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Medical information on DHEA

A research summary

According to Dr. William Regelson of the Medical College of Virginia, DHEA is “one of the best biochemical bio-markers for chronological age.” In fact, some people's levels of DHEA decline 95% during their lifetime – the largest age related decline of an important biochemical yet documented, and an indication of Dhea's beneficial effect on the aging process.

Part I - this page
Dhea research intro
Dhea and the Brain
Immunity & Stress

Part II
Dhea & Cancer
Diabetes & Dhea
Dhea and your heart

Part III
Depression & Dhea
Menopause & Dhea

DHEA is the most abundant steroid hormone circulating in the human body and is present at even higher levels in brain tissue.

In fact, brain tissue contains 5 to 6 times more DHEA than any other tissue in the human body. Medical information on Dhea has shown that people with Alzheimer's disease have an overwhelming 48% less DHEA in their blood stream than do matched controls of the same age group.
skip rest of intro - go directly to Dhea and the Brain

DHEA has been called the “mother of all hormones,” and is primarily produced in the adrenal glands. Research shows that more than 150 hormones are known to be synthesized by the adrenal glands, of which DHEA is by far the most prominent.

DHEA is a “precursor” hormone – that is, it is the mother hormone that the body can convert into over 50 essential hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and cortisone to name a few.

In fact, medical information on Dhea shows that at least half of the androgen and estrogen precursors in our body come from DHEA. The rest are made from the testicles in men and the ovaries in women. For postmenopausal women, 100% of the estrogen precursors come from DHEA; supplemental DHEA in postmenopausal women therefore appears to be a way of increasing estrogen levels naturally.

In the introductory remarks in the book The Biologic Role of DHEA the authors state “ DHEA modulates diabetes, obesity, carcinogenesis, tumor growth, neurite outgrowth, virus and bacterial infection, stress, hypertension, collagen and skin integrity, fatigue, depression, memory and immune responses.

New Research Updates::

DHEA Increases Sex Drive & Helps with Hot Flashes

(Dec 2011) A small-scale study from the University of Pisa in Italy shows that DHEA may help as an alternative to traditional Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for women who are effected by menopause.   This study concluded that DHEA in small does can elevate sexual interest and help reduce the hot flashes that are so common among menopausal women.

According to lead author, Andrea Genazzani, "This is the first time that a controlled trial has shown that low doses of the hormone DHEA may be able to help women deal better with menopausal symptoms, as well as helping their sex life. The work shows that DHEA has potential, especially for those women who may have problems in taking more conventional HRT. But this is a small study, a proof of concept. What we need to do now is to look at a larger study, to confirm that these initial results are valid".

 

Edocrine Today in June 2009 reported that Edward Weiss Phd associate professor of nutrition and dietics at Doisy College of Health Sciences at Saint Louis University reported that “Our data provide compelling evidence to suggest that older women with osteoporosis or those at high risk for developing osteoporosis should discuss with their physicians the possibility of taking a 50-mg per day DHEA supplement to improve bone health,”

Dhea Enhances Brain function

DHEA may be intimately involved in protection of brain neurons from senility associated degenerative conditions, like Alzheimer's disease. Not only do neuronal degenerative conditions occur most frequently when DHEA is found to be lowest, but the brain tissue contains 5 to 6 times more DHEA than any other tissue in the human body.

Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer's disease have an overwhelming 48% less DHEA in their blood stream than do matched controls of the same age group. Such results give scientists hope that eventually DHEA will be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease. In laboratory tests on rodents, DHEA seemed to improve short term and long-term memory and lessen amnesia.

DHEA Tames Stress and Enhances Immunity

People who take DHEA often talk about being better able to handle stress, feeling calmer and having a better outlook on life.

As levels of DHEA decline in the body, we begin to suffer the damaging effects of stress hormones. Regelson in his book the Super-Hormone Promise, states that “ DHEA has an inverse relationship with stress hormones – meaning that as levels of stress hormones rise, levels of DHEA drop….When young people are under extreme or chronic stress, their DHEA levels tend to plummet to levels much like those of older people!” Interestingly enough their thymus gland also shrinks and looks like the thymus of an older person.

When we are under stress our adrenal glands produce corticosteroids, chemicals that pump the body up for action.

Corticosteroids raise blood sugar levels and speed up the heart, so we are ready to fight the “natural” stresses of the world, i.e. run from a bear, fight an enemy etc. In the “natural” world these stress responses are released through exercise, ie. Running from the bear. Unfortunately, our bodies have not evolved to handle the internal and mental stresses of our modern world, and the multitude of stresses never get released and unfortunately build up and cause damage in the body.

Cumulative and chronic stress causes our corticosteroid levels to increase and build up, and our T “helper” cells that protect us from infection do not work efficiently and are no longer able to efficiently protect us from disease. This is especially true as we age, and is one of the main reasons that immune system functioning declines drastically as we age. Over time the increased corticosteroids cause the thymus gland to shrivel and we produce less T cells.

DHEA has been reported to counteract the shrinking of the thymus and immuno-suppression caused by corticosteroids. Melotonin another superhormone can also help with the shrinking thymus gland as we age.

As DHEA declines with age you are losing the buffer against the stress-related hormones.

DHEA may bolster our body's ability to fight disease and may have some unique disease fighting abilities of its own.

Stress also can lead to chronic inflammation in the body. Years of research have shown that increased inflammation in elderly is directly related to declining levels of DHEA. Fairly recently, a team of researchers from the University of Regensburg in Germany reaffirmed these conclusions. According to this study DHEA and DHEA-S inhibit helper lymphocyte immune reactions and effectively exert anti-inflammatory control over the immune response.

Part I - this page
Dhea research intro
Dhea and the Brain
Immunity & Stress

Part II
Dhea & Cancer
Diabetes & Dhea
Dhea and your heart

Part III
Depression & Dhea
Menopause & Dhea



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