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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
                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.

              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-
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