DHEA or (dehydroepiandrosterone) is the most abundant steroid hormone in the body. It is made within the adrenal glands and is essential in the making of both male and female sex hormones; DHEA is the precursor for androgen hormones including testosterone and estrogen.
DHEA and cortisol have opposite effects on the body. DHEA increases insulin sensitivity which lowers blood glucose levels, while high cortisol levels increases glucose levels. High cortisol levels cause the body to release DHEA into the blood stream to balance the cortisol, which can cause DHEA levels to be low when the body is in a constant state of stress.
The body naturally decreases the amount of DHEA production at 30, but adrenal insufficiency, kidney disease, type 2 diabietes, AIDS, and drugs including: insulin, corticosteroids, and opiates have all been shown to lower DHEA levels in the body. Decreased levels of DHEA does not have specific symptoms, but is associated with chronic fatigue, hypertension, insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, depression, and low libido.
DHEA can been used to treat lupus, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, low levels of steroid hormones, addison’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. It is also used for preventing heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
The Mayo Clinic. “DHEA” 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dhea/NS_patient-dhea
Medline Plus. “”DHEA” 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/331.html