Safety

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.

Allergies

Avoid if allergic or sensitive to DHEA or DHEA-containing products.

Side Effects and Warnings

DHEA is likely safe when taken by mouth in doses that restore normal DHEA and DHEA-S levels and under the care of a health professional. Doses of up to 1,600 milligrams of DHEA taken by mouth daily for one month have been well tolerated. A dose of 50 milligrams of DHEA taken by mouth daily has been shown to be safe for up to six months.

DHEA is possibly safe when applied to the skin of postmenopausal women for up to one year.

In women, DHEA may cause decreased breast size, a deep voice, increased genital size, irregular periods, oily skin, and unnatural hair growth. In men, DHEA may cause aggression, breast tenderness or enlargement, decreased testes size, and urinary urgency.

Use cautiously in people with hormone-sensitive conditions and those using hormonal agents.

DHEA may interfere with the way the body processes certain agents using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these agents may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. People using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.

DHEA may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs or herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure.

Use cautiously with agents that may affect DHEA or DHEA-S levels (including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, metformin, and thiazolidinediones), agents that may affect blood vessels, alcohol, anastrozole, antidepressants (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs], mirtazapine, venlafaxine, or bupropion), antiestrogens (such as tamoxifen or fulvestrant), antipsychotic agents, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, benfluorex, birth control taken by mouth, calcium channel blockers, canrenoate, cardiac glycosides, corticosteroids, fiber, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-binding agents (alprazolam), gefitinib, glycyrrhetinic acid, licorice, metyrapone, morphine, opioid antagonists, propranolol, and soy.

Use cautiously in women who have premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Use cautiously in people who are at risk for prostate, liver, breast, and ovarian cancer. DHEA may increase the risk of these cancers.

Use cautiously in people who are at risk for urinary tract infections. DHEA may cause urinary symptoms or urinary tract infection.

Use cautiously in people with thyroid disorders or those using thyroid hormone therapy. DHEA may affect hormone levels.

DHEA may affect insulin sensitivity. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or blood sugar disorders, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements for these conditions. Blood sugar and insulin levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

Use cautiously in people with a history of eating disorders, heart disease, or stroke, or those at risk for stroke. High DHEA and DHEA-S have been linked to increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, and, metabolic syndrome.

Use cautiously in people who have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol and/or high triglycerides. DHEA may decrease HDL cholesterol levels and increase triglyceride levels.

DHEA may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

Use cautiously in people who are prone to acne. DHEA may cause acne.

Use cautiously in people who have benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). DHEA may cause prostate swelling.

Use cautiously in people who have sweating disorders. DHEA may cause increased odor and sweating. Use cautiously in people with muscle pain or joint pain.

Use cautiously in people who have anxiety, depression, muscle or joint pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or sleep disorders. Use cautiously in people taking weight loss agents.

Use cautiously in people who have seizures or those taking agents that may increase seizure risk. There have been reports of seizures following DHEA intake.

Use cautiously in people who have immune disorders or those taking agents that may affect the immune system. DHEA may stimulate the immune system.

Avoid if allergic or sensitive to DHEA or DHEA-containing products.

Avoid in children and in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to lack of safety information. DHEA may affect hormone levels in the body and put pregnancy at risk.

Avoid in people who have mania-associated psychiatric disorders.

DHEA may also cause side effects such as abnormal menstruation, acute respiratory failure (a lack of oxygen in blood), altered cholesterol, anxiety, blocked blood flow to the brain, blood in the urine, changes in abnormal heart rhythms, changes in adrenal or thyroid hormones, changes in blood vessel width, changes in insulin, chest pain, cough, crawling sensation of the scalp, depressive symptoms, diarrhea, dizziness, elevated liver enzymes and creatine concentration, emotional change, eye problems (dryness or pain), fatigue, headache, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, increased discharge, increased dreaming, increased risk of cataract, insomnia, irritability, joint and muscle pain, labor induction, lack of energy, mania, mood changes, nasal congestion, nausea, nervousness, night sweats, psychiatric problems, restlessness, skin allergic reactions (bumps under the skin, greasy hair and skin, itching, rashes, spots, and wart-like growths), sleep problems, streptococcal infection, upset stomach, and weight gain.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Avoid DHEA during pregnancy and breastfeeding without the supervision of a healthcare professional. DHEA may affect hormone levels in the body and put pregnancy or infant development at risk.

DHEA has been used in late pregnancy to induce labor, without serious side effects or complications. DHEA has been used with in vitro fertilization (IVF) to improve fertility.

DHEA injected into the blood has triggered the onset of labor.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

www.naturalstandard.com