So let’s talk adrenals.
As you might know, adrenaline is what gets released when we are in what psychology calls “fight-or-flight”. The point of adrenaline is to supercharge the body and enable us to escape danger, perform exceptional physical feats, and to survive impossible situations. Unfortunately, there are quite a few ways in which we artificially induce adrenaline in the body. Sugar, caffeine, stress, lack of sleep, certain medications are just some of the few ways. The result of being in fight-or-flight is that we can feel exhausted, burnt out, depleted and just like we’ve hit a wall. We call this adrenal fatigue, or in its severe form, adrenal exhaustion. The state of being completely drained is becoming commonplace in the United States and worldwide. We are relying on ever-increasing amounts of caffeine, and other stimulants to stay alert and motivated.
Have you ever given sugar to a child and watched them become “hyper”? This is actually a real effect because sugar triggers adrenaline in people with healthy adrenal function. Sugar typically has an impact on the adrenal function in children, because their adrenal glands haven’t been taxed. The reason most adults will not experience a “sugar rush” is that their adrenal glands are in some state of depletion.
So you maybe didn’t know this, but there are tests you can take to determine your adrenal health. Genova Diagnostics is a lab that checks adrenal function. Below are pictured real results from a real patient. You can tell this patient’s cortisol levels are low, but the ratio of DHEA to cortisol is within the reference range.
Functions of Cortisol & DHEA
Cortisol is a primary stress hormone produced by the adrenals and is also a potent anti-inflammatory hormone. Cortisol’s action can suppress immune function. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is called an androgenic hormone. It is a precursor for testosterone and the estrogens. DHEA balances out the effects of cortisol. DHEA is also a very powerful anti-aging hormone. Low levels of DHEA are found among those with Cancer, CVD, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Depression, Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue.
Since cortisol and DHEA have opposing effects, they should be viewed together as a ratio. Like with every major control system in the body, cortisol and DHEA work through their alternating, dualistic balance.
The ratio between cortisol and DHEA has numerous effects on the body. Here are some of the major effects of the Cortisol to DHEA ratio:
- Thyroid, Pancreas and ovarian function
- Detoxification capacity. Since the body needs energy to properly deal with toxic metals, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands are considered to be the cornerstone to heavy metal elimination.
- Skeletal health. High levels of cortisol can cause breakdown of bone and collagen.
- Memory. DHEA is a critical component of brain function and cognition.
Testing for Cortisol & DHEA
The best way to test cortisol and DHEA is through the saliva. Blood levels are less accurate because very often these hormones are bound to proteins in the blood, preventing them from attaching to cell receptors. The saliva is preferred over blood and urine because saliva hormone values are more “bio-available.”
It is possible to restore the function of depleted adrenal function. Typically an excellent starting point is to eat according to your type of metabolism. Often times people with adrenal fatigue also have erratic blood sugar. Eating according to your type of metabolism is one of the best ways to maintain adequate blood sugar levels.
In some chronic cases, very high levels of cortisol and adrenaline will continuously cause hyperglycemia. This is due to the fact that adrenaline and cortisol both raise blood glucose levels. Always dig for the underlying causes of your health issues. The adrenal function control can be both a cause of dis-ease and a result of it.
As always, we have you covered!
If you would like to see if you are a candidate for adrenal testing, schedule a free 15-minute strategy session with us here.