Pregnenolone is a type of hormone that is produced naturally in the human body and is also available as a dietary supplement. This natural hormone cannot be patented. Back in the 1940's, when researchers started experimenting with the use of pregnenolone, they realized that it could be helpful for people under stress and it could increase energy in those who were fatigued. However, about the same time, cortisol, another closely related hormone, was discovered. Cortisol stole the limelight. When cortisol was given to individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, there were outstanding short-term improvements. Photographs of these remarkable recoveries were circulated and the medical community was impressed. Scientists basically put pregnenolone aside to focus on cortisol. The structure of cortisol was altered to make similar molecules such as dexamethasone and prednisone, much more powerful steroids. Dexamethasone and other similar corticosteroids could be patented, and thus a pharmaceutical company could make a lot of money by owning patents. Pregnenolone, however, remains a naturally produced hormone by the body so it is available as a nutritional supplement, not as a high cost patented drug.