The cortisol saliva test, also known as the adrenal stress test, tells us how we are being impacted by the stress in our life and the health of the adrenal glands. It is sometimes referred to as an adrenal fatigue test or adrenal insufficiency test.
Chronic stress leads to adrenal disorders, which are at the root of many chronic medical and psychiatric conditions like insomnia, chronic fatigue, unwanted weight gain, low blood sugar, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, addiction, gastrointestinal disorders, dysautonomia, ADHD, headaches, violence, heart disease, ulcers, burnout or exhaustion and many more.
This test measures the levels of cortisol and DHEA, two important hormones for adrenal health. The levels of these two hormones will tell us how the glands are functioning. Adrenals need to be tested with saliva — not blood. Saliva tests for free levels of hormones. In a blood test, cortisol gets bound to serum proteins and doesn’t provide us with accurate levels.
You’ll collect a saliva sample at each one of these time frames for a total of four saliva samples.
What an Adrenal Stress Test Tells Us
The Adrenal Stress Test gives us a window into the functions of our adrenal glands. There are three primary states that occur in these hormones that cause degeneration in health:
- High cortisol
- Low cortisol
- Low DHEA
High cortisol means the body is dealing with a lot of stress and the adrenal glands are working overtime, so there is an excessive demand for cortisol. If this pattern continues unchecked, it leads to low cortisol. Low cortisol means the adrenal glands have burnt out, they can no longer produce enough cortisol to function adequately and deal with the stress that is being put on them. Low DHEA occurs when the demands for cortisol are excessively high and there are no precursors left over to make DHEA.
People with high cortisol have high levels of insomnia, fear, panic, anxiety, or even mania and tend to be drawn to sedatives to calm them down. They feel hyped up and can’t relax. While people with low cortisol tend to have high levels of exhaustion, chronic fatigue, weakness, and depression and are often drawn to stimulants to pep them up. Low DHEA usually begins to occur when there is high cortisol and will continue to decline if cortisol demands remain high.
Individuals may be at one end of the spectrum or anywhere in between. For example, one person may have high cortisol at all time periods throughout the day, while another person has low cortisol in the morning, noon and afternoon, but high cortisol in the evening.
Where you are on this spectrum is very important for determining your recovery plan. You can’t know which direction to go if you haven’t been tested. You don’t want to take supplements or pharmaceuticals that increase cortisol if it’s high and you don’t want to take supplements that lower cortisol when it’s low.
Additionally, the numbers in the cortisol saliva test, tell you whether you have adrenal fatigue, insufficiency, or burnout, or whether you are on your way to developing them, which allows you to intervene appropriately and monitor your progress throughout the healing process.
If your numbers are starting to decline, then you know that immediate action must be taken to prevent them from going any lower. If numbers are high, then you know that steps must be taken to bring it down.
You can learn more about adrenal fatigue in my Adrenal Recovery Basics Webinar.
How the Cortisol Saliva Test Works
You can order the Cortisol Saliva Test online right now. It is an easy, do-it-yourself test kit that you can perform at your own convenience in the privacy of your own home. No visit to the lab or doctor’s office is needed.
A simple kit will be mailed to your home. You’ll collect your saliva four times throughout the day and place it in the tubes provided in your kit and send it back to the lab in the prepaid FedEx mailer. Your results, which provide an easy-to-read chart, will arrive electronically in your email, as well as a hard copy through regular mail. The whole process is fast, practically effortless, and pain-free.
Your test is performed by one of the leading labs in the field of functional medicine testing for many years, trusted and respected by health care professionals around the globe.
The information acquired in the Adrenal Stress Test or Cortisol Saliva Test is another tool that can be used to identify the underlying biochemical causes of chronic medical and psychiatric disorders and know which changes in diet, lifestyle, and nutritional supplements are needed to develop a path for healing that fits your unique biochemical needs.