Benefits of DHEA
DHEA is a natural steroid hormone produced primarily by the adrenal glands.It is used in the body to create the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Decreased DHEA levels have been implicated in heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, inflammation, immune disorders, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, HIV, and osteoporosis (Hauffa BP et al 1984; Valenti G 2002; Valenti G et al 2004).
It has been known for some time that DHEA supplementation at a dosage of 25-50mg per day helps to reduce depression (Biol Psychiatry, '99, Arch Gen Psychiatry, '05), that in postmenopausal women all estrogens (female hormones) and nearly all androgens (male hormones) are made from DHEA (Seminars in Reproductive Medicine, '04), and that it blocks the stress hormone cortisol. Now we have strong evidence that it increases sexual function in menopausal women.
Taking low doses of DHEA -- dehydroepiandrosterone -- may help sexual function and menopausal symptoms in women, researchers in Italy suggest.The study, published in the International Menopause Society, said the researchers tracked a group of 48 menopausal women and found that low-doses of DHEA can help relieve menopausal symptoms while also improving their sex lives.
One analysis of previous studies found the DHEA had these benefits among postmenopausal women:
- A 30 mg to 50 mg daily dose improved mood, sense of well-being, and sexual appetite and activity among women with adrenal insufficiency (Buvat J 2003).
- A long-term trial of women over 60 reported significant increases in bone mineral density (Buvat J 2003).
- A study among women aged 70 to 79 showed improvements in sexual desire, arousal, and enjoyment (Buvat J 2003).
DHEA can also have positive benefits for men. Studies of men have shown that DHEA replacement therapy is an important complement to testosterone therapy. Among aging men, the amount of “free” testosterone, or testosterone that is available to the body, falls more quickly than the level of total testosterone. Thus, it is important to design a hormone replacement program that raises the level of free testosterone. In a 1997 study, DHEA levels were shown to parallel the levels of free testosterone in the blood. The study authors suggested that DHEA might help raise free testosterone. If this conclusion is correct, then DHEA replacement therapy would not only raise the blood level of DHEA, but also the level of free testosterone (Morley JE et al 1997). Still, other studies have shown that DHEA may be an effective therapy for erectile dysfunction. Although there are conflicting studies in this regard, a few have shown that among men without heart or vascular disease, DHEA has been able to improve erectile dysfunction (Belaisch J 2002).
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