Woman and husband laughing on couch feeling a boost in mood

What is Pregnenolone?

Pregnenolone, the “mother of all hormones” has been shown to improve cognitive functions and boost mood.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Laurie Mathena.

Pregnenolone is a hormone naturally produced in the body.

It has beneficial properties of its own and converts to other hormones such as DHEA, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol.

For this reason, it is sometimes called the mother of all hormones.

The body’s production of pregnenolone declines with age as does that of DHEA, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.1,2

Reduced Back Pain in Military Veterans

Previous studies have associated pregnenolone with improved memory, increased cognition, and elevated mood.3-5

A recent study highlighted another benefit: It significantly reduced low-back pain in Iraq- and Afghanistan-era U.S. military veterans.6

Compared to the placebo group, the pregnenolone group reported significant reductions in low-back pain at the end of the study.

They also reported improvements on scores for the degree to which their pain interfered with work and activity.

Based on the results of this study, the researchers suggest that pregnenolone could represent a novel, safe, and potentially effective treatment for chronic low-back pain in this population.

Improved Depression Symptoms

Low pregnenolone levels have been linked to depression.

In clinically depressed patients not receiving medication, researchers observed lower cerebrospinal pregnenolone levels, compared to healthy volunteers.7

In a clinical study, patients with bipolar depression were randomized to receive pregnenolone or a placebo as an add-on medication. After 12 weeks, researchers observed higher remission rates in the pregnenolone group than in the placebo group. The authors concluded that:

“The results suggest that pregnenolone may improve depressive symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder and can be safely administered.”8

Several clinical trials are now on the way.

At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center a clinical trial will evaluate the impact of pregnenolone on improvements in the severity of depressive symptoms in women.9

We look forward to reporting on human studies as their results are published.

Suggested Dosage

For those looking to support youthful hormone levels along with mental focus, memory, and more, optimal blood (serum) pregnenolone levels should be between 125-175 ng/dL.

This can usually be achieved with daily pregnenolone doses ranging between 50 mg and 100 mg, preferably taken early in the day.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


  1. Hill M, Lukac D, Lapcik O, et al. Age relationships and sex differences in serum levels of pregnenolone and 17-hydroxypregnenolone in healthy subjects. Clin Chem Lab Med. 1999 Apr;37(4):439-47.
  2. Havlikova H, Hill M, Hampl R, et al. Sex- and age-related changes in epitestosterone in relation to pregnenolone sulfate and testosterone in normal subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 May;87(5):2225-31.
  3. Charalampopoulos I, Remboutsika E, Margioris AN, et al. Neurosteroids as modulators of neurogenesis and neuronal survival. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Oct;19(8):300-7.
  4. Smith CC, Gibbs TT, Farb DH. Pregnenolone sulfate as a modulator of synaptic plasticity. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Sep;231(17):3537-56.
  5. Vallee M. Neurosteroids and potential therapeutics: Focus on pregnenolone. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2016 Jun;160:78-87.
  6. Naylor JC, Kilts JD, Shampine LJ, et al. Effect of Pregnenolone vs Placebo on Self-reported Chronic Low Back Pain Among US Military Veterans: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Mar 2;3(3):e200287.
  7. George MS, Guidotti A, Rubinow D, et al. CSF neuroactive steroids in affective disorders: pregnenolone, progesterone, and DBI. Biol Psychiatry. 1994 May 15;35(10):775-80.
  8. Brown ES, Park J, Marx CE, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pregnenolone for bipolar depression. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Nov;39(12):2867-73.
  9. Available at: Accessed April 1, 2022.