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Pregnenolone is a hormone with its own actions, as well as being a mother hormone for sex and adrenal hormones. It is available over the counter although caution is advised with regard to hormone use. This hormone's level can be determined in the laboratory but it is an uncommon test. Many naturopaths will test for it and other hormones with a urine sample.
Estrogen-deficient women often are low in pregnenolone, an essential hormone (derived from cholesterol) which is a precursor to progesterone. Pregnenolone may be a significant contributing factor in depression. Pregnenolone is abundant in the brain where it improves the transmission of nerve impulses and facilitates communication between brain cells. In a sense, people who are depressed may have poor communication, neuronally speaking, between the different parts of their brain because they are deficient in pregnenolone. This hormone appears to have a great calming effect because it activates receptor sites in brain cells for GABA (itself a calming agent), enabling more GABA to be absorbed by the cells.
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Cholesterol: A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues, it facilitates the transport and absorption of fatty acids. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
GABA: The amino-acid derivative GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a calming substance. Tranquilizers like Valium and Librium owe their soothing effects to the fact that they stimulate GABA receptors in the brain.
Hormones: Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.
Naturopathy: Medical practice using herbs and other various methods to produce a healthy body state by stimulating innate defenses without the use of drugs.
Over-The-Counter: A drug or medication that can legally be bought without a doctor's prescription being required.