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Testing Your Adrenal Glands

Readers of The Triple Whammy Cure know if they’re low on the stress-buffering brain chemical serotonin, they’re more vulnerable to stress.

Normally our adrenals, two walnut-sized glands perched one each atop the two  kidneys, response to a “stress message” by deliberately placing our bodies into temporary overdrive to help us cope. That’s all well and good for short episodes of stress, but when life’s difficulties are non-stop, the adrenals get depleted–literally exhausted. The term “running on empty” is appropriate here.

The main symptom of adrenal fatigue is–you guessed it–fatigue.

People who feel tired all the time and go to their doctors with this symptom aren’t usually tested for adrenal gland function. The diagnosis is controversial simply because adrenal fatigue is not a disease per se, but rather a depletion, and doctors are trained to look for disease.

Testing for adrenal fatigue is simple. You arrive at your doctor’s office in the morning and get your blood drawn to measure levels of two adrenal hormones, cortisol and DHEA. Then you return at four in the afternoon for a second blood test to measure cortisol levels again. If levels are low, your doctor might recommend taking a small dose of DHEA or cortisol. If she’s nutritionally oriented, she may recommend a nutritional supplement like AdrenPlus or Adreset, which contain a variety of natural ingredients designed to enhance adrenal health. Sensibly, you’d also have to work on a course of stress reduction.

You can also test your adrenal glands at home by collecting samples of saliva at four-hour intervals during the day and mailing the vials to one of several clinical laboratories for testing. This is the test I use in my own practice and have found the results correlate well with a patient’s clinical condition. You really shouldn’t consider adrenal self-testing until other causes of fatigue (like anemia or underactive thyroid) have been checked for by your doctor.

If you’re interested in testing the status of your adrenal glands, you can order an  Adrenal Hormone Profile kit. You’ll receive a small box containing four plastic vials, instructions on how to collect the saliva, and a form for completing personal data. About three weeks after you mail back your specimens, you’ll receive the results, which you can share with your physician or chiropractor. You’ll be able to tell from the test result whether your adrenals are functioning normally or are simply burned out.


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