A Dangerous Nootropic?
This article is more of a Public Service Announcement as it's come to our attention that the potentially harmful steroid DHEA is being used in heavily marketed nootropic brain supplements. DHEA tops the list of blacklisted nootropics and shouldn't be ingested without understanding the consequences.
The marketing around nootropics used to be mainly about increasing “focus, memory, & clarity”, but some brands are making all kinds of metaphysical, pseudoscientific, and outright nonsensical claims about their products.
You may have seen nootropic ads popping up on social media by marketing savvy brands promising that these smart pills will elevate your human potential and increase your capacity to create change in the world.
First of all, know this:
The supplement industry IS NOT regulated by the FDA, and any dark-hooded pill pusher can slap a label on a black bottle and sell you a product that may not even contain what the label states or that contains harmful ingredients.
Neurohacker? Or Dangerous Pill Pusher?
Devious nootropic marketeers create entire brands to lure in a specific audience. These brands' images are carefully curated to appear as if they're going against the status quo or have progressive ideals that cater to modern consumers. But if you follow the seed funding and money trail of some brands and look at the people involved you'll see where the motivation lies.
Millennials and the “new age” Burning Man crowd are being heavily targeted with dark and edgy ads that prey on people's interest in humanity's consciousness evolution.
An example of the kind of imagery nootropics brands use to entice “conscious” consumers.
Yes, the father of nootropics, Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, had such aspirations for using nootropic compounds to accelerate humanity's cognitive potential, but we still have a long way to go.
Sadly, while many consumers assume the worst thing that could happen is that they buy a product that's actually “snake oil”, there's a bigger issue to be concerned about.
Since supplements are an unregulated industry, buying a dangerous product closer to “snake venom” is a possibility. Some compounds like DHEA can have disastrous consequences for your health.
Aside from the outrageous claims these “cool” brands are making about their seemingly magic pills, some nootropics brands are playing a dangerous game with the health of the American public by putting any and every ingredient into their supplements that are supposedly linked to cognitive benefits, including ingredients that are illegal in some countries.
One such ingredient some nootropic brands are risking the health of American consumers with is DHEA.
Why is DHEA a Cause for Concern?
DHEA (also called dehydroepiandrosterone or androstenolone) may be the most dangerous “nootropic”, a potentially harmful compound when used carelessly. It can be argued that DHEA shouldn't even be considered a nootropic at all.
When Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea coined the term nootropic to classify brain boosting compounds, one of his key tenants was that a nootropic must possess few or no side-effects. So even if DHEA does have a few cognitive enhancing properties, the many bad side effects of DHEA greatly outweigh the good.
DHEA is linked to many potentially serious side-effects and SHOULD NOT be taken unless advised by a doctor or physician.
Supplement Safety is the most important consideration when health is involved, and using a potentially dangerous compound can have disastrous consequences to your health.
We're not talking about something like the jitters that some people get from taking caffeine. No, we're talking about potentially grave health issues that may lead to sickness and death.
We also need to send an important warning to all professional sports athletes.
WARNING: Pro Athletes Shouldn't Take DHEA
Before you take DHEA, you should know that DHEA is a steroid hormone. Also, DHEA is prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Code of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the organization that conducts drug testing for the Olympics and other professional sports.
DHEA is technically legal for supplement sale in the US (you can thank the lobbyists), but in Canada and the UK the steroid DHEA is a controlled drug.
If NBA, NFL, and Olympic athletes can be banned for using DHEA, you should probably think twice before putting it in your body.
DHEA's Hazardous Health Effects
So what does this all mean. DHEA actually exists in the human body, so why is it so bad as a supplement? And what harm can it do?
Adding DHEA to your dietary regimen as a nootropic supplement may sound harmless since some trendy nootropics brands are sneaking it into their potentially toxic concoctions.
Many novice nootropics buyers may even conveniently mistake the steroid “DHEA” for “DHA”, an omega-3 fatty acid that is greatly beneficial as a nootropic brain supplement. But make no mistake...
DHEA is a steroid hormone that increases estrogen and may create or worsen health problems for men and women.
In men the elevation in estrogen from prolonged DHEA exposure may result in an increase of abdominal fat – a.k.a. belly flab – and male breasts (gynecomastia).
DHEA → hormone imbalance → belly flab & man boobs
This may be your body on DHEA
In women the fluctuation of hormones when taking DHEA may result in body and facial hair growth. Women who take DHEA for assumed nootropic benefits may not appreciate these surprise side-effects.
DHEA can cause body & facial hair growth
If your hormone levels are normal this compound can have terrible consequences. Other DHEA side-effects may include acne, scalp hair loss, tumor formation, heart arrhythmia, and insomnia.
Read that last sentence again. That's pretty scary, right?
Watch Out for Acne when taking DHEA
Men, beware of accelerating baldness when taking DHEA
And that's not even the worst of it.
In countries like Canada and the UK, DHEA can only be prescribed by a doctor and is typically prescribed when a patient's hormones are so far out of balance that DHEA may be required to help return hormones to within normal levels.
Messing with your body's hormones typically isn't a good idea, and the consequences for popping smart pills containing DHEA can be disastrous.
WARNING: DHEA & CANCER
If you have been diagnosed with hormone-dependent cancer, you absolutely SHOULD NOT take DHEA.
Some researchers believe DHEA supplements might actually raise the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
DHEA may stimulate tumor growth in types of cancer that are sensitive to hormones, such as some types of breast, uterine, and prostate cancer. DHEA may increase prostate swelling. Women with fibroids should definitely talk to their gynecologist before taking DHEA.
If you have any history of cancer in your family, you definitely want to avoid any supplement containing DHEA.
And that's not all. DHEA may interfere with other medicines, and DHEA can react with other drugs and herbs.
DHEA is potentially unsafe during pregnancy or while breast-feeding. New mothers or mothers-to-be should avoid DHEA.
Expecting mothers or mothers-to-be shouldn't risk their baby's health with DHEA.
If you have liver problems, diabetes, polycystic overian syndrome, or cholesterol issues, DO NOT take any supplements containing DHEA unless you consult a qualified doctor or physician.
DHEA steroids should be avoided if you suffer from depression or mood disorders as DHEA may cause irritability and aggressive behavior. That's right...
DHEA Induced “Roid Rage”? It happens.
Reading about DHEA is similar to those scary pharmaceutical commercials with those long lists of horrifying side-effects. That's to be expected from big pharma, but a true nootropic supplement shouldn't be dangerous like DHEA.
So Why Would Anyone Take DHEA?
DHEA is on the long list of nootropic brain supplements that have some links to cognitive function. After all, DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, brain, and testes (in men), so some novice neurohackers might mistake DHEA as just another “cool” nootropic to try out.
DHEA contributes to brain cognition, memory, energy levels, and motivation. However, this doesn't mean people should start ingesting this steroid hormone without considering the negative consequences.
DHEA should only be considered for possible safe supplement use in cases where your hormones are out of balance due to a DHEA deficiency, and a doctor recommends taking it. That's why you should see a specialist to get your DHEA levels tested before even think about putting this steroid in your body. If you do use DHEA, it should only be under the supervision of a qualified care provider.
If you do choose to take DHEA steroids for nootropic benefits, DO NOT use DHEA for an extended duration. Be cautious and avoid taking any DHEA containing nootropic supplements for more than a month at a time.
Avoid DHEA Pushers
Some so-called "nootropics" are not what they seem.
The point of this information piece isn't to scare anyone away from DHEA. As qualified doctors and physicians know, DHEA may help balance certain hormone disorders.
But to any brave neurohackers who are considering taking nootropic brain supplements, be very careful to thoroughly investigate any supplement to see if it contains DHEA.
Any company selling a pre-made nootropic stack containing DHEA should state all of these risks very clearly in their product disclaimers. If you're considering buying a nootropic supplement that contains DHEA, take a few moments to read the product's reference material.
Nootropics brands will most likely provide clear DHEA warnings if it's in their products, and more importantly...
Ethical nootropics brands don't put DHEA in their supplements due to the potentially serious health risks posed by using DHEA steroids.
Nootropics brands will also explicitly warn against taking DHEA without recommendation from a doctor and clearly inform you about the risks mentioned in this article.
If you see a product that contains DHEA and says it's suitable for monthly or long-term use, this is a glaring red flag. Such products and brands should be avoided at all costs when buying nootropics.
Trustworthy companies will also advise against taking DHEA for more than a month at a time and advocate for only temporary use if at all. This means you should never see DHEA appear in a supplement that is recommended for monthly or long-term use. Again...
Ethical nootropics brands won't put DHEA in their supplements.
Fortunately, reputable nootropics brands like Nootrobox and Excelerol don't put DHEA steroids in their supplements.
If you see a nootropics brand offering DHEA and pushing a subscription to their product, watch out! DHEA shouldn't be taken as a long-term nootropic supplement and definitely not for longer than a month at a time if at all. This is a big red flag about the practices and ethics of such a company. It should be no surprise why a nootropics brand would carelessly include DHEA in their supplements...
Nootropics brands that put DHEA in their supplements probably don't care about your health.
The nootropic market is very competitive, and shady suppliers are creating bogus supplements that contain nearly every ingredient in the book. It's easy to see why. Their thinking is that if you take a bit of everything, at least some of the ingredients in their smart pills are bound to have an effect. This is a textbook scam approach and shows their lack of expertise and basic knowledge when it comes to nootropic stacking.
There's no problem with using several nootropics. After all, the whole idea of nootropic stacking is to maximize nootropics' cognitive benefits by combining various nootropics that work well together.
Brands that include DHEA without thoroughly stating the concerns surrounding this controversial steroid hormone are most likely not the kind of company you should be trusting with your health.
What To Do If You See DHEA in Your Nootropics
First off, remain calm. Discontinue use of the product(s) immediately. Then consult a doctor to have your hormone levels checked as soon as possible.
A qualified hormone specialist will be able to assess if any potential harm has occurred from taking DHEA.
In most cases you're better off not taking DHEA. But don't overreact if you're a victim of taking DHEA unknowingly. Again, remain calm, but get your health checked at your earliest possible convenience.
If you see a nootropic brand pushing DHEA containing smart pills and not thoroughly stating the possible side-effects, be very alarmed. Hold these companies accountable. Ask questions. Confront them with your concerns. Inform others who may be using DHEA containing supplements. It's likely that nootropics users could easily misinform their friends by recommending nootropic supplements containing DHEA. Read the labels, and don't let this happen to you, your friends, or your family.
Suffered From Taking DHEA?
We'll be publishing a follow-up piece with first-hand reports from users who've suffered from using DHEA.
If you've taken DHEA containing nootropic supplements and have experienced negative side-effects, please tell us your story. We want to hear from you.
Reach out to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to Buy Real Nootropics?
Until the FDA steps in to protect consumers from the outrageous claims of unregulated dietary supplements, you need to be diligent and protect yourself when buying supplements.
Nootropics aren't magic pills that will give you the power to reshape the world to your liking. That power comes from within you.
But some nootropic products do show promise for helping you fortify your brain's health, improve memory recall, increase concentration and focus, and enhance clarity and calm.
We've already done much of the research for you and compiled a list of quality products at the link below.
Click the link to learn more about buying nootropics and see several quality nootropic supplements we recommend that do not contain harmful DHEA steroids.