Pregnenolone: Its Use for Physical and Mental Wellness
Pregnenolone is a steroidal hormone which is manufactured primarily by the adrenal glands (Understanding adrenal function - DHEA, Cortisol, Pregnenolone, 2000). This natural hormone is known to have a number of beneficial effects, including memory enhancement and reduction in stress-induced fatigue. Pregnenolone is the precursor to all other steroidal hormones, meaning the body utilizes it to develop DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, estrogens and cortisol. Despite being the building block for such powerful hormones, it is acknowledged that pregnenolone is tolerated well by users without significant side effects and has minimal to no anabolic, estrogenic, or androgenic activity (Understanding adrenal function - DHEA, Cortisol, Pregnenolone, 2000).
Adrenal glands can become stressed from psychological stress, inadequate exercise or sleep, illness, injury, or inadequate nutrition (Understanding adrenal function - DHEA, Cortisol, Pregnenolone, 2000). When this occurs,pregnenolone levels will drop. Pregnenolone is a biomarker of aging, with levels declining as we age, and many scientists believe that restoring pregnenolone may be an important step in treating symptoms of aging. When the adrenal glands are under stress, this can develop into a series of symptoms that affect both physical and mental wellness, including low body temperature, weakness, irritability, depression, poor concentration, excess hunger and insomnia. Pregnenolone supplementation may enhance feelings of well-being, alleviate stress, improve energy and immunity, reduce stress-induced fatigue, and decrease symptoms of PMS and menopause (Understanding adrenal function - DHEA, Cortisol, Pregnenolone, 2000).
Pregnenolone is even being investigated by researchers at the University of Chicago for its potential to benefit those suffering from loneliness (Rieland, 2019). There, scientists are conducting a clinical trial on lonely but otherwise healthy individuals who are being treated with 400mg doses of pregnenolone to normalize levels. The study is based on a theory of loneliness that processes in the brain make people defensive and hyper vigilant in their judgment of others, causing them to zero in on negative signals which keeps them from connecting with others. Loneliness has been found to have detrimental effects on health, including being a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke, lowering immunity, increasing chances of developing type 2 diabetes, and worsening sleep habits. The study is testing the efficacy of pregnenolone to disrupt those negative signals (Rieland, 2019).
Many of the benefits that pregnenolone may offer are backed by scientific study. It was first utilized in clinical practice as an anti-inflammatory agent in the 1940s (Vallee, 2015). Placebo-controlled human trials showed that those treated with pregnenolone demonstrated significant improvements in mood, general well-being, psychomotor performance, and learning in normal controls tested under stressful conditions, with minimal side effects. More recent treatments have shown that pregnenolone has shown benefits in patients with both depression-related and psychosis-related disorders such as schizophrenia, and it also may be a promising treatment for bipolar depression.
Pregnenolone supplementation may even benefit chronic pain as steroids play a key role in the neurobiological processes that control pain (Vallee, 2015). Other possible uses include the treatment of Autism, arthritis, endometriosis, fatigue, and slowing or reversing aging (Pregnenolone: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning, n.d.)
Generic name: Pregnenolone
Side Effects: Some people taking pregnenolone may develop skin rashes, acne, hair loss, diarrhea or constipation, problems sleeping, restlessness, agitation, sweating, or tremors. Pregnenolone may also cause palpitations, depressed mood, increased or decreased appetite, or muscle pain (Pregnenolone: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning, n.d.)
Special Precautions: Patients with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids may want to avoid pregnenolone therapy. If you have a condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't take supplemental pregnenolone (Pregnenolone: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning, n.d.)
Dosing: Always follow the directions provided by your practitioner when starting any new medication or supplement. However, the following doses have been studied during scientific research for schizophrenia in adults: 30-50 mg daily for 8 weeks, 50 mg twice daily for 2 weeks, 150 mg twice daily for 2 weeks, and 250 mg twice daily for 4 weeks (Pregnenolone: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning, n.d.)
Pregnenolone: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-98/pregnenolone
Rieland, R. (2019, February 08). Can a pill fight loneliness? Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/can-pill-fight-loneliness-180971435/
Understanding Adrenal Function - DHEA, Cortisol, Pregnenolone. (2000, August 27). Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/08/27/adrenals.aspx
Vallee, M. (2015, October 01). Neurosteroids and potential therapeutics: Focus on pregnenolone. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960076015300893?via=ihub