Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 10.08.2022

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The main functions of dehydroepiandrosterone

  • Increases energy production and libido.
  • Reduces the amount of adipose tissue.
  • Improves mood.
  • Counteracts hormones that relieve tension.

Theoretical basis

In popular magazines, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is called the "youth hormone."

DHEA and its precursor dehydroepiandrosterone-3-sulfate (DHEAS) are the most common steroid hormones in adult men and women. DHEA was isolated as an androgenic steroid in 1934, and DHEA was isolated from urine in 1944. Studies show that DHEA levels of circulation peak between 20 and 30 years and are reduced by about 20% per decade of life.

The researchers suggest that some age-related diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, certain cancers and heart diseases, may be associated with an age-related decline in DHEA and DHEAS levels. Although the physiological role of DHEA and DHEAS is difficult to understand, it is recognized that DHEA is a precursor of testosterone and estradiol. Given this role, company agents claim that DHEA supplements will increase testosterone production, stimulate sexual desire, increase lean body mass and slow the aging process.

Results of studies of dehydroepiandrosterone

The antiturn effect of DHEA additives in experimental animals has been established, but its mechanism is still not defined. According to one theory, a decrease in DHEA levels correlates with an increase in insulin levels. Gore studied the effect of DHEA supplements on insulin sensitivity and body composition. The study involved 10 volunteers who were given DHEA 1600 mg per day or placebo for 28 days. There were no significant differences in sensitivity to insulin or changes in body fat mass. The age of the volunteers was not disclosed and could be a limitation of the experiment.

Morales et al. Considered the hypothesis that a decrease in the level of DHEA and DHEAS associated with age, promotes a shift in the anabolic state in young adults to the catabolic state in the elderly. 13 men and 17 women aged 40 to 70 years received, for 6 months, 50 mg of DHEA. Within 2 weeks, DHEA levels increased in them to levels of young adults. Serum levels of androgens (androstenediol, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone) were increased in women, and only a slight increase in androstenediol was observed in men.

The sensitivity to insulin and the amount of adipose tissue in both groups were unchanged, but there was an increased physical and psychological perception. No changes in libido have been reported. The researchers noted an increase in insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1), a hormone whose level decreases with the predominance of catabolic processes. The increase in IGF-1 and the apparent lack of side effects suggest that DHEA can serve as a therapeutic tool for the elderly.

Morales et al. The effect of increased doses of DHEA was studied. 9 men and 10 women aged 50 to 65 years took 100 mg of DHEA for 6 months. The researchers controlled plasma hormone levels, body fat (using X-ray absorptiometry) and muscle strength. The results showed an increase in the concentration of DHEA and DHEAS in men and women.

The levels of androstenediol, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone increased only in elderly women and reached values that are characteristic of young women. As in the previous experiment, the level of IGF-1 increased in men and women. Fat body weight, muscle strength of the legs and lumbar spine increased in men, this effect was absent in women. The researchers concluded that the benefits of the introduction of DHEA is specific to gender relations in favor of men.

Recommendations for the use of dehydroepiandrosterone

Although DHEA is sold as a harmless alternative to illegal anabolic hormones, it still applies to androgenic steroids. Negative reactions associated with the use of DHEA include the appearance of acne, liver enlargement, unwanted hair growth, irritability, prostatic hypertrophy, masculinization in women. Because of the potential effect on testosterone levels, the US Olympic Committee and the NSA banned the use of DHEA.

The disorderly use of DHEA by young athletes (acting in adult competitions) is alarming, since long-term consequences are not yet established. Like other hormones, DHEA can not detect its harmful effects for many years. But people who have a history of breast or prostate cancer should not take DHEA.

Athletes should completely ignore the claim that the additions of wild yam (Dioscorea) provide "building blocks" for DHEA. Yams, in fact, contains a vegetable steroid ring, called diosgenin, which is a processor for the semisynthetic production of DHEA and other steroid hormones. But this transformation occurs only in the laboratory. The claim that the supplements of Mexican yams increase the production of DHEA (or testosterone) in the body is groundless.


To simplify the perception of information, this instruction for use of the drug "Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)" translated and presented in a special form on the basis of the official instructions for medical use of the drug. Before use read the annotation that came directly to medicines.

Description provided for informational purposes and is not a guide to self-healing. The need for this drug, the purpose of the treatment regimen, methods and dose of the drug is determined solely by the attending physician. Self-medication is dangerous for your health.

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