THE adrenal hormone test
The Precision Analytical Dutch hormone test has an adrenal component, a sex hormone component, or a combination. Here I’m referring to the adrenal component.
This is a test for HPA-D, which stands for hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction. In order to get some background on what HPA-D is and why you would want to test for it, read this blog post and the one before it in the series on stress and adrenal fatigue.
How do I do the test?
The Dutch Adrenal Hormone test is very easy to do. The directions are extremely clear. You take four urine samples at four different times of the day, and they don’t have to be on the same day. Then you simply fold up the dry test strips and mail off the kit with six stamps.
Why do this test? For what symptoms?
Your results will end the guesswork about your individual HPA-D (a more accurate name for adrenal fatigue). This can include any of the following symptoms:
- Second wind late at night
- Trouble sleeping soundly
- Wake up in the morning feeling groggy, tired, or unrested
- Difficulty recovering from exercise, exhausted from exercise of any type
- Energy slumps throughout the day
- Need caffeine throughout the day to function
- Anxiety, worry
- Chronic connective tissue problems that are slow to heal
- Frequent colds and flus
- Difficulty regulating blood sugar
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Exhaustion since a trauma, including death of a loved one
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Menopause symptoms
- Hypothyroid symptoms or diagnosis
These are symptoms that may indicate HPA-D. This list is not exhaustive however. Please ask if you think you’re a candidate for testing!
Can I just do another test, like saliva or blood?
This is the only test in existence that gives a graph of both your diurnal rhythms of free cortisol and free cortisone, your total cortisol, free cortisol and cortisone, and your total metabolites of these hormones. It also includes DHEA, another important adrenal hormone.
What about “adrenal fatigue?”
Many people think they have problems with their adrenal glands, perhaps because they’ve read about “adrenal fatigue” on the internet, or they have been told they have it by a practitioner.
These folks may have been prescribed (or self-prescribe) various things to help, including herbs, supplements, or hormones. Unfortunately, often what you take is not on target with your specific HPA-D pattern. For example, you may be taking something that lowers total cortisol when you need more total cortisol. You may need more or less cortisol during certain times of day, and not be gearing your treatment in the right direction, at the right time of day.
Herbs that work on the HPA axis have different properties according to the herb. You don’t know if the herb matches your presentation. It may be too stimulating or too sedating, or used at the wrong time. You may be wasting your money or you may be treating yourself inappropriately.
Functional Medicine practitioners who use the Dutch adrenal hormone test are looking for specific patterns of HPA-D, not adrenal fatigue. We recognize that adrenal function is part of a complicated neuroendocrine system that is controlled by the brain. We are looking for how this axis is functioning, this communication or network between the brain (hypothalamus and pituitary glands) and the adrenal glands.
In essence, why do this test? If your HPA axis is not online, it will affect all of your neuroendocrine systems: your thyroid, insulin metabolism, all sex hormones, your energy, and your brain. With the specific results of the test, you can fine-tune your treatment exactly according to your needs. You can find out what is needed for sleep intervention, daytime energy, stress, and more.
Typically we include this test at the start of Functional Medicine screening and treatment. Not for every patient, but for those who show signs of HPA-D. Unfortunately at this time insurance companies do not pay for it.
The beginning of treating HPA-D, is identifying, reducing, and managing stress, as described in the series of posts that begins here.