The Benefits of Prasterone and DHEA for Lupus

Prasterone is a synthetic version of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an endogenous hormone, which means it is a hormone produced by the human body. DHEA is a precursor hormone, which means it is inactive but can be converted to active forms. DHEA is converted to sex hormones such as androgens and estrogens. Amounts in the body begin to decrease in a person typically after age 30. Generally, those with SLE have abnormally low levels of DHEA. Studies have shown that hormonal influence may play a role in the development and progression of SLE.

Studies looking at the effect of DHEA on lupus symptoms have yielded mixed results, with some showing no improvement and others showing modest improvement in health-related quality of life. The use of DHEA in lupus is not FDA-approved.

Prasterone is a supplement and is typically used as a complementary treatment for lupus. Of note, corticosteroids can decrease a person’s DHEA levels.

Older woman taking her daily medicine
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Taking Prasterone

Prasterone comes in tablet form. It can also come in as a topical cream or by injection, though both are less common. Dosage varies by patient. Your doctor will determine your regimen.

Possible Side Effects

Typical side effects may include:

  • nausea
  • abdominal discomfort
  • fatigue
  • nasal congestion
  • headache
  • acne
  • rapid/irregular heartbeats
  • abnormal menses
  • emotional changes
  • headache
  • insomnia

Serious Side Effects

If you suffer from abnormal heart rhythms, blood clots or hypercoagulability, you should avoid prasterone and other DHEA supplements.

Of note, since prasterone is related to male and female hormones, some side effects could include masculinization in women, including acne, facial hair, hair loss, increased sweating, weight gain around the waist, or a deeper voice.

DHEA could increase the risk of — or adversely impact the course of — hormone sensitive cancers such as cancers of the breast, prostate, and ovary.

Men may develop more prominent breasts, breast tenderness, increased blood pressure, testicular wasting, or increased aggressiveness.

Other side effects related to prasterone and hormonal interaction:

  • increased blood sugar levels
  • insulin resistance
  • altered cholesterol levels
  • altered thyroid hormone levels
  • altered adrenal function

Speaking with your healthcare provider about prasterone, or any other medicine or treatment you are undergoing, will help you determine the best ways to decrease your chances of experiencing side effects or developing other diseases or conditions.

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Article Sources
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  • DHEA. National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health. November 2008.
  • Test Results Released on DHEA Supplements. Lupus Foundation of America, Research. November 2006.