DHEA: Is this the most effective Testosterone Booster?

How I Boosted my own Testosterone by over 30%

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of consulting with an advanced performance physician that works with multiple special operations units and professional sports teams.  We talked a lot about how to maximize performance in aging athletes, so naturally, the conversation swung to the “T” word.

Testosterone chemical formula

The problem that we faced was that most individuals concerned about performance just want the easy fix and that is to take exogenous testosterone. There are a host of problems with that approach – side effects and long-term health being only a couple of the problems.

What athletes in their 30’s and beyond really need is to first maximize the natural processes for supporting “youth levels” of hormones.  Second tier would be blood testing to uncover any deficiencies that may be present. Last would be to actually replace the hormone – and that doesn’t necessarily mean prescribing testosterone.

The natural process, of course, would be adequate sleep, minimizing life stressors, solid nutrition, age/gender/and goal specific programming, and then the proper recovery modalities from the training regimen.

For me, this means 8 hours of sleep per night, mindfulness, Zone type dieting, and a blend of resistance training and aerobic work that lasts, at most, one hour, and occurs 3-4 times per week.  This supports my performance, lean body mass, and also the health recommendations of aerobic activity for 30 minutes three times per week.

I ordered my own lab tests (because I can) and found that I had no glaring deficiencies nutritionally.  However, my hormone profile showed that testosterone was normal at 409 but that free testosterone was low at 5.7.  Free testosterone is the active component of testosterone in your blood as the rest is bound to a protein called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG).

Run of the mill Endocrinologists and Urologists normally treat the Total Testosterone number (low is 280 or less in our lab).  However, since the mid-1980’s several reports have indicated that the normal number for the average male in the United States has trended down about 1-2 points per year up to the present day.  That would mean that today’s male would be considered low at 280 but the 1980’s male would be considered low at around 330 or so.  I don’t consider myself, or any of the personnel I work with, to be average males.

Further, my free testosterone was low, which would likely be treated by a performance physician or one of the “Men’s Health Centers” that you see around town today.  But on closer examination my DHEA was 57 and should have been above 250.  My SHBG was normal.  I started taking DHEA at 50 mg a day for one month and rechecked both the DHEA and testosterone values.  Here is what I found:

Day 1 Day 30 on DHEA 50 mg/d
DHEA 57 230
Total Testosterone 408 535
Free Testosterone 5.7 7.5


Recommendations for men are 50-100 mg/day so I may have gotten an even better response at the higher dose.  For women the dosage is 25-50 mg/day.

While you may think that is a modest improvement it represents more than a 30% swing in my free testosterone.  And I really felt the difference.  I can’t say ALL the ways I felt the difference but something was definitely different in the morning… 

And I felt like I was once again answering the warrior call from within.

In my own mind this is how I imagine answering the warrior call within….definitely all in mind.

So let’s talk briefly about DHEA.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a pro-hormone, considered the parent hormone for the sex hormones of the human body.  Our bodies create naturally and there are no good food sources.

It is critically important as it plays a role in over a 150 different metabolic processes.

DHEA is a prohormone that actually works.  Particularly if your DHEA levels are low or “low-normal”


It is banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association so that is a solid indication that it is effective.   It will help build better strength, more mass, and decrease belly fat but its benefits go far beyond that.  It Improves bone density, keeps the cardiovascular system healthy, controls cholesterol levels, fights fatigue, and improves sexual performance in BOTH MEN AND WOMEN.

DHEA levels begin to decline after the age of 30.  That’s when most of us begin to experience more weight gain, increasing fatigue, lower libido, and other symptoms that are caused by higher levels of inflammation. It is considered to be one of the more rapidly decreasing hormones in the body so it pays to supplement if you need it.  But you won’t know for sure unless you get tested.

For women specifically, DHEA increases estrogen levels which helps fight osteoporosis as well as alleviates the decline in libido that is associated with vaginal atrophy (a condition which basically impairs the ability to be “ready” for intercourse).

It also protects against depression and the slow, insidious cognitive decline that accompanies aging.  It’s anti-inflammatory effects significantly help improve health as inflammation is tied to nearly every age-related health problem that exists – particularly Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, many Cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease.  DHEA lowers inflammation and balances hormone levels leading to more vitality, a leaner figure, and more energy.

Do not use DHEA if you are under the age of 30 or if you have any conditions that are exacerbated by increased sex hormones such as prostate cancer in men or breast cancer in women.  Do not use if breast feeding or pregnant.  As with any introduction of a chemical that may affect your health, consult your doctor.  While I am a doctor, remember I am not YOUR doctor – just your copilot in the quest for improved health and performance.

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15 responses to “DHEA: Is this the most effective Testosterone Booster?

  1. Why is this not recommend for people under 30? I’m deployed with a few Marines who said they have been using pro hormones and of course, they are young.

    1. Richie, glad to hear from you and hope you are doing well out there. I’ve found DHEA most effective in those whose levels are low and only a marginal benefit when DHEA is normal. Since DHEA only starts to decline in your early 30’s that’s where the recommendation comes from. Best way to know is to get it tested and I recommend 4 tests: DHEA/Total Testosterone/Free Testosterone/ and SHBG. Of course, consult your own Doc first. There are many more tests one can order on the endocrine system. This is just my base when evaluating DHEA.

  2. How long of a duration would someone with low free testosterone be able to supplement with DHEA? Here you did it for 30 days, so would you take a break for a period of time after 30 days? Thanks for the article.

    1. Ryan, since DHEA is very safe I would suggest staying on it for a few months and then checking your numbers again. Also have your doc search for the cause of low DHEA. For some of us it’s just aging, for others there are modifiable factors like not enough sleep, too much life stressors and bad mechanisms with coping, and – of course -overtraining (more common than most think.)

  3. Where do you get your DHEA? Melatonin values in supplements can vary by several hundred percentage points from what is on the label (“Why We Sleep,” Walker, 2017). Are there DHEA supplements with more accurate values? Which brands can you recommend?

  4. Lanny, Just has a testosterone check and it is low. The insurance company will not pay for my subscription. Where do I find DHEA? Is there an OTC?

  5. Lanny I was having issues staying awake. I started dragging ass like a Charlie company knob around 1-2pm and started napping. Still crash at 8:30-9 pm and hard to get up at 0630…the rack monster was whooping me. I had my Dr. test my T…came back 24 which he said was impossible and retested….26!! He put me on 1cc of T per week. He said there weren’t any side affects for me to worry about and to go see a endocrinologist? I’m now running 400-550 T on follow ups….should I try the OTC DHEA and drop back the T? Even though your now a Navy Doc you’ll always be a USMC lanc-colonel to me!

    1. Good to hear from ya JT. When you get done tub grinding I would ask el doctor what your DHEA was back when he tested your T. If he didn’t test it may want to come off for a bit and reset but that would require HCG and possibly Clomid. After coming off the right way on that you could give it a month and then test everything….however, if you’re on the T now your DHEA will likely be high since it’s not need for normal testosterone synthesis. I have no experience with tamping down the exogenous testosterone and ramping up DHEA however. See you this fall!

  6. Nice article Lanny. Good read and info. So many women don’t pay attention to their T thinking it’s a male focus. Just as important for us!

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