What You Should Know
Dehydroepiandrosterone, better known as DHEA, is a naturally occurring steroid hormone that is secreted from the adrenal glands and is commonly present in the body in high amounts before the age of 25. DHEA is thought to be a natural steroid because it easily converts into testosterone, allowing easy duplication of this substance. For years, pushers of DHEA claimed it reversed the signs of aging because this substance decreases as one ages — low DHEA levels are found in people with certain diseases and Anorexia Nervosa. Other claims are the ability to increase muscle mass as other steroids do and the ability to prevent multiple types of diseases. The latter claim is true, and hospitals are beginning to use DHEA as part of depression and lupus treatment. Its connection to diet? Early studies conducted on test rats show it helped control the rats’ obesity rates.
Scientists still stress that DHEA is relatively untested and that the effects and side effects with this substance are still not known. This makes DHEA a very risky substance and the way it affects the estrogen and testosterone levels in the body is another cause for concern. Despite these concerns, however, many diet companies are quickly touting this as a miracle drug.
As noted earlier, early studies conducted on test rats showed DHEA helped control obesity, preventing further weight gain. This study alone drew in worldwide attention, including the Mayo Clinic, who considers DHEA a suitable supplement for controlling obesity. Therein lies the actual issue with DHEA. These studies revealed substantial results with animals, not humans, and current testing on humans reveal little changes — these changes do not even affect weight control. Still, this has not stopped diet companies from inserting it into many of their supplements and calling this a miracle supplement for the ages. In our opinion, more testing is needed to confirm any dietary benefits for humans.
On an additional note, DHEA is rumored to have very unpleasant side effects, but these effects are not necessarily confirmed either. The increase in testosterone and estrogen may cause the same side effects as typical steroids, such as facial hair growth for women and the development of breast tissue and prostrate enlargement in men. The bottom line here is that DHEA is too new to confirm any results for the average dieter, and it may not offer some of the benefits claimed by some diet companies.
- Early studies show DHEA helped control weight gain in rats.
- It naturally occurs in the body, making this easy to produce and obtain.
- Current studies on humans yield unsatisfactory results.
- DHEA may raise estrogen and testosterone levels — it may also cause the same side effects as steroids.
- Is still too new and most claims have not been confirmed as factual at the time of this review.
Diet companies consider DHEA a miracle weight loss drug, but scientists say otherwise and the results thus far have not confirmed these outrageous claims. Still, there is evidence it controls weight in rats, and further studies are needed to evaluate why this occurs (or how to duplicate this same effect in humans). Don’t count out this substance just yet — there is potential here that hasn’t been tested but you will need to wait a while to see if DHEA really is a miracle drug.