DHEA, a Key Longevity Hormone Can be Enhanced Holistically

Research shows that the DHEA hormone is critical insofar as optimized longevity is concerned.  In this blog-article, I will first examine what modulates DHEA (Section A) and follow up with a brief analysis of holistic techniques that can enhance this vital hormone (Section B).

Section A

Introducing The Longevity Hormone DHEA

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is one of the critical hormones that scientists are characterizing as the “fountain of youth”. This hormone is made from cholesterol by the adrenal glands and is a precursor to 18 steroid hormones including the commonly known sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Healthy DHEA production is critical for lean muscle development, fat burning, bone growth, skin health, and immunity (1, 2, 3).

A DHEA deficiency significantly increases the risk of getting certain cancers (including breast, ovarian, prostate, and bladder), atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, nervous system degeneration, and other age-related conditions (7, 8).

Human DHEA production naturally peaks between 20-25 years of age and then steadily declines.  Many in our society see a sharp decline due to overburdened adrenals that are unable to synthesize adequate DHEA.  This adrenal insufficiency syndrome is becoming more and more common due to an overstressed and malnourished American lifestyle.

The DHEA Inhibitors and Stressors

One of the biggest DHEA inhibitor are the Statin drugs that artificially lowers cholesterol and zaps Co Q 10 enzyme.  This is one of the reasons why cholesterol lowering medications have been linked to all-cause early mortality (4, 5, 6).

Elevated insulin also causes a decreased production of DHEA in the adrenals. Thus, loads of sugar and  high glycemic carbohydrate consumption should be avoided as well as blood sugar imbalances, that which creates critical vitamin and mineral imbalances that stress the adrenals and reduce DHEA production (9).

High stress and poor sleeping habits also cause increased cortisol (stress hormone) levels.  When these issues become chronic they cause a phenomenon called “pregnenolone steal”. Pregnenolone is a byproduct of cholesterol metabolism that is necessary to produce both cortisol and DHEA.

High stress causes this process to shift towards cortisol production. This shift essentially `steals` the necessary pregnenolone from the DHEA production pathway to produce more cortisol.  This process depletes DHEA levels (10, 11).

Section B

Holistic Solutions

Removing the DHEA Stressors

Many people rush out and look for DHEA boosting supplements, however, lifestyle factors that deplete DHEA levels should be addressed first. The most important factor includes reducing/eliminating adrenal stressors such as medications, stress, leaky gut syndrome, parasites and other infectious agents, chronic inflammation, physical nerve stress, nutrient deficiencies, poor sleep, & blood sugar imbalances.

An anti-inflammatory diet is a critical part to de-stressing the body and boosting DHEA levels. This diet should be very low in sugar and carbohydrates and very rich in phytonutrients and trace minerals from fresh, raw or lightly steamed vegetables.  Powerful anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, ginger, rosemary, thyme, oregano, & cinnamon should be generously consumed on a regular basis.

Optimization of DHEA with Superfoods and Quality Fatty Acids

Healthy fat consumption is an essential part of creating cholesterol which is needed to produce DHEA.   Healthy fat sources include coconut products, avocados,  walnuts,  olives, nuts of all kinds, purslane, seeds including chia, hemp and flax for the ALA omega 3. And for those who can’t convert ALA to DHA and EPA, then either wild small fatty fish or purified omega-3 fish oil supplements or omega 3 rich krill oil. The adrenal gland, like the brain needs lots of fatty acid. So while the microbiota produced lots of short chain fatty acid, the longer chain fatty acid needs to come form food. And because of the ALA issue, krill or fish oil may be indicated.

Vitamin D also plays an important role in healthy DHEA levels (12).  Getting regular sun exposure is the best. If not possible then supplementation to maintain vitamin D (25-OH) levels between 60-100 ng/ml.

 Enhancing DHEA with a Holistic Lifestyle

1.  Prioritize Sleep:  You must focus on getting good sleep on a regular basis.  If you are sleeping in late in the morning, try getting up early and allowing yourself to get real tired early the following evening and going to sleep around 9-10pm and waking around 6-7am.  Use this as your regular schedule getting 8-9 hours of high quality sleep each night.

2.  Clean Up the Diet:  Follow an Anti-inflammatory high antioxydant nutrition plan. See Improved Mediterranean diet and Optimizing Vegan Diet Plans.

3. Vitamin N (Nature) & D.  Barefoot walking for electron absorption, sun exposure for hormonal boosting, deep breathing for N.O production, inter alia, breathing in green forests for soothing and sedative effect. If not enough sun (in Winters, beyond the 38th parallel, not enough vitamin D forming UVBs), 2 to 5,000 Vitamin D2 with K2 in combination.

4.  Exercise Daily around 20 minutes: Pick an exercise that is fun and stick to it each day.

5.  Breath Deeply:  Activate yoga nostril and deep diaphragmatic breathing on a regular basis.  This  helps to relax the adrenals and reduces stress.

6.  Use Essential Oils:  The aromatherapy of essential oils can help to reduce stress and improve neurotransmitter function.  Additionally, they have a positive effect on anti-aging hormone production.  Some of the best for this include lavender, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, chamomile, valerian and peppermint.

7.  Eliminate Food Sensitivities:  Food sensitivities can contribute to chronic stress in your life. See Institute’s coaching on Gut Medicine.

8.  Employ Adaptogenic Herbs and B vitamins via real wholesome organic plant-based food:  Adaptogenic herbs such as rhodiola, cordyceps, ginseng, etc. have a positive effect on DHEA production. Vitamins B5 and B6 are also key for healthy adrenal function and sex hormone expression.  Organic Strawberries are great sources of B-6, in addition they help to chelate mercury out of the bloodstream.

Reducing Cortisol with Ashwagandha and Jasmine.

In a  study large enough to produce significant findings, the herb ashwagandha was shown significantly reduce the stress hormone cortisol.

“The treatment group that was given the high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract exhibited a significant reduction (P<0.0001) in scores on all the stress-assessment scales on Day 60, relative to the placebo group. The serum cortisol levels were substantially reduced (P=0.0006) in the Ashwagandha group, relative to the placebo group. (…) The findings of this study suggest that a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life”. (Source). (13)

Stress, either physical or mental promotes ACTH secretion, which in turn increases cortisol levels; at times, the level may increase even 20-fold. (14)  The results of this study shows that high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract reduced levels of serum cortisol significantly. And when cortisol plunges, DHEA is free to secrete. Similar findings were observed in a previous study  by Auddy et al. in patients with stress. (15)

Sniffing Jasmine essential oil can also do the trick insofar as stress reduction is concerned. Jasmine volatile oils were shown to be both a GABA receptor modulator five times more powerful than sleeping pills while bestowing stress reduction benefits unto thy sniffer. (Source) (16)

Conclusion

When humans are governed by the sympathetic “flight, fight or freeze” neurological response, stress is produced, that which boosts cortisol, which in turn lowers DHEA levels. Thus, to live a healthy long life with adequate DHEA, it’s important to nurture a holistic lifestyle and keep cool.

Christian Joubert (HMI director)

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 9.53.18 PM

Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha or Indian ginseng is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. The species name somnifera means “sleep-inducing” in Latin. The name, ashwagandha, is a combination of the word ashva, meaning horse, and gandha, meaning smell, reflecting that the root has a strong horse-like odor. (Cf  “Ashwagandha”. MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 21 December 2017) Image

Reference and Precision Notes

1. Johnson MD, Bebb RA, Sirrs SM. Uses of DHEA in aging and other disease states. Ageing Res Rev. 2002 Feb;1(1):29-41.
2. Yamatani H, Takahashi K, Nagase S. [Sex hormones and physiological function]. Nihon Rinsho. 2015 Apr;73(4):565-70.
3. Labrie F. DHEA, important source of sex steroids in men and even more in women. Prog Brain Res. 2010;182:97-148.
4. Peck A, Chaikittisilpa S, Mirzaei R, et al. EFFECT OF STATINS ON ESTROGEN AND ANDROGEN LEVELS IN POSTMENOPAUSAL WOMEN TREATED WITH ESTRADIOL. Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society. 2011;14(1):49-53.
5. Redberg RF, Katz MH. Reassessing benefits and risks of statins. N Engl J Med. 2012 Aug 23;367(8):776.
6. Charach G, Rabinovich A, Ori A, Weksler D, Sheps D, Charach L, Weintraub M, George J. Low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: a negative predictor of survival in elderly patients with advanced heart failure. Cardiology. 2014;127(1):45-50.
7. Szathmári M, Vásárhelyi B, Treszl A, Tulassay T, Tulassay Z. Association of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and testosterone deficiency with bone turnover in men with inflammatory bowel disease. Int J Colorectal Dis. 2002 Mar;17(2):63-6.
8. DHEA deficiency syndrome: a new term for old age?  (Source)
9. Ryan AS. Insulin resistance with aging: effects of diet and exercise. Sports Med. 2000 Nov;30(5):327-46.
10. Boudarene M, Legros JJ, Timsit-Berthier M. [Study of the stress response: role of anxiety, cortisol and DHEAs]. Encephale. 2002 Mar-Apr;28(2):139-46.
11. Stress and its Effects on the Cortisol/DHEA Ratio and Muscle-Organ Relationships (Source)
12. Zofková I, Hill M, Zajícková K. Dehydroepiandrosterone status in postmenopausal women is determined by the gene for the vitamin D receptor. Horm Metab Res. 2002 Mar;34(3):127-31.
(13). Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255–262. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults.
(14). Guyton AC, Hall JE. Adrenocortical Hormones Textbook of Medical Physiology. 11th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2006. pp. 944–60.
(15). Auddy B, Hazra J, Mitra A, Abedon B, Ghosal S. A standardized Withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress-related parameters in chronically stressed humans: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. J Am Nutraceutical Assoc. 2008;11:50–6.  See also  Sharma S, Dahanukar SA, Karandikar SM. Effects of long-term administration of the roots of ashwagandha and shatavari in rats. Indian Drugs. 1985;29:133–9.
(16). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/7881819/Smell-of-jasmine-as-calming-as-valium.html

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Disclaimer: Nothing in this educational blog should be construed as legal or medical advise.
2017-8 (c). Happiness Medicine Institute and agents. All rights reserved

Trained in Conventional Medicine, Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, Naturopathy, oenology and Law, Professor Joubert teaches in different parts of the world how to extend a healthy Lifespan to 120 years and beyond, Pr. Joubert is working on a Documentary and book that redefines Medicine in light of new discoveries, ancient wisdoms, innovative research and holistic science, but he can be nonetheless available to coach patients back to homeostasis, wellbeing & Joie de Vivre. On occasion, Pr Joubert can also coach health professionals to better protect their holistic practice when they must deviate from outdated and irrational “standards of care”. See links on “Contact” and “Mission” (under the “About” link) for details.

Posted in Hormones, Neuropeptides, Monoamines & Neurotransmitters, LifeStyle, Naturopathic and Holistic Medicine, Longevity Medicine, Anti-Aging, Gerontology, Telmomeres, Telomerase, Caloric Restriction, mTOR, Sirtuins, Protein Misfoldment

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