Q. I have a teenage son who takes after my side of the family and is small boned. This has had a negative effect on his self-confidence.

Because I do not believe my children should use drugs of any kind, I preach vitamins and herbal supplements. I've given him protein drinks with creatine, amino acids and taurine, but we haven’t seen much difference.

I am concerned he may want to try steroids despite the danger. I found a natural steroid called DHEA but I don't know if that's any better to use. Is it something that could help him bulk up?

A. Despite its popularity, there is little evidence the prohormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) can build muscle. A review (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Aug. 2006) concluded, “there appears to be little or no benefit in using prohormone nutritional supplements. Therefore, the use of any prohormone supplement should be discouraged by athletic trainers, coaches, educators, researchers, and physicians.”

Join Over 120,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Park Chapman

    Have you had your son’s testosterone level checked? A few years ago, I found out I was probably born with low testosterone, which can manifest itself as having small bones, delayed onset of puberty, and other symptoms. I have a son that may have the same issue.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.