The Wonders of Pregnenolone
Pregnenolone, the so-called “mother of all hormones”, is aptly named as such as it is the first hormone synthesized from cholesterol, and the precursor for all other steroid hormones, including DHEA, Progesterone, Testosterone, Estrogen, and Cortisone.
Pregnenolone is synthesized from cholesterol, where it then acts itself or is converted to these other hormones. Pregnenolone is integral to health and performance, but declines in poor health and disease, and with aging.
Pregnenolone has many benefits, including:
- More Youthful Skin
- Improves Memory, Concentration, & Motivation
- Clears Brain Fog
- Resists Stress and Improves Mood & Emotions
- Stimulates Metabolism & Thyroid
- Stimulates The Production of Pregnenolone & Beneficial Hormones
- Improves Joint & Muscle Pain
- Increases Muscle Synthesis & Strength
- Converts To DHEA, Progesterone, and Testosterone (latter in men)
- Enhances & Deepens Sleep
- Improves The Immune System
- Enhances Detoxification of Toxins
- Improves Joint, Tendon, & Bone Health
- Anti-Aging Properties
Pregnenolone is one of the three “Youth-Associated Hormones”, named by Ray Peat. Pregnenolone, DHEA, & Progesterone are produced in large amounts in youth, and are responsible for many of the traits of youthfulness, including glowing skin, vibrant energy, and health & performance.
Rats or humans whom take Pregnenolone, find many of these traits returned.
As of writing this, I’ve been taking 5-20mg of Pregnenolone for a few days, and have noticed my skin improve significantly, and being to “glow” once again.
“In the 1940s, pregnenolone was tested in people who were sick or under stress, and it was found to have a wide range of beneficial actions…” – Ray Peat
Pregnenolone has been found to stabilize many of the enzymes involved in cellular detoxification, namely Cytochrome P450, and has antitoxic effects.
“When aging rats are given a supplement of pregnenolone, it immediately improves their memory and general performance.” – Ray Peat
Pregnenolone has been found to have antidepressant, antianxiety, and pro-mood benefits, as well as deepen sleep and protect against the toxic effects of excessive cortisol.
Pregnenolone, DHEA, and Progesterone can stabilize the stress response, and prevent excessive stress & anxiety, and help prevent traumatic conditioning in this way.
“It is now known that pregnenolone is one of the major hormones in the brain. It is produced by certain brain cells, as well as being absorbed into the brain from the blood. It protects brain cells from injury caused by fatigue, and an adequate amount has a calming effect on the emotions, which is part of the reason that it protects us from the stress response that leads to an excessive production of cortisone. People feel a mood of resilience and an ability to confront challenges.” – Ray Peat
Many common antidepressants have been found to increase allopregnanolone levels in the brain, which has potent antidepressant and anxiolytic properties. Pregnenolone increases allopregnanolone by increasing progesterone.
Paradoxically, Pregnenolone is anti-cortisol, whilst simultaneously being the precursor to cortisol and stress hormones.
Cortisol is often elevated to maintain blood sugar as an adaptive response.
Cortisol & Adrenaline both have this function.
In the majority of cases, Pregnenolone has significant antianxiety effects and has been found in studies to improve & deepen sleep.
In some people however, Pregnenolone can cause anxiety and panic attacks, outlined via a personal hypothesis below. Too much, too fast – in terms of supplementation – can cause anxiety by quickly shutting down the production of cortisol.
Similar to caffeine – which inhibits cortisol similarly – the body can respond by increasing adrenaline to compensate and maintain blood sugar levels.
I believe this mechanism might be behind and explain the anxiety that Pregnenolone causes in some, whilst sedating effect in others.
Pregnenolone, DHEA, and Progesterone improve blood sugar levels and sugar utilization, whilst also improving glycogen synthesis for better blood sugar control. These hormones also reduce blood sugar sensitivity, improving anxiety, stress, and sleep.
Reduced cravings for sweets is one purported effect of Pregnenolone, and reduced appetite in the sense of constant snacking & cravings to maintain blood sugar.
DHEA was found to protect and rejuvenate pancreatic Beta cells from alloxan, a toxin that kills Beta cells. Pregnenolone increases DHEA by improving steroid hormone synthesis, and converting to DHEA.
In the brain, Pregnenolone, DHEA, and Progesterone are highly concentrated, thus their renown as “neurosteroids”.
Pregnenolone improves memory, learning, and neurogenesis – the growth of new neurons. Pregnenolone also protects neurons from excitotoxicity, fatigue, hypoxia, and “normal wear and tear”. Pregnenolone has been found to improve cognitive decline.
Pregnenolone can improve and restore fertility in both men and women, and protect the fetus and sperm.
Pregnenolone increases myelination, which is integral to the health and performance of neurons and the nervous system.
Ray Peat On Pregnenolone
Ray Peat first took pregnenolone by accident, after mistaking a bottle of vitamin e with another bottle that had pregnenolone dissolved in it, left over from an experiment.
Ray Peat said he was getting sicker and sicker, save for a two week vacation where he says he felt perfectly well.
He continues, “That spring I increased my dose of Pregnenolone, and did other things to promote my own Pregnenolone synthesis, such as using larger amounts of coconut oil and getting a little more exposure to incandescent light.”
“The effects of the supplements are more noticeable in the summer, since that is when the body’s repair processes are greatest.”
Ray Peat was suffering from arterial inflammation, dental abscesses, micgraines, asthma, and colitis.
Lying in bed one day, he tried to understand what had changed in those two weeks and since he had been home, and he realized he had been using the vitamin e with Pregnenolone residue while in the trip, and the pure vitamin e since he had been home. He decided to get out of bed and take a pinch of Pregnenolone, and within an hour he had felt completely well again.
“In about an hour, all of my symptoms had stopped, and for over a week I was healthy and energetic.”
“But then I got sick again, and was so distracted by the pain that it was several days before I remembered the pregnenolone. Another pinch had the same dramatic sudden effect. Since then I have taken some almost every day.”
Before & After of Ray Peat and Pregnenolone Usage, From His Book Generative Energy
“If Pregnenolone synthesis is insufficient, supplementary Pregnenolone would help to maintain an optimal level of the various other steroids.”
“Aging, stress, depression, hypothyroidism, and exposure to toxins are conditions in which synthesis of Pregnenolone might be inadequate.”
A study in 1944 on factory workers found that Pregnenolone supplementation increased their work output.
Ray Peat says that healthy young people who are not under stress do not feel anything from taking a very large dose (e.g. one gram), and no changes in several parameters such as blood glucose were found.
He continues that topical applications of progesterone and Pregnenolone have been shown to make skin appear more youthful and reduce wrinkles.
Progesterone and Pregnenolone have been found to improve blood circulation, and he notes he has seen grey-skinned people turn bright pink and start smiling after taking Pregnenolone.
Ray Peat noted that “After using Pregnenolone for several years, I noticed the slack skin and other signs of aging were coming back.”. He increased the dosage of pregnenolone, and increased his own pregnenolone synthesis, such as by using/consuming more coconut oil and exposing himself to more incandescent light.
Because the regulation and synthesis of testosterone and estrogen are tightly regulated, Ray Peat says that an excess of any of them is unlikely with supplemental Pregnenolone.
Doses of Pregnenolone range from a few milligrams to a hundred, but some studies have used single doses as high as 300 and 700 milligrams, where the Pregnenolone was found to slowly be absorbed over the next week or longer, and recycled.
Pregnenolone is often taken before bed, in part due to it’s sedating and anti-cortisol effects.
I recommend starting with ~5mg, in the morning to gauge reaction, and working up to to as much as 50mg a day. As noted, Pregnenolone is continued to be absorbed and recycled over days at higher doses, but I think 50mg a day is likely the highest dose without diminishing returns.
Pregnenolone has countless benefits, as outlined here, but supplementation, especially in menstruating women, should be discussed with your doctor first. Supplementing hormones can alter and cause disarray in the menstrual cycle.
Doses of Pregnenolone should start small, as little as ~5mg per day, preferably in the morning to gauge reaction.
As discussed, the anti-cortisol effect of Pregnenolone can cause a spike in adrenaline, instituting anxiety, insomnia, and panic attack, at least in higher doses.
Pregnenolone can also cause an excess of either Estrogen or Testosterone, so one should always pay attention to themselves, noticing any decreases in libido or other symptoms of hormonal excesses or imbalances.
Increasing Natural Pregnenolone Production
Our natural production of Pregnenolone can be enhanced drastically, with simple changes to diet and lifestyle.
- Consuming More Fructose/Glucose (fruit, honey, orange juice, ice cream, etc.)
- Vitamin A (liver, organ meats, eggs)
- Improving Thyroid & Metabolism
- Consuming More Protein
- Stress-Reduction & Healing Pregnenolone-Steal
- Increasing Dopamine
- Raw Egg Yolks To Supply Raw Cholesterol For Steroid Synthesis
- B Vitamins (supplemental, liver, eggs, nutritional yeast)
- Supplementing With Pregnenolone
- Correcting Estrogen Dominance