Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

Therapeutic Uses

Much of the evidence of benefits with DHEA involves results seen in women.

A meaningful body of evidence indicates DHEA may help reduce symptoms in women with lupus, but it probably does not alter the long-term course of the disease. 1 Some evidence hints that DHEA may be helpful for preventing or treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, especially those over age 70; benefits for men remain in doubt. 2 Inconsistent evidence suggests that use of DHEA might improve sexual function in older, but not in younger, women. 3 DHEA has shown some promise for improving erectile dysfunction in men who have low DHEA blood levels to begin with. 4 Three double-blind studies hint that DHEA might be helpful for depression . 5 The best evidence involves treating mild depression in people with HIV . 6 Two studies suggest that DHEA might improve subjective feelings of well-being in people with HIV ; presumably this is a related result. 7 However, another small trial failed to find benefits. 8

Note:DHEA does not appear to provide general benefits for people with HIV, such as improving immunity, suppressing virus levels, or aiding weight maintenance. 9 DHEA might also be helpful for people with adrenal failure, according to some 10 but not all 11 studies. Note:The term “adrenal failure” refers to total loss of function of the adrenal glands, caused by surgery or infection. The term "adrenal weakness" as used by practitioners of naturopathy refers to something more subtle and vague. DHEA might also be helpful for women with inadequate pituitary function who require growth hormone replacement therapy. 12 Preliminary and somewhat inconsistent evidence suggest that DHEA might enhance the effects of drug treatment of schizophrenia . 13 In addition, DHEA might reduce Parkinson's disease-like side effects caused by antipsychotic drugs in the phenothiazine family. 14 Highly preliminary evidence suggests that DHEA might help improve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome , 15 improve immune response to vaccinations, 16 and strengthen immunity following burns. 17 Weak evidence also suggests that DHEA supplements might reduce the risk of heart disease , especially in men. 18 One small double-blind study found evidence that DHEA at a dose of 25 mg daily might reduce menopausal symptoms ; however, in this study, use of DHEA led to altered levels of numerous other hormones, suggesting a potential for hazardous side-effects. 19 For several other proposed uses of DHEA, study results are more negative than positive.

Primarily because DHEA naturally decreases with age, this hormone has been widely hyped as a kind of fountain of youth. However, at least 10 studies have found that DHEA supplementation does not improve mood, mental function, or general well-being in older people, 20 and 4 studies found that use of DHEA does not increase muscle mass in seniors. 21 However, there is weak evidence that it might improve signs of aging skin . 22 One study did find potential memory-enhancing benefits in younger people. 23 Athletes have used DHEA on the controversial assumption that it limits the body's response to cortisol and thereby causes an increase in muscle tissue growth. 24 However, current evidence remains more negative than positive as to whether DHEA aids muscle building or enhances sports performance ability . 25 In a 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 58 people with Alzheimer’s disease , use of DHEA at 50 mg twice daily did not improve symptoms. 26 A 12-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study failed to find DHEA helpful for Sjogren's syndrome. 27 The researchers noted that the belief by participants that they were being given DHEA instead of placebo “was a stronger predictor for improvement of fatigue and well-being than the actual use of DHEA.” A previous double-blind, placebo-controlled study also failed to find benefit. 28 Another study failed to find DHEA helpful for fibromyalgia . 29 Despite evidence from one preliminary study, 30 DHEA does not appear to improve blood sugar control in seniors. 31 DHEA has been proposed as an aid to weight loss , but the little evidence that is available suggests that it does not work. 32 A supplement related to DHEA, 3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone (also called 7-oxy or 7-keto-DHEA), has also been advocated for enhancing weight loss, and there is at least a small amount of supporting evidence. 33

References

  1. van Vollenhoven RF, Morabito LM, Engleman EG, McGuire JL. Treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus with dehydroepiandrosterone: 50 patients treated up to 12 months. J Rheumatol. 25(2):285-9.
  2. Baulieu EE, Thomas G, Legrain S, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, and aging: contribution of the DHEAge Study to a sociobiomedical issue. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2000;97:4279-4284.
  3. Baulieu EE, Thomas G, Legrain S, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, and aging: contribution of the DHEAge Study to a sociobiomedical issue. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2000;97:4279-4284.
  4. Reiter WJ, Pycha A, Schatzl G, Pokorny A, Gruber DM, Huber JC, Marberger M. Dehydroepiandrosterone in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: a prospective, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Urology. 53(3):590-4; discussion 594-5.
  5. Percheron G, Hogrel JY, Denot-Ledunois S, Fayet G, Forette F, Baulieu EE, Fardeau M, Marini JF, Double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Effect of 1-year oral administration of dehydroepiandrosterone to 60- to 80-year-old individuals on muscle function and cross-sectional area: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 163(6):720-7.
  6. Rabkin JG, McElhiney MC, Rabkin R, McGrath PJ, Ferrando SJ. Placebo-controlled trial of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) for treatment of nonmajor depression in patients with HIV/AIDS. Am J Psychiatry. 163(1):59-66.
  7. Piketty C, Jayle D, Leplege A, Castiel P, Ecosse E, Gonzalez-Canali G, Sabatier B, Boulle N, Debuire B, Le Bouc Y, Baulieu EE, Kazatchkine MD. Double-blind placebo-controlled trial of oral dehydroepiandrosterone in patients with advanced HIV disease. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 55(3):325-30.
  8. Rabkin JG, Ferrando SJ, Wagner GJ, Rabkin R. DHEA treatment for HIV+ patients: effects on mood, androgenic and anabolic parameters. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 25(1):53-68.
  9. Abrams DI, Shade SB, Couey P, McCune JM, Lo J, Bacchetti P, Chang B, Epling L, Liegler T, Grant RM. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) effects on HIV replication and host immunity: a randomized placebo-controlled study. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 23(1):77-85.
  10. Arlt W, Callies F, van Vlijmen JC, Koehler I, Reincke M, Bidlingmaier M, Huebler D, Oettel M, Ernst M, Schulte HM, Allolio B. Dehydroepiandrosterone replacement in women with adrenal insufficiency. N Engl J Med. 341(14):1013-20.
  11. Løvås K, Gebre-Medhin G, Trovik TS, Fougner KJ, Uhlving S, Nedrebø BG, Myking OL, Kämpe O, Husebye ES. Replacement of dehydroepiandrosterone in adrenal failure: no benefit for subjective health status and sexuality in a 9-month, randomized, parallel group clinical trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 88(3):1112-8.
  12. Brooke AM, Kalingag LA, Miraki-Moud F, Camacho-Hübner C, Maher KT, Walker DM, Hinson JP, Monson JP. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) replacement reduces growth hormone (GH) dose requirement in female hypopituitary patients on GH replacement. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 65(5):673-80.
  13. Strous RD, Maayan R, Lapidus R, Stryjer R, Lustig M, Kotler M, Weizman A. Dehydroepiandrosterone augmentation in the management of negative, depressive, and anxiety symptoms in schizophrenia. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 60(2):133-41.
  14. Nachshoni T, Ebert T, Abramovitch Y, Assael-Amir M, Kotler M, Maayan R, Weizman A, Strous RD. Improvement of extrapyramidal symptoms following dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) administration in antipsychotic treated schizophrenia patients: a randomized, double-blind placebo controlled trial. Schizophr Res. 79(2-3):251-6.
  15. Himmel PB, Seligman TM. A pilot study employing Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. J Clin Rheumatol. 5(2):56-9.
  16. Araneo B, Dowell T, Woods ML, Daynes R, Judd M, Evans T. DHEAS as an effective vaccine adjuvant in elderly humans. Proof-of-principle studies. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 774():232-48.
  17. Araneo B, Daynes R. Dehydroepiandrosterone functions as more than an antiglucocorticoid in preserving immunocompetence after thermal injury. Endocrinology. 136(2):393-401.
  18. Barrett-Connor E, Goodman-Gruen D. Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate does not predict cardiovascular death in postmenopausal women. The Rancho Bernardo Study. Circulation. 1995;91:1757-1760.
  19. Genazzani AD, Stomati M, Bernardi F, Pieri M, Rovati L, Genazzani AR. Long-term low-dose dehydroepiandrosterone oral supplementation in early and late postmenopausal women modulates endocrine parameters and synthesis of neuroactive steroids. Fertil Steril. 80(6):1495-501.
  20. Wolf OT, Neumann O, Hellhammer DH, Geiben AC, Strasburger CJ, Dressendörfer RA, Pirke KM, Kirschbaum C. Effects of a two-week physiological dehydroepiandrosterone substitution on cognitive performance and well-being in healthy elderly women and men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 82(7):2363-7.
  21. Percheron G, Hogrel JY, Denot-Ledunois S, Fayet G, Forette F, Baulieu EE, Fardeau M, Marini JF, Double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Effect of 1-year oral administration of dehydroepiandrosterone to 60- to 80-year-old individuals on muscle function and cross-sectional area: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 163(6):720-7.
  22. Baulieu EE, Thomas G, Legrain S, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, and aging: contribution of the DHEAge Study to a sociobiomedical issue. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2000;97:4279-4284.
  23. Alhaj HA, Massey AE, McAllister-Williams RH. Effects of DHEA administration on episodic memory, cortisol and mood in healthy young men: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 188(4):541-51.
  24. Regelson W, Kalimi M. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)--the multifunctional steroid. II. Effects on the CNS, cell proliferation, metabolic and vascular, clinical and other effects. Mechanism of action? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 719():564-75.
  25. Brown GA, Vukovich MD, Sharp RL, Reifenrath TA, Parsons KA, King DS. Effect of oral DHEA on serum testosterone and adaptations to resistance training in young men. J Appl Physiol. 87(6):2274-83.
  26. Wolkowitz OM, Kramer JH, Reus VI, Costa MM, Yaffe K, Walton P, Raskind M, Peskind E, Newhouse P, Sack D, De Souza E, Sadowsky C, Roberts E, DHEA-Alzheimer's Disease Collaborative Research. DHEA treatment of Alzheimer's disease: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Neurology. 60(7):1071-6.
  27. Hartkamp A, Geenen R, Godaert GL, Bootsma H, Kruize AA, Bijlsma JW, Derksen RH. Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone administration on fatigue, well-being, and functioning in women with primary Sjögren syndrome: a randomised controlled trial. Ann Rheum Dis. 67(1):91-7.
  28. Pillemer SR, Brennan MT, Sankar V, Leakan RA, Smith JA, Grisius M, Ligier S, Radfar L, Kok MR, Kingman A, Fox PC. Pilot clinical trial of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) versus placebo for Sjögren's syndrome. Arthritis Rheum. 51(4):601-4.
  29. Finckh A, Berner IC, Aubry-Rozier B, So AK. A randomized controlled trial of dehydroepiandrosterone in postmenopausal women with fibromyalgia. J Rheumatol. 32(7):1336-40.
  30. Kawano H, Yasue H, Kitagawa A, Hirai N, Yoshida T, Soejima H, Miyamoto S, Nakano M, Ogawa H. Dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation improves endothelial function and insulin sensitivity in men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 88(7):3190-5.
  31. Basu R, Man CD, Campioni M, et al. Two years of treatment with dehydroepiandrosterone does not improve insulin secretion, insulin action, or postprandial glucose turnover in elderly men or women. Diabetes. 2007;56:753-766.
  32. Vogiatzi MG, Boeck MA, Vlachopapadopoulou E, el-Rashid R, New MI. Dehydroepiandrosterone in morbidly obese adolescents: effects on weight, body composition, lipids, and insulin resistance. Metabolism. 45(8):1011-5.
  33. Kalman DS, Colker CM, Swain MA, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study of 3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone in healthy overweight adults. Curr Ther Res. 2000;61:435-442.
 
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