Adrenal Fatigue and Pregnenolone

Your adrenal glands, located on top of your kidneys, secrete hormones including cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, which effectively help you manage stress. Pregnenolone is the precursor hormone from which these stress hormones are made, making its presence in your body significant. Timothy J. Smith, MD, refers to pregnenolone as the grandmother hormone, which spawns dozens of granddaughter hormones.Supplementing with pregnenolone may be a good idea, but reducing your stress level is critical since adrenal dysfunction may lead to adrenal insufficiency and exhaustion.

Types of Stress

Pioneer endocrinologist Hans Selye noted that all forms of stress are handled the same way — and stress is cumulative in its effects. Environmental stress includes heat, cold and noise. Chemical stress includes pollution and drugs. Physical stress can occur from overexercising, trauma or an infection. Psychological stress includes worry and fear. Biochemical stress, such as nutritional deficiencies and excessive refined sugar consumption, as well as imaginary stress, are additional types of stress.

How Stress Hormones Work

If cortisol production is excessive due to chronic stress, it can damage body tissues and exhaust the adrenals. Both high and low cortisol states can be dangerous. Normally, DHEA buffers the effects of high cortisol levels, bringing your hormones back into balance after a stressful event. Cortisol and DHEA maintain a delicate balance in your body.

Pregnenolone, DHEA and Anti-Aging

Health professionals are divided over the anti-aging effects of pregnenolone, but studies have confirmed that production of this hormone in your body declines with age. According to, pregnenolone has been reported to reduce high stress-induced fatigue. A study published in the November 2001 issue of “Brain Research Reviews”, indicates that pregnenolone and DHEA can also improve the effects of aging.

Testing Your Stress Hormones

If you are tired for no apparent reason, or have other symptoms that you feel may be due to adrenal fatigue, you should have your adrenal hormones tested. Your health practitioner can test cortisol levels in your urine and blood, but salivary testing may provide a better picture of your stress hormones. In one study published in the September 2003 issue of the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism,” noninvasive salivary testing of cortisol worked better than urine, and as well as blood tests.

Pregnenolone Supplementation

Pregnenolone supplementation is recommended by health professionals because people have reported an enhanced sense of health and well-being taking it, according to Until further studies are conducted there is no definitive answer to the question of supplementation. What many health professionals seem to agree on is that diet, exercise and reduction of stress are some of the best actions you can take for fatigue and the prevention of most chronic disease.


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