What is DHEA?
DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and other parts of the body as a precursor hormone to the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The body produces DHEA in anticipation of needing one of these other hormones for conducting standard bodily functions like maintaining sexual function, energy levels, and the menstrual cycle. DHEA is converted into any one of these hormones as the body requires it. Once a person reaches the age of thirty, their DHEA levels begin to lower and the activity of many bodily functions, like sexual libido, lower as well.

What are the health benefits of DHEA?
Clinical trials have shown that DHEA therapy may be an effective treatment for insufficient adrenal function, depression, obesity, and low libido. Other conditions that DHEA is of possible benefit for include symptoms of aging, Alzheimer’s disease, low bone density, chronic fatigue syndrome, and certain forms of cancer. Studies for many of these treatments, however, have found them to be ineffective.

What are the guidelines for taking DHEA?
Sweet potatoes and yams are rich and natural sources of DHEA. Supplements are available as capsules, tablets, and injections. DHEA supplementation is a relatively recent medical practice, though there have been some discrepancies over its efficacy.

Are there any precautions for taking DHEA?
Because of its relationship to sexual hormones, it is recommended that people with any form of cancer related to estrogen or testosterone not take this supplement. Those with a history of liver disease should avoid it as well. Possible side effects include nausea, fatigue, headache, acne, and abnormal menstrual cycles.

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This entry was posted in Natural Health Dictionary, Supplements, Vitamins and Nutrients.