In this video I show how important Adrenal Fatigue Testing is to identify the cause behind common health problems.
Adrenal fatigue, also known as Hypthalamus Pituitary Adrenal axis dysfunction (HPA axis for short) is one of the main causes behind the five most common health problems that I see in clinic. The five most common health problems are weight, fatigue, depression, hormone imbalances like PMS, digestion problems like IBS.
Adrenal fatigue also affects thyroid function which can cause a “double whammy” effect as many of the same symptoms of adrenal fatigue are the same as low thyroid function.
Cortisol is the main hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, cortisol controls blood sugar regulation and high cortisol will lead to high insulin levels and weight gain, especially around the waist.
Adrenal fatigue is not caused by one or two stressful incidents but it is caused by prolonged stress over a long period of time. Stress is not just mental stress from work or relationships but it can be physical stress from pain or injury, overtraining, digestion stress from bowel problems, sleep disturbances or food intolerances.
One of the reason’s that it is important to get tested for adrenal fatigue is that there are three different stages of adrenal fatigue, and knowing which stage of adrenal fatigue you are in is important for treatment and recovery.
With stage one of adrenal fatigue your cortisol levels are elevated, many people are in this early stage of adrenal fatigue and don’t yet realise that something is wrong. The symptoms of this stage are usually mild and can be things like poor sleep (that tired but wired feeling), muscle aches and pains, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, afternoon fatigue and the need for stimulants like coffee or simple carbohydrates to get going.
During stage two the cortisol levels start to drop, the brain realizes the high cortisol is damaging and will shut down the messages to the adrenal glands to keep making cortisol in response to stress. Symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, weight gain and the craving for stimulants increase.
Adrenal exhaustion! Cortisol and DHEA levels decline and fatigue turns into exhaustion, immune function is depleted so you are often picking up lots of minor illnesses like colds and flu’s. The third stage is when people really struggle to get through the day, yet the progression to stage three can be a slow process of a couple of years, so sometimes people have forgotten how good they use to feel and this becomes the new normal or they think they are just getting old.
Testing adrenal function is occasionally done by your doctor with a blood test, but this is not a very good way to assess adrenal function and your doctor is only testing to see if you may have Addison’s or Grave’s disease, this is when your adrenal glands are not working at all
The best way to test adrenal function is with a DUTCH Hormone Test which is taken at 4 different times of the day, this is to measure DHEA and cortisol. Your cortisol levels change throughout the day which is why it is important to do the 4 different samples so that we can measure your cortisol rhythm.
A DUTCH hormone adrenal function test can be done wherever you live, you can order the adrenal test through Planet Naturopath and a kit will be sent to you so that it can be done by you at home, it is then posted back to the lab for analysis. Once the results return I will explain them in detail and help you workout a treatment plan to get you back to your optimal health.
Michael is head consultant at Planet Naturopath - Functional Medicine and Nutrition Solutions.
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