DHEA is produced in the adrenal glands and converted to testosterone. Production decreases as we age.
There’s lots that has yet to be proven about DHEA, though there are some adamant supporters out there in the natural-products world who claim its terrific stuff. This is especially true among athletes, though the NCAA has banned its use. Most of the clinical trials conducted with DHEA, however, have been criticized for being too small to prove conclusive, but what we can say about DHEA at this point is that it shows a lot of promise, and many people report anecdotally that it has proven a useful supplement.
Some of the DHEA studies:
* Bone health: 280 healthy seniors (60-79 years old) took 50mg/day for 12 months. The only group to show significant improvement in bone density was the women over 70.1
* Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus): Women with this disease took 200mg/day for three months. The women and their physicians both reported a decrease in disease activity, while the placebo group reported an increase.2
* Sexual desire: Twenty-four women received either 50mg/day or a placebo for four months, then polled about their sexual activity. The DHEA group reported significant increase in frequency of sexual thoughts and fantasies, interest, and mental and physical satisfaction with sex. On the men’s health arena, aging men with erectile dysfunction also report improvement with DHEA.3
* General wellbeing: Thirty patients (ages 40-70) received 50mg/day for two weeks. A whopping 67 percent of the men and 84 percent of the women reported an increase in physical and psychological wellbeing.4
* Depression: Thirty patients diagnosed as depressive schizophrenics received up to 100mg/day for six weeks. The non-placebo patients reported a decrease in negative, depressive and anxiety symptoms.5
Other health conditions for which people use DHEA:
* Anti-aging (especially for skin) – patients 60-79 years old taking 50mg/day experienced an increase in epidermal thickness, skin hydration and decreased age spots (facial skin pigmentation)6
* Chronic fatigue
* Anorexia Nervosa
1. Sun Y, Mao M, Sun L, et al. Treatment of osteoporosis in men using dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate.Chin Med J (Engl) 2002;115:402-4.
2. Van Vollenhoven RF, Morabito LM, Engleman EG, et al. Treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus with dehydroepiandrosterone: 50 patients treated up to 12 months. J Rheumatol 1998;25:285-9.
3. Reiter WJ, Pycha A, Schatzl G, et al. Dehydroepiandosterone in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: A prospective, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Urol 1999;53:590-5.
4. Huppert FA, Van Niekerk JK, Herbert J. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation for cognition and well-being. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000; 2:CD000304
5. Wolkowitz OM, Reus VI, Keebler A et al. Double-blind treatment of major depression with dehydroepiandrosterone. Am J Psychiatry. 1999; 156:646-9.
6. Baulieu EE, Thomas G, Legrain S, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, and aging. Contribution of the DHEAge study to a sociobiomedical issue. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2000;97:4279-84.
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