This archived forum used to be called 'Peatarian' (in reference to Ray Peat).

Cause behind random black body hairs?

Occasionally, on either arm, or a random spot on my back, I get random, thick, black, long, kinky hairs, that just seem to grow straight out.

Is this normal? Does this give any insight into my hormonal profile? Elevated DHT etc?

The hair on my head is thinning significantly.

created Oct 29, 2013 by SeekSelfHumiliation

Interesting timing, as I was just looking at one of these hairs on my arm a day ago and wondering what causes it. I'll be interested to hear any theories about causes.

I'm also interested. Fwiw taking pregnenolone for a month or so, caused a lot of those to grow on my upper arms. Yuck

Glad to hear I'm not the only one. How's the hair on your head? Any MPB? And do you have a history of low carb or high PUFA dieting?

Well, I lost a lot of head hair when I was on preg. which I'm slowly getting back with lots of aspirin and some thyroid. I did low carb for 2 years before Peat but that ended 2 years ago so I dunno how relevant that might be.

That's interesting; I often hear people say that preg helps with hair. I too did low carb / zero sugar for 3 to 4 years beforehand. Feel like it's messed up my hormones completely. These weird black hairs are so ugly... Can't be normal.

I suspect it's either from high cortisol or estrogen.

Hmm.... this is so weird. I just started taking pregnenolone about 4 weeks ago, splitting a 100mg capsule into 7-8 doses at first and now down to 5 (so about 20mg) and I skip a day or two here and there. Just this week I started noticing what looked like more hair on my arms than I ever noticed before. I've always had fairly light arm hair, mostly just around my wrists, but there are definitely some new ones. I too have a bit thinning hair on top, but I shave lately so hard to tell what it's doing at the moment.

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Hair loss and kinky hair are both signs of unopposed androgens like DHT. The effects of DHT are kept in check by adequate progesterone (and a lack of inflammation), and I think it is this balance that seems to be affected.

Particularly in this community many of us are too sanguine about taking pregnenolone. Its effects in those with an insufficient metabolic rate are very similar to that of DHEA. And, just like DHEA it can paradoxically elevate estrogen following an increase in testosterone. Usually, what one is really after is raising progesterone besides the close metabolites of pregnenolone itself. But experience shows that the ratio of progesterone/estrogen is often adversely affected by taking anything more than a few milligrams of pregnenolone.

replied Oct 30, 2013 by marital_weeping

Interesting! Do you have any sources/references for further information? Im especially interested in the inflammation, DHT -> body hair part ...

The only link between DHT and inflammation I found:


Which could mean, that DHT upregulation is a defense mechanism (with all the negative consequences like hairloss).

And the opposite, lol:

Dihydrotestosterone Stimulates Cerebrovascular Inflammation through NFκB, Modulating Contractile Function

Yes, I see it as a defensive mechanism too. One possibility is that it is to limit the conversion of testosterone to estrogen since DHT cannot convert to estrogen.

The point about inflammation was more in terms of its connection with elevating estrogen which lowers the progesterone/estrogen ratio. I think Peat provides references in his articles and particularly the one about aspirin regarding inflammation elevating estrogen.

Actually, pregnenolone and DHEA do not really elevate estrogen in most cases. Just because increased amounts of a reactant are present during steroidgenesis, the product (in this estrogen) is not generated in larger amounts. The activity of the specific enzymes (in this case aromatase and 17beta-HSD / 3beta-HSD) is an important rate-limiting factor in steroidgenesis and has to be taken into account. Since in many cases the concentration of a product can downregulate the enzyme that converts its precursor, the levels of the product remains stable while the precursor accumulates.

You seem to be missing that my point is not one based on a simple increase of substrate - it's observational. DHEA, in excess, elevates estrogenic symptoms and so does pregnenolone from my experience. Progesterone seems to have none of these deleterious side effects even in excessive amounts.

Now, what would be interesting is if you can provide support against those who claim they developed gyno taking DHEA or pregnenolone, and for that matter, even excess thyroid.

I've experienced oily skin and a massive acne breakout from 10-15 drops of progest-e (which was an experimental amount). Why do you think is that? It was clearly an androgenic response ...

Perhaps, like thyroid, progesterone may have uncovered a lack of vitamin A. For one thing I experience a feeling of increased body temperature from progesterone alone that I equate with an increased metabolic rate.

There are some studies that tested the endocrine effects of supplemental DHEA in postmenopausal women. They indeed observed an increase in estrogen levels, but progesterone (and androgen) levels rose at the same time [1, 2] which nearly reflects the ratio of ovarian steroids seen in premenopausal women.

DHEA supplementation in elderly men is a bit weird, as DHEA levels definitely rise in conjuction with estrogens, while testosterone and DHT are completely unaffected [3]. This is somewhat strange, as the DHEA levels reached the levels of young men, so you would expect that testosterone and DHT rise to these levels as well. It seems like the problem is caused by the lack of a protective factor in old age - my guess is on thyroid, since it downregulates aromatase activity [4, 5].

DHEA supplementation in younger and middle-aged men however increased free testosterone levels while not affecting total testosterone (possibly caused by a decrease of SHBG rather than an increase of total testosterone) [6].

For pregnenolone, I honestly haven't found any study on the effects on steroid levels.

It seems to me that thyroid would be the most protective against possible negative effects of DHEA and pregnenolone. Especially gyno should respond well to thyroid, as it protects against estrogens and prolactin. [7, 8]


@marital_weeping I'm interested in why you say *"DHEA, in excess, elevates estrogenic symptoms and so does pregnenolone from my experience."*
What are your experiences with pregnenolone? I linked to some of the few studies I could find on pregnenolone and its relation to estrogen a while ago. Selye did say that it has estrogenic properties, but he was simply referring to the enlargement of the preputial glands in the female rat and cornification of the vaginal mucosa. He showed that pregnenolone seems to protect against side effects of excess estrogen.
I have problems with pregnenolone myself nowadays - it seems to cause anxiety, and not just a little bit. Maybe it is related to its sulphated form, which tends to do this.

Progesterone protects against a lack of vitamin A btw.

Dewitt - there is little data on pregnenolone's effect on hormone levels. But here's some from a recent schizo-trial ;

I'll add the source soon just need to go to the store first.

EDIT : source is

Wow, that's very interesting. If I interpret this right, pregnenolone mostly increased progesterone levels while the other steroids weren't really affected?

Other interesting tables in that study (it's a nice one, and free to read) :

On lipid levels, glucose & prolactin :
On side effects :

It tripled pregnenolone sulphate btw - and that one is usually associated to anxiety. However, if I remember correctly, pregnenolone should lower anxiety, very much unlike its sulphated form.

Also, important to realise is that serum levels are only serum levels. Local interactions aren't necessarily reflected by them. Eugene Roberts mentioned that in his review from the 90s [1]. I think he mentioned that because of the effects on rheumatism. Though usually researchers in the 50s believed that pregnenolone didn't act like cortisol or ACTH at all. Both these hormones cause hypercholesterolemia, while pregnenolone seems to be inert in that respect. It might even lower cholesterol a bit [2].
Eugene is in his 90s, and I've been trying to contact him for a while.

[1] Pregnenolone - from Selye to Alzheimer and a model of the pregnenolone sulfate binding site on the GABAA receptor. (Roberts E. ; Biochem Pharmacol. 1995 Jan 6;49(1):1-16)
[2] Symposium on Steroids in Experimental and Clinical Practice (The Blakiston Co., N.Y., 1951, editor A. White)
See also p. 172 : “The 2 substances are very unlike and the writer is not at all convinced that PREG acts by conversion to a steroid similar to cortisone.” (he wasn't the only one to say that in that book)

Another thing that strikes me as odd. Peat, like Pincus & Hoagland, believes that pregnenolone is non-toxic. But a recent study [1] said this :

"However, there have been anecdotal reports of high dose pregnenolone leading to over-stimulation, insomnia, irritability, anger and anxiety as well as to headaches, scalp hair loss, acne and, rarely, irregular cardiac rhythms (Sahelian, 2000). Also, animal studies suggest that chronic (but not acute) treatment with high doses of pregnenolone might have pro-convulsant effects (Reddy and Kulkarni, 1998)."

I haven't read the Reddy and Kulkarni study, nor do I have Sahelian's book. It's interesting nonetheless.

[1] Chronic pregnenolone effects in normal humans: attenuation of benzodiazepine-induced sedation. (Meieran SE, Reus VI, Webster R, Shafton R, Wolkowitz OM. ; Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2004 May;29(4):486-500)

EDIT : Dr. Sahelian's book mentions this :

“High doses can lead to androgenic side effects similar to those of DHEA, including acne and accelerated hair loss. Irritability, aggressiveness, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and menstrual irregularities are also frequently reported in doses greater than 10mg. Heart palpitations can occur in doses greater than 20 mg, or even at 5 mg in individuals prone to irregular rhythms. In order to reduce the risk for heart palpitations, make sure you have an adequate intake of fish oils and magnesium.” (p. 157)

@Bruno, thanks as usual for all the excellent references. My experience from pregnenolone at sane ~10mg doses was that it didn't do anything noticeable. However, as soon as I got to around 50mg, i noticed my nipples becoming itchy, feeling chilly, water retention -everything estrogenic you can think of. I stopped pregnenolone and the symptoms lessened. I even subsitituted it via transdermal delivery, but the effects were identical. More or less the same goes for DHEA, except that even tiny doses bring on the onset of estrogenic symptoms, preceded with a short transient stage of noticeable friskiness. An interesting thing is that in that short transient, the body does tone up visibly.

The caveat regarding the schizo study is that it doesn't tell you much since they only measure the serum levels of steroids, and the trial group is tiny. DHEA's effects in the literature, for instance, have been all over the place. It has been mentioned here before (edit: you do so yourself, i now notice) how different the levels of hormones can be in the serum and tissue. Not to sound like Peat, but I personally know someone who had estrogen levels that were nearly undetectable, but nevertheless had all the estrogenic symptoms in the book. That individual took some transdermal progsterone and, lo and behold, all the estrogenic symptoms went away in a day.

All this talk of thyroid 'protecting' against estrogen should be taken in a very qualified sense. There is nothing axiomatic about hormones, they have differential effects and the prevailing hormonal milieu determines their actual behaviour. Not, certainly, one size fits all.

Also, could you clarify whether the pregnenolone sold as supplements is the sulphated form?

@Bruno, carrying on, personally I am very enthusiastic about progesterone. I have been on it for two months now. So far, I haven't noticed anything negative from it, save perhaps that Progest-E in europe is rather expensive. Anxiety has vanished, all the pseudo-gyno reversed completely, no more water retention, deeper sleep etc. And above all, no diminishing of libido like Peat warns. I do however, take it in conjunction with two grains Armour thyroid. However, I am certain that the benefits accrued only after the addition of progesterone.

How much progest-e do you take? How do you take it? How old are you?

@nograde, I take 100mg of progesterone orally. I found doses in the range of a few drops of Progest-E don't make a difference either way. Late twenties.

Thank you. Any acne flareups (even mildly)?

Edit: and wow, that would be 30 drops of progest-e. That's a lot! The body produces 10-20mg per day normally. You are taking five times that amount.

No acne whatsoever, so far.

@nograde, consider that the absorption of progesterone is limited to about 20%. Based on what? Just my sense of it.

Well, I rubbed the 10-15 drops/day on my gums which according to peat greatly enhances absorption, maybe I was getting much more than you.

the oral absorption rate is only 20%?

@mosaic, i don't have references for it, it's all anecdotal. Also, I seem to take about 100mg to feel good.

@nograde, I have tried the same amount on my gums as well. I can't say it made a big difference. I also seem to think that taking it orally is complementary to taking it transdermally, although its difficult to articulate how exactly.

with 100 mg the vitamin E isn't such a big issue I think.

@mosaic, yeah good to know. On reflecting over it I got the sense that it didn't look like an awfully large amount of vitamin E to be taking. I have taken more vitamin E in the past without being critical of it.

Nevertheless, for the vitamin E concerns and to compensate for the inconvenience of ordering Progest-E online, I am trialing the utrogest capsules that i scored. They seem to work just as well.

the biggest problem with the progest-e is that we don't really know how much vitamin e is in there, or do you have a source? Utrogest is by prescription, right?

Yes, prescription only.

Excellent discussion. Regarding bioavailability of oral progesterone, it has been found to be around 10% in one study.

Peat says progest-e is 20 times more effectivily absorbed.

So I guess the bioavailability is 200%? Sounds legit.

How mosaic? Just the Vitamin E? Also I thought Peat recommends putting it on your gums, where bioavailability is probably higher than through the gut.

@marital_weeping that's interesting. Progesterone is usually okay for me, at least in the context of a less restricted, high-calorie diet.
I think supplements usually have pregnenolone, or they should put 'pregnenolone sulfate' on the label. Contacted Beyond a Century ;

"Hello and thank you for your inquiry. All the pregnenolone we have had has only had the pregnenolone listed, not the sulfate form."

@Bruno, I was wondering if you have perceived any differences among brands? I assume most of these supplement sellers source their wares from China where purity is a huge problem.

@Bukowski: Yes. But I have to dig out the actual quote.

@mega-marital I didn't see big differences between Life Extension and Beyond a Century. And usually my reactions to certain supplements are somewhat inconsistent because of changing contexts. Both definitely increased my temperature, though. And increased cravings for traveling, going outside, ... That effect didn't disappear, but now I seem to have anxiety and violent thoughts too.

Btw what do you think of your Armour thyroid?

There's this letter from Peat about oral absorption of progesterone in tocopherol :
No data, but he gives somewhat of an idea.

From Dr. Lee's talk on progesterone :

"I found that it's very well absorbed through the skin, 40 to 70 times more efficiently, than if you take it by mouth. There are companies that are making progesterone pills. See, anybody that wants to can buy this progesterone on the wholesale market. Some people are putting it into pills. Well, I looked up some of the studies that have been done and the skin is 40-70 times more efficient. Which means, if I give somebody 10 or 20 milligrams by a little glob of the cream, and it's all absorbed, the doctor might then give the person 200-400 milligrams orally. Ten to twenty times greater, because when you take it orally, being fat soluble like Vitamin E, beta carotene, Vitamin A and so forth, it goes to the liver. The liver excretes it in bile, Metabolizes it, congregates it and binds it to bile and out it goes. So the person only ends up with about 5% of what you gave them. In the meantime you put the liver to all this extra work and you're creating artificial metabolites that aren't the same, you don't know what their function is. There's no reason not to use the skin. The skin is by far better."

Lee's explanation sounds a bit off to me, but I guess absorption is better through the skin or through the gums.

I switched to Armour from ERFA because I was struggling with estrogenic sides due to thyroid. Ray suggested that it could be an adverse reaction to ERFA and that I try Armour or cynoplus. (Besides, reading his correspondence with others it seems that he's not too fond of ERFA.) So i tried Armour, and I feel it is 'mellower' than the same dose of ERFA. The effects come on in a smoother manner, with no palpable feelings of pulse increase (throbbing), excessive sweating, etc. My pulse seems to race less when I exert myself, and so my 'endurance' -if you will, is also better. Nevertheless, both my pulse and temperatures have improved.

However, when I tried increasing my Armour dose from 2 to 3 grains I could feel estrogen rearing its ugly head once more. I feel that I am prone to becoming 'hyperthyroid' in a strange and limited sense.

Once again, great find regarding Ray's letter to JNMA. How do you do it?!

Oh that's strange! ERFA seems good for me right now, and I always liked its taste. Do you get Armour with a prescription or is there an online source? is my source. They actually stock several brands of thyroid.