Pregnenolone is a natural hormone, made by the body from cholesterol. Pregnenolone is the basic precursor – or starting raw material – for the production of ALL the human steroid hormones, including DHEA, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol and aldosterone, and as such is often referred to as "The Mother Hormone" or the next "up and coming" anti-aging hormone.
The body's own production of pregnenolone is reduced with aging, stress, depression, hypothyroidism and toxin exposure. It may not always be present in our bodies at optimal levels, precisely because it may be used up in producing all the steroid hormones, not leaving enough to fulfill its stress buffer role. Hence the possible need for supplementation.
Pregnenolone has been studied and used extensively since the 1930s, both experimentally and medically. Experiments conducted in the 1940s and 1950s found that pregnenolone increases productivity and reduces the stress of factory workers, and is an excellent anti-inflammatory in conditions such as, arthritis and allergies. Pregnenolone was phased out of medical use, yet ironically is much safer and more versatile than the specific steroid hormones which replaced it.
Pregnenolone is synthesized inside the mitochondria, the tiny "power plants" (up to thousands per cell) found in each cell.
It is supplied in 5mg, 10mg, 20mg, 25mg, 30mg, 50mg and 100mg capsules without a prescription.
Pregnenolone blocks the effects of cortisol and stimulates brain NMDA receptors. These receptors, which decline with age, play a role in the function of synapses and neurons, influencing learning, memory, and cognitive function.
Pregnenolone also appears to have a great calming effect because it activates receptor sites in brain cells for GABA (itself a calming agent), enabling more GABA to be absorbed by the cells.
Like DHEA, the body's production of pregnenolone declines with age, and supplementation with this substance can bring about benefits to the body and mind. Because pregnenolone can enhance DHEA levels, some believe that pregnenolone makes a perfect companion to DHEA.
Biochemist Raymond Peat, Ph.D., who has experimented with pregnenolone for many years, reports that when a person is deficient in pregnenolone, taking it as a supplement can successfully relieve depression, improve memory, reduce skin aging, relieve arthritis symptoms, and reduce stress-induced fatigue. Studies also show that pregnenolone is effective in relieving the symptoms of the inflammatory joint disease, ankylosing spondylitis.
Unlike DHEA, which converts to estrogen and testosterone, pregnenolone is converted directly to progesterone. This makes it an excellent choice for estrogen-sensitive women or testosterone-sensitive men (such as those with a history of or who may be at risk for prostate cancer).
Pregnenolone's anti-aging benefits may include reduction of stress, reduction of arthritic inflammation, potential maintenance of memory capability, improved mood, well-being, and the ability to see and smell better.
Stress, Fatigue and Depression
Research has demonstrated that pregnenolone produces other hormone-like substances in the body which can greatly improve our resistance to stress and adrenal exhaustion. These two conditions are often found to be the culprits in disease and aging. Chronic fatigue plagues millions today, and pregnenolone may help. In one study, Army pilots using pregnenolone showed a dramatic decreases in fatigue under exhausting conditions. Because pregnenolone functions as a "neurohormone" in the body, it has been shown to significantly help in balancing moods and emotions such as depression and anxiety.
One of the most exciting aspects of pregnenolone is its memory-enhancing activities. Studies appear to show pregnenolone to be hundreds of times more powerful than other memory-enhancing substances. It also has a powerful effect on improving the transmission of nerve impulses. It has shown such great promise that it is now being studied by many prominent researchers in relation to diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Spinal Cord Injury
Pregnenolone has a strong proven history as a widely used, side-effect free arthritis treatment. Studies also indicate that it may actually aid in repairing the degeneration of the myelin sheath, the cause of Multiple Sclerosis. Another recent groundbreaking study showed pregnenolone was found to dramatically improve spinal cord injuries, even reversing paralysis when given shortly after the time of injury.
Mood, De-toxification, Aging
Pregnenolone improves mood, has a mild anti-depressant effect at doses of 50mg to 200mg per day, and improves energy levels by protecting our energy-producing mitochondria from toxins which would otherwise damage them. Pregnenolone also enhances the activity of the cytochrome P450 detoxifying enzymes, which help our cells (especially in the liver and brain) to detoxify poisons of all sorts, whether from the outside world, or our own metabolically-produced toxins. The work of Ray Peat Ph.D., has shown that pregnenolone may be a general "anti-stress" metabolite.
Pregnenolone and Prostate Problems
As mentioned above, pregnenolone converts directly to progesterone. Men transfer progesterone to testosterone, and it resides in the prostate gland. Men also make an enzyme called testosterone 5a reductase, which changes testosterone into dihydrotestosterone if it remains in the prostate longer than it ought to. Because this new formation is a steroid, it will begin enlarging the prostate if it doesn't leave in a timely fashion.
Therefore, it's suggested that any men who are experiencing prostate problems use a form of the saw palmetto herb. The effect of saw palmetto is to kill the enzyme testosterone 5a reductase, so that testosterone cannot make the unwanted transfer into dihydrotestosterone.
For a man who already has this problem, it takes a few weeks for the body to get rid of what he already has stored, but if he uses the saw palmetto herb, he will no longer be adding to the problem, and he will soon be feeling more normal. For men who are not experiencing enlarged prostate and who are 45 years old or older, they might wish to use the saw palmetto herb for prevention.
Pregnenolone is most effective when taken in the morning, before eating. Some physicians recommend starting with just 5mg daily, unless you are older or are taking it for a special condition, in which case one can try 30-60mg. A typical recommendation is between 5 and 30mg per day.
A doctor can test pregnenolone levels and determine if other medications will interact with the supplement. Estrogen, for example, interacts with pregnenolone so pregnant women should not take the hormone. A doctor can suggest an appropriate dose and adjust it as needed.
There are no known side-effects.
Although pregnenolone is available over-the-counter and said to be generally safe and effective at doses of 25mg to 200mg per day, some physicians don't recommend dosages higher than 100mg unless directed to do so.
Animal studies indicate that pregnenolone may aid in repairing the degeneration of the myelin sheath, the cause of Multiple Sclerosis. Further studies are required to determine if there is any benefit for humans with MS.
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