulating in the body. The decline in DHEA has been associated with the deleterious effects of aging, according to the researchers.

Testosterone (in men) and estrogen (in women) are produced mainly by the primary sex organs (i.e., testicles in men and ovaries in women). Sex hormones play a role in sexual activity (see also Sexual Concerns) and help to maintain overall health. In general, levels of these sex hormones decrease with age. Testosterone levels decrease with age, so that levels are lower in healthy older men than in younger men. A low DHEAS cortisol ratio may be associated with vulnerability to stress induced symptoms of dissociation.

Diagnosis for adrenal cancer usually begins with blood tests to evaluate levels of certain hormones, including cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and testosterone. It may also include MRI and CT scans to determine the extent of the disease.

According to lead researcher Ann Rasmusson, M.D., director of the neuroendocrine laboratory in Yale's department of psychiatry, this finding indicates that the DHEA/cortisol ratio may prove to be a useful diagnostic tool for determining who is likely to have a more difficult time kicking the habit and also may serve as a potential target for smoking cessation treatment interventions

DHEA is a hormonal substance found in the adrenal glands and in the gonads of primates and a few non-primate species. It is also produced synthetically. Steroid precursors are substances that the body converts into anabolic steroids. They are used to increase muscle mass. Common steroid precursors include:

The majority of clinical trials investigating the effect of DHEA

The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 made most steroid precursors illegal without a prescription. DHEA is the only one that is still available in over-the-counter preparations. Side effects of steroid precursors are similar to those for steroids. Low levels of DHEAS may be due to adrenal dysfunction or hypopituitarism - a condition that causes decreased levels of the pituitary hormones that regulate the production and secretion of adrenal hormones. Normal DHEAS levels, along with other normal androgen levels, may indicate that the adrenal gland is functioning normally, or (more rarely) that the adrenal tumor or cancer present is not secreting hormones.

Supplements of DHEA can be bought without a prescription and are sold as anti-aging remedies. Some proponents of these products claim that DHEA supplements improve energy, strength, and immunity. DHEA is also said to increase muscle and decrease fat. Right now there is no conclusive evidence that DHEA supplements do any of these things in people, and there is little scientific evidence to support the use of DHEA as a “rejuvenating” hormone. Although the long-term (over 1 year) effects of DHEA supplements have not been studied, there are early signs that these supplements, even when taken briefly, may have several detrimental effects on the body, including liver damage.

In addition, some people’s bodies make more estrogen and testosterone from DHEA than others. There is no way to predict who will make more and who will make less.But DHEA has shown promise in the treatment of lupus, adrenal failure, and depression, so by no means should it be dismissed as a worthless supplement.The popular herbal dietary supplements available in the market include Arginine, DHEA, HMB, Fiber, 7-KETO, and Chitosan.

Research study:

Increased androgen activity [sex hormones and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA)] may be associated with worse ischemic heart disease (IHD) risk factors in diabetic patients.

Serum DHEA-S concentration, which correlated inversely with degree of urinary albumin excretion, may contribute to the link between elevated urinary albumin excretion and higher cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality in male patients with type 2 diabetes.

DHEA may act in insulin-resistant mutant mice and in aging normal mice to increase the sensitivity to insulin.

Neither DHEA nor low-dose testosterone replacement in elderly people has physiologically relevant beneficial effects on body composition, physical performance, insulin sensitivity or quality of life.

In light of an evidence base for the efficacy of DHEA in patients with adrenal insufficiency, DHEA should no longer be accepted as a food supplement and should instead be treated as a regulated drug. Appropriate regulation would dispel much of the quackery associated with this hormone.

Patients receiving DHEA had significantly lower insulin levels during oral glucose tolerance tests than at the start of the study. Their glucose levels remained unchanged, and these results indicate an improvement in insulin action.

Study shows that monkeys eating a calorically restricted diet which contains little fat maintain higher DHEA levels in their bodies. In this setting, DHEA is a marker of aging. We do not yet know if DHEA plays a role in slowing the aging process."

Despite its popularity, there is little evidence the prohormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) can build muscle. A review (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, August 2006) concluded that "there appears to be little or no benefit in using prohormone nutritional supplements.

These hormonal supplement products are marketed as dietary supplements, and therefore are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as drugs.In addition, these over-the-counter products Also, there is no specific guarantee that the substance in the container is authentic or that the indicated dosage is accurate and it may interfere with other medications you are taking.

Steroids, sometimes called steroidal supplements, contain dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and/or androstenedione (also known as andro).Steroid supplements are weaker forms of androgen. Their effects aren't well known, but it's thought that, when taken in large doses, they cause effects similar to other androgens like testosterone. Here's what is known about steroidal supplements: Companies that manufacture them often use false claims and very little is known about the long-term effects some of these substances have on the body.

The only randomized clinical trial of DHEA that has been done so far found no benefit for hot flashes. A recent study showed that treatment with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) can reduce depression in HIV patients. The NIH SoS conference panel added that a few small, nonrandomized studies have suggested that DHEA might possibly have some benefit for hot flashes and decreased sexual arousal, but this has not been confirmed. The side effects, risks, and benefits of using DHEA for longer than a few months have not been well studied.

Patients with ED have used nutritional supplements including bioflavonoid, zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and flaxseed meal. Supplemental doses of the amino acid arginine have helped some men with ED, according to a research study. In addition, certain ED patients with low levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) showed improvement in erectile function after receiving supplemental doses of DHEA. Experts have concerns about the safe use of DHEA, however, because long-term safety data do not exist.

DHEA may increase the effects of barbiturates, a class of medications often used to treat sleep disorders. It may increase the effectiveness of an anti-cancer medication known as cisplatin and the effects of prednisolone, a steroid medication used to treat inflammation and other disorders. DHEA may influence the level of estrogen in the body. For this reason, some women on estrogen replacement therapy may need to adjust their dosage.

The supplement DHEA, widely marketed as an anti-aging supplement, has been found to be no better than placebo at slowing markers of aging. Recently the study, published in the issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, looked 87 men and 57 women over 60 who had low DHEA levels. After a two year period, people who took DHEA had no significant improvement in body fat, physical performance, insulin sensitivity, or quality of life compared with those given a placebo.

Mayo Clinic researchers restored DHEA in older men and women to levels usually found in young people and determined there were no beneficial effects on age related changes in body composition, physical performance, insulin sensitivity or quality of life. The researchers advise people to stop using DHEA because it’s unlikely to offer any anti aging effect.

DHEA are pure chemicals with numerous biological effects, but neither a clear reason for use nor dose is well defined. And neither hormone has been evaluated systematically for undesirable side effects. To some degree, a return to botanical remedies is a return to an earlier tradition. None of these materials is considered to be supplements by nutritionists.

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