Dehydroepiandrosterone is a hormone naturally produced by the body and it helps produce other hormones, including testosterone and oestrogen. The bodies natural DHEA levels peak in early adulthood and then slowly decrease as you age
One study provides evidence that DHEA replacement has the beneficial effect of enhancing the increases in muscle mass and strength induced by heavy resistance exercise in older individuals (65.9 ± 2.9 years, n = 15).
In another study, DHEA (200 mg per day) was shown to be as effective as testosterone in the treatment of mild to moderate hypogonadism at weeks 0, 4 and 8 of treatment (three injections per week). Subjects received 200 mg DHEA or placebo for eight weeks.
DHEA has been implicated in the age-related decline in immune function. A group at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre has published that patients with autoimmune diseases given DHEA have shown improvements in their disorder. These include Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Sjogren's syndrome, Myasthenia Gravis and Lupus
DHEA has been being studied by several organisations as a potential treatment for AIDS and is currently used as an adjunct therapy for this disease. The mechanisms in which DHEA may be beneficial for HIV positivity are not fully understood.
DHEA is used as a nutritional supplement to decrease joint pain and inflammation, and increase neuroplasticity in the elderly, as well as maintaining sexual potency. Trial results have been mixed with some studies showing no significant impact of DHEA supplementation on joint pain. Another study found that DHEA supplementation improved general measures of functional status in those with knee osteoarthritis, but did not detect a statistically significant difference between DHEA and placebo for any outcome measure.
DHEA has also been studied for the potential to increase longevity. A systematic review found no evidence that DHEA (either in the dosage suggested or in higher amounts) would have a significant impact on lifespan, though it is noted that DHEA supplementation may aid overall health and prevent disease.
In a double-blind randomized, placebo controlled trial, 38 men were given oral dehydroepiandrosterone (100 mg per day), to assess the possible anabolic effects of DHEA on elderly men. No significant changes were seen in body composition or strength after 12 weeks of supplementing with DHEA at 100 mg per day. No serious adverse effects were reported.