Cutting Through the Controversy DHEA & Lupus Treatment

Published: 27th March 2007
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Lupus disease is an autoimmune disorder that can affect any part of the body, but more commonly affects the skin. It can occur at any age (though it is more common in 15 to 45 year olds), in both men and women (but more common in women), and there is know known cure. As for the rest: it's a mystery!

Lupus treatment is therefore very difficult. Mostly, lupus treatment is restricted to relieving symptoms rather than tackling the root of the problem. Although no cure exists, the symptoms of lupus can be relieved, and the red rashes common to lupus can be prevented from flaring up. Keeping control of lupus is the best treatment, as it has been found that the disease can disappear naturally with time.

One natural treatment for lupus often touted is DHEA, a steroid hormone that is produced naturally by the body. Predictably, there is some worry over taking hormone supplements, so what is DHEA, and how is it used in the treatment of lupus?

DHEA Supplements for Lupus Treatment

Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA for short, is a steroid hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands and testis in men, and by the ovaries in women. DHEA is not something found in the diet, so it's impossible to get the hormone from eating the right foods, or not enough from eating the wrong foods. However, deficiencies in the body may exist that can be corrected by supplementing with DHEA supplements. In addition, extra levels of DHEA may help in the treatment of a number of diseases - including depression, Crohn's disease, and erectile dysfunction (ED).The exact effect of DHEA as a lupus treatment is not known but studies have indicated that DHEA can treat lupus effectively.

If DHEA cannot be found in the diet, how are "natural" DHEA supplements made?

How to make a DHEA supplement

DHEA supplements are prepared by plant extracts of barbasco root, or from wild Mexican yam. The hormones in plants do nothing in the human body, but can be altered chemically in the lab so that they may be taken as an effective lupus treatment. Taking chemically-altered plant hormones may sound sci-fi, but it is certainly better than taking some other guy's hormones that they made in their testes.

DHEA supplements can be taken to reduce the severity of the disease in extreme conditions and to effectively treat mild-to-moderate lupus. It helps in easing the symptoms of lupus such as skin inflammation and joint pains.

Despite some warnings of taking steroid hormones, studies show that DHEA is effective in the treatment of lupus. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted on 120 women suffering from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) showed that 200 mg of DHEA daily can significantly decrease the symptoms of lupus.


DHEA Properties in Lupus Treatment

So what are the properties of DHEA that may make it an effective lupus treatment?

DHEA's Effect on the Immune System: DHEA improves the testosterone and estrogen levels in body, which plays an important role in strengthening immune system. As lupus disorders are autoimmune diseases, DHEA is thought to be helpful in the treatment of lupus by providing immune support. It has also been observed that estrogen and testosterone levels are often unbalanced in women suffering from lupus disease. DHEA supplements can therefore redress this balance and contribute towards lupus treatment.

Reduce Inflammatory cytokines: DHEA can also be used to treat the symptoms of lupus disease, providing instant relief while the disease itself subsides. DHEA reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines such as cytokine IL-4, 5, and 6 that can cause the most common lupus symptoms. It also plays an important role in enhancing the production of cytokine IL-2, an anti-inflammatory that can reduce lupus symptoms.

There is always controversy where hormones are concerned, especially steroid hormones. It is certainly true that DHEA supplementation should not be taken without consulting a doctor as unsupervised use of any steroid hormones is something to be done with caution. That is why DHEA should not be considered as a "wonder-treatment"; that can cure lupus by itself. Thinking like this will always encourage some to take a "little booster" so that their lupus can be cleared up earlier. However, DHEA can be effective, and using it as part of an all-in-one natural supplement to support the treatment of lupus can help reduce symptoms safely.

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