Introduction Pregnenolone is a hormone made by humans and animals. It can be made in a lab and taken as a pill, powder, or extract. Pregnenolone has been used to ease symptoms of depression and to boost brain function.


50 to 100 milligrams once daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Schizophrenia —may improve function when used with standard treatmentB1-B7

May Be Effective

  • Bipolar disorder —may ease symptoms of depression when used with standard treatmentA1,A2

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to take pregnenolone in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is not known whether it is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Talk to your doctor about any alternative therapy or supplements you are taking to make sure it does not interfere with your current treatment.


A. Bipolar Disorder

A1. Osuji IJ, Vera-Bolaños E, et al. Pregnenolone for cognition and mood in dual diagnosis patients. Psychiatry Res. 2010;178(2):309-312.

A2. Brown ES, Park J, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pregnenolone for bipolar depression. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014;39(12):2867-2873.

B. Schizophrenia

B1. Marx CE, Keefe RS, et al. Proof-of-concept trial with the neurosteroid pregnenolone targeting cognitive and negative symptoms in schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 Jul;34(8):1885-1903.

B2. Ritsner MS, Gibel A, et al. Pregnenolone and dehydroepiandrosterone as an adjunctive treatment in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder: an 8-week, double-blind, randomized, controlled, 2-center, parallel-group trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010;71(10):1351-1362.

B3. Ritsner MS, Bawakny H, et al. Pregnenolone treatment reduces severity of negative symptoms in recent-onset schizophrenia: an 8-week, double-blind, randomized add-on two-center trial. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2014;68(6):432-440.

B4. Marx CE, Lee J, et al. Proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial of pregnenolone in schizophrenia. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014;321(17):3647-3662.

B5. Kashani L, Shams N, et al. Pregnenolone as an adjunct to risperidone for treatment of women with schizophrenia: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2017;94:70-77.

B6. Kreinin A, Bawakny N, et al. Adjunctive Pregnenolone Ameliorates the Cognitive Deficits in Recent-Onset Schizophrenia: An 8-Week, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Clin Schizophr Relat Psychoses. 2017;10(4):201-210.

B7. Kardashev A, Ratner Y, et al. Add-On Pregnenolone with L-Theanine to Antipsychotic Therapy Relieves Negative and Anxiety Symptoms of Schizophrenia: An 8-Week, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Trial. Clin Schizophr Relat Psychoses. Spring 2018;12(1):31-41.

Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Last Updated: 4/17/2020

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