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UpBeat Living: DHEA for Youth and Health

                                       by Kebba Buckley, M.S.


Copyright © Kebba Buckley Button 2005, World Rights Reserved

Even if you have no formal background in life sciences, you are an expert on one area of wellness: yours! Only you know exactly how well you feel. Do you wake up stretching for joy and embracing how good you feel? Or do you wake up cursing the alarm clock and wishing you could turn fast enough to smash it? Perhaps you have a medical diagnosis but you would love to feel 5 years younger. Your DHEA levels may be the key factor in how good you feel.

Recently, I attended a medical conference on the latest in pain treatment research. One of the doctors there was the famous neurosurgeon, C. Norman Shealy (M.D., Ph. D.). Dr. Shealy is known as a pioneer in the field of pain research. He developed the TENS unit, which substitutes its electrical impulses for your pain messages, greatly speed recovery from surgeries. Dr. Shealy is especially known for his multimodal pain management philosophy, and for founding the first biofeedback-based pain management program in the early 1970’s.

What surprised and impressed me the most about Dr. Shealy’s work was the emphasis on the role of general wellness in chronic pain management. Integral to wellness is virtually a new paradigm of hormonal wellness, due to a sharp rise in research on DHEA since the mid-1980’s. Basic to hormonal balance is personal balance, which we can greatly affect for ourselves, free. And for those without pain or chronic pain, the rules are the same for optimizing wellness through balance of DHEA and other, possibly more familiar hormones.

“DHEA” stands for “dehydroepiandrosterone”, which I challenge you to say three times quickly. DHEA is produced from cholesterol, as is progesterone. However, DHEA is used to make estrogen and testosterone, as is progesterone. And, because of hormone production feedback loops, DHEA is a major regulator for all other hormones, including the thyroid and pituitary functions. Ideal DHEA levels should be at least 750 ng/dL (nanograms per decaliter of blood) in men and at least 550 ng/dL in women.

Dr. Shealy says that patients have low levels of DHEA in every major disease, such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, immune deficiencies, autoimmune disorders, and coronary artery disease. DHEA is both an antidepressant and cognition enhancer in patients with major depression. Stress can deplete your DHEA rapidly, whether physical, mental, chemical, or electromagnetic (computers, televisions, fluorescent lights). Depleted DHEA can then put you on the path to major disease conditions.

Frequenters of health food stores have been noticing DHEA supplements as one of the hot new nutritional “magic bullets”. But don’t rush out to buy it yet! First, get your doctor to order a serum DHEA test. Due to uneven results from many labs, get your test at a Sonora Quest Lab or get a lab list from the American Holistic Medical Association. If your DHEA is indeed below ideal, consider some of the recent research findings and Dr. Shealy’s tips for self-help:

  • Learn meditation and do it 30 minutes per day. Meditators have higher serum DHEA.

  • Apply natural progesterone, such as the cream or roll-on type derived from wild yams (dioscorea), to the skin to raise DHEA levels. Synthetic “progesterone” does not provide the full spectrum of natural progesterone’s biological activity, and it may have negative side effects.

  • Exercise and spend an hour a day outside or in natural light. Garden.

  • Make love more.

  • Eat a diet low in fat, very low in sugar, and with a minimum of caffeine and alcohol.

  • Don’t smoke anything.

  • Keep a positive attitude.

  • Get your DHEA re-tested in several months.

Try these changes for even a week, and see how your vitality and happiness improve. Take two happy activities and call me in the morning.

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Kebba Buckley Button speaks nationally on stress management and energized living. She is a coach, spiritual teacher, and energy therapist, as well as the author of How to Unstress Now!, a handbook on how to trade in your stress for energy.



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