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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics


(Hormone Replacement Therapy)

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  • Pregnenolone Description
  • Pregnenolone Uses, Health Benefits & Scientific Evidence
  • Pregnenolone Dosage Information
  • Pregnenolone Safety, Cautions & Interactions
  • Pregnenolone Supplements & Products

  • pregnenolone for aging


    Pregnenolone is a steroid hormone manufactured naturally by the cholesterol in our bodies, which is then metabolized into a variety of vital hormones such as DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen. As we age, the level of Pregnenolone in our body decreases. Human studies show that there are much higher concentrations of pregnenolone in the nervous tissue than in the bloodstream. Animal studies indicate that pregnenolone is found in the brain in ten-fold larger concentrations than the other stress-related hormones (including DHEA).

    Pregenolone is made principally in the adrenal glands, but also in the brain, liver, skin, retina of the eyes, and sex organs (ovaries and testicles). If your adrenal glands are stressed, your pregnenolone levels will drop; there are many causes of adrenal stress, including psychological stress, inadequate exercise or sleep, illness or injury, or inadequate nutrition. Symptoms of adrenal stress include low body temperature, weakness, irritability, depression, poor concentration, excess hunger, insomnia, and a number of others. Maintaining strong adrenal function is important for optimizing your cortisol level, controlling blood sugar, insulin levels, and overall physical fitness.


    Steroids are a large family of structurally similar biochemicals that have sex-determining, anti-inflammatory, and growth-regulatory roles. Pregnenolone is the grand precursor from which almost all of the other steroid hormones are made.

    A steroid is chemical substance with four carbon ring structures attached to each other in a very specific way. Cortisol, DHEA, testosterone, pregnenolone, progesterone, and estrogen are all steroid hormones that chemically look very similar to each other in terms of their backbone. However, they differ from each other in only small ways, and even tiny changes in the chemical make up of a substance can make enormous differences in how it functions and what role it plays in the chemical factories of our bodies. For instance, testosterone, the male hormone, is only slightly different chemically from estrogen, the female hormone. Yet that slight difference causes men to grow facial hair and women to develop breasts.

    Pregnenolone is converted in the body to progesterone and these two hormones have some overlapping similarities, but we still do not know exactly how their effects overlap. Pregnenolone is also converted into DHEA, which, in turn may convert into androstenedione, testosterone, and estrogens.


    Wild Yam is a plant that is grown in certain parts of the southern U.S. and in Mexico. Wild Yam contains a compound called diosgenin that is the precursor to steroid hormones. In a laboratory, diosgenin is converted into pregnenolone. Further laboratory processing can convert pregnenolone into DHEA. The human body does not have the ability (the required enzymes) to convert diosgenin (a six ring structure) into pregnenolone (a four ring structure). Therefore, if you swallow pills that are Wild Yam extracts (diosgenin), you will not get pregnenolone or DHEA. The conversion has to be done in a laboratory. If you want to buy pregnenolone or DHEA, the bottles you buy must say that they contain actual pregnenolone or DHEA, not Wild Yam extract or diosgenin.


    Research on pregnenolone, as well as usage of pregnenolone, dates back as far as the 1930s. Human studies were conducted in the 1940s on factory workers to test the effect of pregnenolone on anti-fatigability and autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis. The results were successful and improvements were noted. Even though pregnenolone was proving to be not only effective, but safe as well, it was discarded when Merck's newly introduced pharmaceutical agent, cortisone, was announced to be a cure-all for rheumatoid arthritis in 1949.

    Soon after cortisone and cortisol came into use, the synthetic steroid hormones dexamethasone, and later prednisone, were introduced. Remember that these steroids are hundreds of times more powerful than pregnenolone (or DHEA for that matter). Because they could be patented, it was more politically and economically advantageous for pharmaceutical companies to promote these drugs rather than pregnenolone. Additionally, these steroids were very fast acting compared to pregnenolone. Users and health practitioners preferred the quick fix. However, these steroidal compounds proved to have serious downsides, including compromising the immune system and inducing osteoporosis, among other serious complications.

    Even though cortisone and cortisol are stress hormones that are natural to the body, they have historically been and continue to be administered in pharmacological doses rather than at physiological amounts natural to the body. The pharmacological levels at which cortisone and cortisol are generally administered give them a risk profile not unlike that of the synthetic hormones.

    Scientists have been studying the impact of hormones on learning and memory for many years. Various studies have found that pregnenolone enhances motivation, the ability to acquire knowledge, and long-term memory. A research group of industrial psychologists conducted studies in the 1940s to test pregnenolone on students and workers for the ability to enhance job performance. They found that the students/workers had a markedly improved ability to learn and remember difficult tasks.

    It is also amazing that pregnenolone not only enhanced job performance of the students/workers, but they additionally experienced heightened feelings of well-being. The same research group performed a study on factory workers to see if pregnenolone could improve their work productivity. Productivity increased most notably in the workers whose situations were considered the most stressful - for example, the workers who got paid per piece and whose living depended on their productivity. Improvement was noted, but less so, in workers who got paid a fixed wage regardless of their productivity levels. Not only did pregnenolone improve productivity for both groups, but the workers also reported enhanced mood.

    Despite successful results, research on pregnenolone halted in the 1950s when cortisone became available as an immediate cure-all. Because pregnenolone, unlike cortisone, could not be patented, pharmaceutical companies had no financial incentive to pursue the research. It is unfortunate that pharmaceutical companies are governed by a financial system and healthcare system that imposes the requirement that for a molecule to be profitable it must be patentable. If there were half as many studies done on pregnenolone as the patented drugs, pregnenolone's therapeutic potential would be expected to be far reaching.


    Some people find pregnenolone improves energy, vision, memory, clarity of thinking, wellbeing, and often sexual enjoyment or libido. It may be considered a good brain enhancer in those who are deficient. Studies in rodents show it to be one of the most effective and powerful memory boosters. Pregnenolone may increase levels of acetylcholine in the hippocampus and other memory regions in the brain and operates as a powerful neurosteroid in the brain, modulating the transmission of messages from neuron to neuron and strongly influencing learning and memory processes. Some women report lessening of hot flashes or premenstrual symptoms.

    As with DHEA, pregnenolone levels naturally peak during youth and begin a long, slow decline with age. By the age of 75 our bodies produce 60-percent less pregnenolone than the levels produced in our mid-thirties. For this reason pregnenolone is one of the biomarkers of aging. Similar to counting the rings of a tree, the level of pregnenolone can be measured at any given point of a person's life. It is often possible to make an educated guess as to his or her age by pregnenolone levels. Some other hormones that decline with age are DHEA, the estrogens, testosterone, progesterone, and growth hormone. These are considered biomarkers of aging as well. Since pregnenolone provides the initial raw material from which all the other steroid hormones are made, some of our other hormones will decline in a parallel fashion. While our youth-giving hormones are diminishing, loss of quality of life progressively settles in. We slowly begin to experience physical and mental decline such as the loss of energy, memory loss, visual and hearing impairment, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and sexual decline, just to name a few.

    Scientists believe that Pregnenolone supplementation can treat many of the symptoms associated with aging. This hormone helps improve brain function, enhance mood, improve energy and memory, and thinking. Other benefits of pregnenolone may include stress reduction and increased resistance to the effects of stress, reduced symptoms of PMS and menopause, improved immunity, and repair of myelin sheaths. Some studies suggest that Pregnenolone can lower cholesterol and alleviate the symptoms of a variety of conditions such as Alzheimer's, lupus, multiple sclerosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, seizures, psoriasis, prostate disorders, stress, trauma, injuries, sleep disorder, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Pregnenolone also boosts the immune system and can increase the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy.

    The major benefit of pregnenolone is that it can be used in tiny dosages as hormone replacement therapy as we get older to improve vitality, energy, visual clarity, and sexual pleasure. Some individuals who have taken pregnenolone have reported visual perception enhancement with clearer, brighter colors and patterns more noticeable. Vision becomes more enjoyable. However, not everyone experiences this perceptual enhancement.

    There is no proof that taking it will improve health, but it is an intriguing possibility. It is quite likely, though, that if too much is taken, pregnenolone side effects can occur which would be counterproductive. At this time we have no idea what the ideal pregnenolone dosage would be for hormone replacement, it may be as low as 1 mg. However, this hormone supplement is not risk-free.


    It is recommended you consult with your health care provider regarding the dosage of Pregnenolone that is best for you and your health situation. Oral pregnenolone pills work well. Sublingual (sublingual means it melts under the tongue) is an excellent option by bypassing the initial liver metabolism that occurs after swallowing an oral pill. Liquid and cream forms are also available.

    For long term use, the dosage suggested is 1 to 5 mg. Most pregnenolone supplements come in much higher doses. You can break a tablet in small pieces. Do not take more than 2 mg daily for prolonged periods without medical consultation. The best time of day to take is not well known but as soon as waking up is a good option. Do not exceed 5 mg per day. Do not take it for more than 5 days in a row without the advice of your health care provider. Keep in mind many health practitioners are not familiar with the potential dangers of this hormone).

    Supplementation may elevate your DHEA and progesterone levels, and DHEA can increase estrogen and testosterone levels.



    Hormones are powerful substances that have significant short and long-term effects. They can be very helpful if used appropriately but can cause serious harm if misused. Use hormones in low doses and for short periods of time. Take frequent usage breaks called "hormone holidays". Use natural alternatives.

  • Overstimulation & Insomnia: Low doses could be helpful for sleep when taken in the morning.
  • Irritability, Anger or Anxiety: Low doses could actually ease a person into a relaxed feeling, while higher amounts may lead to irritability.
  • Acne: Skin problems can occur due to the probable conversion of this hormone into androgens.
  • Headaches: These are possible with high dosages or low dosages used over several days or weeks.
  • Hair Loss: Possible scalp hair loss if used daily for prolonged periods.
  • Heart Rhythm Irregularities: Heart palpitations or arrhythmias can occur even on as low a dose as 5 mg. This can be serious in the elderly or those with heart rhythm disturbances. It has been reported a woman felt palpitations from as low as half a 5 mg tablet. If you have heart disease or taking heart medications do not take pregnenolone.
  • Other Side Effects: Unknown effects on the thyroid gland or other organs and tissues.

  • Pregnenoloe is not considered safe in high doses. Do not rely on blood or saliva testing to determine how much to take since you should not be taking more than 5 mg a few times a week unless you have a proven adrenal gland dysfunction and an endocrinologist monitors you.

    Pregnenolone converts into DHEA, which in turn converts into testosterone and possibly on to DHT. It can also be converted into progesterone. Studies are incomplete regarding the side effects of Pregnenolone supplementation, but those that are known include headache, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, irregularities of heartbeat, acne, growth of facial hair, and loss of scalp hair. If you experience any of those side effects you should lower the dosage or discontinue use.

    Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known.


  • Pregnenolone Supplement Products


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    Pregnenolone is biochemically a prohormone. It is made directly from cholesterol within the mitochondria of the adrenal glands and, to a lesser degree, the nervous system, with the help of the cholesterol side chain cleavage enzyme, p450scc. Pregnenolone is a precursor to various hormones, such as progesterone, mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, androgens, and estrogens. So it can help the body maintain normal hormone levels, which in turn helps numerous body functions. Pregnenolone is a naturally occurring hormone that may improve brain function, enhancing mood, memory, and thinking ability. Pregnenolone is the starting point from which all steroid hormones are manufactured in our bodies. Its conversion in the body follows different pathways, depending on individual needs. Several clinical studies have demonstrated that pregnenolone may enhance psychomotor performance and decrease fatigue in healthy subjects. Pregnenolone is believed to affect stress levels through its influence on the adrenal glands, which produce more steroid hormones when people are under stress. Pregnenolone may also affect brain chemistry in beneficial ways. It has been found to inhibit the GABA receptors in brain cells - which may result in increased mental alertness. It may also stimulate the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors, which play an important role in regulating synapses, thus influencing learning and memory.


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