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While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 3Beta-methyl-delta5-androsten-17-one, 5-androsten-3beta-ol-17-one, 5-androstene-3beta,7alpha,17beta-triol, 5-androstene-3beta,7beta,17beta-triol, 7alpha-hydroxy-dehydroepiandrosterone, 7beta-hydroxy-dehydroepiandrosterone, 7-Keto (3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandros-terone), 7-oxo-DHEA, 16alpha-hydroxy-DHEA, 17beta-spiro[5-androstene-17,2'-oxiran]-3beta-ol, 19-norandrostenediol, 19-norandrostenedione, (20R)-3beta,21-dihydroxy-17alpha,20-epoxy-5-pregnene, (20S)-3beta,21-dihydroxy-17beta,20-epoxy-5-pregnene, ADIOL, androst-5-ene-3beta,17beta-diol, androstenediol, androstenedione, androsterone, C19 steroid, clenbuterol, clostebol, dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, dehydroepiandrosterone-3-sulphate, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate, delta5-androstene-3beta,17beta-diol, DHA, DHAS, DHEA sulfate, DHEA sulphate, DHEA-Bodipy, DHEA-enanthate, DHEA-FA, DHEA-S, DHEAS, DHEA-sulfate, DHEA-sulphate, DS, etiocholanolone, fenoterol, fluoxymesterone, mesterolone, metandienone, metenolone (metheneolone), methandriol, methyltestosterone, mother steroid, nandrolone, norethandrolone, oxandrolone, oxymesterone, oxymetholone, prasterone, pregnenolone, SDHEA, stanozolol, testosterone, trenbolone.
  • Select product examples: DHEA-5 Pharmaceutical Grade (Enzymatic Therapy); Nature Bounty® DHEA (Nature's Bounty, Inc.); PatentLEAN® (PatentHealth, LLC); Prestara™ (GL701; oral prasterone [DHEA]); Puritan's Pride® Inspired by Nature™ DHEA (Puritan's Pride, Inc.); Twinlab® 7-Keto DHEA Fuel™ (Twin Laboratories, Inc.); Vaginorm™ (intravaginal prasterone [DHEA]; EndoCeutics).
  • Note: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) may be made in a laboratory using wild yam extract. However, it is believed that wild yam may not be converted into DHEA by the body. Therefore, information that markets wild yam as a "natural DHEA" may be inaccurate.


  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that comes from the adrenal gland. It is also made in the brain. DHEA leads to the production of androgens and estrogens (male and female sex hormones). DHEA levels in the body begin to decrease after age 30. Levels decrease more quickly in women. Low DHEA levels may lead to hormonal disorders, AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, depression, diabetes, inflammation, immune disorders, and osteoporosis. Corticosteroids, birth control taken by mouth, and agents that treat psychiatric disorders may reduce DHEA levels.
  • Evidence suggests that DHEA may help treat depression, obesity, and osteoporosis. However, more research is needed to support its use for hormonal disorders, sexual function, and lupus (an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin and organs). DHEA has been studied for the treatment of HIV, schizophrenia, and severe injury.
  • DHEA may cause side effects related to other hormones. Women may experience symptoms such as oily skin, increased unnatural hair growth, a deep voice, irregular periods, smaller breast size, and increased genital size. Men may experience breast tenderness, urinary urgency, aggression, or reduced size of the testes. Other side effects that may occur in either sex include acne, sleep problems, headache, nausea, skin itching, and mood changes. DHEA may also affect levels of other hormones, insulin, and cholesterol. Safety information is lacking on the long-term effects of DHEA. DHEA may increase the risk of prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers. It is not suggested for regular use without a health professional's care.


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The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.