Has anybody taken DHEA rather than herbs for ad... - Thyroid UK

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Has anybody taken DHEA rather than herbs for adrenal issues?

Helena877 profile image

I read a lot on here about those supplementing with herbs and just wondered if anyone has taken DHEA to resolve high cortisol issues?

15 Replies

Hi Helen877. Have you tested you DHEA to show that you are deficient, as well as your adrenals? Answering your question, no. I would never take DHEA unless I had tested my blood first and it showed that I was deficient. I have tested my DHEA and it has always been too high and over range for someone of my age.

Yes, I’ve had it tested and it was 6 (0.26-11) with optimal being 8-12.

My cortisol level was 669.47 (171-536). Optimal <400.

When I last had my cortisol checked it was approx 446.

Since the test (and for the last five days) I have been incredibly “wired” all of the time. I am literally running off adrenaline 😭

I googled and saw that there was a relationship between low DHEA and high cortisol.

Howard39 profile image
Howard39 in reply to Helena877


High cortisol and low dhea( below range) is the most common group of adrenal issues.

Your dhea is in range so if you take dhea it will rise and you’ll have high dhea.

In short no is the answer. It’s adaptagens like holy basil and ashwaganda. Tulsi tea helps.

If you google Dr Sarah Myhill. Com and search under adrenal gland the gear box it explains it really well. The common cause to high cortisol and normal dhea is hypoglycaemia. ( again the link takes you to how to address it)

Good luck

Helena877 profile image
Helena877 in reply to Howard39

My aim has always being to have optimal results. Surely if I was prescribed a small amount and monitored then there is no reason I would have DHEA?

Thanks for the link to Dr Myhill. I will certainly take a look and see what she has to say about high cortisol.

I was recently tested for diabetes and came back well within the ranges.

Howard39 profile image
Howard39 in reply to Helena877


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Helena877 profile image
Helena877 in reply to Howard39

Thanks Howard. I checked out Stop the Thyroid Madness too which has been very helpful.

The high cortisol explains why my free T3 has been over range several times and the TSH has been suppressed on a lower dose/then not suppressed on a higher dose.

So..... I might not have been having Hashi flare ups after all.

hadn't heard of this so I googled it, I'm quite open to steriod/supplement use, but this has some major side effects (webmd.com/diet/dhea-supplem.... I know that low cortisol is a b***er as my dd and dh have it. I wonder if something else less scary may do the trick. My dd has a very loud alarm clock, and she gets up with a glass of water and does her exercises. Cortisol production is increased as a result of all these. Plus you may want to try a little vegan food for a few days a week as the chemicals in meat and milk are counterproductive to hormonal balance?

cazlooks profile image
cazlooks in reply to cazlooks

ps. we take Q10, that's milder

Howard39 profile image
Howard39 in reply to cazlooks


She has high cortisol so doesn’t need steroids. There are other things that you can take for low cortisol that are great and natural.

If I had low cortisol I’d not be exercising- stretching yes. The link to Sarah Myhill ( who had 5k patients) Circa 4500 have adrenal and thyroid issues stresses diet is the most important thing to get spot on . High fat medium protein and low carb regime is essential building block.

Yes I take co q 10 as it’s an antioxidant( amongst others) and essential in step 2 mitachondrial function. Together with Vitamins and absorbtion

Then the thyroid and adrenals are 3rd/ 4 th.

Try drinking licorice tea- at least 2 bags steeped for 20 minutes- several times a day. Licorice is NOT for people with hypertension/high blood pressure.

I was given DHEA by a functional doctor who no longer practices, as part of a large cocktail of adrenal support.

Nothing ever came of the treatment, because he didn't seem to know what to do next. I feel like the DHEA may have done more harm than good, as I have a few cortisol and sex hormone symptoms now that I didn't have before.

Hi Helena, I've gone to articles by Ray Peat who is a well known authority regarding hormones. I think this article has both pros and cons.


Raymond Peat, MA, PhD (Univ. of Oregon)

Endocrine Physiologist

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) has a technical-sounding name because it has never been identified with a single dominant function, in spite of its abundance in the body. Many researchers still think of it as a substance produced by the adrenal glands, but experiments show that animals without adrenals are able to produce it in normal amounts. Much of it is formed in the brain (from pregnenolone), but it is probably produced in other organs, including the skin. The brain contains a much higher concentration of DHEA than the blood does.

In old age, we produce only about 5% as much as we do in youth. This is about the same decrease that occurs with progesterone and pregnenolone. The other hormones (for example, cortisone) do not decrease so much; as a result, our balance shifts continually during aging toward dominance by hormones such as cortisone, which use up more and more body substance, without rebuilding it. Protection against the toxic actions of these specialized hormones is a major function of DHEA and the other youth-associated hormones.

For example, starvation, aging, and stress cause the skin to become thin and fragile. An excess of cortisone--whether it is from medical treatment, or from stress, aging, or malnutrition--does the same thing. Material from the skin is dissolved to provide nutrition for the more essential organs. Other organs, such as the muscles and bones, dissolve more slowly, but just as destructively, under the continued influence of cortisone. DHEA blocks these destructive effects of cortisone, and actively restores the normal growth and repair processes to those organs, strengthening the skin and bones and other organs. Stimulation of bone-growth by DHEA has been demonstrated in vitro (in laboratory tests), and it has been used to relieve many symptoms caused by osteoporosis and arthritis, even when applied topically in an oily solution.

Estrogen is known to produce a great variety of immunological defects, and DHEA, apparently by its balancing and restorative actions, is able to correct some of those immunological defects, including some "autoimmune" diseases.

It is established that DHEA protects against cancer, but it isn't yet understood how it does this. It appears to protect against the toxic cancer-producing effects of excess estrogen, but its anti-cancer properties probably involve many other functions.

Diabetes can be produced experimentally by certain poisons which kill the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Rabbits were experimentally made diabetic, and when treated with DHEA their diabetes was cured. It was found that the insulin-producing cells had regenerated. Many people with diabetes have used brewer's yeast and DHEA to improve their sugar metabolism. In diabetes, very little sugar enters the cells, so fatigue is a problem. DHEA stimulates cells to absorb sugar and to burn it, so it increases our general energy level and helps to prevent obesity.

Young people produce about 12 to 15 milligrams of DHEA per day, and that amount decreases by about 2 mg. per day for every decade after the age of 30. This is one of the reasons that young people eat more without getting fat, and tolerate cold weather better: DHEA, like the thyroid hormone, increases our heat production and ability to burn calories. At the age of 50, about 4 mg. of DHEA per day will usually restore the level of DHEA in the blood to a youthful level. It is important to avoid taking more than needed, since some people (especially if they are deficient in progesterone, pregnenolone, or thyroid) can turn the excess into estrogen or testosterone, and large amounts of those sex hormones can disturb the function of the thymus gland and the liver.

People who have taken an excess of DHEA have been found to have abnormally high estrogen levels, and this can cause the liver to enlarge, and the thymus to shrink.

One study has found that the only hormone abnormality in a groupt of Alzheimers patients' brains was an excess of DHEA. In cell culture, DHEA can cause changes in glial cells resembling those seen in the aging brain. These observations suggest that DHEA should be used with caution. Supplements of pregnenolone and thyroid seem to be the safest way to optimize DHEA production.

© Ray Peat 2006. All Rights Reserved. RayPeat.com


LAHs profile image
LAHs in reply to Heloise

Thanks Heloise, that was an most informative and fascinating post. I learned a lot - gosh, so many things to watch out for it's a wonder we survive at all, we are so complicated. The bit about the regenerative insulin producing cells in diabetic rabbits makes me wonder why some researcher didn't pick up the ball and run with that one. But thank you for that post.

Heloise profile image
Heloise in reply to LAHs

Thank you, LAHs. It seems like it's easy to figure out other parts of the body but hormones seem to be so unstable when you are ill and so hard to know what to do about them. One doctor I admired so much laid everything on your hypothalamus. I think it's the main sensory nerve. Inside the adrenal cortex is nerve tissue. They must be connected. It may come down to the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems are out of balance. Of course the vagus nerve is all part of that. I posted something about this doctor in AZ who has a program and a device to balance things out. I'll let you know if I learn more.

Helena877 profile image
Helena877 in reply to Heloise

Thank you for all of the information supplied Heloise Very informative and SJ will do some more research into this.

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