Though DHEA helps many areas of the body that are critical players in our health and longevity, such as heart function, immune system, brain and nervous tissue… MANY times, I may recommend DHEA First and Foremost to help a woman recover from Adrenal Fatigue.
You see, under both acute and chronic stress, DHEA will decline even more rapidly than it’s expected aging decline. And this is a very unfortunate situation since the Adrenal Glands not only make DHEA, they are also dependent on healthy levels of DHEA to function properly themselves!
It is theorized that there are likely 4 stages of Adrenal Fatigue (called Adrenal Insufficiency or Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Dysfunction).
In the first stage of Adrenal Fatigue, DHEA will start to decline and is often in the low-normal to low reference range, while Cortisol will rise (often spiking) at least once during the course of the day.
In stage 2 of Adrenal Fatigue, DHEA continues to decline rapidly while Cortisol has returned back to a normal reference range. The normalization of Cortisol doesn’t represent anything positive at all if DHEA is low because this is actually a progression of Adrenal Fatigue. In fact, it is representing an even greater slowing of the Adrenal Glands ability to fight stress in the body. Less DHEA AND Cortisol are made, increasing inflammation and potential infection in the body. At this stage, you are very tired and are pushing yourself to make it through the day. In some women, Pregnenolone, the precursor to DHEA will also start to decline
In stage 3 of Adrenal Fatigue, DHEA is barely measurable and you will also see lower Pregnenolone levels (the hormone precursor before DHEA). Cortisol continues to decline. Fatigue is overwhelming in this stage, but even at this stage, a woman still has a good fighting chance to recover with natural treatment and without any use of drugs.
In stage 4 of Adrenal Fatigue, DHEA, Cortisol, and Pregnenolone are all very low - almost immeasurable. At this stage, a woman almost always needs supplemental Cortisol (Corticosteroid) to support the body’s need for this bioidentical steroid that reduces inflammation and helps protect against disease. At this degree, it is actually more detrimental to not use steroid medications at low dosing to keep inflammation at bay, while giving the Adrenal Glands a short “rest period”.