blog

DHEA and what it does

By Aliesha Epps

DHEA is a hormone produced by your body's adrenal glands(these are glands just above your kidneys). Scientists know that it functions as a precursor to male and female sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Precursors are substances that are converted by the body into a hormone. Your body's DHEA production peaks in your mid-20s and in most people, production usually gradually declines with age. However, DHEA supplements can be made from wild yam or soy. DHEA plays a role in more than 150 different metabolic functions, and is one of the most abundant hormone our body creates.

What does it help?

  • Building up the adrenal gland
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Slowing natural changes in the body that come with age
  • Providing more energy
  • Improving mood and memory
  • Building up bone and muscle strength

There are several studies that doctors are running to see what exactly DHEA can for sure help with. In a small, six-week study, researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health found that treatment with DHEA supplements helped relieve mild to moderate depression that occurs in some middle-aged people. DHEA may also be effective for improving aging skin in the elderly.

As for other conditions, both National Standard and the NIH say the evidence is unclear whether DHEA has any significant benefit in treating conditions such as:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Low bone density
  • Heart disease
  • Cervical cancer
  • Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
  • Crohn's disease
  • Infertility
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sexual dysfunction

(Both agencies also say there is little evidence to support claims that DHEA has value in treating conditions such as fibromyalgia, addressing issues with memory or muscle strength, or enhancing and stimulating the immune system.)