Pregnenolone is a natural steroid hormone of the human body. It is also sometimes called a prohormone or mother steroid compound. This is because it plays an important role in the production of other steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, cortisone, DHEA and testosterone. In the absence of pregnenolone, human steroid hormones cannot be produced. Pregnenolone is synthesized in the body from cholesterol through a process known as hydroxylation. Primarily it is produced in the adrenal gland. However, several other tissues and organs of the body such as the brain, liver and skin produce pregnenolone in smaller quantities. Its chemical structure is very similar to that of other steroids, consisting of four cyclic hydrocarbons that are interconnected.

Having been a subject of scientific study since the 1940s, pregnenolone has been found to have several health benefits to humans. It is said to increase levels of productivity while simultaneously reducing stress. Pregnenolone supplements have been suggested for the purpose of memory enhancement too. It has the ability to help in long term retention of learned behavior at lower doses than other steroids that are promoted as memory enhancers. It has also been shown that pregnenolone is 100 times more effective as a memory enhancer than DHEA. Pregnenolone has been used is the successful treatment of fatigue as well as increased levels of stress.

Pregnenolone is also being prescribed to people suffering from depression as it acts as a mood enhancer. Studies have shown that during depression, a person tends to have low levels of this hormone in the cerebrospinal fluid. Also, pregnenolone has a direct effect on brain receptors known as NMDA and GABA receptors. NMDA receptors are associated with alertness and learning, while GABA receptors are known to assist mental slowing and sedation. Depression could result in a person having higher levels of GABA activity combined with low levels of NMDA. Pregnenolone tends to raise the levels of NMDA while lowering the levels of GABA which leads to mood elevation.

People suffering from arthritis have also found benefits from using pregnenolone as an alternative form of medication. Specifically, pregnenolone helps in easing inflammation that occurs in the joints of people with arthritis. Several studies and research has been conducted on arthritis patients, proving beyond doubt that pregnenolone has a positive effect in healing the ailment. Women in the post-menopause stage may also benefit immensely from pregnenolone supplements. Since it plays a vital role in the production of estrogen, it can help with natural estrogen replacement in such women. Pregnenolone also produces progesterone, which helps women by maintaining optimal reproductive health and reducing the symptoms of PMS.

Just as several other hormones, the level of pregnenolone begins to fall as a person ages. Some studies have shown that at the age of 75, the level of pregnenolone production drops by 60% compared to the level at age 35. Considering that this hormone has several protective and health-preserving properties, this is a cause of some concern. Pregnenolone may therefore be taken as a supplement on prescription by a doctor. These supplements are manufactured synthetically from external sources such as wild yam or soya beans and are available in capsule form.

Generally acceptable levels of dosage range from about 25mg to 600 mg depending on the need for the supplement. While anti-aging purposes only require a small dosage of pregnenolone, more serious ailments may require a higher dosage. Some of the common side effects of pregnenolone supplements are overstimulation and in some cases, insomnia. Mild headaches, acne, anxiety and heart palpitations are some of the other known side effects. Just as any other supplement, misuse of pregnenolone may lead to undesirable conditions and hence a physician must be consulted before consumption.

Last updated on May 6th, 2010 and filed under Endocrine System. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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