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Comphensive Guide to Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils


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Meschino Health Comprehensive Guide to Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils
Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
General Features
DHEA is an intermediate steroid hormone produced mostly by the adrenal glands. All steroid hormones are derived
from cholesterol. In the synthesis of adrenal androgen hormones cholesterol is converted to pregnenolone and then to
DHEA. From DHEA the adrenal glands can synthesize androstenedione, which is further converted to testosterone.
In fat tissue androstenedione can be converted to estrone hormone by the aromatase enzyme, which is also known as
estrogen synthase enzyme. Thus, DHEA supplementation can affect the increased production of androstenedione as
well as testosterone and estrogen.
DHEA is the most abundant hormone made by the adrenal glands. Some DHEA is secreted by the adrenal glands
and circulates in the bloodstream, where it is picked up by other tissues (i.e. adipose, testis, ovaries) and further
converted into other androgens or estrogens.
The serum concentration of DHEA (really DHEA - sulfate), is used as a measure of adrenal androgen production,
when monitoring various conditions.1
DHEA supplements can be made in the laboratory from diosgenin a steroid compound found in wild yams. However,
the body is unable to convert diosgenin into DHEA or any other hormone. Thus, supplementing with wild yam as a
means to affect hormone levels is unsubstantiated.2
In humans, DHEA blood levels peak in early adulthood and then starts a lifelong descent. By the age of 70 DHEA
levels have declined by up to 75 percent compared with young adult levels. By age 90, we make 90 percent less
DHEA than a young adult.3,4
These findings have led some researchers to investigate whether returning DHEA levels to those of a young adult
(through supplementation) can serve as an anti-aging, and degenerative disease prevention strategy. Preliminary
reports in this regard are conflicting. Some evidence suggests that DHEA supplementation (25-200 mg per day) can
reverse some parameters of aging and improve wellbeing. Other reports correlate higher blood DHEA levels (and
supplementation in some cases) with increased risk of prostate cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and ovarian
cancer.5-13
As a result many health authorities are cautious about recommending DHEA supplementation as an anti-aging
intervention. Individuals with a history or family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer should not supplement
with DHEA indiscriminately until further studies are completed.14
The average male produces 31 mg of DHEA per day, while women make about 19 mg.15
Supplementation Studies and Clinical Applications
1. Systemic Lupus Erythematesus (SLE)
In a Stanford Medical Center study, DHEA supplementation (200 mg per day) decreased the SLE Disease Activity
Index by nearly two points, while the placebo group increased by almost a full point. DHEA patients had
significantly fewer flare ups and their required dosage of corticosteroid drug used to control symptoms decreased
by 35 percent, whereas the placebo group increased their dose of corticosteroids by forty percent. This was a
three-month study only. Long-term benefits are yet unknown and the major side effects in this study was mild to
severe acne in women in the DHEA group.16,17
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