What Is DHEA?

How Does DHEA Help People With Lupus?

Pills Spilling From Bottle
DHEA. Snap Decision / Getty Images

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) has been shown to improve or stabilize signs and symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus. DHEA helps people with lupus by:

  • Reducing fatigue
  • Improving thinking difficulties
  • Improving quality of life

DHEA is commonly available in health food stores, pharmacies, and many groceries. DHEA is a steroid hormone made by the adrenal glands that acts on the body much like testosterone and is converted into testosterone and estrogen.

DHEA and its sulfate (DHEAS) are abundant in the body, but their normal roles are not fully understood.

Blood levels of DHEA and DHEAS decline with age. The favorable clinical and immunological effects of DHEA associated with lupus have not been achieved for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

According to WholeHealthMD, "Before starting to take DHEA supplements, have a blood test to determine your present level of this hormone. Only proceed if your level is low; healthy people under age 50 rarely need to take DHEA. Have another blood test three weeks after taking DHEA to determine if a satisfactory DHEA blood level has been reached. Once within the normal range, revert to a maintenance dose of DHEA (typically 5 to 10 mg a week)."


DHEA, WholeHealthMD

Pills, Patches, and Shots: Can Hormones Prevent Aging?, National Institute on Aging, January 2005

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