Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland and to a lesser extent by the brain and skin. DHEA and DHEA-S (the sulfated form of DHEA) decline in the mid-to-late 20s and by age 70 you make 25-30% of the hormone that you produced in your 20s. DHEA is a precursor of other sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Studies have shown that some of the functions of DHEA are to:
  • Decrease cholesterol (many studies show decreased LDL)
  • Prevent blood clots
  • Decrease formation of fatty deposits (both in the brain and vascular system)
  • Increase bone growth preventing osteoporosis
  • Promote weight loss (many studies show fat loss without proteins loss)
  • Improve body mass index

Replacement of DHEA can:

  • Increase muscle mass and muscle strength
  • Increase quality-of-life
  • Improve sleep
  • Increase the feeling of wellness
  • Decrease triglycerides
  • Stop the damaging effect of stress
  • Improve adrenal burnout or failure thus reducing inflammation
  • Decrease joint sensitivity, soreness, and autoimmune disease
  • Increase sensitivity to insulin and
  • Stimulate the immune system
Side Effects of DHEA excess include:
  • Acne
  • Hirsutism
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Insomnia with mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Fatigue
  • Sugar cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Oily hair and skin

These side effects can all be managed by stopping or decreasing the dose of DHEA.

In women, DHEA can produce excessive androgens. This can be avoided by using a different form of DHEA called 7-keto DHEA. This will keep DHEA from entering any androgen metabolic pathway. Oddly enough, DHEA does not appear to increase androgens in males.