What is Pregnenolone?
Pregnenolone and its sulfate (pregnenolone sulfate) are excitatory neurosteroids – they stimulate the brain .
It increases the level of other neurosteroids, such as pregnenolone sulfate and allopregnanolone. Allopregnanolone is another molecule that increases the growth of neurons and decreases cell death and inflammation .
Pregnenolone is popular for its cognition-boosting antidepressant effects, but it lacks large clinical trials for various conditions. This is where self-hacking comes in – testing out if pregnenolone works for you.
- Great for cognitive enhancement
- Is relaxing and stimulating at the same time
- Increases motivation
- Increases wakefulness
- Boosts hormones
- Good for libido and longevity
- May increase anxiety in some users
- Can cause sleep issues
Measuring Blood Levels
You can take a blood test to measure pregnenolone levels. High or low pregnenolone can indicate that certain processes in the body aren’t optimal.
- Pregnenolone Sulfate
1) Is a Nootropic and Boosts Cognitive Function
Pregnenolone increases the growth of neurons .
Pregnenolone sulfate enhanced the survival of newborn neurons in adult mice .
Pregnenolone also improves neurological recovery .
Low blood levels of pregnenolone are found in the elderly, including those with dementia .
Pregnenolone sulfate decreases the activity of GABAA receptors, kainate, and AMPA receptors, and increases the activity of NMDA receptors .
This might be why pregnenolone increases anxiety in some.
By regulating microtubules, pregnenolone may increase neuronal development and plasticity of neurons during aging .
Pregnenolone boosts cognitive function for me and is one of my favorite nootropics. It goes well with infrared therapy/LLLT.
2) Improves Learning and Memory
In animal studies, pregnenolone and pregnenolone sulfate:
- Enhanced learning and memory [19, 17, 20]
- Resulted in better performance in various mazes 
- Blocked chemical-induced amnesia [13, 19]
- Prevented drug-induced cognitive decline .
Pregnenolone boosts learning and memory for me.
3) Stimulates Deep Sleep
Pregnenolone and its derivative allopregnanolone stimulated deep sleep in animal studies .
Low concentration of pregnenolone sulfate increased the amount of REM sleep, while high concentrations increased both REM and slow-wave (deep) sleep .
Pregnenolone boosted deep sleep in human volunteers .
Deep sleep, in turn, helps consolidate memories.
Pregnenolone is more likely to worsen your sleep than benefit it. I have found pregnenolone (at 50 mg) delays sleep onset and results in less sleep for me. Other people also report insomnia from these doses.
4) Relieves Schizophrenia Symptoms
Pregnenolone improved attention, verbal, and working memory performance in schizophrenic patients. Low-dose pregnenolone together with antipsychotics reduced drug side effects in schizophrenic patients [11, 6, 11].
Elevations in pregnenolone and allopregnanolone after pregnenolone treatment in schizophrenia correlated with cognitive improvements .
Treatment with pregnenolone sulfate reduced schizophrenia-like symptoms and rescued cognitive deficits in mice .
5) Boosts Mood and Relieves Depression
Decreased pregnenolone and allopregnanolone levels have been linked to depression .
Blocking allopregnanolone impaired social and emotional functioning .
- Bipolar disorder disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- History of substance abuse/dependence
Pregnenolone combats depression by boosting neural growth in the brain .
Pregnenolone boosts mood and motivation quite a bit. In fact, it increases mood and motivation more than anything else I’ve tried.
6) Combats Anxiety
Patients with anxiety disorder have significantly lower levels of pregnenolone sulfate .
Allopregnanolone (measured after taking pregnenolone) reduces self-reported anxiety .
Pregnenolone reduces irritability in adults with autism spectrum disorder .
Pregnenolone does have anti-anxiety effects, but I’ve had some clients tell me it increases their anxiety. For me, it makes me more emotional and more passionate. This includes good and bad emotions. For example, a breakup would feel worse if I’m taking pregnenolone, but you are more likely to fall in love, in my experience.
7) Balances the Immune System
Synthetic pregnenolone derivatives act as antiviral agents against the herpes simplex virus .
Pregnenolone suppresses immune cells to restore immune balance (homeostasis) .
8) Reduces Alcohol Preference and Intake
9) Kills Brain Cancer Cells
Pregnenolone induced glioma cell death in a cell-based study .
10) Protects from Cannabis Intoxication
Pregnenolone protects the brain from cannabis intoxication .
11) Other Benefits
Pregnenolone has anti-arthritic, anti-aging, and anti-fatigue properties. It also lowers cholesterol .
Pregnenolone and Weight Loss
Pregnenolone can be used by the body to make testosterone and other steroid hormones. Testosterone helps maintain and build muscle mass and boosts metabolism. This may help with weight loss, especially in testosterone-deficient men [39, 40, 41].
Pregnenolone Side Effects
Studies conducted in the 1940s and 1950s showed that pregnenolone (25 to 500 mg/day) was safe and well-tolerated in humans, with minimal side effects. It did not affect weight, heart rate, blood pressure, menstrual cycle, or glucose levels .
1) May Impair Memory
Allopregnanolone impaired learning in rats .
2) May Reduce Wakefulness
Pregnenolone sulfate promotes sleep and can impair wakefulness .
3) May Cause Anxiety
I haven’t seen this in studies, but in some clients, pregnenolone can increase anxiety, even though it also has anti-anxiety actions.
I’ve been taking pregnenolone for 3-4 years, on and off, and I really love it. However, it can take some time to figure out the right dosage. Pregnenolone doesn’t work for a lot of my clients. The most common issues with pregnenolone are anxiety and sleep issues.
For me, it will cause sleep issues if I take too much or don’t exercise enough. Exercise makes pregnenolone convert to other hormones to produce cortisol. If I exercise later in the day with pregnenolone, it makes me more wired than usual (perhaps I have a larger cortisol spike).
While I was having chronic inflammation, I was deficient in pregnenolone. I’m not deficient now, but I use up more of it given my heavy workload.
Pregnenolone is quite safe. Generally, if you do get a side effect from pregnenolone, you can stop taking it and it will go away. I’ve never heard of permanent negative effects.
Pregnenolone Dosage & Supplements
I recommend starting out with 5 mg if you’re healthy and make sure to pay attention to your sleep.
If you have schizophrenia or chronic inflammation, you will want to take 25 mg a day (if your doctor thinks it’s a good idea).
Goes Well With
Pregnenolone goes well with aromatase inhibitors so that it doesn’t convert to estradiol.
My favorite aromatase inhibitors include:
Inhibiting cortisol production may also help.
When to Take
I recommend taking it right upon awakening and exercising in the morning, and on an empty stomach – so it gets absorbed more quickly.
Factors That Increase Pregnenolone
- Lithium increased blood levels of allopregnanolone and pregnenolone in mice .
- THC, the main active component of marijuana, substantially increased the production of pregnenolone 
- Stress 
- SSRIs and antipsychotic drugs used for treating depression and bipolar disorder: Clozapine, olanzapine, and fluoxetine (Prozac) elevated pregnenolone levels in the brain and blood of rats 
Want More Targeted Ways to Enhance Brain Function?
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Pregnenolone is a brain-stimulating steroid people use to boost sleep quality, mood, and cognition. It acts as a nootropic by protecting brain cells, stimulating their growth, and increasing the neurotransmitters GABA and acetylcholine.
Solid science suggests pregnenolone may help with sleep issues, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. However, its benefits for weight loss, immunity, and substance dependence are not backed up by strong evidence.
Pregnenolone was safe and well-tolerated in clinical trials, but some users complain about anxiety and impaired sleep. To get optimal results, you may want to start with 5 mg in the morning and make sure to exercise regularly while you’re taking it.