DHEA Review, high level testosterone level booster, libido and erection help for erectile dysfunction, testosterone, dosage
March 30 2014
DHEA is short for dehydroepiandrosterone (D-hi-dro-epp-E-an-dro-ster-own), a hormone made by the adrenal glands located just above the kidneys. It is converted into testosterone and DHT and hence can help boost libido and treat erectile dysfunction. Scientists have known about this hormone since 1934. More than 150 hormones are made by the adrenal glands. However, the most abundant hormone made by the adrenal glands is dhea. After it is made by these glands it goes into the bloodstream, and from then on it travels all over the body and goes into our cells, where it is converted into male hormones, known as androgens, or female hormones, known as estrogens. Small amounts are also made in the brain by neurons (brain cells). For more information. hormone product.
DHEA is sometimes promoted for weight loss. However hormones are not a safe way to lose weight. A combination of hoodia, ginger, green tea extract, spirulina, alpha lipoic acid, acetyl-l-carnitine, choline, and several other herbs and nutrients, as found in Diet Rx.
High DHEA level
Q. Do any supplements address the matter of high DHEA levels? I’m a 50 year old menopausal woman with high DHEA of 72 (via saliva tests … twice). This high DHEA level is scaring me, making me gain weight, and lose my hair.
A. To confirm a high dhea level it is best to have the results confirmed by another laboratory since we have seen different labs reports different results, particularly when it comes to saliva dhea tests. We are not aware of any specific supplements that focus on lowering high dhea levels. However, weight loss, daily walks, and deep sleep may help balance high dhea levels.
Is DHEA an anti-aging hormone? Does it boost testosterone? Review of studies, it is an androgen with adrogenic properties
DHEA has been touted in popular books and magazine articles as having anti-aging potential. There have not been any long-term studies at this time to give us any clues whether replacing declining DHEA levels as we age will help us live longer. However, when used appropriately, individuals who are deficient in this hormone do notice improvement in their quality of life, including mood, energy, sex drive, and memory. High doses of DHEA may actually reduce lifespan.
DHEA is converted in the body to androgens such as testosterone and estrogens, thus influencing practically every organ and tissue in the body, including the brain. However, the physiological role of DHEA has been studied for over two decades and still eludes final clarification.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have determined that DHEA and testosterone replacement do not produce the beneficial effects promised by “anti-aging” promoters. A 2-year, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study involving 87 elderly men with low blood levels of dehydroepiandrosterone DHEA and testosterone and 57 elderly women with low levels of DHEA was done. Providing dhea and testosterone elevated the subjects’ blood levels.
However, it failed to produce any significant beneficial effects on body composition, physical performance, insulin sensitivity, or quality of life. [Nair KS et al. DHEA in elderly women and DHEA or testosterone in elderly men. New England Journal of Medicine, 2006.
- At what age should one start taking DHEA or hormone replacement?
A. This is a personal decision that has to be made in consultation with a physician. A thorough medical history and physical exam must be done. Mid to late fifties is the time that some people start noticing benefits from taking these hormones. Others may never need to use hormone replacement.
Libido in women
Australian researchers have identified the hormone DHEA as a new marker of low libido in women under 45 years challenging current expert opinion that sexual dysfunction is associated with low testosterone levels. Researchers at the Australian based Jean Hailes Foundation are addressing the complex role of hormones. Their aim is to understand what is normal and whether women may benefit from therapy. In one of the world’s most comprehensive studies into women’s health and hormones researchers looked at 1423 randomly selected women aged 18-75. Professor Susan Davis, Director of Research at The Foundation is presenting these findings at the Endocrine Society’s 86th Annual Meeting this week and said, “We undertook this study to determine whether women with low libido also had low levels of androgens. Until now experts have agreed that sexual dysfunction in women was illustrated by low levels of free and total testosterone. However this study has shown low testosterone bears no relationship to low libido in women under 45 years of age. “We found a strong relationship between the low scores for desire, arousal and responsiveness and low DHEA levels in women under 45, “said Professor Davis. Sexual function is complex and not simply a function of hormone levels. Sexual desire involves an intricate interplay of biological changes such as hormones and psychosocial influences including relationship factors, body image, aging, menopause, social and cultural expectations.
Q. What is the right DHEA dose?
A. The right DHEA dose is very difficult to determine and blood studies cannot be fully relied on. You clinical response to a DHEA dose is a good starting point, and always use a low DHEA dose such as 1 to 5 gm.
When did DHEA supplement become available over-the-counter?
DHEA became widely available to the public without a prescription in 1995. Androstenedione pill is no longer legal over the counter while pregnenolone is still sold without a prescription and so is 7-Keto-DHEA..
Do DHEA levels in the body stay constant throughout life?
Before puberty, the blood DHEA levels both in males and females is very low, however, it rapidly increases at puberty, and starting in late 20s or early 30s, DHEA levels begin to decrease with age. Whether this represents a harmful deficiency or an age-related adaptation is not known.
Have there been human studies with DHEA?
There have been dozens of studies published in the medical literature regarding DHEA, and the rate of these studies has accelerated ever since DHEA became available over-the-counter.
Acute dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) effects on sexual arousal in postmenopausal women.
Hackbert L, Heiman JR. University of Washington, Seattle, USA.
J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2002.
The age-related decline of dehydroepiandrosterone has prompted research on its experimental replacement in women. Although no relationship to sexual functioning in healthy women has been shown to date, DHEA replacement has potential for affecting sexual response. To investigate DHEA effects, 16 sexually functional postmenopausal women participated in a randomized, double-blind, crossover protocol in which oral administration of DHEA (300 mg) or placebo occurred 60 minutes before the presentation of an erotic video segment. Blood DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) changes, subjective and physiological sexual responses, as well as affective responses were measured in response to videotaped neutral and erotic video segments. The concentration of DHEAS increased 2-5-fold following DHEA administration in all 16 women. Subjective ratings across DHEA and placebo conditions showed significantly greater mental and physical sexual arousal to the erotic video with DHEA vs. placebo. Positive affect also increased during the erotic video across drug conditions. Vaginal pulse amplitude (VPA) and vaginal blood volume (VBV) demonstrated a significant increase between neutral and erotic film segments within both conditions (DHEA and placebo) but did not differentiate drug conditions. In sum, increases in mental and physical sexual arousal ratings significantly increased in response to an acute dose of DHEA in postmenopausal women.
Additional human research indicates the following benefits:
- DHEA is helpful in older men and women with osteoporosis.
- It is an effective addition to the conventional treatment of those who suffer from hypopituitarism, a condition in which the pituitary gland fails to secrete a variety of pituitary hormones into the circulation.
- DHEA may help reverse bone loss and some of the emotional disturbances associated with anorexia nervosa.
- DHEA supplementation improves blood vessel function and insulin sensitivity in middle aged men. These beneficial changes have the potential to attenuate the development of age-related disorders such as cardiovascular disease.
- In a small study, DHEA was found effective and safe in patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- DHEA is helpful in women with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus).
- The administration in patients with advanced HIV infection results in improved mental function
What about DHEA side effects?
Individuals with normal levels of DHEA who take high doses are likely get side effects. Common side effects caused by high doses of DHEA include acne, increased sweat odor and scalp itching, menstrual irregularities, irritability, and restlessness. Androgenic hormones, such as DHEA, testosterone and androstenedione can cause hair loss in susceptible individuals. DHEA is likely to raise levels of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the hair follicles. Too much DHT will lead to scalp hair loss in some individuals. DHEA has not been tested in combination with other medicines, therefore little is known about drug/hormone interactions.
- I’m a 32-year-old female and have been experiencing hair loss for almost 2 years, just after I stopped using the birth control pill. After exhausting every other possibility (medical issues, scalp issues, etc.), I finally turned to an endocrinologist, thinking my hormones were off. Turns out that everything is normal except 2 things: My testosterone level is low and my DHEA level is high. I am not taking any DHEA supplements, and my doctor says this has nothing to do with hair loss anyway. But from what I’ve read on your website, this may not be accurate. Could my naturally high level of DHEA and low level of testosterone be causing my hair loss? My doctor wants to prescribe me testosterone but I am not interested – I’m worried it will increase my hair loss.
A. Perhaps it is possible that high DHEA levels could contribute to hair loss but there are many causes of hair loss and genetics is a big factor. It is impossible for us to say whether the high DHEA level is a cause of this. Also, DHEA levels fluctuate and next time you have a blood study it could be in the normal range. Menstruation problems
I had been trying to get pregnant for sometime. I went to see a reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Fady Sharara who was/is doing a study about high FSH. He said dhea is a naturally occurring hormone with no side affects. He said as fish will decrease amh will increase and dhea will help decrease fsh. At age 38 I was willing to try this to help me, he put me on dhea late august early September of 2010, 75 mg per day until august of 2011. Two months into taking this I stopped menstruating. He told me I was being non compliant and not coming in for monthly day 3 blood work. I told him I wasn’t having periods to do the day 3. He had me continue the dhea, and recently asked me to come in for blood work almost after a year even with no period. Then he calls me one month after the blood results and tells me that I have menopause. I am devastated to say the least. Is there any way to reverse the effects of this hormone? I want my periods to resume. He also said there is no evidence dhea causes breast cancer.
We are not aware of specific herbs to take to reverse the process. Time away from it should reduce the adverse effects.
Do DHEA supplements suppress the adrenal gland’s natural DHEA production?
The production of many hormones is controlled by a “feedback loop,” which means that when hormone levels get too high, the body is told to make less, and when hormone levels are too low, the body is told to make more. Cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen are all regulated by this feedback. In other words, if a person takes cortisol, or a similar derivative such as prednisone, it will shut off the body’s natural production. DHEA appears to be one of the exceptions. There doesn’t seem to be a feedback mechanism for DHEA. In other words, DHEA supplements are not likely to stop the body’s own production.
What about medical consultation?
Even though vitamins, herbs, and certain hormones, are available over-the-counter, it is advisable that consumers discuss with their health care provider any supplements they are taking. Unfortunately, many physicians are not familiar with the benefits and risks of supplements and consumers are often left on their own to find reliable information regarding natural supplements.
DHEA benefit summary
DHEA is made from cholesterol and is a natural hormone that has been available over-the- counter since the mid 1990s. No fatalities have been recorded in the medical literature regarding the use of this hormone by the general public. The availability of DHEA and its popularity have stimulated research by the scientific community regarding the potential uses of this once neglected natural hormone. Although DHEA has side effects in high doses, it does not have the acute toxicity that other non-prescription medicines such as aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol) have. Aspirin and acetaminophen are known to cause thousands of deaths and overdoses each year.
Conclusion and review
In my opinion, based on its reported benefits and safety profile, I believe it’s important that the public should continue to have access to DHEA as a dietary supplement. However it is recommended that consumers discuss with their health care provider before undertaking any regular use of this hormone. It is also recommended that the natural health industry itself put forward that dietary supplement companies voluntarily sell and recommend only low dosages of this hormone, such as 5 mg.
Since 5 mg pills of DHEA are difficult to find, those who plan to take this hormone under medical supervision could open a capsule of 25 mg and take only a small portion, or take a portion of a tablet.
More on DHEA Hair side effects
Any androgenic steroid, such as DHEA, testosterone and androstenedione can cause hair loss in susceptible individuals. DHEA is likely to raise levels of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the hair follicles. Too much DHT will lead to hair loss. Taking DHEA when a person’s body does not need it will lead to excess DHT and cause hair loss in many people probably even in one’s 20s. Too many people are taking high dosages of these hormones on a regular basis without really needing them. Anyone who wishes to regain their hair should discuss with their physician about stopping the hormones. The temporary (2 to 3 month) use of finasteride [Propecia (1 mg) or Proscar (5 mg)] could stop the hair loss and possibly regrow part or all of the lost. It is difficult to predict how long a person would need to take finasteride. Women may benefit from minoxidil 2% and could discuss with their physician about the use of a medicine called spironolactone. Whether hair regrows on its own after stopping DHEA or medicines are necessary to help regrow is not clear at this time.
What is the half life of taking a DHEA supplement? I am interested in taking a very low dose 5 mg and then follow up with a blood serum test for DHEA-S and wanted to know more about the half life for blood serum test purposes in order to gauge absorption and efficacy. Have any studies been done on oral DHEA half life?
We have not seen any clear studies on the half life of this hormone when ingested as a supplement, but one has to realize that blood levels are not necessarily indicative of what this hormone does when it enters cells and influences the production of certain compounds within cells. Blood levels are not a reliable way to determine need and there are no accepted guidelines on how much one should supplement based on a particular blood level.
DHEA, A Practical Guide
Dr. Sahelian wrote a book DHEA, A Practical Guide, several years ago ( published in 1996). Is the information and suggested daily dosage in that book outdated ? I’m concerned because several of those books are still in circulation and people may be still adhering to it’s advice on DHEA intake.
Books on science, medicine and dietary supplements often become outdated with time as new research is published.
Studies and research
Pharmacokinetics of dehydroepiandrosterone and its metabolites after long-term daily oral administration to healthy young men.
Acacio BD, Stanczyk FZ, Mullin P et al. Fertil Steril. 2004.
To determine the effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation on the pharmacokinetics of DHEA and its metabolites and the reproductive axis of healthy young men. A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pharmacokinetic study. General Clinical Research Center and laboratories at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. Fourteen healthy men, ages 18-42 years. Daily oral administration of placebo, 50 mg DHEA, or 200 mg DHEA for 6 months. Blood samples were collected at frequent intervals on day 1 and at months 3 and 6 of treatment. Quantification of DHEA, DHEA sulfate (DHEAS), androstenedione, T, E(2), dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and 5alpha-androstane-3alpha-17beta-diol glucuronide (ADG). Physical examination, semen analysis, serum LH, FSH, prostate-specific antigen, and general chemistries were carried out. Baseline levels increased significantly from day 1 to months 3 and 6 in the DHEA treatment groups but not in the placebo group. No significant changes were observed in pharmacokinetic values. Clinical parameters were not affected. DHEA, DHEAS, and ADG increased significantly during 6 months of daily DHEA supplementation. Although the pharmacokinetics of DHEA and its metabolites are not altered, sustained baseline elevation of ADG, a distal DHT metabolite, raises concerns about the potential negative impact of DHEA supplementation on the prostate gland.
DHEA product emails
Q. Congrats that you are spreading the word not to take more than 5 mg DHEA daily. I cringe when I see/hear people taking 50-100mg and even more per day . Here’s the kick. Even at 5 mg DHEA, it can trigger a very aggressive explosive feeling in me that I don’t like. Verbal, not physical. I lose my temper very easy even on 5mg dhea. It’s almost embarassing to me going through this. Temper can be awful. Every time I come off it, that temper subsides within 2-3 days, completely gone within a week. I think everyone should be aware of this. DHEA can ruin lives if people do not understand it. There is alot of good with DHEA but there are drawbacks, some major, as stated above. Two other potential drawbacks for me (and others). DHEA actually seems to be addicting. I have now started/stopped DHEA for 8 periods (being on for a few weeks each time). Each time I start out swearing I’ll only take 5mg every other day and by the end of the month, I’ll be taking 5-10mg each day….one time even going up to 30mg a day. I also have a hard time stopping it even knowing it’s building up and my moods are going haywire Have you heard others say the same (addicting type of action)? I’ve often read about the mood elevation of DHEA. BUT, I notice it’s not steady (for me). I can go up and down, sometimes way down, quite often when taking dhea. Again, I’ve read this from others also. I think we need to be fair/realistic when touting any med or supplement. Bottom line: There can be major drawbacks and side effects when taking even small doses of DHEA
During a five month period of time, I (26 year old healthy male) was taking an energy/sex enhancement pills with DHEA and tribulus in them. foolishly i had looked at the other ingredients (gingko, ginseng, saw palmetto) and since i knew what these were i assumed the other ingredients were benign. i did take more than the recommended dose (usually 4-6 pills daily instead or 1-2) and i had no idea what DHEA and tribulus were. After noticing depression, sleeplessness, hair loss, body hair increases and chest enlargement i finally stopped taking the pills. I am very angry at myself and at the fact you can get this stuff over the counter at a drugstore. there are no warnings on this that the ingredients were testosterone precursors or anything.
Q. How is it possible to find out if the amount of DHEA which is on the label of an over the counter product is really in it? Also, I am taking 25 mg per day of Natrol over the counter DHEA and I do feel much better but notice if I take 50mg I feel even better and my joints don’t ache. Also, when I first started taking it my libido was better then great. Now its seems to have disappeared to the point of like when you are on an antidepressant. I am 50.
A. A few years ago we purchased a dozen DHEA products on the market and sent them to a laboratory to be tested. They all were fine and true to their label. There is a lot we don’t know about the long term use of hormones and that is why I mention on this web site to take hormone holidays and use the least amount that works. Perhaps there is a feedback loop that somehow decreases the sex boosting effect of dhea. It’s just a guess.
- I am 56 year old PA and can easily monitor blood levels of DHEA in our office. After stumbling on to your web site, I checked my DHEA levels (DHEA sulfate) in morning and found them to be very low at 35 ng/dl. I began supplementation at 25 mg and found a marked improvement in my energy. Levels increased to 198. Experimentally I increase the dose to 50 mg/day and found an even larger increase in energy and levels at 268. However, the 50 mgs. Caused marked insomnia, increased tachycardia and multiple PVC’s.
- Thanks for helpful research info in the past. I see that new studies may implicate testosterone supplements in atherosclerosis development. I am female with a family history on fathers side of coronary artery disease with normal cholesterol. I am not requesting personal recommendations but seek info to help me make my own informed choices. Dhea did cause breakouts in myself so I scaled back to 2 mg or less daily with no problems. I’d hate to give it up as it does provide energy and lifts mood. Over the past few years you have also recommended lower doses so I am sure that you have been taking note of some new developments. Is there any indication of the effect on females re: heart disease with dhea?
A. High levels of testosterone or DHEA may increase the risk of heart disease, however it is not clear what low levels will do. Nobody knows for sure what effect a daily dose of 1 or 2 mg of DHEA has on the body in the long run.
- I am generally sensitive but recently started both melatonin and DHEA. (The DHEA dosages were: 1wk 6mg daily and next 2 weeks were 12mg daily). I developed menstrual irregularities. Could this be due to melatonin or strictly the DHEA ? My blood levels for DHEA is low, and my endocrine doctor suggest I go to 25mg DHEA (but never yet reached that dosage).
A. Although both melatonin and DHEA may theoretically cause menstrual irregularities, DHEA is by far the more likely to do so.
Q. I am just starting to experiment with DHEA trying 25 Mg a day or less I am waiting for your book to arrive. I noticed right away even before I new about the visual enhancements that my vision and colors had become noticeably clearer and brighter. Is this a good indication that a person is lacking DHEA in the body?
A. DHEA and pregnenolone can sometimes enhance color perception and vision, however this does not mean you are lacking in the hormones. The visual improvement would occur even in individuals who have normal levels.
Q. I am 74 years old and writing from Paris, France. After reading about DHEA in your book, I had a friend from the USA send a parcel of DHEA 10 mg, 300 capsules. I took one every day for 6 months and thanks to you I feel very well and I’m in a good mood. The most important phenomena are the increasing libido feelings. Unfortunately my dear wife doesn’t participate any more and I am alone but the feeling is good. I want to send you all my gratitude and faithful thanks.
A. I’m glad DHEA helped you, you may consider trying a lower dose such as 5 mg to see if you still get benefits.
Q. I am an 18 year old “extreme” athlete. I recently started taking 100mg DHEA in the mornings along with a well balanced diet. In just three days I had noticed a huge difference in my aggression and strength. Out of all of the supplements I have taken, DHEA shows significant results… fast!!! I am aware of taking time off from it on the weekends and see no reason why I shouldn’t take it. Everybody says don’t do it because you’re so young, but with results this good I don’t see why I should stop. Is it okay for me to take 100mg a day in your opinion, even if there are awsome results?
A. There are short term benefits to taking large doses of DHEA which you have noticed, but sooner or later side effects will appear, such as thining of hair, or acne, or potentially more serious medical problems. It is unclear at this point whether the hair thinning is reversible. I don’t recommend anyone take DHEA for prolonged periods unless they have had blood studies and a medical evaluation to determine that they are deficient in this hormone.
Q. Thank you for your books. “Mind Boosters” is terrific. I am recommending it to friends. I have been using an estradiol patch for several years. Recently I began taking 5 mg a day of DHEA. I feel very good on this, more energetic, better mood and more focused in thinking. I am wondering if I should see about decreasing the estradiol dose since I gather DHEA supplies some estrogen as it breaks down. Is there any way to estimate how much estrogen 5 mg DHEA as a capsule supplies?
A. It’s difficult to estimate the conversion of DHEA into estrogen since every person will have a different metabolism. I do think the dose of estrogen should be reduced when adding DHEA. How much to reduce is difficult to know but it’s better to err on the side of taking less than more. Discuss with your health care provider. Thanks for recommending the Mind Booster book.
Q. My friend is 42 and took DHEA 25mg for about 2 months. Her breasts have started to swell painfully. She already needs a bigger bra size. Is this normal ?
A. I have not heard this before, but I guess it could be possible. I would recommend stopping the DHEA and restarting in one month to see if there it is the DHEA that is causing the swelling or perhaps it was a coincidence.
Q. I am a 37 year old female with asthma. I had chronic fatique, weight gain, depression, irritability ,low sex
drive, and irregular menstrual cycle even on birth control pills. I went to one internist that did blood work and only found a urinary tract infection. Basic Thyroid test normal. I finally found another internist that gave me an exam and gave me an Adrenal Stress Test and complete Thyroid test. My DHEA level was low and my Free T-4 and Free T-3 showed signs of hypothyroid. My doctor put me on Thyroid 60 and DHEA 25 mg. It has been 3 weeks and I feel so much better. I noticed improvement after 3 days which I suspect was the DHEA. I finally had a normal menstrual cycle and my sex drive has encreased. I am feeling back to normal and have the energy to exercise on my new treadmill almost every day! I will have another visit in 3 weeks for lab work to check my levels. I
am considering asking my Doctor if 15mg 2x a day would be better.
A. I’m glad DHEA helped you, I would recommend you ask your doctor to use the lowest effective dose of DHEA.
Q. I am a non practicing nutritionist in suburbs of Philadelphia. I have CFS for 5 years. I am happy to see in your writings and books that you take a conservative approach to dosage of natural hormones. I am 59 and have Prostatitis for 1 year. I keep it under control with many of the latest nutrients for prostate. My doctor prescribed too much, 50mg, of DHEA, since I was low and my psa shot up to 4.0 from 2.5. I stopped all DHEA and now it is down to 2.5 again. My latest results on saliva testing show normal DHEA, estradiol and testosterone, but results from another lab show below normal DHEA. I am confused as to what to do next. May I ask what I should do in your opinion?
Also, do you think 7-keto DHEA would be a safe and effective substitute?
A. There’s still much to be learned about interpreting results from saliva and blood tests as it relates to DHEA levels. Unless you are clearly and significantly deficient in DHEA, it is better you not take or take a very small amount, such as 5 mg.
There are hardly any human studies with 7-keto, therefore, I am not able to comment much on this hormone at this time.
Q. I have taken two separate saliva tests to check my DHEA level — both before and after starting daily supplementation — and found it to be low both times. The two different labs I used both advise to collect the saliva samples in the morning prior to the next usage. The normal ranges of DHEA levels for different age groups on the back of the test results reflect levels found 8-12 hours after last usage. However, based on your DHEA book and other sources, I take my DHEA supplement in the morning. Should DHEA supplements be taken at night if one is to take a morning saliva test, and, if so, how long does one need to supplement at night prior to taking a morning saliva test in order to get an accurate reading. Thank you.
P.S. I just bought a copy of Mind Boosters and am finding it most informative and well written.
A. The whole issue of DHEA testing, accuracy of lab results, interpretation of results, and clinical significance of these results is still a murky issue with no definiitive guidelines or medical concensus. Blood or saliva levels don’t completely tell us what’s going on inside cells and how much of these hormones are in the cells and tissues of hair, skin, brain, liver, other organs, etc.
Since there are a number of unanswered questions medicine still has to resolve, the best approach is to take low levels of DHEA (if you plan to take it at all) and not put an overemphasis on saliva or blood testing. It’s quite likely that if you take a DHEA pill in the morning, unless it is a very high dose, it would be practically out of your system by next morning when you are having your saliva test. If you take the DHEA the night before, even a few hours difference on the timing could make a difference in your saliva levels. Basically, for the time being, blood or saliva levels of DHEA are a way to know if you are deficient, and help give a clue as to whether or not to take the hormone.
You may also wish to reevaluate why you are taking DHEA in the first place. Are there other non-hormone supplements that could help you achieve your desired goals (energy, mood, sex drive, vitality, memory, etc.) and would have fewer side effects? Perhaps you could take some of these supplements and thus lower your dose of DHEA. In chapter 2 of Mind Boosters (an engine alone does not run a car) I mention that it is better to use a few different supplements together in small dosages as opposed to one or two in higher amounts.
Q. Will DHEA interfere with my regular dosage of hormone replacement therapy?
A. Yes, DHEA is converted to both estrogen and testosterone and your dose of estrogen and progesterone may need to be reduced if your doctor plans to add DHEA.
Q. My regular doctor, an internist, recently told me that I should stop taking DHEA (I have been taking 25 mg. daily for the past year or so). He said that DHEA could harm my liver. I am certain that DHEA has been boosting my energy level, my sex drive, etc. (I am 58 years old), and I would like to continue taking some daily or every other day dosage. I see that you recommend smaller dosages like 5 mg. My question is the following: Is there any data or studies out that show that liver damage can result from DHEA usage? If so, can you direct to those studies? Many thanks for your educational website
A. Some studies in rodents and fish have shown large doses of DHEA (equivalent by weight in humans to a few hundred mg per day) causes harm to the liver. It is extremely unlikely that 5 mg a day causes liver damage. However, we don’t know the long term effects of DHEA use and those planning to take this hormone have to balance the potential benefits versus the potential risks.
- A general question – why would dhea cause an increase danger or prostate enlargement and hair loss if in fact testosterone levels decline in aging males and increase the probability of these conditions occuring anyway.
A. This is a very good question and we don’t have all the answers. We need to keep in mind that different tissues in the body including hair, skin, prostate, brain, have different levels of enzymes that convert different steroid hormones and the decline or shift in these enzymes varies within different tissues and among different individuals. There is little doubt though that some people are experiencing hair loss on high dosages.
Q. What’s the right dosage of DHEA?
A. The dosage needs to be individualized to each person’s needs. This is based on regular evaluations of a basic physical exam, including blood pressure, heart rate, examination of hair and skin, evaluation of routine blood studies, and monitoring of mood, sleep patterns, energy levels, and motivation. Women need to have regular breast exams and Pap tests. Men need to have their prostate exam. Although blood or saliva DHEA levels are important to monitor, in the end, the important point to keep in mind is what kind of influence DHEA or other hormones are having on our brain, organs and tissues.
Having said all this, it’s best, until more research is done, to stay on very low dosages such 1 to 5 mg. Most people are overdosing. It’s possible that taking too much of these hormones could actually shorten lifespan. DHEA and pregnenolone are not like vitamin C. More is not necessarily better. There’s a smaller range to play with. I get uncomfortable when we hear of doctors prescribing 25 or 50 mg a day to their patients. I also get very nervous when I see bottles of DHEA or pregnenolone being sold over the counter in high dosages.
- Does DHEA convert into testosterone?
A. Yes, DHEA converts into testosterone. The intermediary is androstenedione.
- Can taking a DHEA supplement lead to erection?
A. DHEA and erection are related in some people. There are many causes of healthy erection, and hormones are one aspect. Androgens, such as DHEA and testosterone can help with erection.
- My DHEA sulfate level is low, should i be worried?
A. A full medical evaluation needs to be done as opposed to just focusing on one blood test such as a DHEA sulfate level. If the DHEA sulfate level is very low, then a DHEA supplement could be administered.
- Could low DHEA lead to infertility? What is the right dose for fertility?
A. There are many causes of infertility and DHEA low level is only one factor out of dozens. A comprehensive evaluation is needed to determine the cause of fertility problems.
- Is there an advantage to micronized DHEA hormone supplement?
A. Not enough research is available to determine whether micronized DHEA offers any benefits to regular DHEA hormone supplement or sublingual DHEA.
- Would someone with a normal DHEA level benefit from a hormone supplement?
A. Not likely. Someone with a normal DHEA level could get side effects when taking a DHEA dietary supplement.
- What is the DHEA benefit for a woman and what is the right dosage for menopause in women?
A. The DHEA benefit for a woman could be increased libido and sense of wellbeing. But this DHEA benefit needs to be balanced with potential serious adverse effects such as hair thinning. Each woman is unique. Some women may not need it at all. A safe dose for woman for menopause is 1 or 2 mg, with a week off each month.
- Does low DHEA cause depression?
A. Depression has many causes. Low DHEA could be a depression factor but it is low on the list.
- Is DHEA safe for body building?
A. No. DHEA is not an effective hormone for body building.
- I have been taking DHEA 10 mg for about a year may be more. Are you aware of any problems with weaning off the DHEA hormone or stopping it completely?
A. We don’t know for sure, and it may just be fine stopping it suddenly, but to be safer it may be a good idea to reduce the DHEA to 5 mg for a week and if no problems then stopping it completely. Have approval by your doctor.
- Is DHEA a vitamin?
A. No, DHEA is not a vitamin, it is a hormone or prohormone.
- I have had 3 unsuccessful in vitro fertilization treatments, due to not producing any follicles. My consultant advised I use DHEA 75mg per day for 3-4 months, every where I look on the internet it seems that this dosage seems to be very high? Do you think the dhea dosage seems high?
A. We can only provide general info on dhea, it is up to you and your doctor to decide after reading the dhea cautions.
- I have found this website extremely helpful. Especially concerning DHEA. A friend advised me to take it. He has been taking now for five years without a doctor’s advice and is almost completely bald. He has since discontinued DHEA use and made an appointment with a nutritionist M.D.
- I am a 61 yo , small boned italian male whose father died of alzheimers (and had severe osteoporosis), despite being a fruit vegetable consumer and exerciser. It is now clear to me that what he lacked was Testosterone. He died at 78 with a full head of hair. I have already lost height and muscle but not my hair. I haven’t been tested for hormone levels but realize that I have the symptoms. Would a low dose of DHEA help? Would I lose my hair?
A. We have no way of predicting whether DHEA would help you or harm you. Many people find DHEA thins their hair but it is possible tiny amounts could be helpful but that is a decision you and your doctor have to make.
It seems that both the adrenals and testes produce DHEA during their internal hormonal cascade, but where does most of the plasma DHEA come from – the testes or adrenals or – and where does it go? If I use DHEA cream or capsules, will it support adrenal or testes production or inhibit it?
Most of the DHEA produced is made in the adrenal glands. DHEA use will not likely influence the body’s production of DHEA to any significant degree.
- Hello, I’m 20 year old male. I started taking dhea back in August 2006 when I was 18, and then again when I was 19 around the same time. my coach told us to take the stuff so I did until I found out about all this information on it. I had a few questions regarding dhea. I was taking 25 mg a day and took about 30 of them from September to October of 2005 then again another 30 in 2006 from August to September. would this be enough to effect my body with side effects? The side effects i wanted to know is would dhea increase body hair? would it increase head size? would it cause urinary problems such as leaking after going the bathroom? would it cause tendons and ligaments to be more easily injured? How long would the supplementation stay in my body? if dhea caused these side effects how long would they continue to go on (such as body hair growth, would it cause more hair to grow even a year after supplementing dhea?) I can not tell if all of those could have been caused by dhea or if they are just natural in my body? I’ve been very stressed and have had a lot of regret about ever taking dhea.
A. We cannot say for sure, but the brief periods that you took this hormone supplement should not cause permanent harm.
- I am 44 years old and have low (bottom of normal range) testosterone levels, with very low DHEA levels. My doctor’s suggested I take a supplement of oral DHEA. I’ve been reading the information on your site. I understand you don’t advise which supplements to take but hope you can advise how each of the supplements, DHEA, 7-Keto DHEA and Pregnenolone might impact my situation?
A. We are of the opinion that the whole person has to be taken into account when considering hormone treatment as opposed to solely relying on blood studies. If a person feels fine even though a blood study shows a low dhea hormone level, this does not necessary mean dhea replacement is necessary. How do we know dhea replacement will improve health in the long run? What if dhea replacement therapy results in various short term and long term side effects? Even if dhea is replaced, how do we know the ideal dosage and form? If a person has a low dhea level but no major symptoms, it may be better not to interfere for the time being. However, if low dhea levels are associated with symptoms of low dhea, such as fatigue, low vitality, low sex drive, low mood, etc., then it may be appropriate to consider dhea replacement or the use of certain natural hormones or natural supplements that address the particular symptoms of dhea deficiency.
- Thank you for your helpful website. My Aunt is experiencing heart palpitations from DHEA and takes acai berry for those symptoms and they seem to be less. However, for me, I take DHEA 50 mg twice a week and have been doing that for three years now. My results have been phenomenal and have not seen increased hair loss or acne or menstrual problems since I have had those problems since I was a teen. I also suffer from endometriosis in which less than a 50mg dose of DHEA had not had any affect on me, I continue to take it for endometriosis. I have had severe pain and sexual discomfort since my early twenties and increased problems and baby blues after my first child. I discovered DHEA three years after my first child in which I experience an “Awakening” due to DHEA. After four months of taking DHEA my endometriosis pain completely subsided, however, if I take too long of a break from DHEA my pain returns and my depression returns. I must have a unique case, but I am also afraid of long term affects in which I have not yet experienced. I still have acne, but it is not abnormal to me nor is black hairs on my chin, since I have had them since my teens. I am not sure what to do, and I really do not want to pay a bunch of doctor bills for testing when I have experienced other natural medicines for my illnesses and it did not have the effect that DHEA has.
- I understand that the intestinal absorption rate of DHEA is around 50% and that this reduces with age. This would imply that a user of DHEA at 5% would actually only receive a dosage of 2.5%. Assuming you share and agree with this understanding, would you stand by the statement on your website that DHEA preparations which are digested, should be of no greater strength than 5%? It’s also been suggested that – due to the poor / uncertain digestion rate of DHEA – in order for a user to obtain the amount desired – a sublingual formulation is more reliable. (Apparently
– when taken sublingually – DHEA absorbs at around 80%). Is this a view you would agree.
A. DHEA is absorbed well enough from the oral, ingested route. Sublingual could be better absorbed and avoid the first pass effect through the liver. This does not mean that it is healthier to ingest sublingual DHEA since high amounts of DHEA could have side effects.
- I was given dhea for high levels of follicle stimulating hormone, so that i start ovulating better. I’m taking 25mg-3 times a day, since two months now during my third month i have missed my period and my blood test revealed that it was a menstrual disturbance and not pregnancy, due to dhea. I’ ve gained this hormonal imbalance recently and have never missed my periods since puberty. My doctor has told me to continue my dosage as usual. What should i do? please help!
A. Show your doctor this page on DHEA.
- I just purchased a bottle of 10 mg DHEA tablets (I am 47). Would it be OK to take one a day for 3 days and then just one a week after this! (I remember taking it 10 yrs ago, but I took DHEA 50mg and it really made me pissed off, I gave one DHEA 50mg tablet to a friend and he told me it was like taking speed).
A. The decision on DHEA dosage and frequency of use depends on a number of factors, but as a general rule the lowest dosage of DHEA should be used with the least frequency unless a person is clearly deficient in DHEA. Also read the cautions and dangers of DHEA use.
- I have no health problems. I guess I can take 2 days on and 2 days off for Passion Rx and that I should not take DHEA (5mg / day) on the same day, I have to assume that I may take DHEA on the opposite days.
A. if your doctor approves, you could take 5 mg dhea on the days of not taking Passion Rx. We suggest having at least one day a week of not taking any supplements.
- I am just turning 58 (January 2009), am an otherwise fit, healthy male. Since 18 years of age, I have been involved in weightlifting, the outdoors, over 25 years in the military, run marathons. My body frame can be described as muscular. Throughout my life I have been very fit and healthy and have only suffered the “usual” childhood aliments and the odd broken limb. In 1999 I went though a very stressful (and emotionally painful) separation and divorce. In the space of 6 months, I lost a great amount of hair – hair which has never grown back; I developed very clear symptoms of stress – fatigue, anxiety, bowel disorders etc. Quite quickly after that, I noticed that I had a marked drop in what was my quality of life – I no longer had the urge to exercise and gradually the amount of exercise dropped off substantially. I became very irritable, (often described as “cantankerous old man syndrome”), I tired easily and lost a lot of motivation and most alarmingly, lost libido – up until the separation, my wife and I had sex at least 6 times a week. I reasoned that my adrenal gland had been over active in producing cortisol to deal with the stress that I was experiencing and that in some form it had suppressed DHEA production. Because of the amount of cortisol and the extended period of stress, I concluded that my ability to produce DHEA had simply been over fatigued. My General Practitioner sent me for some tests which clinically demonstrated that my DHEA levels “were below the bottom of the chart”. Fortunately, he agreed to supplementation with DHEA and allowed me to self medicate on condition that I have regular blood tests to determine the serum levels of DHEA. I was fortunate enough to be able to obtain several bottles of 25mg DHEA, before our Ministry of Health classified DHEA as a restricted medicine. Dosing with DHEA was combined with L Arginine 1000mg, L Tyrosine 1000mg, Amino Acid trace complete 3000mg and Tribulus 1000mg (all per day). Five days a week I would take colloidal minerals and trace elements. Results of dosing with 25mg per day had remarkable and immediate results – symptoms (including having afternoon naps) disappeared and my quality of life improved. I recently stopped taking DHEA and simply continued the other supplementation. Within a day of stopping the DHEA I started to notice a change in my emotional state and over the period of a week, I had lapsed back to being fatigued, lethargic, irritable and moody and a complete lack of libido. The day after commencing DHEA supplementation, these symptoms started to disappear. Now I accept that this is anecdotal, however, I have many, many clinical test results which I matched anecdotal symptoms to the time of the tests and can safely say that I am fully aware now when my DHEA levels are low. What I find so frustrating is the lack of detailed knowledge that is available regarding DHEA – the dosing requirements, the long-term effects of dosing, the options to assist the body to correct the DHEA levels naturally and the general dearth of knowledge among medical professionals (and administrators) regarding DHEA. I have been taking DHEA, almost every day in the dosage of 25mg per day, for the last three years. Recently I read that I should only be taking DHEA for a 5 day cycle. If my body was not producing DHEA (or extremely low amounts of it) to start with; have I been doing myself harm? What do you consider the effects of this long-term doing to be? Any information you can provide on DHEA in general and with specific regard to my case history, would be gratefully received. The second problem I have is one of being able to import DHEA. While I hold a doctor’s prescription for the medication, I am legally allowed to have on my possession DHEA – up to three months supply (which my doctor would argue would be 9,000mg. (100mg per day). This is what I have been able to obtain previously and because I have been dosing at a much lower level (25mg/day) it has lasted me a year. My source of supply, because of the restrictions on import, will no longer ship to New Zealand. The ridiculous situation is, that if I go overseas, I can bring it back with me, on person – or if a friend ships it to me, I can produce my prescription and clear it though Customs. Other than that, it is proving to be virtually impossible to obtain in New Zealand.
My whole quality of life depends on being able to obtain this medication; it seems ridiculous in the extreme that the Ministry of Health still allows the import and sale of tobacco products – with all the well known and documented fatal side-effects, but will not allow a mediation which will improve quality of life!
A. The reason it is difficult to find information on long term benefits and side effects of DHEA supplementation is that studies longer than one year have rarely been done. The idea is to use DHEA hormone pills in the lowest dosage that works and taking breaks once in a while.
- I have read the emails on your website concerning DHEA and I want to thank you for the information. I am a 52 yr old woman, I am in good health except for menopausal symptoms, i.e., chronic insomnia, moodiness, complete loss of sexual desire or thoughts, etc., It was recommended to me to take DHEA 50mg by a friend and I have taken it for almost two weeks and the only thing that I have noticed is heart palpitations. My husband is anxious for the increase in libido. I have not had any increase in libido but it may be too soon. The heart palpitations don’t last long and they come and go throughout the day. Should I decrease the dosage of DHEA. I had a partial hysterectomy in 1996 and the gradual loss of libido for about 2 or 3 years to complete loss most recently. I am desperate to salvage my marriage and my overall health and well-being. It’s no mentioned often, but the partial or complete loss of libido and/or thoughts of sex for me makes me feel as a woman abnormal. Being an empty nester… I thought this would be the ‘golden’ years!
A. We can’t make any recommendations as to which supplements or what dosage a person should take but we are able to provide information on the benefits and side effects of these hormones and supplements. You may wish to review the page on female libido which can offer suggestions on herbs and supplements to boost sex drive that do not involve hormones.
My dr. told me (after taking blood test of DHEA and testestrone) that my adernal glands are not releasing enough DHEA, he said they are releasing about 2.1 which is the referrance range of 85 year old person and I am 41 He advised me to take 25 mg of DHEA twice per day for 25 days then take a break for 5 days and continue. I worry about the side effects of DHEA, I sugested him to repeat the test again. What is your advise? is there any other safe products?
You may ask your doctor to read this page regarding the safety of this hormone. We prefer to treat the whole person, not just the results of a lab test.