DHEA may be unique among hormones for it’s lack of specificity for hormone receptor sites. Just as vitamin E has never been shown to have a specific metabolic role (it is only proved essential as a general antioxidant), DHEA may serve an equally general purpose. “DHEA is the first example of a buffer action for hormones that I know of,” states William Regelson. “It is a broad–acting hormone that only demonstrates itself under a specific set of circumstances. In that way, it is like a buffer against sudden changes in acidity or alkalinity. That is why when you get older, you’re much more vulnerable to the effects of stress. As Dehydroepiandrosterone declines with age, you are losing the buffer against the stress–related hormones. It is the buffer action that [helps prevent] us from aging.” The decrease of DHEA with age may result in gradual decline of a system for suppressing enzyme systems responsible for creating the building blocks of new cells, like lipids, nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) and sex steroids. The resulting rise in enzymatic activity in advanced age may be responsible for the proliferative events (cancer) and degenerative disease that become more frequent in advanced age. In this respect, DHEA might be best considered to be an anti–hormone, which might “De–excite” steroid–sensitive receptors that would otherwise lead to enhanced metabolic activity.
Exact dosages for humans have not been clearly determined. Daily dosages vary from 5 to 10 mg to as much as 2000 mg, with 5, 10, 25 and 250 mg being the range for typical tablet and capsule sizes. DHEA is usually split into 2–4 daily doses, especially at the higher dosage levels. We recommend that dosage be adjusted to bring blood Dehydroepiandrosterone and DHEA–S measurements towards young–adult levels. These blood tests can be ordered by your physician (don’t forget to get your first test before you start taking DHEA).
Because of its generally universal function in human metabolism, DHEA is being associated with numerous human maladies. For example, DHEA has recently been found to have a highly statistically significant correlation with vertebral bone density in postmenopausal women suggesting that DHEA (and other weak androgens) may protect against osteoporosis. This, and its low toxicity, may tend to give DHEA the same panacea stigma that the antioxidants vitamin E and C suffer.
In Europe, DHEA is already available as a drug in 5 and 10 mg doses (although it has been hard to obtain). It is used primarily for the treatment of menopause. In the United States, DHEA must first be approved as a drug by the FDA before it can be marketed for medical purposes. Unfortunately, this is an adversarial process (the drug companies advocating for the drug and the FDA demanding proof of efficacy and safety) which takes up to 100 million dollars and a decade to accomplish. Without a patent to restrict competition, prices cannot be raised high enough to recover the investment in the approval process. DHEA is an unpatentable substance.
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