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DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a neuroactive steroid that is produced by the adrenal glands, and which is a precursor (pro-hormone) for producing testosterone [1; 2; 3; 4].

DHEA mechanism and metabolism  

DHEA metabolism provides around 50% of androgens in men and around 75% of estrogens in premenopausal women [6].

Through the action of the enzyme CYP17A1, Pregnenolone is converted to, firstly 17a-Hydroxypregnenolone and then to DHEA [7].

DHEA benefits

DHEA has been known to elicit multiple effects on brain function, antidepressant and anxiolytic effects [8].

DHEA injections into type I diabetes rats was shown to improve hypercalcemia [9].

DHEA was used to treat 22 individuals diagnosed with major depression [10]. Nearly half the patients were shown to have 50% decrease (or greater) in depressive symptoms [11].

DHEA and erectile dysfunction (ED)

Lower DHEA levels are associated with a higher risk of erectile dysfunction in men [3]. One study found that those with ED showed lower DHEA serum levels [12]. Peer-reviewed shows that “[DHEAS] evaluation is not recommended until more definite evidence…in erectile [dys]function is agreed upon” [13]. Other work has described DHEA and a strong inverse correlation to ED [14].

DHEA and body training

DHEA has been assessed for its potential benefits in muscle mass and strength [15].

DHEA replacement/supplementation and muscle mass and strength was investigated using a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. Results of DHEA treatment showed that 4 months DHEA therapy had impacts on weightlifting training on muscle strength [15].

DHEA levels increased post-exercise, with DHEA-S levels significantly increased only in females [16].

DHEA and weight loss

DHEA may provide improvements in insulin sensitivity which may affect weight [17] through its action on adipocytes. The effects of DHEA on a group of female rats fed a diet which included DHEA supplementation were studied. [5]

Results showed that DHEA-fed female rats has less liver steatosis – which is the infiltration of fat into liver cells – and had gained less weight, when compared to control rats [5].

DHEA for men and women

In elderly men, DHEA and DHEA-S levels decline over time [4], and these lower DHEA levels could influence testosterone levels. In women, DHEA has been shown to improve ovarian reserve [18].

Oral administration of DHEA was assessed in men aged 63 years old [18]. This study included a 20-week, 50mg DHEA dose and results showed that the DHEA supplement treatment was able to activate immune function [18].

DHEA dosage

In sexual function in women, DHEA doses have ranged from 50mg to a larger dose of 450mg and 1600mg [19].

50mg DHEA daily oral dose administered to 110 and 115 men and women; 23 participants experienced adverse effects in which DHEA treatment was stopped [20]. Other recommended oral DHEA dose is 25-50mg/day [8].

DHEA safety and symptoms

DHEA supplementation and common side effects which are presented with its use include, acne, skin side effects, hirsutism and effects on lipid metabolism [8]. DHEA should not be taken to restore any cognitive or emotional imbalances [20].


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  1. Tracey A. Quinn, Stephen R. Robinson and David Walker, 2018. Disease Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA Sulfate: Roles in Brain Function and Disease. http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.71141.
  2. Błażej Misiak, Dorota Frydecka, Olga Loska, Ahmed A. Moustafa, Jerzy Samochowiec, Justyna Kasznia, Bartłomiej Stańczykiewicz, 2018. Testosterone, DHEA and DHEA-S in patients with schizophrenia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology 89 (2018) 92–102, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.01.007.
  3. Ahmed I. El-Sakka, 2018. Dehydroepiandrosterone and Erectile Function: A Review. World Journal of Men’s Health, pISSN: 2287-4208 / eISSN: 2287-4690.
  4. Hung-Min Lai , Mark Shui-Yu Liu, Ting-Ju Lin, Ying-Lan Tsai, and Eileen Jea Chien, 2017. Higher DHEAS Levels Associated with Long-Term Practicing of Tai Chi. Chinese Journal of Physiology 60(2): 124-130, 2017 DOI: 10.4077/CJP.2017.BAF454.
  5. Reza Hakkak, Andrea Bell  and Soheila Korourian, 2017. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Feeding Protects Liver Steatosis in Obese Breast Cancer Rat Model. Scientia Pharmaceutica, 85, 13; doi:10.3390/scipharm85010013.
  6. Russell A Prough, Barbara J Clark and Carolyn M Klinge, 2016. Novel mechanisms for DHEA action. Journal of Molecular Endocrinology,  56, R139–R155
  7. Krzysztof Rutkowski, Paweł Sowa, Joanna Rutkowska-Talipska, Anna Kuryliszyn-Moskal, Ryszard Rutkowski, 2014. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): Hypes and Hopes. Drugs, 74:1195–1207
  8. Y. Dong and P. Zheng, 2011. Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulphate: Action and Mechanism in the Brain. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 24, 215–224.
  9. Koji Sato, Motoyuki Iemitsu, Katsuji Aizawa, Noboru Mesaki, Ryuichi Ajisaka and Satoshi Fujita, 2012. DHEA administration and exercise training improves insulin resistance in obese rats. Nutrition & Metabolism 2012, 9:47. http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/9/1/47.
  10. Owen M. Wolkowitz, M.D., Victor I. Reus, M.D., Audrey Keebler, B.A., Nicola Nelson, B.A., Mirit Friedland, B.A., Louann Brizendine, M.D., and Eugene Roberts, Ph.D, 1999. Double-Blind Treatment of Major Depression With Dehydroepiandrosterone. Am J Psychiatry 156:4.
  12. Andrea Sansone, Francesco Romanelli, Daniele Gianfrilli and Andrea Lenzi, 2014. Endocrine evaluation of erectile dysfunction. Endocrine, 46:423–430 DOI 10.1007/s12020-014-0254-6.
  13. Siegfried E.Drewes, Jacob George, Fatima Khan, 2003. Recent findings on natural products with erectile-dysfunction activity. Phytochemistry 62 (2003) 1019–1025.
  14. Dennis T. Villareal and John O. Holloszy, 2006. DHEA enhances effects of weight training on muscle mass and strength in elderly women and men. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 291: E1003–E1008. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00100.2006.
  15. Jennifer L. J. Heaney & Douglas Carroll & Anna C. Phillips, 2013. DHEA, DHEA-S and cortisol responses to acute exercise in older adults in relation to exercise training status and sex. AGE, 35:395–405; DOI 10.1007/s11357-011-9345-y.
  16. EWA OLECH, MD and JOAN T. MERRILL, MD, 2005. DHEA supplementation: The claims in perspective. Current Drug Therapy, vol. 72 (11).
  17. Meena Dayal, Preeti Yadav, Amrita Chaurasia, Urvashi Singh, Veena Gupta, Shweta Patel, 2016. Role of oral dehydroepiandrosterone in diminished ovarian function. International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5(3):826-830.
  18. Omid Khorram, Lan Vu, and Samuel S. C. Yen, 1997. Activation of Immune Function by Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in Age-Advanced Men. Journal of Gerontology, vol. 52A (1).
  19. M.Panjari and Susan R.Davis, 2007. DHEA therapy for women: effect on sexual function and wellbeing. Human Reproduction Update, Vol.13, No.3 pp. 239–248.
  20. Donna Kritz-Silverstein, PhD, Denise von Mühlen, MD, PhD, Gail A. Laughlin, PhD, and Ricki Bettencourt, MS, 2008. Effects of Dehydroepiandrosterone Supplementation on Cognitive Function and Quality of Life: The DHEA and Well-Ness (DAWN) Trial. J Am Geriatr Society, 56(7): 1292–1298. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01768.x.
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Typical dose:50mg to a larger dose of 450mg and 1600mg per day
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Build Muscle
Depression Support
Improve Memory
Mental Health
Mood Support
Sleep Quality
Weight Loss