Biochemicals are necessary substances that promote health, well-being and proper bodily function. Hormones are chemicals that your body uses to initiate change in your cells and maintain chemical balance. Pregnenolone is a steroid hormone often called the grandmother of hormones because your body uses it to manufacture several other hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and aldosterone. Pregnenolone is also necessary to produce dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, another important hormone necessary for health.
Your adrenal glands produce DHEA, which it uses to manufacture androgens and estrogen, male and female sex hormones. Estrogen is the primary hormone essential to the female menstrual cycle. Androgens are a group of male sex hormones that include testosterone and androsterone and are crucial to the male reproductive system and masculine characteristics. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, DHEA levels peak at age 25 and decline as you age. By age 70, DHEA levels decline 80 percent.
Pregnenolone is a precursor to DHEA and several other hormones, and thus has more functions than DHEA. In addition to producing hormones, pregnenolone is a precursor to mineralocorticoids and corticosteroids. Mineralcorticoids help to promote fluid balance and are produced by the adrenal glands, while corticosteroids are involved in a variety of physiological processes, including metabolism and inflammation reduction. Cortisone is the main ingredient in many topical over-the-counter anti-inflammatory products.
Stress is part of daily life, there’s no escaping that, but your body can find it challenging to keep up with the chemical demands of prolonged stress. Your adrenal glands produce stress hormones to buffer the stress of daily life or bodily injury and trauma. Prolonged stress can lead to adrenal insufficiency, where your adrenal glands are unable to produce enough stress hormones, including DHEA, to meet your needs. According to the UMMC, several studies indicate that DHEA supplements can help to improve mood, fatigue and well-being.
Aging is a process that we cannot stop. With age, chemical levels in our body decline. Pregnenolone declines with age, especially during menopause. Because pregnenolone produces female sex hormones, which decline during menopause, pregnenolone is commonly used in the form of a topical cream that absorbs into the bloodstream for the treatment of menopausal symptoms, including night sweats and vaginal dryness, though definitive clinical studies are lacking.