DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It is also called the “Mother Hormone” because it is the precursor to the male and female hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. It is synthesized from cholesterol. You feel good, energetic, dynamic, and full of life when your metabolism is working properly due to DHEA being produced in the right quantities.
The adrenal glands create DHEA, cortisol, and adrenaline. The level, intensity, and duration of stress determine which hormone is created more than the other. Long-term stress creates a problem for the adrenal glands. Adrenalin is produced first to cope with the initial stress, then cortisol is produced to address the longer-term stress, then DHEA is created. Stress must be managed properly to control the proper ratios of adrenaline, cortisol, and DHEA.
Lifestyle, nutrition, emotional health, and stress affect the adrenal glands. If your DHEA levels are low, you might experience any of the following symptoms – extreme fatigue, weakness, lethargy, mood changes, decrease in muscle mass, depression, low libido, and more. A urine or saliva test can determine the DHEA levels in your body.
It is critical to manage stress and our lifestyle to improve DHEA levels. Stress needs to be reduced to balance the adrenal glands. Meditation yoga, breathing exercises, aerobics, dark leafy green vegetables, berries, magnesium, vitamin C, and zinc are recommended to balance stress and increase DHEA.
As we age, we make less and less DHEA. This decrease in DHEA results in a decrease in IL-2 (Interleukin 2). IL-2 is a protein that acts as a signaling molecule in our immune system. It is vital for our immune system to react properly and timely to microbial infection. It also helps our immune system determine if the invading molecule is friend or foe.
Low levels of DHEA have been found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, immune disorders, osteoporosis, depression, hormonal disorders, systemic lupus, HIV/AIDS, and more.
Some doctors use DHEA blood levels as a diagnostic tool to evaluate the aging of the immune system. Supplemental DHEA has restored patients to normal levels.
The symptoms for low levels of DHEA are like many other maladies. Talk to your doctor if you believe your stress management program is not effective enough to deal with your loss of energy and related symptoms. It is easy to address naturally, especially if you are under 40 years of age. It is still something relatively easy to address as you age.