By Scott J. Banks, Joe Kraynak, J. J. Virgin

Your body manufactures and uses hormones as part of its internal communication system to regulate all of your body’s biological processes, including those related to growth and development, digestion, heart rate, immune response, sexual function, reproduction, mood, and much more. Too much or too little of a hormone can result in major disturbances in these biological processes, leading to illness.

Too much of any given hormone may cause serious adverse side effects. Therefore, before beginning any hormone supplementation, get tested first and supplement your body’s production of hormones only if the tests show that you have a deficiency. Take hormones only under the careful supervision of a qualified medical practitioner. Your doctor can test and monitor your hormone levels to ensure that your levels are healthy.

Opt for hormone supplements in topical (applied to the skin) or sublingual (taken under the tongue) forms instead of capsules you swallow. Hormone supplements in capsule form are broken down in the liver and therefore require higher doses.

Natural Hormones
Hormone Used For Precautions and Potential Side Effects
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) Lupus, adrenal insufficiency, depression, osteoporosis,
obesity, erectile dysfunction, improved libido in women, aging,
HIV, menopause, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infertility,
schizophrenia, dementia
Test first and supplement only under medical supervision.
DHEA is the precursor to testosterone and estrogen. It may increase
the risk of hormone‐affected cancers (prostate, breast,
ovarian, uterine, and cervical); skin conditions, including acne;
hair loss; unwanted hair growth, such as facial hair on women;
increased sweating; weight gain; agitation, irritability, or mania;
abnormal heartbeat; bleeding or blood clotting; and other hormonal
side effects.
Melatonin Insomnia (especially in helping you fall asleep, not in staying
asleep), menopause, breast cancer, prostate cancer, attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, fibromyalgia
Note: Don’t take more than about 3 mg of
melatonin per night. Excessive amounts of melatonin may disrupt
your sleep or make you feel groggy in the morning.
Don’t take if you’re pregnant, planning to get
pregnant, are nursing, or have an autoimmune condition, such as
multiple sclerosis (MS).
Avoid driving or operating machinery for a few hours after taking
it; alcohol may magnify the sedative effect.
May cause headache, dizziness, stomach cramps, irritability,
decreased libido, vivid dreams or nightmares, and in men decreased
sperm count and breast enlargement.
Pregnenolone Fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, memory enhancement, immune
system support, psoriasis, scleroderma, menopause, premenstrual
syndrome (PMS), arthritis, depression, heart disease, allergic
reactions, lupus, MS, prostate problems, seizures
Take in low doses (5 to 10 mg daily), skipping a day or two
each week.
Don’t take if you’re pregnant, planning to get
pregnant, or nursing, or if you have prostate problems, heart
disease, or low HDL.
May cause acne, hair loss, facial hair in women, aggressiveness,
irritability, and increased levels of estrogen.
Progesterone Hot flashes, uterine bleeding, PMS, inducing menstrual periods,
hormone replacement therapy (HRT), osteoporosis, infertility
Don’t take if you’re pregnant, are breastfeeding,
or have arterial or liver disease. Consult a doctor if you’re
being treated for depression or breast cancer. If menstruating, use
during the second half of your cycle.