Is DHEA a Veritable ‘Fountain of Youth’ in a Bottle?


By  Carolanne Wright

Contributing Writer for  Wake Up World

A seeming miracle, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is known for its ability to turn back the hands of time, decrease fat storage, ease coronary heart disease and osteoporosis, alleviate depression and improve fertility and sexual arousal. But can supplementing with this natural steroid really provide a magical cure-all as many headlines claim? Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN, NP, takes a look at the enthusiasm surrounding DHEA and separates fact from fiction.

What exactly is DHEA?

A precursor to all major sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), DHEA is a steroid hormone synthesized from cholesterol and released by the adrenal glands. We produce the most DHEA in our 20s, and by the time we reach 70, production has been reduced to about 20 percent of what we had in our youth. When we have healthy levels of DHEA, we feel vibrant, clearheaded and joyful. There is also evidence that adequate DHEA may help ward off cancer, Alzheimer’s and obesity. However, just as DHEA can prevent health issues, it can also disrupt balance when taken in supplemental form.

The link between adrenal fatigue and low DHEA

In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to deplete the adrenals. Through daily pressures, the body is in a fairly constant state of “fight or flight,” requiring the adrenals to pump out cortisol and adrenaline. Eventually, the glands become exhausted. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Food cravings
  • Abnormal weight gain in the abdomen and thighs
  • Energy fluctuations, feeling both tired and wired
  • Being overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Racing, foggy thoughts
  • Inability to focus
  • Waking up exhausted
  • PMS
  • Low libido

Adrenal imbalance can also contribute to arthritis, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, rage attacks and insomnia. Predictably, when the adrenals aren’t functioning properly, DHEA production drops as well. But it’s not simply a case of popping another pill to correct the problem — DHEA supplementation needs to be approached as part of an entire healing protocol “[b]ecause having too much DHEA, or converting DHEA into too much of one hormone and not enough of another, can be as upsetting to your body as not having enough,” warns Dr. Pick.

How to safely harmonize DHEA levels

If we look at the full picture, we will find many factors involved with balanced DHEA levels. Some individuals convert DHEA to increase the ratio of testosterone, while others will convert most of their DHEA into estrogen. If DHEA is taken as a supplement, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone can become imbalanced, thereby increasing the risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers, irritability, PMS and mood swings. The bottom line: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for low DHEA — true healing requires a combination of hormonal testing and frequent monitoring while taking the supplement, along with quality nutrition and lifestyle changes. It’s also imperative to address adrenal issues since supplementing with DHEA won’t provide any benefit if the glands are exhausted.

And yet, we can naturally boost our DHEA levels without resorting to pills. Maintaining a body mass index of 19-25, getting enough rest and exposure to sunlight, regular exercise and more “downtime” all help to support the adrenals and, in turn, DHEA production. Another proven method for encouraging higher DHEA levels is to cultivate joy and maintain a positive outlook. Dr. Pick offers several suggestions on how to naturally increase DHEA, which can be found here.

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About the author:

Carolanne Wright

I’m Carolanne — a writer, chef, traveler and enthusiastic advocate for sustainability, organics and joyful living. It’s good to have you here. If you would like to learn more, connect with me at or visit

Please note: this article was first published on Natural News.

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