DHEA no longer available?

I'm new to HealthUnlocked and reaching out due to problems experienced this week. I have been on long-term DHEA supplementation at 25mg per day, prescribed by GP. This week, on going to collect a refill, I was told that DHEA could not be supplied by my GP dispensary. They told me to try the high street pharmacy. Several local pharmacies say they cannot get it, either. The local commissioning group's medicines optimisation team (where do they get these names?) say it's due to a NICE ruling: approval withdrawn. But I can find no such guidance on the NICE website. I do realise that DHEA is a contentious subject, and I know its status as a controlled substance (I had to sign for it each time I collected it from the dispensary) l but I have been taking it under supervision of both endo and GP. My concern now is that I only have few tablets left and I'm not sure how safe tapering off can be achieved if replacements, particularly in lower 10mg or 5mg dose, are unavailable. I'm assured that 'cold turkey' is not the way to go with adrenal hormone replacement! Is anyone else in a similar position please, or does anyone have any wisdom to share? If anyone else is using DHEA and expecting to have their next prescription filled, they might like to check with their doctor, too.

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  • I no longer take it but when I did I stopped abruptly out of ignorance really when the bottle was finished (and I hadn't felt any better/different) but the doc who suggested it never said any more about it. It is (or was?) for sale otc in the US as a dietary supplement. Maybe it is possible to order online?

  • Thank you for replying so quickly. I know that it's for sale in the US as an OTC, which I think is part of the problem. My GP says he thinks it's been classed as a food supplement here, too, and therefore no longer funded (like gluten-free food) in the latest round of NHS budget cuts. But of course it's also a controlled substance, so I don't really think he knows what he's talking about! Hopefully there will be some people here who can help ...

  • I notice that some of the online sites are saying it's not longer available for shipping to the UK. And I know the MHRA have prosecuted people they've found using/selling it without a prescription!

  • Lady_eve,

    Contact your GP and endo to see whether an alternative to DHEA can be prescribed.

  • Hi, Clutter. You probably know that DHEA is a complex precursor hormone produced by the adrenals. I was found to have low levels, and it was prescribed as a straight hormone replacement on that basis. The closest alternatives would be the kind of plant-based oestrogens available OTC for menopause, etc but they only contain oestrogen, not the complex precursor. I have asked my GP to try and secure a further refill, so that I can taper off safely. He was supposed to ring me back today ....

  • One idea might be to buy pregnenolone to tide you over until you can clarify the NHS position on DHEA. I have very low DHEA and cortisol, and rather than supplement individually (as I used to) my private doctor suggested 50 mg preg instead. In theory, your body converts it into the necessary adrenal and sex hormones as needed.

  • That's very interesting. Thank you.

  • What experience did you have of coming off the DHEA? Did you gradually taper the dose, or stop at once, and did you then go on to the pregnenolone straightaway, of was there an interval between? I'd be glad of more info.

  • I never actually got hold of any DHEA, despite the deficiency. However, I was taking Nutri Adrenal Extra x 3-4 plus 20mg hydrocortisone. When I started the pregnenolone, I was advised it would be safe to take it with the HC, but I did taper off the NAX first of all, over a couple of weeks. Eventually, I tapered off the HC too, over a period of a month. This was simply for cost reasons, as I'm funding nearly all my own health care. So, it's just the preg at the moment, but I'm due to discuss the adrenal support with the private doctor at the end of the month.

    Edited to say sorry for the confusion over my first comment re DHEA - I didn't intend to mislead you.

  • lady_eve,

    Sex hormones are majorly important and DHEA is a very powerful precursor to all of your major sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. All can be commonly deficient (or even elevated) with thyroid issues as all hormones depend on one another and our poor adrenals get worn out trying to compensate.

    I too would be worried about going "cold turkey" but don't supplement DHEA so don't know about obtaining it but can you not just buy supplements otc ? ? ...

  • Hi, radd.

    I'm all to aware (sadly) of DHEA's important precursor role. I am also concerned that long-term supplementation such as mine may have suppressed the adrenals' own production even further, as can happen with cortisol. It has to be said that, even with supplementation, my DHEA levels on blood test have never been at the high end of the reference range/interval, but low or low-normal throughout. I can only hope (trust?) that my various endos (NHS and private) over the years would have raised the possibility of long-term exogenous suppression of the adrenals' own production of DHEA, although to be honest I think the understanding of DHEA and the adrenals' connections with underactive thyroid, as you describe, is pretty limited among UK doctors, even specialists, despite being well-known within the informed patient community.

    OTC supplements are not an option in the UK, where possession of DHEA without a prescription is illegal.

  • I've got DHEA prescribed by my private doctor because I had a deficiency when he did tests. That may be the way for you to obtain it if you can afford to do it.

  • Update on the ongoing DHEA debacle. I've just had a call from my GP who has made no effort to find out how or where he can obtain more DHEA for my safe tapering-off. That's a whole week gone by. His only advice was from the local clinical commissioning group, that DHEA is a food supplement and available over-the-counter from Holland & Barrett! I took a certain malicious pleasure in reminding him that DHEA is in fact a Class C Controlled Substance under the MHRA in this country and that people have been prosecuted for possessing it without a prescription. I've asked him again to look into obtaining and prescribing 10 mg and 5 mg sublingual preparations, so that I can taper off safely from the few 25 mg I've got left.

    If this situation weren't so serious, I'd laugh. I'm trying hard to tap into my Blitz spirit.

  • I just looked in my cupboard and found a bottle of DHEA from two years ago when I was unwell. I cannot remember the stockist but the company who made this is <online supplier>.

  • I think it bears repeating: DHEA is classed as an anabolic (strictly speaking, androgenic) steroid.

    Anabolic steroids are Class C drugs to be sold only by pharmacists with a doctor's prescription.

    It's legal to possess or import steroids as long as they're for personal use. Importation or exportation of steroids for personal use can only be carried out in person. Importation or exportation of steroids for personal use using postal, courier or freight services is now illegal.

    This information comes from talktofrank.com/drug/anabol... a website recommended by the UK government website on drugs penalties.

    This rules out purchasing DHEA from an (e.g.) American pharmacy or health food store online, as their shipping of the product would break the law.

  • Hi lady_eve, have you found a supply of DHEA? I have just discovered I have practically no DHEA so started searching and and found a UK site, you seem to be very worried about the legality? They don't appear to be-I think they are treating it as a supplement-I personally couldn't give a fig as long as I can get some 😊. I also found an article by an American MD who takes it himself but prefers pregnenelone as it enhances his artistic experiences! He waxes so lyrical I have to try it! He also sometimes takes both together and recommends taking it in cycles and taking breaks. There is a Dr Daniel Sister in London who will give you private scrip, full medical and blood test £350, which can be filled by private London pharmacy, 2 months supply £54 25mcg daily. Hope you are feeling ok!

  • Every time I have read of a UK site supplying DHEA it turns out to be one of those companies that has fingers in pies in many countries. They might have a part of their operation in the UK, but the bulk of it is abroad, and many products (if not all) will be shipped from abroad.

    The legality side is important. You have to make your choices and I make no judgement. But it really can't be a good idea to state in a place that is accessible to the public that you have acquired and are in possession of a controlled drug. More so if your real identity is readily available as it is for many here.

  • Thanks for your concern helvella, quite honestly I don't think there is much more the powers that be can do to me to make things worse lol. I haven't posted my test results and asked for help yet as I was waiting for the costisol results, which have just arrived,are very low, practically no DHEA, and explain a lot. To discover I need yet another treatment not available to me was the last straw! If someone wants to prosecute me I shall be screaming and kicking and grabbing all the publicity possible! I refuse to be made to feel a criminal because I want to feel well again after over 20 years of feeling like crap!

    I realise the companies are 'international', I also take SAM-e which is supplied in a similar way(although I have found 5 HTP on a lot of sites now I am reluctant to swap off something that really works well for me!) I have just joined a therapy group for ACT ( acceptance and commitment therapy) and feeling brave, lol, I can see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel 😊 I have spent the last few months since I discovered this beautiful collection of such lovely people reading and learning as much as possible-when I can keep my eyes open!-even though I sometimes have to read it several times to get through the fog! I have started to supplement my vits as per advice on here and after one week of B12 and a couple of others(more arriving every day😊) I feel so much better already! I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for every post that is written on here, I'm getting emotional now, I am sorry if this comes across as a rant,it isn't meant to be, and I hope I never cause offence to anyone,again it isn't meant! I have just been told my first purchase of T3 is on it's way so feeling rather euphoric!

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