The pregnenolone steal is a name given to the hormone production deficit of certain hormones when the stress hormones, cortisol and cortisone, are over-produced.
The majority of our hormones start with cholesterol as the raw material, which converts into pregnenolone as the first step. It then goes on to produce many hormones, including the estrogens, testosterone, progesterone, aldosterone, and the stress hormones.
If the body demands more cortisol because of stress, the body will convert more of the pregnenolone to cortisol at the expense of the other hormones (except progesterone, which is on the pathway to cortisol). The lowering of the testosterone and estrogen levels is called pregnenolone steal.
The stress doesnâ€™t necessarily have to be psychological in nature either. In fact, physiological stress is more likely the culprit though you may not even know it. A lot of people will downplay the amount of mental and emotional stress theyâ€™re under although itâ€™s more commonly recognizable.
However, stress on the inside (physiological stress) due to digestive system imbalances, insulin imbalances, a poor diet, lack of sleep, and all types of inflammation are typically completely hidden to the human eye.
Sure you may not feel all that great, have low energy, suffer from a lack of libido, and know something is â€śoff,â€ť but youâ€™ll probably be in the dark with whatâ€™s happening. People are quick to pick up on the fact that their diets are poor, theyâ€™re not exercising enough, sleeping enough, etc. But what they donâ€™t know is what itâ€™s doing on the inside.
Pregenenolone steal is a perfect example of this. You donâ€™t see it on the outside although it will manifest itself into very real effects on the body.
The first step towards dealing with pregenenolone steal is to start with the factors you have the most control of.
Diet and nutrition
Clean up your diet immediately and start a nutrition routine of mostly whole, natural foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and healthy omega-3 fats.
You need to start looking at the food and drink you consume as having the potential to heal or do further harm. Greens, fruits, and vegetables have any amazing ability to heal the human body at the cellular level. Donâ€™t overlook this critically important component.
You must rejuvenate and heal the weakened glands and organs like the adrenals, livers, and thyroid. Remember medications and pills donâ€™t necessarily â€śheal.â€ť They may treat the problem and be part of the overall solution, but they donâ€™t have the ability to create new cells and rebuild tissue.
Start an exercise routine that includes resistance training, aerobic exercise, and something for stretching/flexibility. The key thing with exercise is balance. You canâ€™t just do hours of cardio for example and expect to see positive results. Likewise, donâ€™t kid yourself into believing you can just do Yoga or Pilates without extra cardiovascular work.
Far more often than not, when pregnenolone steal occurs in people who are already exercising itâ€™s either because theyâ€™re doing too much (over-training which drives up cortisol production), or because theyâ€™re neglecting resistance work on the muscles.
Sleep and recovery
If youâ€™re not getting adequate sleep for whatever reason sooner or later youâ€™re going to pay for it. Thereâ€™s no way around it. Fail to get adequate rest and recovery for even a couple nights in a row and your body views it as physiological stress driving cortisol levels up.
Do this on a repeated basis, night after night, and youâ€™ve opened up the door to insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue, and a host of other problems. This is not the time or place to get into a detailed discussion on sleep disturbances and solutions.
Just know youâ€™ve got to remedy any sleep problems or stress and inflammation will be a constant.
Obviously if you have prolonged mental or emotional stress (chronic stress) stemming from problems at work, problems at home, anxiety, fear, etc, itâ€™s going to take a toll on your body.
The longer youâ€™re in a state of chronic stress, the greater the likelihood of you developing adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and other health problems. Once again there are numerous ways to resolve mental and emotional stress, the key thing is that you simply find ones that work.
This is where it gets tricky. Youâ€™d think it would be no problem to go to a physician and get help with treating hormonal imbalances. Unfortunately, this isnâ€™t always the case. A lot of general physicians wonâ€™t touch hormonal issues.
Theyâ€™ll either tell you to do better with the above factors (obvious things you could have figured out), or say that everything is â€śnormal.â€ť Look, this is a hot topic that gets me fired up with the medical community.
Instead of going on a rant, Iâ€™ll just say thisâ€¦.If any doctor tells you that your blood tests all came back â€śnormalâ€ť but you donâ€™t feel â€śnormal,â€ť go find another doctor and donâ€™t stop searching until you find one that will take the time to treat you.
Here are two common treatments for pregnenolone steal. Once again go find a physician who knows his/her stuff on hormonal issues if you suspect youâ€™ve got adrenal, thyroid, or other hormonal imbalances. Iâ€™m not a doctor and therefore have to make the obligatory disclaimer that Iâ€™m not saying to go self-treat yourself with any medication.
#1. Add bio-identical cortisol (hydrocortisone) at low doses to supplement the adrenal gland so it does not have to work so hard to maintain high levels of cortisol, thus releasing the pregnenolone to make more of the estrogens and testosterone.
#2. Use bio-identical testosterone or estrogens to relieve the deficiency. Ultimately, the stressors must be better managed so the adrenal is not overworked, hopefully before it goes into adrenal exhaustion and stops working.
Shane Doll is a certified Charleston fitness trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. With a staff of over 10 certified fitness professionals, Shaping Concepts provides Charleston personal fitness programs with a specialty on weight loss and body transformation. You can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation to experience the difference for yourself.