Susan Merenstein, Pharmacist/Owner

(412) 586-4678  •  (412) 421-4996

Pregnenolone - The Starting Point for all Hormones


  • Precursor to DHEA, Estrogens, Progesterone, Testosterone, Cortisol, and Aldosterone
  • Is made from Cholesterol in the mitochondria and is known as the “Grandmother” hormone
    If the patient’s cholesterol is below 140, they may not make pregnenolone effectively
  • Skin and Brain are important sites of steroid synthesis
  • Decreases with age
    At age 75, most people have a 65% decline compared to age 35.

Functions of Pregnenolone

  • Regulates the balance between excitation and inhibition in the nervous system
  • Modulates the neurotransmitter GABA
  • Enhances nerve transmission and repair nerve damage
  • Increases resistance to stress
  • Improves energy both physically and mentally by protecting mitochondria from toxins
  • Enhances acetylcholine transmission
  • One of the “most potent memory enhancers yet reported” *
  • Regulates pain control, learning, memory, and alertness
  • Reduces pain and inflammation in arthritis and allergies
  • Modulates NMDA receptors
  • Enhances the activity of detoxifying enzymes in the liver and brain
  • Blocks the production of acid-forming compounds
  • Helps to increase productivity
  • Promotes mood elevation, has a mild anti-depressant effect
  • Improves sleep
  • Studies show auditory and visual function improvement
  • Aids in repairing degeneration of the Myelin Sheath (MS)
  • Enhances efficiency of blood circulation
  • May restore youthfulness to aged skin topically (Papa and Kligman 1965)

Causes of Low Pregnenolone Levels

  • Aging process
  • Stress
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Eating too many saturated fats and trans-fats
  • Low cholesterol levels
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Pituitary tumor
  • Having a severe illness
  • Use of cholesterol lowering drugs may block production

Pregnenolone will make more cortisol and less of the other hormones to help the body deal with stress.

Symptoms of Pregnenolone Deficiency

  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of focus
  • Memory decline

Pregnenolone Used in Treatment

  • Arthritis
  • Depression including bipolar depression
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Moodiness
  • Improves delta-wave sleep
  • Prevention of memory loss
  • Endometriosis
  • Seizure disorders-use under strict supervision

Autoimmune diseases

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Psoriasis
  • Scleroderma

Interesting Study: Use of Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone may protect the brain from cannabis intoxication.

Vallee, M., et al., “Pregnenolone can protect the brain from cannabis intoxication,” Science 2014; 343(6166):94-8.

Caution: Use pregnenolone with caution in patients with seizures since it may lower the seizure threshold.

Elevated Pregnenolone Levels Can Cause the Following Symptoms

  • Acne
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Fluid retention
  • Headache
  • Heart racing
  • Insomnia due to overstimulation
  • Irritability, anger, anxiety
  • Scalp hair loss

References

Marieb, Elaine RN, PhD. 1998. Human Anatomy & Physiology, fourth edition. Menio Park, California: Benjamin/cummings Scinece Publishing. Murry, Robert K MD, PhD, Granner, Daryl K, MD, Mayes, Peter A. PhD, DSc, Rodwell, Victor W. PhD. 2000 e