Adrenal fatigue is thrown around a lot these days even though conventional medicine fails to acknowledge it as a legitimate health issues. Perhaps conventional medicine isn’t interested in things in cannot treat with drugs. Another major problem is that conventional medicine does not know how to adequately test for adrenal fatigue.
In the blood, sometimes physicians test for steroidal hormones such as cortisol and DHEA. However, it should be pointed out that blood steroidal hormone values are not accurate. This is because in the blood, these hormones get bound to proteins, and consequently the hormones in the blood are not representative of “free-fractioned”, “bio-available” hormones. The preferred biopsy for testing steroidal hormones is in the saliva. Salivary hormones are sampled throughout the course of the day, and these hormones are bio-active.
Adrenal Fatigue Is Classified Through Sum Cortisol Output
On a salivary hormone test, adrenal fatigue is identified by the sum cortisol level. Cortisol is tested during 4 different intervals throughout the day: morning, noon, afternoon and evening. In a normal cortisol rhythm, cortisol is highest in the morning and progressively decreases throughout the day and evening. Abnormalities with cortisol’s rhythm tends to indicate various imbalances, including autoimmune processes, chronic infections and inflammatory processes.
It is the sum total of each of the 4 cortisol rhythms that determines adrenal hyper or hypo function. You can read more about these two contrasting physiological imbalances HERE.
When cortisol output is diminished, approximately 23 nM or less, it is a sign of low adrenal output and adrenal HYPOfunction. Conversely, when the sum cortisol level is greater than 40 nM, it is indicative of adrenal HYPERfunction.
Orthostatic Blood Pressure & Adrenal Function
The orthostatic blood pressure test measures the supine blood pressure and then the standing blood pressure. The test is an indicator of how efficiently blood is pumped to the upper extremities. If cardiac output is weak, this will often result in orthostatic hypofunction: a decrease in systolic blood pressure upon standing. Conversely, if cardiac output is excessive, this will tend to result in orthostatic hypertension: an excessive increase (at least 20 mm Hg) in systolic blood pressure.
The implications for the orthostatic blood pressure tests are many. First of all, the orthostatic tests are reflective of several possible imbalances in the body.
- Autonomic nervous system stress. Orthostatic hyperfunction indicates excess sypathetic nervous system function and possible vasoconstriction. Orthostatic hypofunction indicates excess parasympathetic nervous system function and possible excess vasodilation.
- Electrolyte imbalance. In hypofunction, deficiencies of certain minerals like sodium can result in diminished cardiac output. In hyperfunction, a deficiency of potassium and magnesium may result in vasoconstriction.
- Adrenal Excess often found in a similar pattern with orthostatic hyperfunction.
- Adrenal Insufficiency often found with orthostatic hypofunction.
HTMA is a very interesting biopsy because it presents a picture of mineral deposition into soft tissues over a 3-4 month time window. Thus, HTMA provides a unique insight into nutrient mineral activity, endocrine function and relationships and the “availability” of certain minerals.
On a hair test, the 2 most significant mineral ratios to detect adrenal activity are: Na/K (sodium/potassium) and Na/Mg (sodium/magnesium). Na/K is the single most significant ratio on the test because the balance between these two cations have immense implications with cellular function and energy production.
On HTMA, sodium is believed to be primarily influenced by aldosterone activity, potassium activity by cortisol. On HTMA, High potassium relative to lower sodium is more reflective of high cortisol output. Low potassium relative to a higher sodium is more reflective of low cortisol output.
Electrolytes & The Adrenals
Minerals are the spark-plugs of life. And the adrenals are very responsive to them and dependent upon them. One could write a volume on the importance of magnesium in adrenal hyperfunction alone. When high amounts of cortisol predominate, magnesium is lost in the urine. When hypofunction of the adrenals predominates, sodium is essential.