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Adrienne Dellwo

DHEA for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By August 15, 2009

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Is DHEA right for you? That question deserves some serious thought. I've brought up this supplement several times in recent months, because I take it for anxiety. For awhile, it was part of my daily routine, but when I found other things that help calm my nerves, I decided to reserve DHEA just for the times when I really need it.

About DHEA

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a steroid that occurs naturally in your body. Two key words in that sentence may seem somewhat contradictory: "naturally" is something we tend to think of as good, while "steroid" might be a little scary.

Just because something is "natural" and sold over the counter doesn't mean it's perfectly safe. Steroids can be dangerous, so any DHEA use should be discussed with and monitored by your doctor.

So far, we don't have good studies showing that DHEA is effective specifically for symptoms fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. However, we do have evidence that it can help some problems common in us.

Studies show DHEA supplements can help alleviate adrenal insufficiency and mild depression. It's used to treat symptoms of lupus and multiple sclerosis, which are similar to our symptoms. Some doctors and patients say DHEA helps relieve the stress and anxiety we get, but so far that's not scientifically proven.

My Experience

Based on my own experience, I believe DHEA does relieve my anxiety. I carry it with me for those times when I feel anxiety creeping up -- such as at the grocery store, in a crowded place, or at a movie.

As I said, I no longer take it every day, and that's because of the risks. Instead, I take theanine daily because it's calming without the potential for side effects. However, for me at least, it doesn't seem to be as effective at heading off an anxiety attack in its early stages.

Here's more information for you, including possible side effects and common dosages: DHEA Profile.

What's your experience? Have you tried DHEA? How has it worked for you? Are you worried about taking a steroid? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


Suggested Reading:

Photo George Diebold/Getty Images

August 21, 2009 at 5:31 pm
(1) Edan says:

The best thing I have tried for anxiety is a supplement called Picamilon. From the research I have done on line there are very few side effects. I have never had any and I am so super sensitive to meds and supplements. I love it and like DHEA it can be taken right as you start stressing out. I highly recommend it for those of us with CFS.

August 21, 2009 at 9:01 pm
(2) Margo (formerly in Miami) says:

A few months before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a rheumatologist suggested I try taking COQ10 and DHEA. I found that the DHEA didn’t help my FM, but it did/does help my IBS somewhat. My primary care physician at the time (in Miami) said it should help the IBS and wasn’t surprised that it had this affect in me.

August 31, 2009 at 7:39 pm
(3) Adrienne - Your Guide to Fibromyalgia & ME/CFS says:


Thanks for that information! Now that I think about it, I can see that my intestinal problems got worse when I stopped taking DHEA on a daily basis. Maybe I need to add it back into the mix.

August 22, 2009 at 7:37 am
(4) Ewa says:

Many of us who have Fibro and chronic fatigue also have allergies.
DHEA is a precursor to hormones, and it can cause horrible allergies–skin itch, rash, name it.
Some may swear by it, but some get worse because of it. So before you buy a large amount, try it for a week.
I cannot take DHEA or estrogen. Last time I took estrogen (smallest amount), it took 9 months before I finally stopped itching!!!
DHEA did exactly the same!!!

August 22, 2009 at 11:01 pm
(5) Joe says:

I have struggled with chronic fatigue for years and tried a number of treatments. About a year ago my physician tested my DHEA level and found it extremely low. I started taking 25-50 mg per day and found it reduced my fatigue by 50-75%. I also found that taking a dose at bedtime helps my morning energy level. My physician recommends taking DHEA for 3 months and then skip a month. It seems to loose some of it’s effectivness when taken continously. I think anyone with chronic fatigue should have their DHEA level tested.

April 5, 2010 at 9:35 am
(6) Poppy says:

Yes anyone who has had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome should go and test their adrenals for cortsiol and DHEA levels (the 24 hour saliva test is most effective), and also their thyroid function and also check your vitamin D levels. All of these can be affected if you have suffered CFS. After just finding out I have low DHEA and cosrtisol levels I have just started taking 25mg of DHEA (not synthetic kind, its natually sourced from yam, make sure you get a recommended source), and after a few weeks have noticed an improvement, energy up, a change in mood – anxiety has lessened, less depressed, sleep much better, digestive disorders better. Its early days and it probably takes a while to adjust in the body, so I am hoping for more improvement. My doctor suggested re-testing for cortisol/dhea after 3 months, so I’ll see how it goes. After years of not feeling well and just putting up with it (had CFS 13 years ago) I am hoping DHEA will really help, we shall see!

November 3, 2011 at 6:28 am
(7) robert says:

i was taking 5mg dhea for three months
first month 1 tab 2 time a day for not much affect
next 2 months 2 tabs 2 times a day for a much greater affect
alot more energy working long hours feeling stronger running more playing more with the kids.
not taking it a the moment as i can’t get it through customs
my a 47 year old male i live and work on our farm in south australia

April 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm
(8) Bradamant says:

I’ve never heard of taking DHEA only periodically for acute attacks of anything. Since it is basically premetabolite or other hormones, I don’t quite understand how it could work that quickly.

I’m a big believer in replacement levels for those of us who test low for it. I have SLE, and while I am generally skeptical, I couldn’t deny what a major positive benefit it had for me when I started it. I’ve stopped through laziness and eventually restarted taking it many times over the years, and each time the improvement in my energy level, cognition, and general sense of well-being astonished me. I always think, “D’oh, why did I stop taking this again?”

DHEA has so many benefits for so many systems in the body, I think it is worth investigating for any chronically ill person. It isn’t appropriate for all patients, by any means, but I think it could and should be used under the guidance of a doctor more widely than it seems to be now.

March 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm
(9) hey me says:

Taking between 25 and 50 mg of micronized DHEA in split doses has been very helpful for me.

I am female and in good health, but I had sapped adrenals and was constantly stress-sweating (sorry for TMI) and feeling like I had been hit by a truck.

I buy 50 mg capsules, take them apart, and take the half with less powder in at night and the half with more powder in in the morning. I have missed a morning or night here and there. I have noticed that about 30 minutes after taking morning dose I feel a lift in energy.

After I started taking DHEA I noticed my joints felt more flexible, and my stiff ankles that I experience every morning were gone.

Skin seems to look better, too.

Things that have helped me:
-magnesium citrate (seems to help nervous system)
-b-complex vitamins (energy)
-dhea (energy)
-melatonin (sleep)
-gluten free diet (has eliminated gastrointestinal problems, neuropathy, and seasonal allergies)


Good luck!

March 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm
(10) L. A. Evers says:

I am a man that was diagnosed 20 years ago with CFS. It was pure hell. The first year was the absolute worst. I had been diagnosed 8 years before with panic/social anxiety disorder and have been on Xanax ever since. I really suffered alot for years as I was a barber and was always feeling tired and guilty because I had to take so much time off. I couldnt hardly stand up as my feet and legs would hurt so bad, I even actually fell on a couple of customers, due to weakness and vertigo. So I did start taking DHEA about 10 years ago and I started feeling a bit better. I started off by taking 25 mg a day and went up to 100mg for a while, but I was able to at least work parttime. About 4 years ago I suffered a whiplash from car accident. My back symptoms got much worse as did my other leg and foot pain, numbness. I finally quit my job and tried to do other work but because of my physical problems and brain fog I was unable to do anything so I applied for SSDI. It has been 4yrs now since I applied and since then I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia also. All in all in the last 20 years I have gone bankrupt 3 times and lost my marriage, I live in subsidized housing and am on food stamps. All through the last 10 years I have been taking DHEA. Until 2 months ago. My doctor wanted to check my testosterone and told me not to take it for awhile. My testosterone was actually not that bad but now I feel like I have no energy whatsoever almost like when I first got it. Am going to get some as soon as I can and start taking it again as I”m convinced that it helps me with my stresss and fatigue…still waiting for SSDI

June 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm
(11) kath says:

I understand fully how ill you have been over the yrs with this terrible disease ME/CFS…It stops you living a normal life..I am afraid to take DHEA incase it makes me worse,I can cope with everything but the fatigue! I am almost housebound as I only manage to et out for 3 hours a week.

February 12, 2014 at 12:00 am
(12) DHEA says:

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This article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your blog aand keep checking foor new information about once per week.
I opted in for your Feed as well.

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