Amstedam, Netherlands
contact@healsens.com

Cortisol/DHEA-S Ratio of Longevity

Cortisol/DHEA-S Ratio of Longevity

cortisol dhea ratio

A complex interaction between cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S) is crucial in the stress system balance. In particular, significantly higher or lower cortisol/DHEA(S) ratios have been associated with depression1 and aggression2. In general, DHEA-S levels affect various body systems, as well as prevent aging (Chahal and Drake 2007). That is why the Cortisol DHEA ratio is a very informational indicator, which, along with other indicators calculated in Healsens, provides important information about human health. Thus, using the ratio of cortisol / DHEA-S, you can assess body responses to exercise or evaluate mental health. Another benefit is that you can check your cortisol and DHEA-S levels at home.

How Cortisol and DHEA Sulfate Affect the Body

Let’s start by looking at how cortisol and DHEA-S affect overall health. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and cortisol are produced in the adrenal glands and are both derived from pregnenolone. So, DHEA and DHEA-S production reaches its peak at the age of 20–30 and then declines progressively with age. When it comes to cortisol levels, while some studies show that cortisol increases with age3, others do not support this observation4. However, everyone agrees that the reduction in DHEA-S entails disruption of various physiological systems.

Stress Level

As mentioned above, DHEA and DHEA-S play a protective role during acute stress as an antagonist to the action of the stress hormone cortisol56. In turn, cortisol also helps to effectively manage stress. Let’s see how this happens.

About 15 minutes after a stressful situation, cortisol levels rise and remain so for several hours. During this time, it mobilizes glucose, suppresses non-living organ systems, and reduces inflammation. All this allows the body to cope with stress. However, with chronic stress, this reaction can be catastrophic: cortisol stops functioning normally.

It becomes more difficult to maintain proper blood sugar levels, to slow down for rest, to get good quality sleep, to balance other hormones, etc. Without proper intervention, continued adrenal hyperstimulation can lead to adrenal exhaustion. And eventually, adrenal failure can occur.

So, if cortisol and DHEA work together in harmony (maintaining a normal ratio of 5:1 to 6:1), the body is in a normal state of adaptation to stress.

When the body cannot maintain this normal stress adaptation, the process of stress maladjustment may start. This is now referred to as a chronic stress response, i.e. pregnenolone steal/cortisol escape/elevated cortisol to DHEA ratio. The longer you remain in a state of chronic stress the more negatively it affects every aspect of your physical well-being.

Therefore, people with depression, high anxiety levels7, and post-traumatic stress disorder show abnormalities in the ratio of cortisol to DHEA8. Nonetheless, some studies have determined that DHEA treatment protects against detrimental health effects of stress.

Subscribe || Follow us on Facebook || Twitter || Youtube

Musculoskeletal disorders

We have already mentioned that cortisol dysfunction entails disorders of the musculoskeletal system9. Thus, the higher the cortisol / DHEA-S ratio, the more serious the risk of this problem.

Moreover, multiple regression analysis showed that the independent risk factor for sarcopenia was a serum cortisol/DHEA-S ratio ≥ 0.210. Sarcopenia is a type of muscle loss that occurs with aging and/or immobility.

Immunity and Cortisol DHEA Ratio

In addition, an increase in the cortisol / DHEA-S ratio with age (Phillips et al. 2007) is associated with immune dysfunction and the risk of infection in the elderly due to the fact that DHEA-S enhances immunity. However, cortisol has an inverse immunosuppressive effect (Buford and Willoughby 2005). It is also worth adding that DHEA-S is known for its antioxidant properties11.

Metabolic Syndrome

Various studies have shown that both cortisol and DHEAS are related to metabolic syndrome12, and type 2 diabetes13. While high cortisol concentrations are associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, high DHEA-S levels appear to be protective. By far, the strongest associations were observed for the cortisol / DHEA-S ratio. According to observations, the higher the coefficient, the greater the risk of metabolic syndrome. This ratio is also strongly associated with four of the five components of metabolic syndrome.

Alzheimer’s Disease

The cortisol / DHEA-S ratio may also be crucial in Alzheimer’s disease. For example, some studies have found a link between the cortisol / DHEA-C ratio and a decrease in hippocampal volume14. It is worth saying that a decrease in the volume of the hippocampus is one of the early diagnostic signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

This finding has been confirmed by other studies, observing the relationship between cortisol / DHEA-S and hippocampal atrophy (HA)1516. For example, such a direct relationship was observed in patients with Cushing’s syndrome17. Moreover, HC volume partially recovered following treatment-induced cortisol decrease. However, not all studies support this association within normal cortisol levels in healthy people18.

To sum up, the ratio of cortisol / DHEA sulfate can reflect:

  • psychological health (high level of anxiety, depression, etc.).
  • more favorable hormonal profile which implies higher levels of DHEA sulfate and a lower cortisol / DHEA-S ratio.
  • increased risk of sarcopenia.
  • increased risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
  • mortality in general, which is strongly associated with the cortisol / DHEA-S ratio19. However, such a relationship was observed only at elevated levels (> 1.76).

Subscribe || Follow us on Facebook || Twitter || Youtube

Assessing Exercises

DHEA (Aldred et al. 2009; Cumming et al. 1986) and DHEA-S (Tremblay et al. 2004) have been shown to increase in response to active exercise. However, resistance training showed a stronger increase compared to endurance training (Tremblay et al. 2004). It’s also worth noting that trained and untrained people can cause different hormonal responses to exercise. So, untrained people experienced more significant increases in DHEA and cortisol levels2021. Such result was observed in both young people and people over 60 years old22.

How to define intensity of exercise?

For this purpose, the researchers used heart rate (HR) indicators. So the exercise was stopped as soon as the participants had reached 75% of their maximum HR. You can also determine maximum HR by the Tanaka formula:

208 − (age × 0.7)

So, for a 65-year-old person, the maximum heart rate will be 162 beats per minute. Consequently, 75% of this figure will be 121 bpm. Healthwise, muximum loads are not advisable. Therefore, it is recommended to use between 50% and 80% of the maximum.

Research has shown that 16 weeks of regular exercise decreased cortisol/ DHEA ratio by nearly 30%. In addition, athletes with the highest performance levels and the greatest amount of training had the lowest ratio. So,

Healthy DHEA-S / Cortisol Ratio
5 : 1

Adrenal/DHEA Restoration

High Adrenal/DHEA-S Ratio

Taking this into account, DHEA supplementation may be considered. Research confirms that it has a significant effect on the concentration of cortisol. For example, even a single morning dose of 200 mg DHEA can lower cortisol concentrations23. Moreover, in women, such a decrease was more pronounced.

Featured Posts

Cortisol/DHEA-S Ratio of Longevity

A complex interaction between cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S) is crucial in the stress system balance. In particular, significantly higher or ...

Read More

What is cholecystitis?

Calculous cholecystitis as well as acalculous cholecystitis is described as inflammation of the gallbladder. This common intra-abdominal infection can generate ...

Read More

Kirtan Kriya for Stress Reduction

A growing number of medical studies confirm that Kirtan Kriya (KK) meditation is not only a stress management tool, but ...

Read More

Cardiovascular Risk Assessment

Cardiovascular diseases such as ischemic heart disease, thrombosis, arterial hypertension with its complications – myocardial infarction and stroke – constitute ...

Read More

Treatment for vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency affects people of all ages. Last time we analyzed in detail how a deficiency of this vitamin ...

Read More

An earlier study in healthy people came to the same result24. By the way, researchers also found that taking DHEA (300 mg) did not improve memory. However, supplementation is rational only in cases of decreased DHEA-S levels. In addition, it is important to monitor the sex steroid hormones as well as DHEA-S, because both deficiency and excess of DHEA can lead to negative symptoms.

Clinical Note

Improving adrenal function (augmenting DHEA and pregnenolone) can significantly enhance thyroid function, thereby reducing the amount of thyroid medication necessary. If this possibility is taken into account, it is suggested that any patient on thyroid should be closely monitored and lower dosages of pregnenolone and DHEA should be initially considered.

In addition to DHEA supplements, your doctor may recommend pregnenolone25 and seriphos (phosphatidylserine)26. Seriphos was developed to aid in lowering cortisol. Besides, it contains key nutrients for stress resiliency. As for about pregnenolone, it is a steroid hormone. It plays a key role in the production of other steroid hormones, such as progesterone, DHEA, and estrogen.

Research also shows that fish oil supplements2728 and an Asian herbal medicine called ashwagandha both help to reduce cortisol levels29.

Low Adrenal/DHEA-S Ratio

So, as discussed in previous chapters, exercise has a positive effect on DHEA and cortisol levels. Besides, your doctor may recommend taking licorice extract. This is because licorice helps the adrenal glands prevent the breakdown of cortisol. In some cases, cortisol supplementation may be required.

Either with increased and decreased cortisol / DHEA-S ratio, an adrenal support program is recommended. So, try to balance your intake of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. It will also be very beneficial to increase your vegetable intake to get the required amount of vitamins and minerals. To this end, foods high in vitamin C, B-5, B-6 and magnesium will assist in maintaining adrenal health.

This article was last reviewed by Svetlana Baloban, Healsens, on January 24, 2020. This article was last modified on 4 March 2021.

FURTHER READING


Subscribe || Follow us on Facebook || Twitter || Youtube


Source: ©️2019 Healsens Inc. All right reserved

  1. Adolescent depression, cortisol and DHEA
  2. Adrenal androgen and gonadal hormone levels in adolescent girls with conduct disorder
  3. With aging in humans the activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system increases and its diurnal amplitude flattens.
  4. Changes in serum concentrations of conjugated and unconjugated steroids in 40- to 80-year-old men
  5. Adolescent depression, cortisol and DHEA
  6. Relationships among plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and cortisol levels, symptoms of dissociation, and objective performance in humans exposed to acute stress
  7. Cortisol and DHEA-S levels in pregnant women with severe anxiety
  8. Relationships among plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and cortisol levels, symptoms of dissociation, and objective performance in humans exposed to acute stress
  9. Research agenda for frailty in older adults: toward a better understanding of physiology and etiology: summary from the American Geriatrics Society/National Institute on Aging Research Conference on Frailty in Older Adults
  10. A High Serum Cortisol/DHEA-S Ratio Is a Risk Factor for Sarcopenia in Elderly Diabetic Patients
  11. Association of serum cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels with psychological stress in patients with vitiligo
  12. Cortisol, DHEA sulphate, their ratio, and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the Vietnam Experience Study
  13. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone levels are associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes: the Rotterdam Study
  14. Cortisol/DHEA ratio and hippocampal volume: A pilot study in major depression and healthy controls
  15. Hippocampal volume reduction and HPA-system activity in major depression
  16. Cortisol levels during human aging predict hippocampal atrophy and memory deficits
  17. Decrease in cortisol reverses human hippocampal atrophy following treatment of Cushing’s disease
  18. The associations among hippocampal volume, cortisol reactivity, and memory performance in healthy young men
  19. The associations among hippocampal volume, cortisol reactivity, and memory performance in healthy young men
  20. Effect of training status and exercise mode on endogenous steroid hormones in men.
  21. Hormonal responses to resistance exercise in long-term trained and untrained middle-aged men.
  22. DHEA, DHEA-S and cortisol responses to acute exercise in older adults in relation to exercise training status and sex
  23. nfluence of DHEA Administration on 24-Hour Cortisol Concentrations
  24. A Single Administration of Dehydroepiandrosterone Does Not Enhance Memory Performance in Young Healthy Adults, but Immediately Reduces Cortisol Levels
  25. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Pregnenolone for Bipolar Depression
  26. The effects of phosphatidylserine on endocrine response to moderate intensity exercise
  27. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults
  28. Fish oil supplementation reduces cortisol basal levels and perceived stress: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in abstinent alcoholics
  29. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults

 

Share via
Copy link