The adrenals are two little glands located above the kidneys. Their job is to produce a range of hormones. The main hormone associated with the adrenals is cortisol - our stress hormone. DHEA is another hormone produced by the adrenals, and it has a really important job. It will signal to the ovaries in women or the testes in men, to produce sex hormones. In addition, part of DHEA will actually convert to sex hormones.
When it comes to optimal physical and mental health, adrenal function is imperative. The reason being, if your adrenals are producing too much or too little cortisol, you may experience anxiety, panic attacks, brain fog, agitation, confusion, inability to cope with stress, fatigue, sleep disturbances and more!
Not only that, if your adrenals are pumping out too much cortisol, then that can impact your sex hormones. You see, excess cortisol chews through progesterone, thereby decreasing progesterone levels. Progesterone is the natural hormone balancer, so if it is low, then things like oestrogen can tend to go through the roof.
Something else to consider when it comes to the adrenals are bowel motions. Hear me out. If you are in fight or flight mode, then your body thinks that it needs to be ready to go at any time, which means it doesn't have time to poop! Interesting, right?! So, if you have constipation, you may want to consider stress management techniques.
If any of this is resonating with you, then you may want to do some testing to see exactly what is going on with your adrenals. I highly recommend a 4-point saliva test as it is the most accurate. Cortisol really needs to be tested four times throughout the day because cortisol should be at its peak in the morning and gradually come down so you can go to sleep at night. It is important to see what it is doing throughout the day to determine if you have too much cortisol, too little cortisol or a combination of the two. Unfortunately, doctors only test one time in the day.
Saliva is more accurate than blood when it comes to cortisol levels. The reason being, the blood is smart. If it senses that there is too much cortisol, then it will push it out of the blood and into the cells. Thus, if you do a blood test, you may not be getting an accurate gauge of your levels.
If you suspect or know that your adrenals are out of whack, you may also want to consider the following tests.
A full thyroid panel. Thyroid function is easily impacted by cortisol levels and cortisol levels are easily affected by thyroid function. Completing a full thyroid panel will give you a better understanding as to how your thyroid is functioning. You can read up on the full thyroid panel here.
Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a hormone that plays a part in regulating adrenal function. From a functional perspective, I like to see this at least 85.
Pregnenolone is a primary adrenal hormone, from which cortisol (and all adrenal hormones) are manufactured.
Food intolerances are one of the most common stressors, with wheat and dairy being the biggest triggers. I recommend that you get a food intolerance test done, not a food allergy test.
Candida and parasite testing. Parasites are more active at night, which can cause the adrenals to produce more cortisol. If night time and/or morning cortisol is high, this may be a factor. Parasites live within Candida, so we often have to clear both to solve this issue.
Copper levels. High copper levels can be associated with adrenal issues, so a simple blood test can help provide clarification in this area.
I'm happy to help with your cortisol, sex hormone, food intolerance, Candida/parasite and heavy metal testing if needed. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.