How To Test Your Adrenal Glands?
Your adrenal glands are located on the top of your kidneys and are an intimate part of the endocrine system. In their center part called the medulla they control the stress response or fight or flight response of the body. In the outer part called the adrenal cortex they produce hormones that are needed throughout the body. If the adrenals over or under respond it can affect every system in the body. Over the long haul the adrenals being stressed can end in a mired of symptoms.
1. Symptom survey
The value of a good intake form and evaluation of symptoms should not be down played. When the adrenals are becoming stressed or fatigued a number of symptoms happen in the body. If a person checks more than a few of these it is worth both supporting the glands and doing some deeper checking. Even better then symptoms of adrenal fatigue is a survey of adrenal stress factors and what part of the body it is affecting.
Here are a few signs your adrenals are really stressed. You don’t have to have all of these just a couple.
- Bright light/sunlight bothers you
- Cold often
- Crave salt
- Dizzy or light headed when standing
- Wired yet tired. Can’t rest but are exhausted
- Insomnia- can’t fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night.
- Have alergies
- Get sick often
2. Postural Hypotension Test
This is a simple test anyone can do with a blood pressure cuff. When you stand up aldosterone, causes your blood pressure to rise. If your adrenal glands are depressed then it may not produce enough aldosterone and your blood pressure will fall instead of rise.
Directions: Have someone take your blood pressure while you are sitting normally when you are at rest. Record the number. Next lay down and take it again and record the number. Rest for a couple minutes. Next pump up the blood pressure cuff and stand up to quickly let it out and take the last reading. Compare the numbers. Optimally the top number the Sastolic should rise 10 points between when you are lying down or stand up. If it stays the same you may have mild adrenal compromise. If it drops instead of rises you may have more serious adrenal compromise. The more it drops the more severe it may be.
3. Papillary Reflex Eye test also known as the Iris Contraction Test
This is super easy to do at home. Directions: In a dark room sit in front of a mirror or have a friend do the test on you. Once it is dark wait about a minute so your eyes can adjust. Next shine a pin light from about 6 inch back across one eye- (not directly into). The pupil should immediately contract. Time how long it stays contracted. Like any muscle when it becomes tired it will release. If it releases with in 2 minutes it may indicate adrenal fatigue. often if the eye does release it will re-constrict after 30-ish seconds. This is a fun easy test that can be done on a regular basis at home to monitor how your adrenals are doing.
4. Muscle testing
This is a form of applied kinesiology that test the strength of your muscles when certain parts of the body are being touched. The belief is that for every action there is a reaction and the act of touching an area that is weak will result in energy being lowered in other parts of the body. This is highly controversial in the medical world but has shown to be helpful in highlighting areas of stress in the body. A well-trained practitioner that is sensitive to the body can attain a lot of information from muscle testing. Many chiropractors are skilled at it.
5. Bio Scan Machines Also Called Zyto Testing
A bio-scan uses energy through a process called bio communication to asks questions of your body. It then uses the answers to provide information of weakness in specific areas of the body. It can test for infection, food sensitivity, nutrient levels, and strength or weakness of specific organs or glands. It can also give information on how the body responds to supplements to determine which ones are the best for the individual. This can be a great way to assess your whole body including your adrenal health. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find well trained practitioners that offer the testing. This is one of my favorite ways to be tested because it gives so much information on a cellular level.
These 5 are more controversial ways to test the adrenals as they can be considered subjective. I do believe they are valuable. If you have on going adrenal issues or these tests show your adrenals are very fatigued it is worth doing more in-depth testing.
Benefit of Lab Tests
There are several laboratory tests you can do and the benefit is they telling you what phase of adrenal fatigue you are in. The adrenals it used to be thought would go through 4 phases in order but now it is believed that they jump around and can skip a phase.
Phase One High Cortisol and DHEA normal stress response
Phase Two High Cortisol and low DHEA sub optimal response and what they call pregnenolone steal where hormone that make DHEA are stolen to make more cortisol.
Phase Three Low Cortisol and Low DHEA
Phase Four organ failure and death- seriously!
1. Saliva Test
Saliva is one of the easiest most accurate ways to test adrenal glands. You spit in to a vial a few times a day and send it to the lab and it gives you the bioavailability of the hormone. This is the amount that the hormone is available for use in the body.
In testing adrenals we are interested in Cortisol and DHEA as our main markers. Cortisol is part of the circadian rhythm in which it is high in the morning and low at night. If during a day it is higher than expected or lower at a certain time it is indicative of certain issues. For instance, if there is an infection in the body then the night cortisol level will be higher than expected in relation to the other cortisol level during the day. For the purpose of figuring out what is causing adrenal issue along with what phase of adrenal fatigue it is saliva is my first choice for testing adrenals.
2. Urine Test
Urine is a great way to test hormones as it can tell you how the body is using it hormone metabolites. A metabolite is what makes up the hormone and if it does not break down well in the body it can cause issues with detoxing and lead to a variety of diseases. This is most usefully if you are also testing other hormones like estrogen and progesterone.
3. Blood Test
You can use blood to test both cortisol and DHEA. This is less expensive then urine or saliva but it does not give the bioavailabity or the circadian rhythm or the metabolites so it really is not as usefully. It also may not give you as an accurate picture. For instance say you have food allergies these may cause your cortisol to rise at noon due to inflmation. If you test cortisol at noon the results can come back perfectly in range when actually cortisol is low and the adrenals are exhausted in phase 3 adrenal fatigue. When doing blood or any tests remember your symptoms are just a valid at the test results.
4. Hair analysis
This can be a great way to determine your adrenal status. By looking at the highs and lows are certain minerals it can indicate a lot about the adrenal glands and give a way to balance them with specific minerals. This is a very intricate work and takes a skilled professional to decipher the hair analysis but is a valid way to see how the adrenals are doing.
So there you have it 9 ways to test the adrenal glands. All of them have merit depending on your need. The important thing is you support your adrenals the way they need for your whole-body health. If you are interested in any of these lab tests I would be glad to run them for you.
1. Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner Course. If you are interested in becoming a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner click here
2. Top 10 Womens Complaints: PMS Lecture by Angela Hywood N.D (Australia) Tonic Australia 73/8-14 Fullerton Street Woollahra NSW 2025 www.tonicaustralia.com.au.
3. Standard Process Clinical Reference Guide 2012