Pregnenolone is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland synthesized directly from cholesterol. Pregnenolone sits on top of the hormone pathway creating all other steroid hormones such as testosterone, DHEA, estrogens, cortisol, aldosterone and progesterone.
The level of pregnenolone peaks around the mid-twenties and then gradually decreases to the mid-seventies where levels approach zero.
Pregnenolone was originally used back in the 1950's as treatment for arthritis where it was shown to reduce pain, swelling and other symptoms of the disease without any metabolic side effects. Its use has waned as attention has turned to its more potent offspring, cortisol, and its synthetic derivatives such as prednisone and prednisolone. The synthetic corticosteroids are more potent, however have many undesirable side effects such as water retention, high blood pressure, decrease bone density, weight gain, increase risk of diabetes, moon face and susceptibility to infection. Many doctors hesitate to keep patients on corticosteroids due to these adverse side effects. Pregnenolone may be used as a safer substitute to these derivatives but will not usually be as effective.
Some studies also show that pregnenolone is an effective treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia and fatigue related conditions if blood/saliva tests indicate low cortisol levels. It is usually used in combination with DHEA to aid adrenal function for these conditions. Pregnenolone is used in these conditions to elevate low cortisol levels as it may be converted into cortisol in the body. The only problem that may arise from using any hormone precurser such as pregnenolone is that the enzymes responsible for the 4 step conversion into cortisol or the cofactors for any of these four enzymes to function effectively may be lacking and thus no significant increase in cortisol levels may occur. We have found in a majority of cases there is no significant increase in cortisol levels unless very high doses of pregnenolone are used - which is not physiological - so therefore prefer to use low dose cortisol itself as it is more effective and more predictable. There are however some doctors who erroniousley believe low dose cortsiol is harmful so in these cases you may have no other option than to use pregnenolone. For correct information on the safe uses of cortsiol - click here.
Recently, it has been shown that pregnenolone is most effective involving conditions of the brain and central nervous system, capable of promoting dendritic and axonal branching between brain cells. It has a significant effect on memory, emotional and mood disorders and fatigue. Pregnenolone can stimulate neuroreceptors to stimulate the brain (by increasing glutamine uptake) and, on the other hand, it can calm the brain by activating GABA receptors. In this way pregnenolone balances and stabilizes emotional responses. People suffering from mood disorders, depression, memory loss and general emotional disorders usually have low levels of pregnenolone in their cerebro spinal fluid. Pregnenolone, in addition to its mood balancing effect has been shown to be hundreds of times more powerful than any other memory enhancing agent.
Finally, pregnenolone is commonly used as part of a comprehensive anti-aging programe in many anti-aging clinics throughout the world.
Like any hormone replacement therapy we recommend that you should monitor the levels of pregnenolone while taking it to ensure the current dose provides a physiological level in the body and also to monitor the level of other hormones it potentially could be converted into to ensure no imbalances occur. This is very rare and usually only occurs at very high doses however it is stil a good idea to monitor levels anyway.
In Australia pregenolone requires a doctors presciption and unfortunately very few doctors are aware of pregnenolone because it is not listed in their medical reference books. This is because being a natural hormone it cannot be patented so there are no financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to do the very expensive research and development to register it as as commercial product. They have turned their attention to the synthetic derivatives despite pregnenolone's safety record. As most medical reference books only list registered products providing medical practitioners with information supplied by pharmaceutical companies pregnenolone is omitted from these texts. The development of dosage protocols has therefore been left up to pioneering medical doctors in America and Europe. It has been successfully used over the past three decades or so by hundreds of thousands of people throughout America and Europe, and more recently in Australia, with a very impressive track record.
Pregnenolone has been used for over 50 years and shown to be safe with no side effects. Since pregnenolone has a short serum half life our laboratory formulates it with a slow release matrix in order to maintain a longer duration of action.
As pregnenolone may increase DHEA levels it is recommended to check DHEA levels after four to six weeks of starting therapy. Men with prostate cancer should also be cautious as the increased DHEA may increase testosterone levels. Therefore regular PSA testing in these cases is also recommended.
As previously mentioned pregnenolone produces no real side effects. If the dose is too high bloating and fluid retention may occur which may be eliminated with a reduction in dose.
In order to arrange a consultation or alternatively to obtain more information you can contact us.
Copyright Dr Michael Serafin 2001
Pregnenolone - by Ray Sahelian M.D
The Superhormone Promise - by William Regelson M.D
Dr Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution - by Robert Atkins M.D.
Disease Prevention and Treatment - by The Life Extension Foundation