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Last time I covered recommended tests to acquire before engaging in any testosterone-boosting protocol. As important as testosterone is, it is one of many hormones that need to be addressed for comprehensive hormone optimization. Here are the other important hormones to test.  

  • Pregnenolone 
  • DHEA 
  • Thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4) 
  • Insulin
  • Growth Hormone (IGF-1) 

Pregnenolone is a master control hormone manufactured by the adrenal gland and the brain. It’s the mother of all sex hormones and adrenal hormones. Generally, if you have low pregnenolone levels you will likely have depleted levels of DHEA and testosterone levels as well. Also, according to hormone optimization expert Dr. Mark Gordon if you’re on testosterone replacement therapy you need to replace DHEA and pregnenolone as testosterone replacement can down-regulate the production of the precursors. This is why many on TRT feel great for a few months then the benefits seem to dissipate. Avoid this mistake by replacing pregnenolone and DHEA as well. 

Pregnenolone is the most prolific hormone in the brain and is crucial for focus, memory, and brain health. Anti-aging expert Dr. Hertoghe states Pregnenolone’s concentration in the brain is seventy-five times higher than in the blood. If you have a difficult time focusing and find your memory is declining then you need to test your pregnenolone levels as soon as possible as it could be one if not the primary reason for your cognitive issues.

Next, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an adrenal hormone and the ultimate stress management hormone. It supports a healthy immune system, adrenal health, and insulin sensitivity, mitigates metabolic syndrome, improves bone health, and keeps excess stress hormones (cortisol) in check. 

DHEA and cortisol have an inverse relationship. When your cortisol levels are high DHEA levels are low. You may go through a period where you have high levels of both but eventually, you will crash and have depleted DHEA production and excess cortisol levels. To make matters worse the excess cortisol level can be heightened at night which in turn impedes sleep quality. You end up waking up tired, being tired all day, and then getting a burst of cortisol at night so you’re wired and can’t fall asleep. Many people in this situation will over-consume caffeine which makes matters worse as caffeine increases cortisol.

Elite strength coach Charles Poliquin states an optimal DHEA level is an important measurement of being anabolic. DHEA is testosterone’s big brother and protects it from the ravages of excess cortisol. When DHEA levels are optimal you’re more likely to have ideal levels of testosterone. When DHEA levels are low, excess cortisol will cause testosterone levels to plummet.

Thyroid hormones are crucial for energy and not just energy for fat loss but overall energy for the production of hormones. If you have low thyroid levels you will most certainly have depleted levels of important sex hormones. Thyroid hormones boost metabolic rate, increases blood circulation which delivers nutrients, oxygen, water, and hormones to cells all over the body. These hormones help keep the body warm and muscles and joints healthy and pain-free. 

These crucial hormones are made by the thyroid at the base of the neck. Production is 90% T4 Thyroxine and only 10% active T3 triiodothyronine. The pituitary gland in the brain starts the process by releasing TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Some T4 is then converted into the more bioactive T3 (3-5 times as active). T3 helps every cell in the body produce the energy molecule ATP. Ideal thyroid hormone levels are crucial for the brain, heart, kidneys, digestive and strong immunity. They also assist in eliminating cholesterol which helps open up the arteries and improves blood pressure. 

The master control hormone Insulin is the most anabolic hormone and is absolutely essential for life and thriving. If you don’t have adequate insulin levels and receptor uptake your cells die. This is why type 1 diabetics have to take insulin injections. Insulin is what drives glucose and amino acids into the liver, muscles, and cells. This process is hampered when insulin resistance occurs. Insulin resistance is a condition in which insulin becomes less effective at driving nutrients into the liver, muscles, and cells. The Insulin receptors are worn out and no longer sensitive to the effects of insulin. As a result, a large insulin response occurs in order to force insulin uptake by the worn-out receptors. This is problematic as high levels of insulin increase inflammation, which increases the likelihood of heart disease and a variety of serious health issues. High levels of inflammation also contribute to testosterone converting to estrogen. Insulin resistance has a negative impact on testosterone levels as high glucose levels reduce testosterone production. Insulin and testosterone

Another negative of insulin resistance is its contribution to hair loss. According to Dr. Thierry Hertoghe, insulin resistance leads to hair loss in both men and women (front and sides) and increases blood pressure, night sweats, irritability, and hot flashes in women. High insulin response to a meal will also drive down blood sugar and make you hungry soon after. When insulin is high you are no longer in a fat-burning state. In addition, insulin has an inverse relationship with growth hormone. When insulin is high, growth hormone is low. Insulin resistance can also be the root cause of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). 

Growth hormone is a protein-based (191 amino acids) polypeptide hormone produced in the pineal gland in the brain and crucial for repair. It induces cellular growth, reproduction, and regeneration According to Dr. Mark Gordon, healthy aging can’t be achieved with a GH deficiency. Growth hormone is also paramount for repair and restoration. Hormone optimization expert Dr. Nick Delgado states, 90% of GH’s properties are for restoration and repair and only 10% growth. Dr. Hertoghe states GH makes people more assertive, strong-minded, decisive, and calm. This all-important hormone makes you more resilient and able to handle stress more effectively.  Growth hormone levels decline by 50% from age 20-60 and then the loss ramps up even more so as we age. Most deficiencies occur from age 40 onwards. 

To determine GH production insufficiency and to qualify for GH therapy most doctors will have you do a glucagon pituitary stimulation test. IGF-1 levels are also measured as they are more stable than GH in the blood. It is also important to have binding proteins measured. Binding protein 1-6 (1 protects against heart disease, 3 is a major anti-cancer product) Quercetin can raise the binding proteins at a dosage of 250mg to 500mg per day. Dr. Mark Gordon: The half-life of GH is only 20 minutes. IGF-binding protein 3 has a 24-hour half-life. If IGF binding protein 3 is high over 5000 you are making adequate GH even if IGF-1 is low.

Reference Ranges 


52-328 ng/dl, Optimal range 250-300ng/dl 


Men 38 to 350ng/dl, median 194 ng/dl*

Females: 250 to 500ng/dl, median level 205ng/dl*


According to Life Extension Magazine:  For women, an ideal DHEA-S level is 275 to 400 mg/dL, and in men, 350 to 500 mg/dL.


 2.0 to 19.6 uiu/ml (ideal is 2-5 and below) and a glucose of 85 mg/dl

TSH Thyroid stimulating hormone 

Men 0.27 to 4.2 miu/ml

Women 0.27 to 4.2 miu/ml 2.235miu/ml 


Men 0.9 to 1.7 ng/dl 1.3ng/dl ideal 

Women 0.9 to 1.7 ng/dl 1.3ng/dl ideal


Men 1.8 to 4.6pg/dl, ideal 3.2pg/ml 

Women 1.8 to 4.6pg/dl, ideal 3.2pg/ml

*Dr. Mark Gordon’s Traumatic Brain Injury: A Clinical Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment


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