DHT is commonly associated with pubertal changes and baldness in men. However, DHT has various health benefits and is possibly effective at improving various diseases.

What is DHT?

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a sex hormone created from testosterone in the body. It plays a major role in the development of characteristics that are typically associated with men (body hair, muscle growth, and a deep voice). DHT is critical to the development of the penis and prostate in men. DHT is a much more powerful hormone than testosterone and plays a major role in male-pattern baldness.

Men with an enzyme (5-AR) deficiency are unable to make DHT from testosterone and have reduced development and function of the prostate, penis, and testicles.

DHT created in the body activates androgen receptors (AR). Working AR receptors are needed for sexual differentiation during fetal development and changes in males during puberty. It is also necessary for maintaining a sex drive in men [1].

10 Beneficial Effects of DHT

1) Blood-Sugar Control

DHT was found to be a potential treatment for those with diabetes and hyperglycemia by controlling the pathway for sugar in the body [2].

DHT enhances the ability for the body to lower blood sugar levels and could possibly reduce type 2 diabetes in males as seen in a study of mice [3].

Application of DHEA to rats increased levels of DHT and was shown to provide benefits for insulin-sensitivity, weight, and body fat [4].

2) Memory

Men between the ages of 34 and 70 years showed improvements in memory when treated with DHT skin-patches [5].

3) Sexual Function

DHT can improve sexual ability in men regardless of factors like age and obesity [6].

DHT and testosterone are necessary to maintain a healthy sex drive in men [7].

It was also found that women with lifelong sexual abstinence were more likely to have low levels of free DHT in the blood [8].

DHT was found to be the main hormone to prevent erectile dysfunction in rats [9].

DHT helped boys born with reduced penile function [10].

4) Heart Health

Higher levels of DHT were associated with lower amounts of fat deposits in the hearts of men with coronary artery disease (CAD) [11].

Lower levels of DHT and testosterone resulted in an increased risk for cardiovascular complications for men undergoing testosterone-lowering treatment for prostate cancer [12].

Observational data was obtained that suggested there is an ideal range for DHT levels in the body with regard to protection against heart disease in elderly men [13].

Elderly men with higher levels of DHT were seen to have lower death rates from heart disease [14].

5) Cancer Risk

There is significant evidence that male hormones promote prostate cancer in experimental systems. However, there is no clear evidence that elevations in natural testosterone levels promote the development of prostate cancer in humans. Also, there are a growing number of studies demonstrating no increase in prostate cancer incidence among men on testosterone replacement [15].

In addition, men with lower levels of DHT were found to be more likely to get prostate cancer, have an advanced form of prostate cancer, and have a decreased survival rate for prostate cancer [16].

DHT was shown to restrain thyroid cell growth but not function, thus serving as a potential treatment for thyroid cancer [17].

6) Strength

DHT levels found inside the muscles of women were correlated with the women’s strength and power [18].

DHT appeared to increase muscle mass in rats whose ovaries had been removed [19].

7) Autoimmune Disease

Men are much less likely to get multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s, Graves’, Sjogren’s, and certain other autoimmune diseases. In multiple sclerosis, for example, women are 3X more likely to have the disease. In Graves’ and Hashimoto’s, women are 5-10X more likely to get the disease. In Sjogren’s, women can be up to 20X more likely to get it than men. This may be due, in part, to male hormones having a protective effect against autoimmune conditions [20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25].

In animal models, DHT was found to be useful in treating autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), prostatitis, Graves’ and uveitis by improving the balance of the immune system. Specifically, it can lower T helper cells (Th1) that are higher in autoimmune diseases [2627, 28, 2029, 30].

Here are some immune effects of sex hormones on the immune system [31]:

EstrogensAndrogens
Overall: enhanced immune responseOverall: diminished immune response
Enhanced antibody-mediated responses to exogenous antigensDecreased antibody production
Enhanced T-cell cytotoxicityDecreased T-cell proliferation
Increased cytokine and chemokine levels (including increased interferon-gamma production)Alteration of the cytokine profile of activated T-cells to decrease inflammation (including decreased interferon-gamma production)
Decreased IL-6 productionIncreased IL-6 and IL-10 production
Enhanced antigen presenting cell activationDecreased MHC class II antigen expression on antigen presenting cells
Stronger innate immune responses by promoting the differentiation of IFN-gamma-producing killer dendritic cells or by up-regulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase expression and nitric oxide productionReduced inducible nitric oxide synthase expression and nitric oxide production

8) Healthy Cognitive Function

Declining levels of DHT and other sex hormones in older men were found to be associated with declining cognitive function [32].

9) Anxiety & Depression

Testosterone’s anti-anxiety benefits were shown to be a result of the actions of DHT in the brain [33].

The drug finasteride which lowers DHT levels in the blood was shown to possibly induce symptoms of depression in patients [34].

10) Bone Growth

DHT was shown to be an important determinant in bone density and increased levels of DHT in the blood were associated with increased bone density in men [35].

Other

DHT was shown to relieve pain caused by diabetes in rats [36].

Side Effects of DHT

1) Causes Male Pattern Baldness

A study found that a group of men with male pattern baldness had higher levels of DHT [37].

Higher levels of DHT were found in blood samples obtained from men with premature baldness [38].

2) Acne

DHT may cause an increase in inflammatory acne [39].

3) Prostate & Breast Cancer

Males are more likely to get most cancers than females. Male hormones could have something to do with this gender divide [31].

DHT is critical for the normal development of the prostate, but it can also result in cancerous prostate growth [40].

DHT can still cause prostate cancer even if testosterone production is stopped via the removal of the testicles [41].

DHT enhanced the spread of prostate cancer cells [42].

In the treatment of breast cancer cells with DHT, it was found that DHT increased the number of cancer cells and decreased the death rate of breast cancer cells [43].

4) Depression In Women

Women being treated for major depression were found to have higher levels of DHT and other male sex hormones in their blood [44].

5) Male-like Hair Growth Pattern In Women

The application of finasteride, which inhibits DHT production, was shown to be effective in treating women suffering from male-like hair growth [45].

How To Increase DHT

  • Exercise (humans) [46]
  • Creatine – Creatine increased DHT levels in a study of college-aged rugby players [47]
  • Losing body fat (humans) [48]
  • Sprinting [49]
  • Green Tea (in mice) [50]
  • DHEA – DHEA raised levels of DHT in healthy, older women to levels higher than those found in young adults of either gender [51]
  • Viagra (humans) [52]
  • Caffeine (in rats) [53]
  • Dietary fat (humans) [54]
  • Zinc (with meals) – Oral administration of zinc displayed higher levels of DHT in men [55]
  • Tribulus (animal studies) [56]
  • Diosgenin (in rats) [57]
  • Tongkat Ali (in rats) [58]

How To Decrease DHT

Note: most of the studies cited here are done in animal or cellular models.

  1. 5AR Inhibitors – 5AR Inhibitors like Finasteride and Dutasteride prevent testosterone from converting into DHT in the body (humans) [59]
  2. Testosterone Treatments – Testosterone treatments lowered DHT levels in elderly men with below-average testosterone levels and high DHT levels [60]
  3. EGCG (humans) [61]
  4. Zinc and Azelaic Acid – A combination treatment of zinc and azelaic acid was shown to reduce the creation of DHT in the body and could potentially serve as a treatment for damage caused to the skin by DHT [6263]
  5. Black Tea (in mice) [50]
  6. Lowering Caloric Intake (humans) [64]
  7. Flaxseeds (humans) [65]
  8. Fenugreek (humans) [66]
  9. Soy + Green Tea (mice) [50]
  10. Curcumin (cell and animal studies) [6768]
  11. Red Ginseng (cell studies) [6970]
  12. Reishi (human and cells studies) [6171]
  13. Copper (humans) [72]
  14. Nettle Root (in rats) [73]
  15. PUFAs-especially GLA
  16. GLA – gamma-linolenic acid and myristoleic acid (in a hamster study) [68]
  17. Vitamin B2 (from diet) (cell study) [74]
  18. Saw Palmetto (human and animal studies) [75]
  19. Pumpkin Seed Oil (humans) [76]
  20. Amla (in mice) [77]

These are products that only inhibit the effects of DHT.

  1. Chyawanprash – Contains certain tannins and omega-6 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and protect hair [78]
  2. Berberine (with meals) [79]
  3. Fo-Ti [80]
  4. Black pepper – contains piperine, which has been shown to inhibit androgens like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone [81]
  5. Andrographis [82]

Resources

Genetics

rs7594951 is a SNP that influences the metabolism of DHT. AA = more prone to having higher blood levels of DHT [83].

Irregular DHT Levels?

LabTestAnalyzer helps you make sense of your lab results. It informs you which labs are not in the optimal range and gives you guidance about how to get them to optimal. It also allows you to track your labs over time. No need to do thousands of hours of research on what to make of your lab tests.

This post contains links from our sister companies, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer. The proceeds from your purchase of these products are reinvested into our research and development, in order to serve you better. Thank you for your support.

Click here to subscribe

RATE THIS ARTICLE

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(24 votes, average: 4.54 out of 5)
Loading...

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.