DHEA improves stress response

August 10, 2004 Printer Friendly
In this issue

Life Extension Update Exclusive:

DHEA improves stress response


Anxiety and Stress

Featured Products:



Life Extension Magazine, August 2004 issue:

Why we need fully informed juries

Life Extension Update Exclusive

DHEA improves stress response
A report published in the August 2004 issue of the American Medical Association journal Archives of General Psychiatry ( found that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) sulfate levels are increased by acute stress and that these higher levels may help people cope with the unwanted effects that stress causes. DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that peaks between the ages of 20 to 25. In addition to its involvement with the stress response, DHEA may be helpful in reducing depression and enhancing memory. Individuals aged 70 to 80 have 20 to 30 percent of the DHEA levels of people in their early twenties.

Charles A. Morgan III, MD, of the Veterans Affairs New England Healthcare System in West Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues determined the ratio of DHEA sulfate to cortisol in twenty-five military personnel before and after undergoing stressful events involved in military survival school. Cortisol is another hormone produced by the adrenal glands, but this stress-induced hormone can have negative effects.

Cortisol and DHEA sulfate levels from the participants' blood and saliva were analyzed five days before the subjects were exposed to a mock prisoner of war camp where they experienced food and sleep deprivation and an interrogation. The subjects were also asked to complete surveys in which they rated symptoms of dissociation, which provided information on their ability to cope with stress prior to the event by measuring how in touch they were with their environments.

Following the interrogations, the surveys and blood tests were repeated. The researchers discovered that individuals who showed superior military performance and reported fewer symptoms of dissociation had higher DHEA-sulfate to cortisol ratios. The authors conclude, “These data provide prospective, empirical evidence that the DHEA-S level is increased by acute stress in healthy humans and that the DHEA-S—cortisol ratio may index the degree to which an individual is buffered against the negative effects of stress... One implication of the present findings is that a low DHEA-S—cortisol ratio may be associated with vulnerability to stress-induced symptoms of dissociation. In the future it may be fruitful to conduct clinical trials designed to prospectively evaluate whether augmentation of DHEA-S levels in humans, before the time of their exposure to stress, will confer a protective effect, as evidenced by diminished peritraumatic dissociation and improved cognitive performance.”


Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety disorders are illnesses that cause people to feel frightened and apprehensive for no apparent reason. These conditions are often related to the biological and psychological makeup of the individual and may be familial in nature. If untreated, these illnesses can significantly reduce productivity and inhibit a person's ability to function in daily life. There are five types of anxiety disorders. Many individuals may have more than one type, making then especially difficult to treat.

Women also tend to suffer from these illnesses more than men. Approximately twice as many females have panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia (fear of open places or public situations), and other specific phobias. About an equal number of men and women are diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (Bourdon et al. 1988; Robins et al. 1991; Davidson 2000).

Common in those who have served in combat, PTSD is a debilitating illness that can result from a traumatic event. Originally defined as battle fatigue or shell shock, this disorder can be precipitated by any traumatic life event such as a serious accident, crime victimization, and natural disasters. People diagnosed with PTSD may relive the event in nightmares or have disturbing recollections of it during waking hours. Ordinary events can trigger flashbacks that may result in a loss of reality, causing the person to believe the event is happening again. PTSD may occur at any age, and although the course of the illness is variable, it can become chronic.

Stress is a psychological and physical response to the demands of daily life that exceed a person's ability to cope successfully. Stress is often characterized by fatigue, sleep disorders, irritability, and constant worrying. Depression often accompanies stress. The accumulated effects of stress may lead to more serious medical problems. Stress may be work-related or may stem from personal problems, such as divorce, family conflicts, or financial concerns. Often stress results from a combination of these.

Too much stress is not good and sustained stressors often cause adverse effects. There is ample evidence that living a highly stressful lifestyle damages the heart, raises blood pressure, and can contribute to digestive problems. Not surprisingly, stress can also be damaging to the brain, even leading to premature brain cell aging (Uno et al. 1994; Sapolsky 1996a, 1996b; Lombroso et al. 1998). Most people are familiar with the adrenaline rush response to an emergency. The heart pounds, the muscles constrict, and the lungs expand; and while this is happening, we are capable of greater than normal strength and speed. This response is the body's way of rescuing itself when faced with an emergency. We don't have to think about it to make it happen. It's automatic.

Theanine is an amino acid found in tea that produces a calming effect on the brain (Yokogoshi et al. 1998b). It easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and exerts subtle changes in biochemistry that cause a tranquilizing effect. The production of GABA, the brain chemical known for its calming effect, is increased after taking theanine. Increased GABA can also put you in a better mood and create a sense of well-being. Dopamine, another brain chemical with mood-enhancing properties is also increased by theanine.

Featured Products


Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that produces calming effects in the brain. For centuries, green tea has been used in the Orient for its relaxing properties. Life Extension Foundation members can enjoy the benefits of this unique ingredient in a 100 mg supplement — L-theanine.

A “feel good” supplement, theanine causes no adverse reactions. In fact, in Japan, soft drinks and chewing gum are enhanced with theanine for the purpose of inducing relaxation. The calming, mood-enhancing effect comes with no strings attached — it won't make you drowsy or groggy, it simply relaxes you by helping to increase alpha-brain waves, electrical brain activity commonly present when you are very relaxed, literally putting you in a better mood.


The active ingredients in Adapton (Garum armoricum extract) represent a class of unique polypeptides, which act as precursors to endorphins and other neurotransmitters that exert a regulatory effect on the nervous system. This action can improve an individual's ability to adapt to mental and physical stress. Adapton also contains omega-3 essential fatty acids that increase the synthesis of prostaglandins and prostacyclins. These omega-3 fats are thought to contribute to the effects of Adapton.

Life Extension Magazine August 2004

Why we need fully informed juries

The American Jury Institute / Fully Informed Jury Association (AJI/FIJA) is the national advocate for the right of individuals charged with a “crime” to be tried by a jury that is allowed to hear the facts of the case and determine whether the law itself is being applied justly. In other words, for government to deprive a citizen of his or her personal liberty, AJI/FIJA insists that a jury must be “fully informed” about all aspects of the case, and not be limited to a narrow, one-sided version presented solely by the prosecutors.

If you have questions or comments concerning this issue or past issues of Life Extension Update, email or call 954 766 8433 extension 7716.

For longer life,

Dayna Dye
Editor, Life Extension Update
1100 West Commercial Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale FL 33309
954 766 8433 extension 7716

Sign up for Life Extension Update

Help spread the good news about living longer and healthier. Forward this email to a friend!

View previous issues of Life Extension Update in the Newsletter Archive.