DHEA is a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal gland. It is the most abundant hormone in the blood stream, and is found in even higher levels in the skin. DHEA regulates the production and use of 18 other steroid hormones found in the body, including estrogen and testosterone, it is vital to a variety of the body’s systems.
The body’s natural production of DHEA peaks in our mid 20s, and diminishes significantly when we reach our 70s. In fact, DHEA levels in the skin of both men and women over age 70 is around 80% less than the levels found in those under 30.
When the skin is no longer being adequately supplied with DHEA, it can become dry, dull, sallow and wrinkled. This reduced DHEA level is one of the principal causes of brown aging spots as well as the general lack of elasticity in the skin. In short, the skin loses that smooth, firm, healthy glow we associate with youth.
How it Works
DHEA is known as a pro hormone, meaning it can convert into whatever the body needs, such as estrogen, testosterone or progesterone. Traditionally used as an oral medication to reduce stress, DHEA is now used, internally, and as a topical treatment to fight destructive enzymes that cause aging. As an anti-inflammatory agent, some research suggests that using it directly on the skin can reinforce the blood vessels, making them stronger. This prevents the skin from looking dry and drawn.
In topical form, when used twice a day, DHEA serums and creams can help with collagen production, hydration and fine lines and wrinkles.
DHEA Products – How They Differ
There are hundreds of skin care products with DHEA, claiming eternal youth. When choosing a DHEA product, consider the ingredients and what they are derived from. Products with natural ingredients (listed first) are less potent than those with hormone derivatives – and those products that are prescription strength, clearly are the most powerful and effective.
Natural Ingredients – these ingredients mimic our own natural hormones and are usually derived from plants, or may be clinically produced in a laboratory.
Hormone Derivatives – these contain extracts of hormones that are derived from plants and microbes.
Prescription-strength Hormones – these can be obtained from fungi or plants, or can be synthetically produced.
Regardless of the product you chose, even those DHEA products that do not contain a direct extract of a hormone, are still effective and do the job. In fact, some consider plant-derived ingredients such as phytoestrogens that mimic the effect of natural hormones, to be a safe alternative.
Other Benefits of DHEA
DHEA is the most important hormone present in the skin. Topical application of DHEA to the skin helps replenish this vital hormone and stimulate the skin’s immune system. DHEA has been shown to also aid in the prevention of and slowing down of the growth of skin cancers. It is an established treatment for psoriasis, eczema, seborrhea, and dermatitis. It relieves dry skin and is very effective in the treatment of burns of all types.
Taking DHEA internally can produce a wide range of benefits such as reducing oxidation from cholesterol which can help slow down the aging process, to improving hormone levels that can increase collagen for thicker, healthier skin. However, before taking any hormone based supplement, please consult your physician.
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