Bioidentical DHEA Guide
Bioidentical DHEA has the benefit of research behind its effects and effectiveness. In fact, with Bioidentical DHEA supplements we see how a relatively new natural hormone can become popular through the release of a well-done scientific study. When a new major study reported that the bioidentical DHEA benefits, eve in low doses, reduced the symptoms of menopause and increased libido, it gets the attention of the Bioidentical Hormone Replacement (BHRT) community.
Bioidentical DHEA Research
Professor Andrea Genazzani, a researcher in Italy, compared the results of questionnaires filled out by women who had either taken bioidentical DHEA, standard hormone replacement therapy, a synthetic steroid, or just supplements. After a year the group taking bioidentical DHEA supplements showed improvement in both reduction of menopausal symptoms and increased libido. The conventional hormone replacement therapy worked as well, so the researchers concluded that BHRT may be especially good for those women who run into problems with conventional approaches. Of course it could also be the answer for women who choose bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT) because it is more natural and unique to their individual needs.
Bioidentical DHEA supplements have the potential to help women with many symptoms of menopause and aging. We imagine that follow-up studies may actually go further in studying the magnitude of the difference between BHRT and conventional synthetic hormone replacement. For now, at least, this study suggests that there is likely at least equality between the two approaches. For your own individual needs you should ask your doctor which treatment course would be best, although you could point out this study if she or he hasn’t heard. In this post we will provide more detail about this hormone and what it does, what to expect with natural hormone replacement with this hormone, and the risks and side effects that have been reported.
Natural DHEA Benefits
DHEA is actually a master hormone in some ways, one that controls the overall hormone pathway. DHEA benefits include providing a balance of other important natural hormones we cover here including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. DHEA, like the other hormones, declines with age and this of course can present a double challenge, since the other hormones that it regulates are also declining. DHEA can decline also because of chronic stress, given that this hormone is produced by the adrenal glands, and if they are too busy producing the fight or flight hormone cortisol they do not have time to produce enough DHEA.
With adequate levels of DHEA, assuming other hormones are also in balance, you should experience
- Normal libido as compared to when you were a little younger
- No noticeable decreases in muscle mass
- Losing weight should depend on how much you eat and how much you exercise, and should not otherwise be challenging
- You should feel that hanging on to muscle mass and flexibility depends on your level and type of exercise, and should not automatically decline
- Your energy levels should stay stable
Symptoms of Low DHEA
Many of the symptoms of low DHEA are similar to the symptoms of other hormone deficiencies, so an accurate assessment of your hormone levels is key before any bioidentical therapy is started. You might suspect low levels if you are experiencing any of the following
- Fatigue that seems to come on more quickly or last longer than usual
- Weight gain that cannot be fully explained by your diet or a change in your activity level
- A mild depression with no clear reason
- Low libido
- You are more easily stressed
- Your muscles are easily tired and/or you feel less flexible physically
Again, any of these symptoms or even a combination may be due to a number of hormonal issues, so to isolate DHEA as a possibility full hormone testing is recommended, even if you are going to pursue an over-the-counter path at first.
Bioidentical DHEA Treatment
Given all of the above, what should you expect of you try bioidentical DHEA. Again, we are assuming that you had a thorough professional hormone assessment and the result suggested that DHEA supplements might work. After starting this supplementation you should experience positive changes that might include:
- Lessening of heart disease: Supplementation with bioidentical DHEA has been reported to improve insulin sensitivity and blood clotting factors which are known risk factors related to later heart disease. Other researchers have found that bioidentical DHEA benefits include helping keep blood pressure low.
- Reduction in Belly Fat: Recent research has suggested that abdominal fat may get lower in those taking bioidentical DHEA independent of exercise and eating habits. This improvement occurred in both genders.
- Insulin Sensitivity: Bioidentical DHEA benefits might also include a positive effect on insulin sensitivity which can help prevent metabolic changes that can cause weight gain. This is related to the above since insulin sensitivity has been specifically linked to belly fat.
- Retention of Muscle Mass: While bioidentical DHEA might not build muscle itself, it may play a role in helping you maintain muscle strength as you age. In other words, it may slow or even reverse natural changes that affect muscle strength
- Mood Improvements: Bioidentical DHEA benefits may include an improved mood. If your mood has been depressed or you’ve felt just slightly more down than usually, it may be that natural hormone treatment with DHEA may help significantly.
- Increased Libido: Bioidentical DHEA benefits include increased libido. A loss in desire can be a symptom of hormonal deficiencies as we age, and an approach using this hormone may help correct this problem. Research shows that women on DHEA supplements gained much of their desire back.
You may not experience all of these gains, but if any of them are related to hormonal changes and your assessment suggested that you were specifically low in DHEA, you may find that you benefit. The benefits may come slowly at first, but by the time your follow-up assessments suggest that your levels are back to where they should be you should also be experiencing these improvements.
Raise Your DHEA Level Naturally
If your problem with low DHEA is mild or transient there may be ways you can naturally boost production without taking bioidentical DHEA of synthetics. The following are some ways to naturally boost DHEA production:
- Reduce your stress level. This alone may help you preserve your DHEA and keep normal levels of this hormone. Perhaps taking a quiet walk, going to a comedy club, or spending time with good friends would help you relax. More formal approaches such as yoga, biofeedback, and progressive relaxation might also help.
- Exercise is also key to maintaining the right amount of DHEA in your system. Of course exercise can provide other important health benefits as well. Even doing a reasonable amount of exercise 3-4 times per week can help. If a formal exercise routine is not viable, make less formal changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking a little, or play with your kids or dog.
- A low-calorie, healthy diet can help you maintain enough DHEA. Bright colored fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats can all help. Cold water fish may be particularly helpful.
- Following a low-calorie diet might help increase the levels of DHEA. Such diet also plays an important role in regulating the weight. It promotes longer life expectancy.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night, and try to make that sleep as restful as possible. Not enough sleep can undo some of the above.
Again, if your low DHEA level is moderate to severe you may want to combine all of these changes with some sort of supplementation, including with Bioidentical DHEA supplements.
Bioidentical DHEA for Women
Bioidentical DHEA is almost always prescribed for women, so the rest of this page could easily be renamed “Bioidentical DHEA for women”. The DHEA benefits for women can be quite obvious and powerful, whether they try bioidentical DHEA supplements or bioidentical DHEA cream for women. In all cases an accurate assessment is helpful to be sure that this is the natural hormone that will help, and even though bioidentical DHEA supplements and bioidentical DHEA cream for women is available over-the-counter it would still be helpful to be sure that hormone this is the cause of symptoms.
Bioidentical DHEA for women is potentially an excellent adjunct to other natural hormone replacement approaches, but sometimes it can be done on its own. Bioidentical supplements for women may contain other ingredients to help make the treatment more potent.
Biopidentical DHEA side effects
If you are going to try bioidentical DHEA you should be aware of the side effects of this natural hormone treatment. While DHEA supplements tend to have a low side effect profile, some people do report mood changes, anxiety, and liver issues. In most cases these DHEA side effects are related to pre-existing conditions related to these areas, but you should still report any changes to your doctor whether you had a preexisting condition or not.
As with any hormonal supplement, you should not take DHEA supplements if you are pregnant or nursing. Also, if you are having issues with other hormones, estrogen in particular, you should be very careful with DHEA supplements because they could affect how estrogen works in your body.
BodyLogicMD has more information about DHEA in general.
If you have experience with any of these issues and bioidentical DHEA supplements or otherwise have information that others might find helpful about bioidentical DHEA benefits, please share below.