In Defense of DHEA

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by equanimous, May 13, 2010.

  1. equanimous

    equanimous New Member

    I just wanted to add my two cents to the whole DHEA debate since that last thread seemed to take a different turn although I really can't say I minded the whole discussion on dialectics :) I will not be presenting scientific evidence, and n does = 1 here, but as TigerLilea pointed out, it is foolish to ignore all anecdotal evidence. After all, that is a huge part of what this forum/message board entails. It would be nice if we could go on PubMed and find conclusive comprehensive studies on every single drug and supplement as it relates to CFIDS, but as we all know far too well, there has been a relative paucity of research on this illness. So, we can wait for decades for all the research to come out, or we can be savvy analysts and draw our own conclusions from a combination of both scientific data and feedback from other PWCs.

    Anywho, just wanted to say that I too believe that DHEA can potentially be helpful for those who have tested low in DHEA. CFIDS is after all a neuroENDOCRINOLOGICAL immunological disease. One must weight the risks of low DHEA levels against those of supplementation. Just as an example, some studies have shown an inverse correlation between DHEA levels and carotid atherosclerosis in men. I think there is definitely danger in supplementing to the point where DHEA levels become artificially high, and the types of dosages you see out there (25 even 50 mg) can effect that. However, I've found for myself, that I can tolerate a small dose of 5mg, and I want to point out, that it has been essential that this dose be administered in extended release form to more naturally mimic the body's natural hormonal processes. I've found this to be the case with hydrocortisone too. Both of these hormones can make me feel awful in the regular non-extended release form, but are actually quite helpful as XR.

    Again, I am still cautious of all hormones replacement therapy especially where cancer risks are concerned, but I think it would be dangerous to ignore the possible benefit in helping those of us whose hormone and prohormone levels have been severely affected by this illness.

    P.S. For those who like their hard science, a meta analysis of literature regarding DHEA demonstrated "some impairment in the majority [of those with CFIDS]" although with several major caveats: This of course doesn't say anything about the efficacy or safety of DHEA treatment.
  2. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    Is there a blood test from a reputable lab to show if you are deficient in DHEA?

    Could a low reading for DHEA mean that there are other hormones not in balance? Could supplementing with DHEA further mess up this balance?

    Do endocrinologist prescribe DHEA.

    I don't know the above and it is n=1.

    Like you said, if there is a deficiency, just like with other vitamins and supplements, then it needs to be addressed.

    I will also see if I can find some research as this intrigues me and have had hormonal imbalances in the past.

    BTW, anecdotal reports are not completely worthless. They can generate a hypothesis to be studied. It's just that you have to be careful about generalizations based only on anecdotal evidence.

  3. equanimous

    equanimous New Member

    In answer to your first question, I've had my DHEA levels tested by both Quest Diagnostics and Genova Diagnostics. I don't know if you would consider these reputable labs or not,

    In answer to your second question, I feel that it's fairly likely that if one hormone level is out of whack, another one could be as well. In the case of DHEA, one might expect to find other adrenal hormone levels to be abnormal. In my case, my DHEA, pregnenolone and cortisol levels were all very low. Some (but certainly not all) studies have shown that DHEA can decrease cortisol levels, which is not great for those of us who already have really low cortisol levels to begin with. However, I don't think there's any reason why you can't achieve the right balance by supplementing with a little of each. It's an important question though because one might attempt to supplement with DHEA, have a bad experience, and then write off DHEA as a viable treatment altogether when it might actually help in tandem with other hormonal supplementation.

    Also, I feel like you'll probably notice if your DHEA levels are getting too high because you'll start to experience the undesirable side effects of acne, voice deepening, hair loss, etc., but frequent blood testing should probably also be in order as well.

    Were you asking if endocrinologists prescribe DHEA? I'm not 100% sure. I get my prescription through my doctor who practices integrative medicine.
  4. heapsreal

    heapsreal New Member

    Having your hormones in balance is important for general health and immunity. There is a scare about hormones making xmrv worse but all i can say is having low hormones would do the same thing as it lowers our immune function. The trick is not to over supplement. Im using a low dose dhea10mg as my levels were well below range. I have tried pregnenolone and reacted badly with headaches and severe insomnia etc but in saying that everyone is different and its a trial and error thing. I did manage to improve my hormones slightly with adoptogenic herbs like siberian ginseng and high dose vit b5(500mg) and this was before i used dhea. I also had high estrogen levels known as estrogen dominance which is not good for males, now this can cause weight problems, reduce insulin tolerence and cause enlarged prostate problems. So i use a medication called arimidex which stops testosterone aromatising/converting to estrogen(E2) and this has helped improve my testosterone levels and lose weight from those luv handles.

    In the end its about balance and getting them in the right optimal range, i say optimal because sometimes even if they are in the lab ranges they may still not be at a healthy level, so u need to work with a doc who knows what he is on about.

  5. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Is the building block for other hormones. When Nurse Ratchet cut off my HRT, I took the pregnenalone instead and it seems to work just as well, if not better. Without my HRT, I have heart palpitations. Statistically, my risk for breast cancer is low (I know, doesn't mean I can't get it) but my risk for heart disease is HUGE. Also, I don't put much creedence in the studies which have been done on HRT and breast cancer. It just makes sense to avoid HRT if one has a high statistical risk. If I were in that category, I'd have the test for the estrogen gene.

    In the latest test, they scared docs by saying that HRT increases breast cancer by 33 percent. Actually, women on HRT suffered breast cancer at the rake of 4 in every 1,200 instead of 3 in every 1,200. Numerically, that just one person in 1,200. People use statistics with agendae in mind. My GYN agrees with me and offered a patch or cream but my new doc didn't flinch at prescribing HRT. Actually, I'd just as soon use the pregnenalone because the body will use it to provide the hormones the body needs.

    Love, Mikie
  6. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    I agree it's really unfair you can't even try DHEA. It's crazy.

    Like you, I worry some about osteoporosis, primarily because I've been unable to do any sort of exercise for the last 13 years, and I know it's very important for keeping or making bone mass. Because of this, I've been taking a low dose of estradiol (bio-identical estrogen) and also progesterone cream (again bio-identical). I just turned 60 and have beginnings of osteopenia but my doctor said the estradiol should keep my bones okay. I also of course take calcium, lots of magnesiun, boron, vitamin D3.

    I know you said you reacted badly to hormone therapy but I was wondering if you had tried bio-identical hormones. I have read that people really do react differently and more positively to the bio-identical hormones than to the synthetic ones or those made from pregnant horses' urine. The major study which found the dangers of HRT was done using horse hormones. Different results are obtained with bio-identical ones.

    So you might want to look into this. A very good resource is Women's International Pharmacy. You can find them on-line and they will send you a packet of information if you like.

  7. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    The nurse and I were going through my meds during the pre-surgical prep. We discussed the HRT and palpitations. She said that my HRT and Synthroid must be well balanced to keep the palpitations from happening. She said palpitations are one sign that hormones are not in balance.

    I almost think the Pregnenalone I bought here is better than the Estradiol and porgesterone because it can help the body produce other hormones it needs. I have osteopenia in one hip but have suffered very little bone loss since the last Dexascan. I try to remember to take my calcium but it's hard for me to remember to take the mid-day doses of my meds. I'm pretty sure that the 3,000 units a day of vitamin D3 are helping with the bone loss. Since the total exhaustion accompanying my Sjogren's, I have not been able to exercise as I used to do. BTW, I highly recommend the Dexascan test for osteoporosis. The quickie tests they do on the ankles at mobile health fairs are not reliable.

    Love, Mikie
  8. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    From: HealthNews, a newsletter from the publishers of The New England Journal of Medicine.

    "The Bottom Line

    Much of the popular and scientific interest in DHEA stems from our culture's emphasis on youth. If levels of this hormone decline with age, the thinking goes, we could avoid the health problems that accompany aging -- or even extend our lifespan -- by keeping DHEA levels high. Many people are already taking DHEA just in case this turns out to be true. That wouldn't be a problem if this substance were as safe as vitamin C. But as a potent steroid hormone, DHEA has the potential for far-reaching side effects throughout the body. . . .

    With DHEA and aging, there are no proven benefits and some potentially serious risks. Yet people are flocking to use this virtually unregulated substance, which troubles HealthNews associate editor Arthur Feinberg, MD.

    "The potential for irreversible side effects is real," he says. "So given that there's no convincing evidence for any benefit of DHEA, I feel strongly that people should not take it."

    Arthur Feinberg, MD.

    "Over the past two years, I have come across many cases of heart-rhythym disturbances associated with high-dose use of DHEA and pregnenolone. I reported one such case in a man taking 50 mg per day in the October 1998 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 129, page 588). Other side effects include acne, unwanted hair growth, scalp hair loss, menstrual irregularities, irritability, and aggression. In my opinion, DHEA, androstenedione, or pregnenolone should not be sold over the counter in doses greater than 5 mg."

    Ray Sahelian, M.D.

    If you think you may have hormonal problems it is best to see an endocrinologist. It can be very dangerous to take DHEA. The hormonal system is a precarious balance. Self medication is dangerous.

    Some endocrinologist can prescribe very low doses of HRTs or other medications to relieve menopausal symptoms but it is important to see a specialist who has had years of training beyond medical school, who will keep a regular check of your hormones.

    As the above says, there can be irreversable damage.

    Take care.


    [This Message was Edited on 07/12/2011]
  9. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    It's obviously your choice and it's not my intent to change your mind.

    But I do want to counter medical misinformation that can be harmful.

    Then people can make their choice.

    Take care.


    ETA If DHEA is to be used, it needs to be as a prescription thus reducing the risk of self medicating.[This Message was Edited on 07/13/2011]