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Yoga Practice Raises Levels of DHEA in Women

by Beth Heller

If you are trying to conceive here’s one more reason to take off your shoes, put on some comfy pants and hop on your yoga mat! A recent study conducted in India found a 50% increase in the DHEAS levels in women who participated in a 12-week yoga program that included breathing, yoga postures and meditation practices. (1)

DHEAS (dihydroepiandosterone sulfate) is the precursor of the active form of the steroid hormone DHEA and is produced by our body’s adrenal glands. DHEAS levels peak around the age of 25 and then decrease naturally with age. Because DHEAS plays an important role in the formation of reproductive hormones, declining levels of this hormone are believed to play a role in the age-related decline in fertility.

In fact, many fertility specialists currently recommend that patients who are presenting with ovarian failure or who are not responding to fertility medications consider taking a nutritional supplement containing DHEA. While supplementation is a useful approach, many women report side effects from DHEA supplementation including mood swings and acne.

How is yoga impacting DHEAS levels? Researchers are not yet sure. Yoga, through breathing and the use of physical postures, stimulates the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is the “rest, nest and digest” hormonal response that serves to balance the often over-active flight or flight stress response. Yogic exercise has also been shown to increase blood flow to internal organs and tissues. Better blood flow could result in healthier endocrine tissue and function.

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(1) Chatterjee S et al. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2014, Article ID 240581, 15 pages