The labels claim DHEA will help us lose weight , rev up our libido, lift depression and give us back the strength, immunity, and stamina we had when we were 20 — the age at which our bodies naturally produced the most DHEA. While on the surface this is appealing (who wouldn’t want to feel 20 again?), it’s obviously not what nature intended. We also don’t know enough about DHEA to be conducting such a large, unregulated public experiment. DHEA is a potent steroid — that’s why it made headlines and why it should be approached with due diligence.
The last four years have produced a torrent of positive research findings concerning DHEA. The results on the immune modulation of this hormone on the cortisol /melatonin/ cell-mediated immunity axis is just amazing. Most HIV patients with doctors who are dialed in can attest to the positive effects of this hormone on many of their functions when conventional medicine has few solutions. DHEA is produced by the adrenals in healthy young adults (usually below 35) , but its levels decline dramatically with advancing age in both sexes, coinciding with the onset of numerous diseases of aging. The one thing that coincides with the destruction of this hormone level is the onset of cellular inflammation.
To search for possible metabolites of DHEA that might have greater biological activity, greater specificity, and fewer propensities to form sex hormones, Dr. Lardy initiated a program assaying the derivatives of DHEA. The activity of 150 of these metabolites was monitored by measuring the induction of two thermogenic enzymes, mitochondrial glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and cytosolic malic enzyme. The results of this landmark study were published in the journal Steroids in 1998  and revealed that many of these steroids did not induce the activity of these thermogenic enzymes, whereas the 7-keto-DHEA metabolite did. In fact, 7-keto-DHEA was times more active than DHEA at inducing the activity of these thermogenic enzymes. In later work by Marenich,  it was discovered that the urinary excretion of 7-keto-DHEA declines with age in a similar manner to its parent compound, DHEA. Based on these discovered advantages, the 7-keto-DHEA metabolite was chosen for further study as a weight loss ingredient.