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DHEA Dehydroepiandrosterone is a steroid hormone that is naturally produced by adrenal or the stress glands in the body. The dominant hormone in the body gets converted into other hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone and corticosterone.

DHEA levels are high in the 20s and early 30s, the average being about 25mg per day. The level declines with age. Besides the aging factor, decline in DHEA levels can be attributed to diseases such as end stage kidney disease, AIDS, anorexia, adrenal insufficiency and type 2 diabetes.

Intake of medications such as insulin, opiates, corticosteroids and danazol also contribute to DHEA depletion. DHEA - dehydroepiandrosterone (or Androstenolone as it is sometimes called) levels can be maintained through DHEA supplements under medical supervision. The dosage is to be determined by the healthcare provider. The benefits of DHEA supplementation includes improved immunological function, bone mineral density and sexual libido in women, reduced abdominal fat, diabetes prevention and cancer.

With specific reference to DHEA levels and heart health, data indicates that in men and women who die of heart disease, the DHEA levels are significantly less than others of the same age. The aim of DHEA level test is to measure the amount of hormone in the blood stream. When the levels are low, the endocrine function of the body is severely affected. Being the 'feel-good' hormone, a good level of DHEA contributes to a balanced mood.

Extensive research on DHEA levels suggests that healthy DHEA levels can prevent Alzheimer's disease, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, heart disease and obesity. Symptoms of low DHEA levels are extreme fatigue, decrease in muscle mass, decrease in bone density, depression, aching joints, loss of libido and lowered immunity. Doctors test DHEA levels as a diagnostic tool for varied reasons. The test results indicate specific disorders in men, women and children.

  • To check if the adrenal glands are working properly.

  • In women, the test is recommended if there is excessive hair growth or the appearance of male body characteristics.

  • In children who attain puberty at an abnormally early age, the DHEA level test is done to assess any gland disorder.

  • Prevalence of diseases and the process of aging can cause bone loss. By checking the DHEA levels, doctors can recommend measures to improve bone density.

  • Depression, anxiety and mood disorders are linked to hormonal imbalance. DHEA level test is a precursor to treating major depression.

  • Assessment of DHEA levels helps in taking measures to boost immune system.

  • Decreased libido is linked to lower DHEA levels.

  • Low levels of DHEA help predict HIV progression.

  • If afflicted with chronic fatigue syndrome, testing DHEA levels helps in taking necessary steps to improve the condition.

  • To assess if bone density is higher especially in women who have undergone menopause, DHEA level test is recommended.

  • Extensive research on DHEA indicates it as a predictive factor in diagnosing aging-related diseases.


Neuro enhancers or nootropics are drugs to improve cognitive function. Nootropics are also used to treat various physiological and psychological deficiencies and disorders. Nootropics include drugs, supplements, herbs and some food which enhance cognitive functions. Some stimulants have been used effectively for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other learning disorders. Possible side effects for such drugs may include insomnia and nervousness. Some stimulants are contraindicated with the use of monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, anticoagulants and for people with allergies, epilepsy and hypertension.

The key factor in understanding the application of the nootropics is the biochemical mechanism of the nervous system. The nervous system regulates control and coordination of the entire body. It regulates all physiological activities through feedback mechanisms linked to the brain and the spinal cord. The biochemistry related to nerve physiology and their respective signal conduction is a complex study in itself as it involves chemical messengers such as neurotransmitters.

Pharmacokinetics and Applications

Nootropics, also known as smart drugs are categorized as Nutraceuticals and supplement drugs which give accessory support to the physiology of the nervous system. Nootropics play a major role in the function and regulation of the brain signals. It enables the enhancement of memory thereby facilitating cognitive function. These drugs promote and increase oxygenation valuable to the brain in treating conditions such as apnea to a certain extent. They enable the transfer of inter-hemisphere information and also increase cortical and sub-cortical activities.

Some of the common nootropics contain caffeine as a main ingredient and L-theanine. L-theanine has less side effects as it does not affect the normal sleep activity regulated by the brain which is noticed in caffeine users. Each nootropic varies in its function. Some nootropics such as modanifil work extensively in formation of the memory neural network.

L-theanine, a good alternative to caffeine has been much researched and it was noticed to be effective in reducing anxiety to a large extent. In addition, it does not result in increased blood pressure and insomnia. L-theanine is associated with the stimulation of alpha wave production from the brain which enhances relaxed attention in the subjects.

Caffeine also considered as the world's largest consumed nootropic drug is a potent activator of the brain. Today caffeine is incorporated in various forms such as energy drinks, medicines such as vasograin (used for migraine) and others. This utilization is due to its natural availability and also its psychoactive and alert effects on the brain. The phenomenon of adenosine pathways A1 and A2 are bypassed initially. However, the activity of the drug is believed to sustain irrespective of these pathways in residual conditions. On the other hand caffeine and drugs like modanifil can cause sleep deprivation because of cognitive action.

Side effects

The side effects of nootropic drugs include nausea in case of excess consumption, headaches and irritability. In case of antidepressant nootropics such as Rhodoela rose,a a natural eastern and European nootropic, mood changes and mild withdrawal symptoms have been reported. Other pharmaceutical preparations such as tyrosine and modanifil cause anxiety, insomnia and increased blood pressure.

Drugs like Racetams are known for their action on the neurotransmitters because of their ability to permeate through the blood-brain barrier to reach the receptors directly. The glutamate and acetylcholine receptors receive the racetams and facilitate the brain functionalities. Acetylcholine is very good in sense organ activation and hence the racetams associated with acetylcholine receptors can generate increased stimulation causing the person absorb more color patterns than usual. Its action on the brain is directly determined by the increased blood circulation leading to better concentration and prolonged cognitive activity of the person. The receptor association of the racetams in the nerves and the neurotransmitters are facilitated by the associated ligands.

Supplements and Herbs: There are many supplements and herbs which can enhance memory, verbal communication and spatial reasoning - at least in some cases. The following are some common supplements found to be effective in improving cognitive functions - in various degrees:

  1. Herbs like Ginko Biloba, Brahmi, Goto Kola and Korean Ginseng have been traditionally used to improve cognitive functions.

  2. L-carnitine, an amino acid that helps in the formation of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine. A common factor found in Alzheimer's disease and some age related dementia is a fall in the levels of Acetylcholine.

  3. Choline, a water soluble Vitamin B group nutrient acts as a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Many components of Vitamin B play a significant role in the wellbeing of the collective nervous system.

  4. DHEA (DeHydroEpiAndrosterone) is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the adrenal gland from Pregnenolone - endogenous steroid hormone. This DHEA hormone supplementation has been advocated for slowing down Alzheimer's disease and age related cognitive decline. Lower levels of DHEA has been noticed in people with depression.

  5. Caffeine found in the Coffee drink and elsewhere is a xanthine alkaloid - a powerful CNS (Central Nervous System) Stimulant as well as a phosphodiesterase inhibitor. Caffeine reduces the sensation of fatigue and increases focus, clarity of thought and muscular co-ordination.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

In PCOS, under-developed follicles accumulate in the ovaries. Since they fail to mature, they accumulate as cysts in the ovaries. The low levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and elevated levels of androgens may be the reasons for this condition. When there is no ovulation, the progesterone hormone is not created and the lining of the uterus is not shed in a timely fashion. This increases the chances of endometrial hyperplasia and even cancer.

Another feature associated with PCOS is hyper androgenism or increased responsiveness to testosterone. This usually shows up in oily skin and acne. Excess hair may be noticed on the face and other parts of the body. Women suffering from PCOS have a weight problem, especially around the waist. Insulin resistance is also noticed in some women. This increases the risk of developing diabetes in later years.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptom

  • Absence of menses or abnormal or scanty menstrual periods
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility
  • Aggravated acne
  • Increased hair growth in a male pattern

High levels of insulin can result in symptoms such as high androgen levels, infertility and lack of ovulation. These symptoms are usually noticed when women are in their 20s or 30s. Diagnosis of PCOS is after a physical examination and laboratory tests. Thyroid and prolactin levels in the blood are tested. Serum levels of male hormones (DHEA and testosterone) are tested for higher than normal levels. Tumors in the ovary or adrenal glands can be diagnosed with vaginal and abdominal ultrasounds. Insulin resistance is vital in the diagnosis of PCOS. Insulin is instrumental in regulating the ovarian function. An ovarian biopsy may also be done.

Treatment for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Treatment for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome depends on what stage of a woman's life this condition has manifested and her fertility desires. Birth control pills are prescribed to regularize the menstrual cycle and reduce the risk of uterine cancer. Other medications used in the treatment of PCOS are flutamide and spironolactone.

Clomiphene induces the pituitary gland to secrete more FSH and this stimulates release and maturity of ova. Insulin resistance is reduced with drugs such as Metformin (Glucophage) and Troglitazone. 'Ovarian drilling' is a process of using laser to place small holes in the ovaries so as to normalize the hormonal environment and allow normal ovulation.

Tags: #DHEA #Nootropics #Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: June 25, 2024