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                        DHEA  Dehydroepiandrosterone

BACK to Frequently Asked

DHEA

The average adult makes about 25 mg of DHEA per day with production dwindling, as we get older due mainly to poor nutrition and lifestyle. Men at all ages have more DHEA than women.

Natural DHEA production is at a peak in our twenties. In our seventies because of years of abuse, we only make about twenty percent of the DHEA we had when we were young. A decline in DHEA with the passage of time is not necessarily what nature intended.  This is one of the reasons you should not self-prescribe DHEA or use over-the-counter products that contain it.

Just throwing a pill into the mix without understanding the bigger picture is never a wise choice.  DHEA is a very powerful precursor, to all of your major sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. DHEA’s molecular structure is closely related to testosterone.

Besides DHEA, your adrenals also make the stress hormone adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenal exhaustion from coping with chronic stress, poor nutrition, on and off dieting, emotional turmoil, and job-related stress, over tax your adrenals. The adrenals become exhausted from this phenomenon that pump out cortisol due to a large amount of stress, and the adrenals simply can’t manufacture enough DHEA to support a healthy hormonal balance. The result is, you feel tapped out, overwhelmed and, often, depressed.  Then commonly, that person begins to over eat, (binge eat) or turn to alcohol or drugs.

Adequate levels of DHEA are needed to ensure your body can produce the hormones it needs when it needs them.  In that balanced state your mood is stable and you feel clear-headed, happy, and full of energy and capable of such things as sticking to regular eating habits. DHEA is the best hormone we know to produce that happiness. Taking too much is the best way in our opinion, to develop cancer such as prostrate in men or uterine or breast cancer in women. 

When DHEA levels are low, your body does not have enough working material for proper endocrine function. This throws off your hormone production and you feel a general sense of knowing something is wrong but not knowing what it is, along with other symptoms of hormonal imbalance. How severe this is depends on how many other demands are being made on the body at the same time.

There is growing evidence that healthy levels of DHEA may help reduce the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, heart disease, and obesity; but there may be some increased risks associated with DHEA, for example women with a history of breast cancer to name just one. This is still more indication that our approach to testing hormones with our saliva panel to determine the levels prior to taking them are prudent.

Adrenal dysfunction may be a factor in many related ailments. Your lifestyle, diet and stress levels all contribute to the amount of DHEA your body can produce in a given period. 

Think of an exhausted Father or exhausted Mother, He/Her adrenals work tirelessly to meet the demands placed on them until they are utterly tapped out. Without adequate support, they go into adrenal fatigue and eventually adrenal exhaustion. Symptoms of low DHEA levels are:

·        Extreme fatigue

·        Decreased muscle mass

·        Increased fat reserve

·        Hunger not easily satisfied

·        Decreased bone density

·        Depression

·        Aching joints

·        Loss of libido

·        Lowered immunity

But simply adding more DHEA to the equation without proper testing is not the answer — despite what claims you may have heard from your friends. If one of your friends said he grew muscle when he took the DHEA and worked out and he didn’t get any disease or suffer side effects, he could have been one of those who under produce it and taking it did not adversely affect him immediately, but long term may reveal something more sinister. If you are a male person whose DHEA is balanced and you take it, you could increase your risk of cancer of the prostrate or at the least, cause enlargement.  DHEA alone can’t fix adrenal fatigue, balancing your hormones can have a huge effect.  We believe nutritional support, lifestyle changes, good eating habits, regular exercise, increased water intake, bio feedback analysis to help you lower your sugar level in the blood, lymphatic drainage treatments and proper rest can improve all your hormone levels.

To understand how adrenal fatigue develops, it is important to understand what the original function of the adrenal gland was. The adrenals are important control centers for many of the body's hormones. The outer layer of the adrenal cortex gland, produces hormones including cortisol, DHEA, estrogen and testosterone. The center of the gland produces the adrenaline hormone.

The basic task of your healthy adrenal glands are to negotiate all your body's resources and increase production of adrenaline and other hormones when they are needed such as the fight or flight syndrome.

When there is good health, through a good lifestyle, your adrenals can instantly increase your heart rate and blood pressure, release your stored energy for immediate use, slow your digestion and other secondary functions and then sharpen your senses. Healthy stress responses take priority over all other metabolic functions but that response wasn't designed to last, for an extended period of time.

WHAT MAKES AN UNHEALTHY ADRENAL?

We live with constant stress today.  We're constantly over-worked and under-nourished. Our exposure to environmental toxins is real.

Every time we challenge our mind and body this creates a demand on the adrenal glands. The list of unresolved emotional and physiological issues that can create dysfunction of the adrenals is endless and include: lack of sleep, a demanding job, the thought of losing your job, financial realities, personality conflicts, daily family crisis, on and off dieting, relationship problems, death or illness of loved ones, irregular eating habits, reliance on stimulants such as caffeine, digestive problems, over-exercise, under exercise, not enough water intake, not drinking the proper water, no dietary supplementation, lack of hormone testing and illness or infection.

CORTISOL ACTION

The normal function for cortisol is to help us meet these challenges brought on by the stress-induced adrenalin; by converting proteins into energy, releasing glycogen and counteracting inflammation. But at sustained high levels in response to the adrenalin, cortisol tears your body down and can store in fat, the stomach, hips and thighs.

In addition, high and sustained levels of cortisol destroy healthy muscle and bone; slow down the healing process in normal cell replacement; impair digestion, metabolism and mental function; interfere with healthy endocrine function; and weaken your immune system.

Adrenal dysfunction may be a factor in many related conditions, including fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis and premature menopause, acne, and hair loss.  Unfortunately, adrenal dysfunction is seldom detected in conventional medicine.

Conventional medicine is truly wonderful at treating disease-state conditions. Unfortunately its focus on drugs also tends to suppress early-stage symptoms rather than treat their underlying causes. This can have the effect of delaying treatment until a disease state has developed.

CORTISOL TESTING (Diurnal Rhythm)

Within the conventional medical community, any cortisol level within a very broad range is considered normal, and anything outside that range indicates disease.  When Cortisol is tested at several points during the day, to track the adrenals' day-night pattern (called the "diurnal rhythm") a panel of simple saliva tests are used.  A saliva hormone panel checks estradiol in the follicular phase (usually days three to nine of a menstrual cycle); progesterone in the luteal phase (days 14 to 28); DHEA; and both free and total testosterone levels. Cortisol working at optimum levels would be elevated in the morning to help you get going, lower but steady throughout the day to sustain energy, and would then fall to its lowest levels to induce restful sleep in the late evening.

After menopause or a hysterectomy, when your adrenals become the primary hormone factory, some women’s ratio of DHEA that is converted into testosterone, outweighs what’s been converted into estrogen and progesterone. This can cause bouts of increased irritability and unusual body hair growth, especially when DHEA supplements are taken without testing or follow-ups to monitor hormone levels.

Biologically active “Free” testosterone is the portion of the hormone that is in your bloodstream. This is one reason why a blood sample is not an accurate method of hormone testing. The blood is centrifuged and this removes the red and white blood cells. After menopause, volatile levels of free testosterone may be at work, which may be the cause of annoying male-pattern facial hair for women.  Most doctors only test total testosterone levels.  Adding a DHEA supplement to this scenario can complicate things.

There are some women who convert most of their DHEA into estrogen. In this case, if you took DHEA supplements this could create a different kind of estrogen-progesterone imbalance with symptoms similar to PMS, including breast tenderness and mood swings.

EARLY STAGES OF ADRENAL STRESS

In the early stages of adrenal stress, cortisol levels will be too high during the day and will continue to rise in the evening. This is called "hyper-adrenia". In the middle stages, cortisol may rise and fall unevenly as the body struggles to balance itself in spite of other disruptions caused by intake of caffeine, carbohydrates and other factors.  When the adrenals are exhausted, cortisol will never reach normal levels that is ("hypo-adrenia").

CUSHING’S DISEASE OR ADDISON’S DISEASE: THE EXTREME

Conventional medicine will often only detect the extremes of these conditions, (Cushing’s Disease or Addison’s Disease) when damage to the adrenals has already occurred.  You can feel miserable but still be told your adrenals are normal. But by responding to early-stage symptoms and reversing the developing dysfunction with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and a lifestyle change, it is possible to prevent adrenal damage.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR ADRENALS ARE NORMAL?

In general, if you feel happy and well, have steady energy and healthy emotions, sleep soundly for between seven to nine hours a night, wake up feeling rested, recover well from stress, and maintain a healthy weight without dieting, then your adrenals are probably doing well.

DHEA IS CONVERTED DIFFERENTLY BY EACH WOMAN

Remember that DHEA is just one stop along the metabolic pathway (refer to the Hormone Pathway chart on my website) and doesn’t work in isolation. How DHEA gets converted is based on your individual biochemistry.   Some women may use it to make more estrogen, and others may make more testosterone. Just throwing a pill into the mix without understanding the bigger picture is never the answer. Having too much DHEA, or converting DHEA into too much of one hormone and not enough of another, can be as detrimental to your body as not having enough DHEA.

DHEA AND DELICATE HORMONAL BALANCE

You should not look to supplementation without testing as a stand-alone solution. If you are considering taking DHEA, or any hormone, it would be wise to check your hormone balance first.  DHEA is one part of the whole array of hormones at work every moment in your body. Before you begin to alter that balance, it’s a good idea to understand what is going on in your life, on all levels, physiologically and emotionally as well as testing and examining your nutritional and exercise habits.

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL

Even though in our culture we’ve been trained to expect a one-size-fits-all drug cure for every health issue, ingesting a powerful hormone can be unpredictable and in some cases, be risky, you need guidance and that person guiding you should use a professional compounding pharmacist to provide bioidentical hormones for you; not some hawker in a nutrition store. 

DHEA OVER THE COUNTER

Today you can buy DHEA over-the-counter in various places, in a confusing variety of doses and combinations. Most advertising and hype are geared toward men, who have similar types of reactions as women.

The labels claim DHEA will help you lose weight, increase libido, ease depression, give you strength, and increase immunity and stamina. DHEA is a potent steroid that alters many things and that’s why it’s been in the news media and why it should be assessed with diligence utilizing proper testing and if required, proper compounding of hormones.

Without a comprehensive testing program, it’s impossible to know what your DHEA levels are, or how your body will process it. Just because you’re getting older, doesn’t automatically mean you’re deficient. Our bodies can produce more, or less of it, depending on our nutritional support, metabolism, hormonal balance, activity level, and emotional state.

HOW TO NATURALLY IMPROVE “DHEA”

There are many studies that show you can improve your DHEA levels naturally by maintaining a body mass index of 19 to 25, (depending on whether you are male or female) and in our opinion by the following these 6 items we will term “Action Plan for Life,  ”,:

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·     Drinking 50% of your total body weight in ounces of high pH ionized water a day;

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·     By getting adequate rest;

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·    By getting proper exposure to sunlight; preferably early morning walking in sunlight to improve or correct your diurnal rhythm.

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·    By exercising regularly and actively, including sexually;

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·    By creating more “leisure time” in your life; 

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·    By eating the proper foods regularly in their proper combinations including high fiber foods and using verifiable supplements and identifying your food triggers, eliminating them and that will help to lower your blood sugar.

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Because Cayenne pepper also has astringent qualities, it can stop bleeding and prevent swelling and aid in scar reduction. Cayenne is a source of Vitamin C and it rejuvenates the entire body when energy is depleted. It is such a powerful stimulant that just a few sips of cayenne water or a few grains of cayenne on the lips may help prevent shock or depression in times of physical or emotional trauma. And it is believed to be a good tonic for strengthening the heart.
 

 [disclaimer] “These statements have not been evaluated by FDA. Products or treatments are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”