Why Test for Cortisol and Adrenal Fatigue?
If you've been struggling with a chronic health condition that hasn't been getting better - maybe it could be your adrenal glands? Are you dealing with prolonged stress? Has your doctor mentioned your adrenal glands or possible adrenal fatigue being the root of the problem?
We all know that stress is a huge factor in our health, unfortunately mainstream medicine only recognizes it as a general term. They don't factor in the overall effects and consequences of having cortisol and adrenaline constantly pumping through your body.
The reason for that is two-fold and I will get to that in a moment, but the more stress you are under the more cortisol and adrenaline your adrenal glands will be asked to produce. It's called the 'fight or flight' mode and your body is designed to handle stress. It's not designed to handle long-term, prolonged stress. We are supposed to get out of harms way, relax and give our body a chance to recover.
Your adrenal glands can only pump out so much cortisol and adrenaline before they become exhausted and depleted, which is referred to as adrenal fatigue. But you can only squeeze out so much juice from a lemon. Stress depletes your body of specific nutrients, which is why rest and proper nourishment are important in keeping your adrenal glands functioning properly.
Cortisol and adrenaline are two primary hormones - you can't live without. They are basically survival hormones.
What's important to understand about the 'fight of flight' mode, and the over-production of your stress hormones are that your body is basically in survival mode.
Simply put, how do you expect to quiet your body in order to digest a meal, regulate your hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA), have a baby, relax, fall asleep, fight off infections, etc.
In essence how do you expect to do all these things when your heart is being triggered to pump harder and faster, your arteries are constricting and your metabolism is burning lean muscle for energy? The short answer is that it can't!
* All that extra cortisol and adrenaline will affect your metabolism...which is why so many people struggle with fatigue, weight gain, along with thyroid issues.
* It will throw off your digestive system...which leads to indigestion, heartburn, reflux and other irritable bowel problems.
* It will throw off the balance of your hormones...which leads to loss of libido, PMS, hot flashes, night sweats, hormone imbalances and menopausal symptoms.
* It will constantly stimulate your cardiovascular system....which causes high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and heart disease.
* Throws off your blood sugar...which leads to hypoglycemia, insulin resistance and diabetes.
* It will disrupt your neurotransmitters (chemical brain messengers)...which can lead to depression, anxiety, mood swings, or insomnia.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Too much cortisol and adrenaline racing through your body will weaken your immune system; affect your ability to add lean muscle and cause your body to constantly be in this catabolic or breakdown state.
This is why measuring your cortisol and DHEA levels can be a huge indicator as to the root of your problem. It will let you know how stress is truly impacting your overall health.
Why Mainstream Medicine doesn't routinely measure your adrenal glands.
There are three primary reasons why most traditional doctors test for adrenal exhaustion and fatigue. The first is that it WAS to difficult to measure. To properly measure cortisol levels, you need to take four blood draws in a 24 hour period. The fact that cortisol levels fluctuate in a 24 hour period is why you need to test it four times in a day.
FYI..If you only take one reading it won't give you an accurate picture of how exhausted your adrenal glands may or may not be. It may be at the right level at that time, but is it too high or too low than it should be in the morning, evening or at bedtime?
Besides that who wants to be stuck with a needle four times in a day or what labs is going to be open for you to have your blood drawn first thing in the morning or at bedtime. This is why saliva testing done in the convenience of your home is the best way to measure your stress hormones. Yes, labs that only test blood don't like the newer saliva tests because they are stealing some of their business. Which is why I don't think album manufacturer's very much liked music coming out on CDs.
Let's not forget that a needle is a stressor for some people so having their blood drawn could measure inaccurate stress levels, which is another reason for saliva testing.
A second reason is that there isn't a handy-dandy medication to pass out like there is when your thyroid or ovaries are out of balance. In the past few decades those medications have been on the list of top ten drugs sold annually.
Finally the last reason you don't see many doctors recommending adrenal or cortisol testing is because it isn't being taught in the schools yet. Although if you go to many of the seminars and study the cutting edge information you will hear a lot more about adrenal fatigue and how to treat it. It just hasn't made its way to the people who would rather sell you a drug and all the risks that come with it than some nutritional supplements to rebuild and restore your adrenal glands. So the big question you may want to ask yourself if you are struggling with a problem that is not getting better is how current is your health care provider with the latest news and discoveries for dealing with many of today's chronic problems?
The big rock to take away from this discussion is - there may be an answer to your unresolved health issue. If your doctor hasn't mentioned the possibility of adrenal fatigue and exhaustion, I would first recommend taking the Stress Test to see if stress could be part of your problem. Based on those results I would then order a 24-Hour Saliva test to see if stress could truly be at the root of your problem.
FYI...Identifying that your adrenals and stress are the problem...is only half the battle. The other half is in restoring and nourishing your exhausted adrenal glands, which is what the ARS Healthy Steps Program is designed to do.
I hope the information is helpful to all those who are looking for help or have been let down or lost and confused about their current health challenges.
Dr. Len Lopez is a nutrition and fitness expert, author and creator of The Work Horse Fitness Trainer. His approach to health and wellness is to 'treat the cause - not the symptoms' To learn more about health and fitness and how to do it with natural, holistic approaches, visit my website and read a few of my blog posts at http://www.DrLenLopez.com
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