Question: I've heard that DHEA is critical in helping the body when it's under stress. Can you explain what DHEA is and its role in overall health?
Dr. Brownstein's Answer:
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is one of a number of muscle-building, libido-stimulating hormones called androgens. In times of stress (including injury), the adrenal glands produce more DHEA to help the body cope and repair.
This hormone also helps rebuild injured tissue. If the adrenal glands malfunction and decrease production of tissue-rebuilding hormones such as DHEA, the body’s capacity to withstand disease and promote health becomes compromised.
DHEA also is helpful for treating a variety of conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, allergies, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, and autoimmune disorders. Optimal DHEA levels range from 200 to 400 mcg/dl for men, and 120 to 300 mcg/dl for women. Average supplemental dosages for men range from 5 to 10 mg/day, and for women 2 to 5 mg/day.
The side effects of DHEA are minor — occasional acne or moodiness can occur. Maintaining the low doses minimizes the chance of adverse effects. However, if side effects do occur, simply lower the dose.
Of all the bioidentical hormones I have used in my practice, the one that gives the biggest bang for the buck is DHEA. It is inexpensive and has proven to be an effective treatment for a wide variety of conditions. If I only had one adrenal hormone to use, it would be DHEA.