DHEA is a steroid hormone made primarily by the adrenal glands. Although not all its functions are known or understood, production declines after age thirty and declines faster in some than others. It is a precursor to androgens and estrogens. Low DHEA levels correlate with higher risks for heart disease, cognitive decline, osteopenia, depression, and a host of other conditions. Assuring adequate DHEA levels is one of the mainstays of anti-aging medicine. DHEA levels can be measured in the blood, urine, or saliva, and most benefit from having it in the top quartile of the range of DHEA.
DHEA acts in wound healing by downstream activation of estrogenic receptors. A 2005 paper in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed that increased systemic levels of DHEA were protective against venous ulcers. In addition, local injection of DHEA accelerates impaired wound healing.
Have your DHEA level tested and supplement as needed to maintain upper quartile levels. Although side effects at levels modestly over the optimal range are uncommon, it is still better to test and dose accordingly. In the United States, DHEA is available over the counter, but as always, we favor pharmaceutical grade products for reliability.