For instance, testosterone, the male
hormone, is only slightly different chemically from estrogen,
the female hormone. Yet that slight difference causes men to
grow facial hair and women to develop breasts.
people think of the word steroid as a synthetic substance
used by body builders and weight lifters to boost muscle
mass. These types of synthetic steroids are called anabolic
steroids and do influence muscle growth at the expense of
potentially serious side effects. Preg and DHEA are not
considered anabolic steroids since they have only a weak
How is Preg Made?
is a type of vegetable called a wild yam that is grown in
certain parts of the southern U.S. and in Mexico. This wild
yam contains a compound called Diosgenin that is the
precursor to steroid
hormones. In a laboratory, Diosgenin is converted into
Preg. Further metabolism can convert Preg into DHEA.
The human body does not have the ability (the
required enzymes) to convert Diosgenin into Preg. Therefore,
if you swallow pills that are extracts of wild yams
(Diosgenin), you will not get Preg or DHEA. The conversion
of Diosgenin to Preg has to be done in a laboratory. If you
want Preg or DHEA, the bottles you buy must say that they
contain actual Preg or DHEA, not extracts of wild yams.
Where and How is Preg Made in the Body?
Preg is made in many organs and tissues that
produce steroid hormones. The most common of these organs
are the adrenal glands, liver, skin, and gonads (testicles
and ovaries). Until 1981 scientists thought that steroids
found in the brain came from elsewhere in the body. We now
know that the brain has the capacity to use cholesterol to
make Preg and other steroids (Warner, 1995). Preg is even
made in the retina of our eyes (Guarneri, 1995).
There are enzymes in cells that convert cholesterol to Preg. Each
of the tissues and organs in our body have a different
activity of this enzyme and thus Preg is made in varying
amounts in different parts of our body.
The parts of
the cell where Preg is made are called mitochondria. These
are tiny little enclosures within cells that digest and
break down sugars, fats, and proteins. Mitochondria are the
chemical factories of a cell, and also are the places wher
e steroids are produced.
The amount of Preg made depend
s on how much cholesterol is brought to the mitochondria.
Cholesterol usually floats within the cell in tiny clumps.
When the body needs Preg and other steroids, it brings the
cholesterol to the mitochondria, which then break a few side
chains from the cholesterol to turn it into Preg (Stocco,
What other Hormones does Preg
The chemical name for Preg is
3-alpha-hydroxy-5-beta-pregnen-20-one. You see why it's
called Pregnenolone. Preg can be easily converted into
DHEA which in turn is converted into androgens, estrogens
and other steroids.
There is also another pathway that Preg can take. It
can be metabolized into progesterone which in turn can turn
into aldosterone or corti-sol. This is what makes Preg
different from DHEA. It has the ability to form other
hormones such as progesterone. DHEA has often been called
the "Mother hormone." I call Preg "The mother of DHEA, and
Grandmother of all steroid hormones."