Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation during stressful military training: A randomized, controlled, double-blind field study
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) are anabolic prehormones involved in the synthesis of testosterone. Both have been shown to exert neuroprotective effects during stress. In this randomized, controlled, doubleblind field study, we examined the effects of a 12-day DHEA regimen on stress indices in military men undergoing survival training. Forty-eight men were randomized to either a DHEA treatment group or placebo control group. The treatment group received 50 mg of oral
... d 50 mg of oral DHEA supplementation daily for 5 days during classroom training followed by 7 days of 75 mg during stressful field operations. Control subjects received identical placebo pills. Salivary assays (DHEA[S], testosterone, and cortisol) were conducted at four time points: distal pre-stress (T1), proximal pre-stress (T2), mock-captivity stress (T3), and 24 h recovery (T4). Subjective distress was also assessed at T1, T3, and T4. As expected, DHEA treatment resulted in higher salivary concentrations of DHEA and DHEAS during daily living, mock-captivity stress, and recovery. Similar patterns were observed for salivary markers of anabolic balance: DHEA/cortisol, DHEAS/cortisol, and testosterone/cortisol concentration ratios. Despite notable time effects, no group differences emerged for subjective distress. A brief, low dose DHEA regimen yielded large increases in salivary DHEA(S) concentrations and enhanced anabolic balance throughout sustained military stress. These physiological changes did not extrapolate to subjective distress.