Blood tests can provide a lot of important data regarding a person’s health if the tests are interpreted correctly. If you’ve been following my posts regarding blood chemistry over the last few months you should know that conventional approaches to interpreting blood tests are flawed for a number of reasons.
However, Functional Blood Chemistry evaluation takes into account the highly individual nature of how the body functions, and the complex relationships that exist between various systems in the body.
It is possible on a blood test to get a vision of numerous systems in the body and the function of various organs and glands. Blood tests are capable of identifying various stressors in the body such as kidney dysfunction, liver toxicity, immune system problems and adrenal fatigue.
The adrenal glands are 2 of the most powerful glands in the body. The adrenals produce a variety of hormones such as cortisol, DHEA and adrenaline. The adrenals modulate the body’s stress response, and are involved in numerous other biological functions including: digestive functions, inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses, and the adrenal hormones interact with a simplex of other hormones.
The most accurate way to assess adrenal function is through a saliva cortisol and DHEA biopsy. There are other ways however to assess adrenal function, including through blood tests and through Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. These methods won’t give you exact cortisol and DHEA values (blood tests can measure the adrenal hormones but saliva hormones are considered far greater due to the fact that saliva hormones are ‘free-fractioned’) but nonetheless they can give you insight into the 2 basic phases of adrenal imbalance: adrenal hyperfunction and adrenal hypofunction.
Adrenal hyperfunction indicates an excess of cortisol and adrenal activity. Adrenal hyperfunction is indicative of a loss of certain mineralcorticoid hormones, and consequently a loss in potassium through the urine. Adrenal hyperfunction can be a primary cause of hypertension (which quite often involves a loss of potassium and an increase in sodium in the blood and cells) as well as anxiety, irritability and headaches.
On a blood test, when potassium levels are decreased (about 4.0 or lower) and sodium is increased (greater than 4.2) and chloride levels are higher than 105, it is a sign of adrenal hyperfunction.
Because there is a loss of potassium from inside the cell, in the blood and in the urine, there is the tendency for metabolic acidosis. Hypertension, metabolic acidosis, adrenal hyperfunction and anxiety are very often seen together because of the chronic loss/deficiency of potassium intracellularly.
Adrenal hypofunction indicates an insufficient amount of cortisol and adrenal activity, exactly the opposite of adrenal hyperfunction. in adrenal hypofunction there is an excess in the amount of mineralcorticoids in the blood. This causes an increase in the amount of potassium in the cells and blood, and a decrease in the amount of sodium in the blood. Adrenal hypofunction, sometimes referred to as adrenal burnout, can result in chronic fatigue, exhaustion after exercise, abnormal fluid dynamics, low blood pressure and hypothyroid function.
On a blood test, adrenal hypofunction is indicated by the following: potassium levels greater than 4.5, sodium less than 136 and chloride values 101 or less.
Because there is excess potassium and decreased sodium, this is a major marker for metabolic alkalosis. It is wrong to assume that only acidosis is pathological. Alkalosis is just as common as acidosis, if not more so.
Low blood pressure, low blood volume, metabolic alkalosis, hypothyroid function and adrenal hypofunction are very commonly seen in the same clinical picture.
There are a number of nutritional approaches for dealing with adrenal issues. Protocols should be devised for each individual accordingly, due to the highly individual nature of the body. Therefore, understanding your own blood test results is essential in order to figure out a clear strategy from improvement. Click here to read more about blood chemistry.
Eating right for one’s type of metabolism will help to ensure the proper amounts of sodium and potassium levels as well as raw materials for one’s unique biochemistry. In addition to this, understanding the regulatory effects that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system has with the endocrine system is also a very important part of the picture.
The following nutrients and herbal formula are frequently used to help improve adrenal health. I am NOT recommending any of these as a protocol, I am only listing these as individual nutrients. Individual nutrients have significantly less of an effect than nutrient and herbal synergy.
- Adrenal Glandular concentrate
- Bio-identical hormones
- Pantothenic Acid (B-5)
- Vitamin C
- B Vitamins such as Thiamin, Riboflavin, inositol and Choline. These may not be suited for certain individuals due to specific, individual considerations.
- Herbs such as: Licorice root extract, Schizandra, Bladderwrack, Skullcap