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 DHEA
(Dehydroepiandrosterone)


open quote DHEA is hyped as the ultimate anti-aging herb. Luckily there are clinical studies that show it helps to slow down the aging of the skin and for treating erectile dysfunction. close quote logo



leaf logo natural remedies review herb plant

If possible, get your serum levels measured to see if it low or elevated. If your blood levels are high, you might not need to take this supplement. You may have to seek out specialized lab as the one your doctor uses may not be able to measure serum DHEA levels.

There is some evidence to support using this supplement to treat erectile dysfunction and it would be worthwhile to try it out. For a list of other natural remedies used to help with impotence, click here.

Also marketed as an aphrodisiac and for treating erectile dysfunction, many products may also contain yohimbe (yohimbine), catuaba, horny goat weed (epimedium), maca, ginkgo, L-arginine, ginseng, muira puama, tribulus terrestris and vitamins & minerals.


Table of Contents



Evidence of Benefits (Leaf Rating System)

leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Adrenal Insufficiency (Addison's Disease)

Many research studies support using this supplement to enhance well-being, quality of life, sex drive, skin and hair quality, exercise endurance in those suffering from Addison's disease.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Skin Aging

Taking this supplement enhances the quality of the skin, makes it thicker, moister and reduces skin pigments in older men and women.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Erectile Dysfunction (ED) / Impotence

This supplement is shown to enhance orgasm, increase sexual desire and reduce impotence in men suffering from erectile dysfunction.

For a list of other natural remedies used to treat ED, click here.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

In research studies, taking this supplement while on standard therapy for SLE reduces the severity of the disease and the number of flare-ups.

Patients reported being able to reduce the dose of their standard prescription medications.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Depression

Some clinical studies show that this supplement can lessen depression and improve the feeling of well-being.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Weight Loss / Obesity

Clinical trials seem to show that taking this supplement helps with weight loss in older people who are overweight. This supplement has been reported to enhance the effect of insulin and can be useful in helping with weight loss.

Studies were done using 50 mg daily dose for 6 months.  However, current research studies had conflicting results.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Increase Sex Drive / Libido in Female

One study involving 16 women (L. Hackbert, 2002) showed that a single 300 mg dose of this supplement 60 minutes prior to exposure to sexual images increased mental and physical sexual response.

For natural remedies used to help with low sex drive, click here.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The results from research studies are mixed. Some show benefits and other do not. More research will be required to see if taking this supplement helps treat chronic fatigue syndrome.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Infertility / Fertility Enhancement

There is some evidence that taking this supplement may help with ovulation problems. It may help with infertility for female wishing to conceive.

However, more research studies will be required to find out exactly how effective this is compared to using prescription medications such as Clomid or Serophene.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Induction of Labor

Some studies suggests that this supplement can be used to induce labor. We do not advise pregnant female to attempt this without medical supervision.
 
leaf rating system natural remedies plant benefit side effects Menopause Symptoms

Many studies were done to see if taking this supplement helps with treating symptoms such as pain, osteoporosis, hot flashes, mood disorders and decreased libido during menopause. It has been suggested as a suitable alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

For the treatment of menopause symptoms, this supplement may be helpful. Some studies show positive results while other shows no benefit. The results are mixed and additional studies will be required for more accurate results.
 

Fibromyalgia - Probably Not Effective

Taking this supplement does not help reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia such as pain, fatigue and mood.
   

Alzheimer's Disease/Dementia - Probably Not Effective

The results are mixed and highly variable. It is difficult to come to any clear conclusions for using this supplement.
 

Increase Muscle Strength - Probably Not Effective

Taking this supplement does not improve muscle strength or muscle mass in the elderly population.
 

Enhance the Immune System - Probably Not Effective

It is suggested that DHEA might be used to stimulate the immune system. However, research studies conducted does not seem to show this benefit.
 

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Facts about DHEA

What is it?

It is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and the liver in our body. It is also produced by the testis in men. Our body uses it to make the male and female sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen).

DHEA is an important part of many of our body's physiological functions. It is called “The mother of all hormones”. The body uses it to maintain our immune system and to build our sex hormones. It also plays a role in our general levels of mood and well-being. Stress seems to reduce our production of this natural hormone.

A deficiency in this hormone may be the cause of many health problems. It has been suggested high levels of DHEA-S is associated with a better immune function. However, more research will be required before we can come to a clear conclusion.

DHEA is often used to build muscle for bodybuilding. However, the research studies show that this supplement has no effect in increasing muscle mass or strength.

There is a very large selection of manufacturers. Many natural products containing DHEA are marketed to maintain youth and used in bodybuilding for increasing muscle mass, as an anti-aging product or to treat female hormonal problems.

How does it function?

DHEA-S is the form our body stores DHEA. This hormone, which is not active, is converted by our body to androgens and estrogens. DHEA level reaches a maximum at around the age of 20, and then goes down after the age of 30.

Research studies have shown that people have lower than normal levels if they have the following disease:
  • kidney disease
  • diabetes (type 2, non-insulin dependent)
  • AIDS
  • chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • adrenal insufficiency
  • anorexia
As it is converted to androgens and estrogens, some experts believe that taking this supplement may increase the risk of prostate and breast cancers. The dangers of using this supplement are unclear as some research studies show that it might protect against cancer.

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Suggested Benefits and Traditional Uses

Orally

  • Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency)
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • andropause (in male)
  • anti-aging
  • cervical cancer
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Crohn's disease
  • dementia
  • depression
  • enhance fertility / infertility treatment
  • enhance immune system
  • erectile dysfunction / impotence
  • fibromyalgia
  • hair loss
  • heart disease
  • heart failure
  • improve or increase memory
  • increase muscle strength and mass
  • induction of labor
  • liver protection
  • menopause symptoms
  • multiple sclerosis
  • ovulation dysfunction
  • Parkinson's disease
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • stress
  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • weight loss / obesity

Topically (on the skin)

  • anti-aging
  • anti-wrinkle
  • menopause symptoms
  • increase sex drive in women

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Side Effects, Toxicity and Warnings

Some of the side effects of taking this supplement include fatigue, headache, hair loss, increased sweating, nausea, stomach ache, acne or nasal congestion.

For female using this supplement, it has been suggested that it may cause deepening of the voice, hair growth, emotional disturbances, headache and insomnia.

This supplement has been reported to change thyroid, cholesterol and adrenal levels. However, a recently completed well-designed study involving 93 postmenopausal women showed that taking this 50 mg of this supplement for 52 weeks had no effect on cholesterol levels, insulin effects and changes in menstruation.

Thus, taking this supplement at the dose of 25 to 100 mg daily will not cause many side effects. Dosage of 200 mg daily may produce slightly more side effects.

Safety - This supplement has been used safely in research study projects up to 2 years. However, Taking high doses of this supplement for long periods of time may be unsafe. As it is a hormone, it is possible that it may raise hormone levels beyond normal expected levels in healthy people.

Pregnancy and Lactation - Possibly unsafe. As it is a hormone, it may affect the fetus, interfere with normal pregnancy or the nursing infants. Avoid using if possible.

leaf plant natural remedies review growing

Common Drug & Health Condition Interactions

Diabetes - Theoretical / Not likely to be affected

A review of research papers showed that this supplement is suspected to decrease the effectiveness of insulin (known as insulin resistance). Current research (Basu, et al., 2007) does not support this event even after 2 years of use.

To be on the safe side, monitor your blood sugar levels more frequently when starting or stopping this herb. You may need adjustment of your diabetic medications such as Glucophage, Diabeta, Avandia, Actos, Diamicron and others. Consult with your family doctor if this happens.

Blood Disorder / Clotting Disorder - Use with caution

Research studies suggest that this supplement may increase the risk of blood clots. If you are currently taking medications such as Aspirin, Plavix, Coumadin or Aggrenox, discuss this with your family doctor first before starting this supplement.

Liver Disease - Avoid using if possible

There is researched information that this supplement can make an existing liver condition worst. Avoid using if possible or consult your family doctor.

Cancer Sensitive to Hormones - Avoid using if possible.

In theory, this supplement may increase the risk of breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancer. If you have any of these or other similar conditions, you should avoid taking DHEA.

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Dosage & How to Take It

Orally

This herb is available as a capsule, tablet or liquid formulation. There is no standard dosage for this herb. The dosage range provided comes from the dose used in research studies.

Typically, the dose is 25 to 50 mg daily taken for treating erectile dysfunction (ED) and menopausal symptoms.

For Alzheimer's disease (AD), dosage of 50 mg twice daily has been used.

Higher dosage of 200 mg daily has been taken for treating systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) for up to 12 months. This dose was generally well tolerated.

DHEA can be chemically made from soy and wild yam. However, our body cannot make DHEA from the soy and wild yam that we eat in our diet.

It is thought that micronized version allows for better absorption into our body. Buy the pure pharmaceutical grade supplements when possible from reputable online companies.

Vaginally

A 10% vaginal cream has been used to treat vaginal symptoms in postmenopausal women.

Transdermally (Through the skin)

This supplement is available as a 1 to 5% topical cream or gel formulation. It is marketed by various manufacturers to enhance sexual pleasure, cure erectile dysfunction and help with weight loss.


Related topics

Natural remedies for treating erectile dysfunction (impotence)

Low sex drive - What herbs can you use to boost libido?

Libido foods - What should I include in my diet to help boost sex drive?

Menopause - Facts, signs and symptoms




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Updated:March 13, 2010

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