Pregnenolone—The Mother Of All Hormones

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Improved sleep, better thought processes, and more energy are just some of the benefits of Pregnenolone.

One of the hormones you probably have not heard of is PREGNENOLONE (P). It is a hormone made in the adrenal gland and is considered the mother of steroid hormones because it is the precursor or the first hormone that then becomes the hormones testosterone, DHEA, estradiol, cortisol and progesterone. The physiologic effects of these hormones are dependent on the amount of Pregnenolone in the body. As we age Pregnenolone decreases as do the other hormones it produces. Why don’t we just take pregnenolone then? Because it is a complex system that requires many enzyme reactions and the presence of other glands to process pregnenolone into other hormones!

Here is how it works: Cholesterol in the blood stream from food travels to the adrenal gland where it is made into pregnenolone by the gland. Pregnenolone then is transformed in the adrenal into DHEA (the precursor to testosterone, estrone and DHT), some estrogen, and cortisol. Some of the (P) travels to the ovary and the ovary makes testosterone, progesterone and estradiol from it.
Some travels to the testes in men and with DHEA it makes testosterone. Final hormones are then released to the blood stream to be used by all the tissues of the body.

(P) is given credit for many benefits to the human body, but for it to create all of these positive effects the body needs to have functioning ovaries or testes, a healthy adrenal gland, and a pituitary that orchestrates the levels of production of all of these hormones….so the benefits are not directly secondary to (P). For example, if I give a patient (P) and she has no ovaries then she is not going to make estradiol (except a small amount from the fat) , testosterone or progesterone (except a small amount in the adrenal gland). All the benefits that are listed to be secondary to (P), won’t occur because a vital gland is missing that uses (P) to make these other hormones.

When my patients want to take (P), there are some indications where I feel it is warranted, but in most cases the feedback system that the body has that stops production of a hormone that is plentiful, kicks in and the (P) will not produce testosterone because I am adding testosterone to their system. They already should have the benefit of T so more (P) will not help.

Knowing that the benefits I list are really directly related to other hormones made downstream from (P) is important when deciding if you need more pregnenolone or not.

The benefits of (P):

  • Improved sleep (through more T)
  • Improved thought processes (stimulates ACH neurotransmitter)
  • Improved mood, by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Relieves some symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Improves energy (through T, Cortisol and Estradiol)
  • Decreases addiction by increasing dopamine neurotransmitters
  • Relieves joint pain (T and Estradiol)
  • Improves Menopause and PMS only in women who have ovarian function by increasing Progesterone, estradiol and testosterone
  • Decreases cholesterol as T does by using it up in its own production
  • Decreases the signs of aging, improving skin tone and muscle strength

If you are on testosterone then most of these symptoms will not improve more by taking pregnenolone, however it is over the counter and worth a try to bump the effects of hormone replacement.

Take 5 mg per day and slowly increase to 10 mg per day and see how you do.
Whatever you don’t need will be excreted. Pregnenolone is the mother of all steroid hormones (not all hormones) and can be taken orally.

This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author, with Brett Newcomb, MA., LPC., Family Counselor, Presenter and Author.

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