The Natural Way

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Many natural health practitioners enthusiastically praise the benefits of a hormone called DHEA or dehydrepiadrosterone.

At birth we have a high amount which falls to almost nothing within a few days. Production starts again and levels rise until about age 25 with a decline of about two percent per year thereafter. It isn't until our mid-40s, however, that we begin to feel the effects. By age 80 we are only about 15 percent of what we were in our 20s and by the time we hit 90, overall levels are down to five percent. Ailments, insulin problems, smoking, caffeine, booze, poor diet and a vegetarian diet low in cholesterol and essential fats are all known to contribute to the decline.

You might think I would have the opinion that supplementing with a pharmaceutical grade DHEA would be a good thing across the board. But I do not have that opinion, as supplementing, if you happen to be in a good range as determined by a lab test, may cause your body to produce less of its own. Supporting laziness is not a good thing unless you are soaking in the rays on a warm beach in Mexico.

Therefore, I suggest a simple saliva test be done which is available in most health food stores, or a blood test arranged through a medical lab. If your level is low, then supplementing with 50mg/day seems to be what most MDs and researchers suggest, with some exceptions.

DHEA is well known for reducing or eliminating hot flashes during the "pause" but the list of benefits is very long. This hormone is used in so many ways within our system. If you are low, supplementing may help the immune system, slow down aging, increase energy, strength, lift depression, create a feeling of well-being, increase libido in both men and women, reduce the chance of type 2 diabetes, protect the brain cells from Alzheimer's disease and reduce cortisol levels, which is a good thing.

Ideal DHEA dosages can vary dramatically from person to person. If you test low, low doses on a regular basis seems prudent. Doing the saliva or blood testing before and after is also good. DHEA is not for people under 30, unless indicated by testing, for those pregnant or nursing or for people at risk for breast, uterine or prostate cancer.

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