– In the body, chemical messengers called hormones help to regulate the activities of various organ systems. One important hormone is deehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA. The chemical assists with the production of sex hormones in both men and women and is involved in other processes within the anatomy. Some scientists believe that adding to the body's natural levels of DHEA or addressing deficiencies of the hormone through supplements can provide benefits for those with specific illnesses and concerns. read more about dhea » | find answers to your vitamins questions »
Studies have found that levels of DHEA are often lower in the elderly, and as a result, researchers have speculated that providing the body with extra DHEA may be beneficial for some symptoms commonly related to an aging body. One area of particular interest is the role of the hormone in Alzheimer's disease. Some trials, including one performed at the Therapeutical Chemistry Department at the National Research Center in Cairo, Egypt, on rats, found that DHEA helps to protect the brain cells and may have the potential to reduce the progression of Alzheimer's disease; however, human studies have yet to show promising results.
A study at the Department of Psychiatry, Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine revealed that DHEA supplements temporarily improved mental functioning in human Alzheimer's patients, but the results were neither dramatic nor long lasting.
Is DHEA Good For Arthritis?
Researchers are also examining whether or not the use of DHEA may be beneficial for individuals who have osteoporosis, a disease where holes or pores form in the bones and weaken them. A research team’s study at the Department of Endocrinology of the Medical Centre for Postgraduate Education in Warsaw, Poland, showed that women who developed osteoporosis due to the use of prescription steroid drugs had an improvement in bone density when taking a DHEA supplement.
In a 2001 study at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, DHEA was shown to decrease the rate at which new pores formed in the bones of women with osteoporosis. While these and other studies are promising, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of using DHEA in the management of osteoporosis.
DHEA and Sexuality
There are many other investigations underway to determine whether DHEA could have positive benefits when used as a supplement. So far, there have been promising studies regarding the use of DHEA for alleviating symptoms of sexual dysfunction in women, erectile dysfunction in men and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Medicinal Uses of DHEA
Breakthrough studies have also indicated that the hormone may be helpful for addressing specific complications of illnesses. For instance, a study at the Unitat de Neuroimmunologia Clínica of the Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona, Spain, found that DHEA reduced feelings of fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis, and one study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York found a link between DHEA supplementation and an improvement in mood among HIV patients with depression symptoms.
Is DHEA Safe to Use?
Although DHEA supplements contain a chemical that is made by the human body, these products aren't suitable for everyone. Before you try supplementing DHEA to address any medical concern, talk to your doctor. Once you have discussed the matter and are cleared to take a supplement, search drugstore.com to find the perfect formula to meet your needs.
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