What is DHEA?
DHEA, or 5-Dehydroepiandrosterone (5-DHEA) is a 19-carbon endogenous hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands, the gonads and the brain. DHEA circulates abundantly in humans. It's been implicated in a wide range of biological effects in several mammals including humans and it acts on the androgen receptor through the metabolites. It's also deemed as a potent agonist of sigma-1 and is considered a neurosteroid.
How Does DHEA Work?
DHEA is a “parent hormone” which is transformed in the body to become androstenedione, which in turn is then changed into the major female and male hormones. As a person gets older, the levels of DHEA go down. If a person has depression, DHEA levels also plummet down.
How is DHEA Used?
Recent studies have shown that DHEA can provide several benefits to anyone using it. Some of the most popular uses are:
Slowing down or reversing the aging process
Improvement of memory and thinking skills in older people
Slowing down the progress of Alzheimer’s disease
Athletes use DHEA to increase strength, energy and muscle mass
For men with erectile dysfunction and women who have low levels of some hormones, DHEA is used to improve sexuality and well-being.
Some people try to use DHEA to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, Addison’s disease, schizophrenia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
The steroid is also used for the prevention of breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
It is used for decreasing menopausal symptoms, for weight loss and for boosting the immune system.
Patients with HIV use DHEA to lift depression and ease fatigue.
Women on the post-menopausal stage sometimes apply DHEA inside their vagina to strengthen its walls and increase their bone mineral density.
Findings about DHEA
A number of research has been conducted to find other uses for DHEA. Supplements containing DHEA have been found to be potentially helpful in certain conditions.
Since DHEA may enhance mental functions and increase bone mass, many studies focused on using prasterone (Prestara), a form of synthetic DHEA. In 2004, a study in arthritis and rheumatism discovered that daily intake of prasterone stabilized symptoms on patients with SLE.
An increase in levels of DHEA could help reduce depressive symptoms and anxiety among people with schizophrenia based on a 2003 study conducted by the Archives of General Psychiatry. DHEA may also improve a person's mood, boost energy and enhance the well-being of patients.
Side Effects with DHEA
There have been some reports of the possible side effects caused by DHEA’s hormone metabolites. DHEA is considered to be safe for most people when it is used for just a few months. Some of the probable side effects include stomach upset, acne, hair loss and high blood pressure. Using it for a longer period of time or in higher doses can increase your likelihood of experiencing these side effects.
It is important to be cautious with the following combinations:
Anastrozole (Arimidex) - DHEA is changed to estrogen and this medication lowers estrogen levels. Combining DHEA with anastrozole might lessen the effectiveness of the latter.
Exemestane (Aromasin) - This also decreases estrogen levels in the body. Don’t take DHEA if you’re already taking exemestane.
Fulvestrant (Faslodex) - A few types of cancer are affected by the hormones inside the body. Estrogen levels affect estrogen-sensitive cancers, and so fulvestrant is used for these types. DHEA might decrease the effectiveness of fulvetrant because it increases estrogen levels.
Insulin - This lowers the amount of DHEA in the body.
DHEA can provide enormous benefits for a wide range of medical issues and fitness needs. Using it responsibly is the key to obtaining the results you're looking for.
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