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The Mother of All Hormones?

98215610Recharge your body and your brain.

“Mother of All Hormones?” Yes, you read that right, and we’re not talking DHEA here.

Without this “mother” hormone your body couldn’t produce other hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), for that matter. The hormone—that nobody is really talking about—has really powerful effects on aging, memory, mood, sexuality, and even sleep. It is the critical building block in the production of all other hormones that you have heard me writing, talking, or blogging about these days.

In fact, this uber hormone may be the ultimate raw material in your entire body. It’s so essential to health that it’s produced not only in the adrenal glands and sex organs, but also in brain and spinal cord.

Science has uncovered all sorts of benefits about this hormone of all hormones that is called pregnenolone:

Pregnenolone boosts memory. This hormone appears useful in creating memory as well as preventing its loss—and it supports memory-protecting sleep.
Pregnenolone helps brain function. It raises brain levels of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter needed for thought processes—which is low in Alzheimer’s disease.
Pregnenolone relieves anxiety and depression, according to two studies at the University of California, San Francisco. People with schizophrenia, who are very anxious, have the lowest levels of pregnenolone.
Pregnenolone alleviates PMS and menopause symptoms, particularly hot flashes and loss of libido, according to my friend and colleague, Ray Sahelian, MD., a medical expert on hormones.
Pregnenolone counters the effects of stress to lessen fatigue and increase endurance—whether you’re exercising or at work.
Pregnenolone eases joint pain as well as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, even when conventional drugs don’t help.
Pregnenolone lowers cholesterol. In one study, this hormone helped decrease subjects’ total cholesterol levels from 263 to 188.
Pregnenolone combats addictive behaviors and chemical dependency, finds the Journal of Pharmacological Science, whether you’re trying to kick the nicotine habit or other addictive drugs.

Overlooked, But Oh So Essential
If this hormone is as terrific as it sounds, why haven’t you heard of it before?

Good question. Because pregnenolone is the precursor of the more familiar hormones like cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA, it seems to have been ignored and overlooked. But, I find the research on this “mother” hormone incredibly compelling. Over the years, I have come to regard it as an adaptogen that will transform itself into whatever your body actually needs, hormone-wise.

In fact, I asked the good folks at UNI KEY to carry Pregnenolone—since I have found that so many of my clients do really well on low doses of this supplement—especially when estrogen levels need some support.

I have been working with salivary hormone testing for nearly a decade. Raising low estrogen levels without resorting to synthetic hormones (which are not tolerated well by many women) has been very challenging. I find that Pregnenolone can help.

In the body, Pregnenolone is made from cholesterol. In the laboratory it is derived from wild yam—so it is not a steroid-based product. Perhaps this is why a growing number of health professionals are recommending it as a natural alternative to other types of hormone replacement.

I generally recommend that people start with one tablet of 5 mg of Pregnenolone per day and slowly progress up to 2 per day—max.

The body’s production of this “mother” of all hormones declines with age, stress, depression, hypothyroidism, and environmental toxins. It is outstanding for memory enhancement—perhaps because it can cross the blood-brain barrier—similar to Ultra H-3, another anti-aging brain booster!


Comments (23)

  • Mary H January 10, 2011 - 4:41 pm Reply

    What if a person is already taking prometrium, would you suggest this also?

  • Susan January 10, 2011 - 4:54 pm Reply

    I take pregnenolone for my stage 3 adrenal exhaustion. I can only tolerate it every other day right now, but I know it has been a crucial part of my recovery thus far. As usual, good article, Dr. Ann!

  • Liz January 10, 2011 - 6:12 pm Reply

    Mary: Since you are on a prescription progesterone replacement it would be helpful to ask the doctor that gave it to you. Generally a low dose, 5-10 mg pregnenolone is considered safe when taken for short periods without professional supervision.

  • Sissy January 10, 2011 - 7:43 pm Reply

    So, is it available through UniKey? I’m not taking any hormone stuff (unless potassium iodide is considered so). And why does Susan only “tolerate” it only every other day? What about it is intolerable?

  • Administrator January 10, 2011 - 10:10 pm Reply

    Pregnenolone is available through UNI KEY in 10 mg capsules. Potassium iodide is not a hormone. It does support production of thyroid hormones, however. Hormones are a tricky thing and there is not one formula nor dosage that works for everybody. Best thing is to take a salivary hormone test and get a baseline. Dr. ALG’s office sends out a personalized letter tailored to your results when you do the salivary hormone test from UNI KEY.
    Here’s to the end of hormone havoc!

  • ann January 11, 2011 - 8:54 am Reply

    I had early stage cancer 2 years ago would this do anything to make it come back or get it on other side?

  • Administrator January 11, 2011 - 1:08 pm Reply

    Ann, best to check with your doctor. The recommended dose is very small. Doses beyond 100 mg are those that generally create problems wit estrogenic-based considions.

  • Susan January 12, 2011 - 4:05 pm Reply

    Sissy- Sorry for the confusion. Pregnenolone is awesome, however, in my case, with adrenal exhaustion, I have to watch out for anything that may get my adrenals too amped up. I have to limit all of the vitamins and supplements that I take. Adrenals are the conductor of all the other hormones. Without your adrenals, you die, so your body depends on them whether they are too exhausted to work properly or not. Until they are back up to par, I don’t want to overtax them by telling them to work harder and have them go into full adrenal failure as a result.

    My situation is a lot different than most. I just wanted to add something for those who also are going through adrenal exhaustion because I have seen a difference since I started supplementing. I’m sure for the healthy person with regular hormone tests, that supplementation is fine on a regular basis.

    Sorry for the mix-up! 🙂

  • Emily January 12, 2011 - 4:30 pm Reply

    Hi Susan,
    I have had a couple of really stressful years and I know my adrenals are pretty shot as my kidneys/adrenals will actually hurt in my back area and I will have zero energy.

    Not having med. insurance, I cannot afford to get tested.
    But this product sounds great!

    Thanks for the Adrenal info!


  • Dee January 13, 2011 - 8:38 am Reply

    I take 50 mg. of Zoloft daily for depression. Would taking Pregnenolone interfere with that in any way?
    I just found out I have high cholesterol levels but I’m not taking any medication for that yet.

    • laura October 15, 2016 - 12:06 pm Reply

      yes it will interferr it will loer your progestegone levels because of the estrogen in it

      • Alma March 23, 2017 - 11:51 pm Reply

        Laura, what will lower your progesterone because of the estrogen it contains? Are you speaking of progesterone or Zoloft, which???

        • Team ALG March 24, 2017 - 9:57 am Reply

          Alma, I believe she is referring to the pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is a precursor hormone to the other steroid hormones including estrogen. It could raise the estrogen enough that it would become higher and out of balance with the progesterone.

  • Susan January 13, 2011 - 3:40 pm Reply

    I have been down for over a year now. Everything I’ve read says adrenal recovery can take 2-5 years. But I am worlds better than I was a year ago (but still no where near my old self….yet!).

    I know what it is like to not have insurance, although from what I have learned, it wouldn’t matter anyway because so few doctors acknowledge that adrenal fatigue exists. My healing has come from reading the works of forward thinking doctors and Dr. Ann.

    I would be happy to share what I’ve learned with you. Email me at sallyride54@aol.com and let’s see if we can get you feeling better. Label the email with adrenal fatigue.

  • Cara January 13, 2011 - 10:17 pm Reply

    I don’t understand why Dr. Ann recommends that we start with 5mg if UNIKEY only carries the 10mg? Are they easy to cut in half?

    I would also like to know if I can safely start taking this supplement in addition to to the estrogel and prometrium I’m currently using to address the condition.

    Thanks for a helpful article.

  • Anja January 14, 2011 - 8:00 pm Reply

    Dr. Ann – I was talking about pregnenolone with a physician nutritionist friend of mine as to her input on if I should take it, and she expressed a concern of the ability of a tablet or capsule to be fully and properly absorbed. Her experience with hormones of any type are that they are best taken either sublingually or topically. What’s your take on this, please?

    Also, you mentioned that only the higher doses should effect estrogen driven diseases. Some of the contraindications I’ve seen are those with endometriosis should “probably not” take this hormone. I have endo – what say you?

    Lastly, as pregnenolone is a precursor to DHEA, if my DHEA levels are elevated – not due to supplementation – would 5 mg daily working slowly up to 10 mg daily of pregnenolone cause this to rise further? Or?

    TIA Anja

  • Ellen January 15, 2011 - 11:44 am Reply

    It’s a catch 22. If you’ve had estrogen driven breast cancer… your doctor(s) most likely will not want you to take anything hormonal that may affect your estrogen levels. Most doctors (and I’ve had a few) don’t want to discuss adrenal fatigue or thyroid conditons and will only give you the basic thyroid test. That test is so unreliable as to what is really going on with your body – because it can come back with “normal” levels and you still may be having issues. My logical mind (but not medically trained) tells me there must be a correlation between all things hormonally related in our bodies… which comes first – disease or hormonal inbalance and if it’s hormonal inbalance why is there not more emphasis on this before we get sick. HOW does one help themselves and their hormal inbalances; especially once they’be already been diagnosed with a disease such as estrogen + breast cancer, etc? Just say’n…. for all women out there, we need answers and we need action!

  • Susan Kingsbury January 16, 2011 - 12:16 pm Reply

    I much prefer the whey protein over the body protein. Is there something special about the body protein? Or can I do the smoothy shakedown with the whey protein?

  • Jackie January 17, 2011 - 7:13 pm Reply

    I liked the piece on pregnenolone and ordered it right away. Unfortunately, after four days of one pill each morning I was experiencing nasty side effects: elevated pulse (95 bpm); restricted breathing (unable to take a deep breath); and a constant mild headache. I stopped as soon as I realized that the pregnenolone was probably the cause, and the symptoms are disappearing. Does this mean that this supplement is not for me (a 65 year old woman)? Or, will I still benefit if I start slowly? Thanks.

  • Terry March 16, 2011 - 11:18 am Reply

    I have been on estrogen/progesterone for years I feel good when taking them but I am worried about taking them for such a long period. MY Dr. says his wife takes these same hormones and says I should take them for life.I was wondering if I could wean myself off and take pregnolone instead. Not sure.

  • Kim July 19, 2011 - 8:17 pm Reply

    Got any supplement ideas for breast cancer? I have NASH level 3-4, and I am very careful about what goes in my mouth. I have lost an extreme amount of weight. I have used your liver loving formula to help my liver work better while losing the weight , resulting in good liver tests.
    The cancer is DCIS, stage 0. I will have a lumpectomy and radiation. But I will not take the meds that go with “the protocol” as they are liver unfriendly!!.
    What kinds of supplements and foods should I be paying attention to?
    Thank you for any information.

  • Tiffany Hays June 7, 2016 - 10:10 pm Reply

    I was put on 60 MG’s of Pregnenolone when my level was around 28. At that time, my DHEA was NORMAL 176, as was Testosterone 28 – but Progesterone & Estrogen were both low.
    After 8 months on Pregnenolone @ 60 MG’s a day – my DHEA was 639.50! Testosterone was up to 139. My other levels continue to go up and down. But.. the oddity my Pregnenolone, which is what I have been supplements is down to not even readable on blood tests.

    Any suggestions as to what is going on? Should I continue to take Pregnenolone?


  • Tt August 2, 2016 - 11:04 am Reply

    Thank you for your wonderful blog. I am a 42yrs married female & mom, but a lot has changed in last, Looks like I am just beginning menopause, haven’t had period since about a year, family member loss in last year…it’s been a very draining and depressing time for me. Have gained about 30lbs. I am Not on any medications for anything presently, I try and eat clean, but I have low libido, lthinning hair, tired and fatigued all the time. My regular blood reports doc said are ‘pristine’. I have to see an endocrinologist for hormone testing…But I do have hot flashes, irritable, not my usual self anymore, I am very scared of taking HRT as my mom died of ovarian cancer…but I know my hormones are off, I don’t have estrogen anymore, my energy levels are at the lowest ever, brain fog, memory is so bad, it’s embarrassing, my skin, hair don’t look the same, I feel I am aging super fast, I was wondering if I can add dhea?pregnenolone supplementation? Or both….there’s so much information online, but can you suggest a particular kind of pregnenolone for someone like me….I am hoping to being my happy and peaceful self. Gracias.

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