If you’ve been following us on HEAL for a while, you know we talk about the adrenal glands and the stress hormone cortisol A LOT, and for good reason!
The adrenal glands, otherwise known as the “stress glands,” enable your body to cope with stress and, simply put, survive. Because the stress response is felt everywhere in the body, the adrenal glands impact everything from your ability to digest food properly, gain or lose weight, think clearly, have a healthy immune system, and most importantly, feel energetic and vibrant!
The work of the adrenals is accomplished thanks to a variety of hormones:
With all the stresses of modern life, especially recently, the adrenals have a lot of work to do. Long-term chronic stress can start to take a major toll on your energy.
Here are some symptoms often connected to adrenal dysfunction (1):
While the adrenals are not the only cause of these symptoms, because they are so highly connected to every part of the body, if you are experiencing fatigue or feeling burnt out, testing your adrenal hormones can be a game-changer. This is also why we often recommend testing if a client is unable to lose weight, has other hormonal imbalances like with the reproductive system, thyroid or is experiencing digestive issues.
If you feel like you’ve been doing everything “right” from a food and lifestyle standpoint (i.e. eating well, exercising, trying to sleep well, trying to stress less, etc.) but still don’t feel like your normal energetic, clear-headed self, adrenal hormone testing can help us identify and address the root cause of your symptoms.
The adrenal hormone test we offer at HEAL involves doing a simple saliva test four points throughout the day to test your cortisol and DHEA. In an ideal world, your cortisol levels should peak about 30 minutes after waking, and gradually decline throughout the day, eventually getting to their lowest levels in the evening so you can sleep (Fig. 1).
Saliva cortisol testing is considered a convenient, accurate, and often preferred, way to test your adrenal status because it represents the amount of hormone in circulation that your cells and tissues can actually use (2-6). Because your cortisol levels change so much throughout the day, by testing four times during the day we’re able to see where they might be off. If, by contrast, we just tested at one time during the day, it only gives a snapshot into that specific time frame and we could be missing something. Plus there’s no need to go to a lab and get your blood drawn!
With adrenal hormone testing we can then create a protocol tailored specifically to where you have imbalances, if any. For example, there are herbs, nutrients and lifestyle practices that can either raise cortisol and/or DHEA levels if they are low, or calm you down if your cortisol is too high and you are constantly in the “fight or flight” mode. Here are some examples of how we’ve used hormone testing with our clients:
If you’re interested in learning more about Adrenal Hormone Testing to see if it’s right for you, click here to book a complimentary info session.