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ALTERNATIVE MEDS UPDATE What you should know about the herbs and supplements patients use By Sherril Sego, FNP-C, DNP. Ms. Sego is a staff clinician at the VA Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., where she practices adult medicine and women’s health. She also teaches at the nursing schools of the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas. DHEA has been used as a performance- DHEA enhancing drug. The dietary supplement dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is attracting a great deal of attention these days because of the key role it plays in human metabolism of steroid hormone produc- tion. DHEA is a major precursor of both testos- terone and estrogen.1 Consequently, people from athletes to aging men and women are eagerly experimenting with this nutraceutical to improve performance on the court, in the workplace, and in the bedroom. ISTOCKPHOTO Science and memory were measured by visual analogue scales and found to be improved in the treatment group.2 DHEA is produced in the adrenal glands and liver. In men, Another study examining the effect of DHEA on mood it is also released from the testes.1 Speciﬁed cells and organs randomized 23 men and 23 women aged 45-65 years with convert DHEA into androstenedione, the main precursor diagnoses of major or minor midlife depression. At baseline and of androgens and estrogens. DHEA levels are higher in men after six weeks of monotherapy with DHEA supplementation, and peak at about age 20 years. Oral supplementation of mood was evaluated using the Hamilton Depression Rating DHEA tends to have a more signiﬁcant effect on circulating Scale. A 50% or greater reduction in depression rating scores hormone levels in women. The reasons for this effect are was noted in 23 subjects in the treatment arm, compared with not well understood.1 13 subjects in the placebo group.3 DHEA supplementation is primarily sought after as a way A study to explore the antioxidant capacity of DHEA to enhance or replace the normal functions of androgens. randomized 24 men with elevated serum cholesterol levels Claims made by the manufacturers of DHEA supplements to placebo or DHEA treatment. After 12 weeks, ﬂow- in
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