The adrenal glands are two pyramidal shaped glands that rest on top of the kidneys. Despite their small size, these two glands are responsible for producing a myriad of hormones and neurotransmitters that play a role in a wide variety of functions and responsibilities in the human body. The hormones produced by the adrenal glands help to regulate both short-term and long-term stress, maintain a healthy blood pressure, assist in blood sugar regulation and reduce inflammation in the body. Some of the hormones produced by the adrenals include cortisol, DHEA, reproductive hormones like estrogen and testosterone, aldosterone and neurotransmitters like epinephrine and norepinephrine.
What is DHEA?
DHEA is also known as dehydroepiandrosterone. DHEA is one of the natural hormones produced by the adrenal gland in the human body. During the period of our growth, the level of this hormone is very high in the blood. As the age of the person increases, the requirement of this hormone in the body increases but, its production decreases.
DHEA is mainly related to the youth, the energy levels, sharp memory, good mood, muscle tone, active metabolism and proper sex drive. The level of DHEA start to decrease as the age increases.
Adrenal Fatigue is simply tired adrenals. And when your adrenals are tired well so are you! The hormones that the adrenal produces pretty much regulate all the functions of your body, for example your thyroid and sex hormones. But what stands out is they produce hormones that influence your ability to metabolize fat, regulate blood sugar and deal with stress.
Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal Fatigue has a list of common symptoms associated with the adrenal gland inability to properly produce enough hormones. These symptoms include: Loss of Stamina, extreme fatigue, insomnia, prolonged exhaustion, weight gain or weight loss, dizziness or feeling light-headed, lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, decrease sex drive, inability to heal properly from common infections such as a head cold, the flu, bronchial infections, and other respiratory illnesses; increased anxiety, depression, the desire to eat foods higher in sugar, or caffeine, the inability to concentrate, cloudy short term memory, and depression. While this list of symptoms is not all-inclusive, these are the most notable and common indications of Adrenal Fatigue.
Before evaluating the need for DHEA supplementation, it would be helpful to have some understanding of its role. Steroidal hormone pathways are either catabolic, causing breakdown, or anabolic, producing build-up. Both pathways are necessary and work best when balanced.
Cholesterol is the fundamental substance from which steroidal hormones are made. Cholesterol is turned into a substance called pregnenalone which is then converted into progesterone in the catabolic pathway then turned into cortisol, the stress hormone. It may also be turned into DHEA in the anabolic pathway (build-up) and then converted into testosterone and estrogen.
When we are in prolonged or chronic stress and anxiety most of the pregnenalone moves through the catabolic pathway causing a slow and steady breakdown of the body. Little, if any, of the pregnenalone is converted to DHEA to move through the anabolic or build-up pathway. This can lead to functional and degenerative conditions and diseases.
DHEA supplementation may be necessary to temporarily balance these pathways. However, accurate testing should be done first. Saliva testing for hormones is the most accurate.
Although DHEA is available over-the-counter, the dosages are too high and can cause severe problems. They are usually found in 25mg and 50mg tablets. Women should take no more than 6-8mg per day in a divided dose while men should take no more than 16-20mg per day in a divided dose. Do not take for more than 3 to 6 months.