DHEA – another cannabinoid? Yep.

Written by Mango Chutney, a friend of this blog:

One year ago my physician prescribed a variety of vitamins and supplements based on blood tests. One of them is DHEA, which I understand is a precursor to testosterone and estrogen. It’s been one of those cutting edge kind of supplements for a long time now. DHEA’s own precursor is one of those popular Omega-3 fatty acids–DHA.

The body can make DHEA from DHA, but it can’t make DHA–it has to get it from food–that’s part of the rage for fish oil, or flax seed and flaxseed oil or a number of other Omega-3 sources.

If I remember the science correctly the Standard American Diet (SAD) is thought to be out of balance with too many Omega-6 oils and not enough Omega-3s. So supplementation with fish oil or flaxseed oil, since they are high in Omega-3s, is thought to help the body in a variety of ways, primarily because of the biggest job the “-3’s” are supposed to do–to help reduce inflammation. The inflammation can be in the arteries and bloodstream or anywhere, I guess. Who wants inflammation? –especially in the cardiovascular system?

So I was googling DHEA since I take it already. I found out that it’s banned by the International Olympic Committee because it’s supposed to enhance athletic performance. (What athlete wouldn’t want to reduce inflammation?) Although the ban is controversial since most people consider it to be a natural substance.

I’ve been buying my DHEA from my doctor, but when I ran out I tried to buy some at the local Natural Grocery chain store, which has a pill and potion section that puts Whole Foods to shame. When I couldn’t find it there a helpful clerk gave me an info sheet explaining that it’s their store policy not to sell DHEA. So I turned–where else?–to Amazon, and before long I was restocked with it.

Continuing my research, I stumbled on a reference to DHEA and endocannabinoids–the body’s own cannabinoid system. It was in a scientific article by none other than the world’s premier cannabis researcher, Dr. Rafael Mechoulam. In it, he refers to DHEA as one of the endocannabinoids because he and his team found that it uses the same cannabinoid receptor sites that marijuana’s active cannabinoids attach to. That was the big surprise for me. Who thought you could buy an endocannabinoid on Amazon?

Mechoulam was investigating its role in cancer, prostate and breast cancer specifically, and found that DHEA could discourage the spread of those cancers. Yea for DHEA! –I’m sure it’s no cure, probably just an influence in the right direction, but we can use all the help we can get. Some people claim that cancer is a disease resulting from, or related to chronic inflammation.

But on the other hand, some popular medical sites warn against DHEA use because they fear it could encourage prostate and breast cancer since it’s a precursor to testosterone and estrogen. But I suspect that such advice is just a scientific hunch. In Mechoulam’s actual research he found the opposite happening. Somebody should tell those other sites.

Anyway, it was just interesting to see Mechoulam calling DHEA an endocannabinoid. That happens in the second sentence of the abstract to this article–after that, I’m lost:

DHEA and EPEA activated cannabinoid CB 1 and CB 2 receptors in vitro with significant potency, suggesting that they are endocannabinoids.

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