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Dehydroepiandroesterone, or DHEA, is one of two adrenal hormones involved in stress response and blood sugar control. Hypoglycemia and other blood sugar problems occur when DHEA and cortisol levels become unbalanced, resulting in unstable insulin levels. Since DHEA production gradually decreases after the age of 30, many adults turn to supplements to help sustain their DHEA levels.
According to the Mayo Clinic, sufficient evidence exists to support the use of DHEA in the treatment of conditions such as depression, adrenal insufficiency and systemic lupus erythematosus. Since DHEA affects the supply and moderation of insulin in the body, individuals with diabetes and hypoglycemia are often advised to monitor their blood sugar levels while taking DHEA supplements. Due to the depleting effect that drugs such as insulin and corticosteroids have on DHEA, hypoglycemia patients may have lower DHEA levels if they are taking these medications.
DHEA and Blood Sugar
Is Glucose Stored in the Human Body?
Cortisol and DHEA are the two primary adrenal hormones involved in stress response and blood sugar control. Emotional stress and stimulants such as caffeine can elevate the level of stress hormones that your adrenal glands release in your body, including: adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine and DHEA. The presence of these stress hormones mimics a fight or flight response, causing your heart rate to increase and your liver to secrete extra glucose and blood sugar to provide energy to the muscles.
Hypoglycemia commonly occurs as a symptom of more serious illnesses. For example, conditions such as liver cirrhosis, kidney disease and Addison’s disease all have hypoglycemia as a potential side effect. Since DHEA plays a key role in glucose metabolism, a deficiency can often signal an inability of the body to process and store blood glucose from the liver and kidneys. Because of the relationship between DHEA and blood sugar, hypoglycemia may be linked to a general DHEA deficiency in the adrenal glands.
- Hypoglycemia commonly occurs as a symptom of more serious illnesses.
- Because of the relationship between DHEA and blood sugar, hypoglycemia may be linked to a general DHEA deficiency in the adrenal glands.
DHEA for Muscle Growth
Talk to your doctor before adding DHEA supplements to your diet if you are currently suffering from diabetes or hypoglycemia. DHEA may have immediate effects on your insulin and blood sugar levels, and this should be monitored with care. Despite advertising to the contrary, wild yams and soybeans are not natural sources of DHEA, but contain chemicals that must be processed in a laboratory in order to become DHEA supplements.
Is Glucose Stored in the Human Body?
DHEA for Muscle Growth
Prednisone Effects on Adrenal Glands
What Is DHEA 25 Mg?
How Does Creatine Affect the Kidneys?
Protein and Hypoglycemia
Normal DHEA Levels in Women
What Does Dextrose Do to Your Body?
Side Effects of a Glucose Drink
Blood Glucose & Amlodipine
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- "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism"; Hypoglycemia, But Not Insulin, Acutely Decreases LH and T Secretion in Men; Kirstin Oltmanns, et. al.; October 2001
- The Environmental Illness Resource; Hypoglycemia and Insulin Resistance; March 19, 2011
- National Instutites of Health MedlinePlus. Wild yam. Updated April 18, 2018.
- National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus. DHEA. Updated May 29, 2019.
- Park SG, Hwang S, Kim JS, Park KC, Kwon Y, Kim KC. The association between dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) and bone mineral density in Korean men and women. J Bone Metab. 2017;24(1):31–36. doi:10.11005/jbm.2017.24.1.31
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- Peixoto C, Devicari Cheda JN, Nardi AE, Veras AB, Cardoso A. The effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the treatment of depression and depressive symptoms in other psychiatric and medical illnesses: A systematic review. Curr Drug Targets. 2014;15(9):901-14.
- Cleveland Clinic. Prasterone, DHEA tables or capsules (Dietary supplements).
- Archer DF. Dehydroepiandrosterone intra vaginal administration for the management of postmenopausal vulvovaginal atrophy. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015 Jan;145:139-43. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2014.09.003
- Freitas RP, Lemos TM, Spyrides MH, Sousa MB. Influence of cortisol and DHEA-S on pain and other symptoms in post menopausal women with fibromyalgia. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2012;25(4):245-52. doi:10.3233/BMR-2012-0331.
- Gómez-Santos C, Hernández-Morante JJ, Tébar FJ, et al. Differential effect of oral dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate on metabolic syndrome features in pre- and postmenopausal obese women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012;77(4):548-54. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04306.x.
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Based in the Appalachian Mountains, Brian Connolly is a certified nutritionist and has been writing professionally since 2000. He is a licensed yoga and martial arts instructor whose work regularly appears in “Metabolism,” “Verve” and publications throughout the East Coast. Connolly holds advanced degrees from the University of North Carolina, Asheville and the University of Virginia.