DHEA Facts

DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, is a naturally produced prohormone. It is the most abundant basic building block for hormones in the human body.

Hormones drive many aspects of our lives. How we feel, how we act, mood, energy levels, feeling of well-being, how we interact with others, sex drive, how we sleep, fertility, immune response, cardio-vascular function, neural function.

From birth men and women alike gradually produce more and more DHEA until about age 25. After age 25 we produce about 2% less per year each year. So by age 35 we make about 20% less than we did at age 25, and by age 50 we are making half as much. By age 70 most people make minimal amounts of DHEA.
DHEA-S is a more stable measureable indicator of free DHEA because it is an immediate product of DHEA.. Normal levels of DHEA-S can differ by sex and age:

Guber HA, Farag AF, Lo J, Sharp J. Evaluation of Endochrine Function.
Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st edition
Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company; 2006: Chapter 24.



In postmenopausal women, all estrogens and nearly all androgens are made locally in peripheral target tissues from the inactive adrenal steroid precursor dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). In adult men, approximated 50% of androgens are made locally. This new section of endocrinology, which describes the local formation of sex steroids, has been named intracrinology. In fact, all the enzymes required to make androgens and estrogens are expressed in a cell-specific fashion, thus permitting local control of steroid formation and action. The local inhibition of sex steroid formation or action has shown important benefits in the treatment of hormone-sensitive cancers, including significant prolongation of survival and even curing localized disease. On the other hand, exogenous DHEA provides important advantages in postmenopausal women because it compensates for the declining secretion of DHEA by the adrenals with age. The benefits of DHEA include increased bone mineral density, muscle mass, well-being, and libido, as well as beneficial effects against skin atrophy, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.


Labrie F. et al Semin Reprod Med. 2004 Nov;22(4):299-309. Adrenal androgens and intracrinology. Oncology and Molecular Endocrinology Research Center, Laval University Hospital Research Center, Quebec City, Canada. fernand.labrie@crchul.ulaval.ca

DHEA supplementation to maintain levels above where they might otherwise decline is a good thing. Oral supplementation of DHEA has been recommended by health professionals for years.  The assumption has been that DHEA could be absorbed through the digestive tract into the blood stream and used by the body to effectively supplement DHEA. However, when DHEA is ingested orally the first pass effect of the liver filters out most DHEA because it is a large molecule. What does get into the bloodstream is DHEA sulfate.

DHEA sulfate and DHEA are not the same and are not completely interchangeable in the body.

DHEA is a base for many sex hormones whereas DHEA-S is not. This is why supplementation Of DHEA provides so many noticeable benefits, while supplementation of DHEA-S does not.  If DHEA supplementation is provided with a properly made transdermal DHEA cream into the dermis, DHEA can be supplemented correctly. The route of administration is very important because DHEA and DHEA-S are not interchangeable. This is shown in medical research done by Dr. Fabian Hammar published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism


In light of these medical research results, DHEA supplementation is best provided using a bioidentical DHEA supplement cream that is absorbed in the skin such that DHEA is provided to the body rather than DHEA-sulfate.

DHEA supplements taken orally are not as effective as DHEA supplements taken using a transdermal cream. There are two important reasons –

1)      Most DHEA taken orally is eliminated as soon as it enters the system from the digestive tract by the first pass effect of the liver. Most of the effective DHEA from oral supplementation is not available to the body to do any good. Very little ends up being available to the body to utilize as a basic building block for hormones. This is why many of the studies published in recent years failed to show as significant benefits as they could have for many health aspects tested.

Unfortunately, many studies were done using the wrong method of administration.  In addition, most of the studies that did not show significant benefits from using DHEA supplements did not test for the effects of benefits for a long enough period of time. Studies of DHEA should be for at least 90 days and 6 months would be optimal.

2)      Most DHEA metabolism occurs in the skin Dr. Fernand Labrie and a team of Canadian researchers published an important study in February 2008 that showed this. Most DHEA is actually used by the body in the biggest organ we have – the skin, or dermis.


That is why DHEA supplement cream works so well – it provides what the body uses, bioidentical DHEA, where the body uses it, in the skin.DHEA has a close relative known as DHEA-S, the “sulfated” form of DHEA. Blood levels of DHEA-S are 300 times higher than those of free DHEA. The body can make DHEA-S from DHEA, but it cannot make DHEA from DHEA-S.  Oral “DHEA” supplements mainly supplement DHEA-S.

  1. DHEA and DHEAS are the most abundant hormone bases in the human body, and influence more than 150 repair functions throughout the body and brain.
  1. Starting at about age 25, DHEA levels begin to decline, and this loss of DHEA accelerates as we age so that by about age 70 most people are producing only 10% of the DHEA they were producing at age 25.
  1. High levels of DHEA are strongly associated with longevity, good diet habits and regular exercise.
  1. Low levels of DHEA are associated with depression, dementia, obesity, asthma, Adult onset diabetes, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, increased risk for cancer, and increased cardiovascular disease.
  1. Low levels of DHEA are associated with increased risk of death from all causes, and an increased risk of mortality for many disease states such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  1. Leading endocrinologists believe that “optimal restoration of anabolic drive – true anti-aging – will be achieved by maintaining DHEA levels at the level of a healthy 30-year-old.
  1. There is no evidence – clinical or experimental – that associates physiologic DHEA supplementation with any dangerous side effects.
  1. Supplementing DHEA levels with a quality transdermal DHEA supplement cream such as Twist 25 DHEA Supplement Cream is much more effective than oral DHEA supplementation.
  1. While DHEA supplementation has not yet been definitively shown to increase human lifespan, it has been clinically shown to allow a better quality of life day to day – via enhancements in vitality, energy, lean muscle, improved sleep, and increased sex drive.

There are many interesting medical research studies that show great benefits to health and appearance from DHEA supplementation.




Why Transdermal DHEA Instead Pills

Fabian Hammer, Sandra Subtil, Philipp Lux, Christiane Maser-Gluth, Paul M. Stewart, Bruno Allolio and Wiebke Arlt. No Evidence for Hepatic Conversion of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Sulfate to DHEA: In Vivo and in Vitro Studies. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism Vol. 90, No. 6 3600-3605. For more information:


Fernand Labrie, Alain Belanger, Rene Berube, et al. University of Toronto Medical School. Metabolism of DHEA in postmenopausal women following percutaneous administration. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Vol 103, Issue 2, February 2007, Pgs 178-188. For more information: http://www.fernandlabrie.com/files/LabrieF(2007)Metabolism%20of%20DHEA%20in….pdf

DHEA Reduces Risks of Cardiovascular Disease

DHEA Reduces Cancer Risks




DHEA Maintains Bone Density

DHEA Improves Mood and functions as an Antidepressant

DHEA Improves Mental Sharpness and Neural Cell Regeneration

DHEA Reduces Abdominal Fat and Metabolic Syndrome

DHEA Supports Immune Response

DHEA Improves Sex Drive
Penn Ovarian Aging Study, Clarisa R. Garcia, MD, MSCE, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Pgs 14a-14d. For more information: http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Fulltext/2007/04000/

Arlt W, Callies F, van Vlijmen JC, Koeler, Reincke M, Bidlingmaier M, Huebler D, Oettel M, Ernst M, Schulte HM, Allolio B “Dehydroepiandrosterone Replacement in Women with Adrenal Insufficiency” New England Journal of Medicine. Vol 341:1013-1020. Sept 30, 1999. For more information: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199909303411401

Michele G. Sullivan. “Study of Premenopausal Women: Low DHEA-S Levels Strongly Tied to Low Libido”. OB-Gyn News, August 15, 2004. For more information: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0CYD/is_16_39/ai_n6179326/

Garcia, ClarisaR. M.D., MSCE; “Hormones and Sexuality During Transition to Menopause”. Obstetrics and Gynecology: April 2007 – Vol 109, Issue 4, pp 831-840. For more information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17400843

Block, Will ”DHEA Improves Sex and Helps Keep Women in Love” Life-Enhancement. June 1, 2000

DHEA Improves Energy and Sense of Well-being


DHEA Improves Sleep

DHEA Counters Cortisol

DHEA Improves Skin Hydration and Fades Age Spots

What Else