- Indications with possible efficacy:
- Indications with possible, but poorly documented efficacy :
Adrenal insufficiency (improve feeling of weel-being, skin, hair and sexuality)
Systemic lupus erythematosus
To improve skin in elderly
- Other indications with no proof of efficacy:
To enhance immunity
To improve cognitive functions
To increase strength, energy and muscle mass
To slow normal aging process
Vaginal atrophy - vaginal application
- Risk of Drug Interactions:
- Adverse Effects:
DHEA is a steroid hormone with androgenic (masculinizing) properties, which is naturally synthesized by the human body. It reaches its maximum levels around the age of 25 and then decreases quite rapidly until 50 to 60 years of age. DHEA levels continue to decrease, but more slowly, until the age of 70 to 80 when they represent only 10 to 20% of what they were at age 20. Because DHEA level reduction is age-related, some think that DHEA may be in cause in several diseases associated with aging.
Direction of use
DHEA may be used alone or in combination with antidepressant drug.
Used doses: 30 to 90 mg per day.
- Osteoporosis prevention :
Used doses: 50 to 100 mg per day.
- Schizophrenia :
25 mg daily then slowly increase to 50 mg 2 times per day
- Sexual dysfunction:
Used doses: 50 mg per day.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus:
As an adjunct to appropriate medical treatment. May help reduce corticosteroid doses needed.
Used doses: 200 to 600 mg daily.
- Vaginal atrophy and increasing bone density:
10% DHEA vaginal cream applied daily.
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that DHEA is effective in any other indication
- Side effects
The risks associated with DHEA use, especially long term use, are not clearly established. Risks of side effects increase if doses used are equal or greater than 200 mg per day. DHEA use may cause acne, hair loss, hirsutism, deepening of the voice in women, insulin resistance, decreased "good" cholesterol, changes in menstrual pattern, liver problems, abdominal pain, hypertension and psychiatric events. High levels of DHEA are thought to be associated with an increased risk of prostate or breast cancer.
DHEA is contraindicated in people with prostate, breast cancer or other cancer involving female reproductive system. It is also contraindicated if diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, liver problems or polykystic ovarian syndrome.
DHEA may interfer with estrogen agonist medications (Arimidex, Aromasin, Femara, Nolvadex). Before taking DHEA, check with your pharmacist to make sure that there are no interactions with your regular medication.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Since there is no safety data available concerning its use during pregnancy and breast-feeding, pregnant and lactating women should avoid DHEA.
- Experts agree that for most indications, the risks associated with DHEA outweigh the benefits. This product should probably be used only under medical supervision. DHEA has been banned from the market in Canada.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2010
- Peirce, Andrea. Practical Guide to Natural Medicines, APha, 1999
- Chandler, Frank. Herbs - Everyday Reference for Health Professionals, CphA - CMA, 2000
- Passeportsanté.net. DHEA. www.passeportsante.net
- Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide, 2000-2001
- The Review of Natural Products, 6th Edition, 2010