DHEA is a steroid hormone produced by the human body. However, the amount the body produces decreases during the aging process. Supplementing with DHEA can be an effective natural remedy to promote weight loss, increase muscle mass, improve low libido, and heal inflammatory conditions.
What is DHEA?
DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, is produced in the adrenal glands and the brain. It is a precursor for estrogen and androgen hormones. After the age of 30, the production of DHEA by the body begins decreasing, with this decrease more pronounced in women. Certain medications like hormonal birth control pills and steroids can reduce DHEA in the body. Antidepressant medication may also reduce DHEA levels in the body. Stress levels can adversely affect DHEA levels.
When hormone levels are properly balanced, overall health tends to be stable. When hormone levels get out of whack, a cascade of health problems can result.
If a DHEA supplement is used and hormone balance is restored, many health problems can be resolved including the following:
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Heart disease
- Low libido
- Poor skin tone
- Vaginal atrophy
When DHEA and other hormone levels are properly balanced it is easier to lose weight and increase muscle mass.
How is DHEA Used?
DHEA is commonly taken as an oral supplement. Typical supplements contain between 25 and 50 milligrams of DHEA, although some supplements contain as little as 5 milligrams and others as much as 100 milligrams. Creams containing DHEA are used on the face to improve skin tone and reduce wrinkles. DHEA suppositories are used vaginally for vaginal atrophy.
DHEA Side Effects
If a supplement like DHEA can benefit so many health problems and reduce the effects of aging, who wouldn’t want to take it?
Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple. Hormonal processes in the body are complicated. Changing the level of one hormone affects other hormones. This is why hormone balance is so important. And it is a delicate balance. More is certainly not always better, especially in the case of DHEA.
Before supplementing with DHEA it is wise to have testing done to see if that is actually necessary. Follow up testing will ensure that supplementing with DHEA is creating a proper balance and not an imbalance in DHEA and other hormones.
While DHEA can be obtained without a prescription, caution should be taken when using DHEA without blood work monitoring. Side effects from too much DHEA can be just as distressing as the health problems that may come with too little DHEA.
DHEA can cause the following side effects:
Side Effects in Women:
- Oily skin
- Facial hair growth
- Thinning hair
- Deepening voice
- Menstrual irregularities
- Decreased breast size
Side Effects in Men:
- Decreased testes size
- Increase in breast size or tenderness
Additional Side Effects:
DHEA could interact with other medications including medications that regulate hormones. It could also affect medications for depression, diabetes, pain and other health conditions. If you take prescription medications, discuss any new supplements with your doctor or pharmacist.
Have you used DHEA for your health? Please share your experience with us!