What are the adrenals?
The adrenals are two small glands that are located above the kidneys. Each adrenal gland is composed of two separate functional entities. The other zone, or cortex, accounts for 80-90% of the gland, and secretes the adrenal steroids cortisol, DHEAs, and aldosterone. The inner zone, or medulla, comprises 10-20% of the gland and secretes the catecholamines adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. Cortisol, DHEA, and adrenaline are the three main adrenal stress hormones.
The Adrenal Rhythm and Its Importance...
The human adrenal gland does not secrete its steroid hormones at a constant level throughout the day. The hormones are actually released in a cycle with the highest value in the morning and the lowest value at night. This 24-hour cycle is called the circadian rhythm. An abnormal adrenal rhythm can influence many functions of the body including:
Abnormal adrenal function can alter the ability of cells to produce energy for activities of daily living. People who have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, or who suffer with a low energy level during the day, often have abnormal adrenal rhythms and poor blood sugar regulation.
Muscle and Joint Function
Abnormal adrenal rhythms are known to compromise tissue healing. Reduced tissue repair and increased tissue breakdown can lead to muscle and joint breakdown with associated chronic pain.
The adrenal rhythm determines how well we build bone. If the night cortisol level is not appropriate at the right times of the day, our bones do not rebuild well, and we are more prone to osteoporotic processes. Stress is the enemy of the bones. In postmenopausal women, the effect of stress worsens due to the female hormone imbalances.
Various immune cells cycle in and out of the spleen and bone marrow for special conditioning and possible nourishment and instructions. This immune system traffic follows the cortisol cycle. So, if the cycle is disrupted, especially at night, then the immune system is adversely affected.
Short and long term stress is known to suppress the immune response. This causes a reduction in resistance to infection and is believed to cause allergic reactions to increase.
The ability to enter REM sleep cycles, which is the regenerative portion of sleep, is interrupted by high cortisol values at night and in the morning. Chronic lack of REM sleep can reduce the mental vitality and vigor of a person and induce depression.
Human skin regenerates mostly during the night. With higher night cortisol values, less skin regerneration takes place. A normal rhythm is essential for optimal skin health.
Do You Need Adrenal Function Testing?
Adrenal function testing is most commonly ordered for individuals with the following conditions or complaints:
- Lack of vitality and energy
- Muscle and joint pain
- Migraine headaches
- Sleep disturbances
- Poor memory
- Alcohol intolerance
- Stress maladaptation
- Low libido
- Low body temperature
- Chronic stress
Testing Adrenal Functioning
The test is non-invasive and can be performed wherever you are. Saliva is collected under real life conditions and provides the most accurate representation of daily hormone levels.
With the appropriate information provided by saliva hormone testing, we can provide a personalized program of nutritional supplements and/or recommendations tailored to your specific needs.