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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2021-08-24 (EDT)

See Also Food Supplements

Pregnenolone is a naturally occurring steroid found in the gonads, adrenal glands, and the brain. It is synthesized from cholesterol and is the precursor to many steroid hormones in the body such as aldosterone, cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Pregnenolone is also known to be synthesized in the brain and when supplemented, it has memory-enhancing activity including improving brain functioning and mental focus.[1].

Other names for pregnenolone include: 3-alpha-hydroxy-5-betapregnen-20-one, progesterone sulfate, PREG

Food Sources

Pregnenolone is naturally made from cholesterol. There are no food sources. Supplemental forms are synthesized.


  • The primary use for pregnenolone is to improve mental functioning: [1]
  • Mental Functioning, Focus and Memory Enhancement: There have been several animal studies which have shown a correlation between low levels of pregnenolone in the brain, especially in the hippocampus, and deficiencies in cognitive performance. Injection with pregnenolone sulfate (a metabolite of pregnenolone) showed an improvement in memory test performance. The evidence suggests that pregnenolone stimulates the release of acetylcholine in the hippocampus. Furthermore, it appears that "exogenous pregnenolone can reinforce neurotransmitter systems that normally decline with age" [1] Human research in this area is lacking but is warranted.
  • Potential uses for Pregnenolone include:

Prescribing Considerations

The recommended dosages have not yet been established. To determine what your specific requirements are talk to your naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional.

  • Adult: typical doses range from 5-50mg daily
  • Pregnenolone is available in capsule form.
  • Pregnenolone should be taken in the morning either before or with breakfast as it heightens awareness and alertness and could cause restless sleep if taken in the evening.


Pregnenolone is generally regarded as safe. Specific safety precautions include:

  • Side-effects are rare but may include mild gastrointestinal effects such as nausea.
  • may increase DHEA which in excess may cause acne and hair loss in women.
  • The long-term safety of using pregnenolone is unknown.
  • Children: Pregnenolone supplementation should be avoided in this population.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
  • Pregnenolone supplementation should be avoided in this population.
  • Contraindications
  • Prostate, breast, and uterine cancers
  • seizure disorders as pregnenolone may lower seizure threshold and has been shown to have antagonistic effects on the GABA receptor in the central nervous system.
  • Drug Interactions
  • Pregnenolone may inhibit drugs used in the treatment of depression and epilepsy and may also affect various hormone therapies because it is a natural precursor to hormones.
  • Pregnenolone may raise natural levels of sex hormones, so use caution if taking other medications that affect these hormones.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hendler Sheldon, Rorvik David (Editors) (2001) PDR for Nutritional Supplements, Medical Economics Company Inc.