07-12-2007, 08:48 PM
Hi, I have had some trouble with fatigue, like most us. My doctor suggested that maybe my fatigue could be related to low levels of DHEA-s, so she ordered a test. They told me that my levels were around 60 and that a normal value would be around 300. She sent me home on DHEA and has been gradually increasing since then (currently taking 20 mg a day).
I'm feeling rather uneasy about taking this. It seems like there are claims for this drug helping just about everything. I'm sure that my doctor gave me good pharmaceutical grade product, but the fact that it is so widely available with so little regulation also worries me.
I was wondering what people know about the blood test for DHEA and what these levels really mean. It seems like the normal level of DHEA-s varies a lot with age, but I haven't found specific numbers or information about how normal values are determined when it seems to vary so much in the population. I'm just wondering if I'm supposed to keep taking more of this stuff until my blood values read 300. That seems like so much. Do other people have such low levels? Can this somehow be related to the fact I have previously tested vitamin D deficient and now have to take 50000 IU twice a week? I'm starting to feel like pretty soon I won't need to eat, I'll be taking everything my body needs by pill.
Seriously, I'd love any information on DHEA that you guys have found useful. I would also love to hear about any positive or negative experiences that you have had with it. Thanks.
07-13-2007, 12:17 PM
I have not used DHEA, but I will give you some information about the drug. There have been independent studies in its usage for Lupus that have shown positive results. However, be advised that DHEA lacks long term research to document its side effects.
You are correct, there are very many variables when determining the results of any test. The issue of what constitutes a normal test result varies because there is the consideration of biochemical individuality. It's a fact that we're all a unique in every aspect of our functioning. We each have patterns in our body chemistry that are unique. So levels that are perfectly normal for one person may not be normal for another.
Fatigue is a common complaint in Lupus. There are several reasons for the fatigue, but no known cause has been found. Doctors will generally, at first, suspect adrenal exhaustion. This problem is often not picked up in blood tests! When doctors check the status of the adrenal glands, many people test in the normal range. The natural cortisone level (also called cortisol) wouldn't necessarily be low in terms of the standards given by the labs. Part of the confusion comes in because people with adrenal insufficiency often test in the low to normal range.
The normal range for DHEA is between 90 and 430. If someone tests with a DHEA level of 125, the lab report would indicate normal and the doctor would probably say, "The test came back normal." But the person being tested is constantly struggling with fatigue and exhausted most of the time. DHEA decreases with age, and can decrease up to 90% when you get old. If your adrenal hormones are low, your immune system will not be able to function at full capacity and you may find you're more susceptible to certain conditions such as food allergies, for example. There are several ways in which a hormone such as DHEA can affect your ability to heal from a chronic illness, like Lupus. Raising hormone levels closer to the middle of the normal range has been found to improve overall functioning and can alleviate the sense of physical exhaustion. DHEA is believed to support the immune system by promoting quicker repair. DHEA is a hormone that promotes cell growth. It is an anabolic hormone (one that handles repair and rebuilding), so it is also believed to help the body heal injured tissue.
DHEA is closely linked to the functioning of the immune system and has been used to treat autoimmune disorders. Stanford and other universities have done quite a bit of clinical testing of DHEA in high doses for people with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Much of the research has been done on lupus, an autoimmune disease believed to have similar features (in terms of the immune system) to irritable bowel syndrome. In both conditions, it is the abnormal overstimulated response by our body that causes most of the injury. Restoring DHEA levels can also restores some of the functions of the immune system. It enhances the ability to create white blood cells to fight infection by bacteria or parasites. It also helps maintain the levels of antibodies such as secretory IgA that protect against invaders and allergens. So DHEA directly supports immune activity.
Any type of androgen type of supplement can cause various adverse side effects, and DHEA is not different. Like any and all androgenic steroid, DHEA can cause hair loss, especially in men. DHEA tends to increases levels of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), along with testosterone, and DHT is a main cause in hair loss.
* DHEA use can lead to acne problems, testosterone can cause acne problem among others.
* DHEA can lead to menstrual irregularities in women. It can also accelerate facial hair growth, and deepen voice.
* DHEA can convert to estrogen and this can lead to unwanted "feminine" characteristics in men.
* Long term use of DHEA can increase risk for breast cancer, ovary cancer, and prostate cancer.
* DHEA can also lead to prostate enlargement.
* Other DHEA side effects include irritability, and restlessness
I hope that this is helpful to you!
Peace and Blessings
07-14-2007, 07:08 PM
Thanks for the information. It has indeed been helpful. I'll give the DHEA a try for a while and see if it helps. I like this doctor and I think she has done a good job with me so far.