It is suggested that schizophrenia is caused by low availability of the
adrenal hormone, DHEA, and the pineal hormone, melatonin, during critical
times of brain development. Reduced DHEA reduces growth and development of
the cerebral hemispheres.
Later in life, events occur that decrease the
availability of DHEA, in addition to already low DHEA; this reduces function
under-developed areas of the brain and produces schizophrenia. This
pattern has been noticed in the past, but this explanation is an entirely
Schizophrenia occurs when DHEA availability is reduced in late teens or
early twenties. Since reduced melatonin is producing few receptors for DHEA,
anything that will reduce the limited supplies of DHEA of schizophrenics
will dramatically reduce its positive effects on the brain. DHEA stimulates
metabolism, especially in the brain. This is most pronounced in the frontal
areas of schizophrenics, who are known to exhibit reduced frontal
research reports benefits of DHEA supplementation in the management of
negative, depressive, and anxiety symptoms of schizophrenia. Some of the
side effects from prescription drugs used for schizophrenia may also be
In 1965, Lairy and co-workers noted a relative
dearth of stage 4 (S4) in the sleep of delusional schizophrenic patients.
In a more systematic study, Caldwell and Domino demonstrated a 50%
reduction of mean S4 sleep in 25 unmedicated schizophrenic patients as
compared with ten medical student controls. This finding has since been
repeatedly confirmed in both acute and chronic schizophrenics and with
precise control for age and some control for hospitalization.
Individuals of low DHEA would seek drugs that
increase DHEA. Schizophrenics would be more prone to have significantly
low DHEA. It is known that nicotine significantly increases the reserve
form of DHEA, DHEA sulfate. DHEA is made from DHEAS.
Cigarette smoking was measured in all patients hospitalized at a
state hospital (N = 360) and compared in relation to gender and diagnosis
(schizophrenic versus nonschizophrenic). The overall frequency of smoking
was 79% (N = 284). Male schizophrenic patients had the highest frequency
of smoking, followed by male nonschizophrenic patients, female
schizophrenic patients, and female nonschizophrenic patients,
respectively. After correction for other variables, schizophrenia appears
to increase the risk of being both a smoker and a heavy smoker. It has
been found that [schizophrenic] patients who smoked had a significantly
earlier age at onset of psychiatric illness as compared to the nonsmokers.