Adrenal Stress Testing
An increased cortisol level, a decreased DHEA-S level, or a decrease in the DHEA-S cortisol ratio is an indication of a chronically stressful physical or mental condition.
Stress is a major underlying cause of many chronic illnesses, from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to food and environmental allergy. A stressful lifestyle can lead to consistently high levels of cortisol and low levels of DHEA (dehydoepiandosterone), which can be damaging to the brain and other tissues. Cortisol elevation also impacts immune responses, such as secretory IgA (sIgA) and antigliadin antibody (AGA) production. The Adrenal Stress Profile is a measure of an individualís response to stress. It is also an important tool for pointing to adrenal imbalances that may be impacting a patientís health.
The adrenocortical hormones, cortisol and DHEA, are steroids that affect carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism. They also serve as modulators of thyroid function and help the body manage stress. When levels of DHEA and cortisol change, it may indicate significant variations in adrenal function that can impact an individualís energy levels, emotions, and even disease resistance.
Secretion of cortisol, regulated by the sleep-wake cycle, is characterized by a steep increase in the early morning, followed by a gradual tapering off until late evening. Stress causes elevated cortisol levels, which continue as long as the stressor is present. Stress also overrides negative feedback of cortisol in the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenocortex (HPA) axis. Prolonged stress, causing increased secretion of cortisol, may over time lead to hypertrophy of the adrenal cortex.
Among other functions, DHEA serves as a metabolic intermediate in the pathway for synthesis of testosterone, estrone, and estradiol in the adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes. Since DHEA in plasma has a very short half-life, most of circulating DHEA is in the sulfate form (DHEA-S). DHEA-S provides a ready source of DHEA for the production of estrogens and androgens.
The Adrenal Stress Profiles from Metametrix use a non-invasive salivary procedure to monitor the activity of the adrenal cortex and its ability to react to stress. The procedure monitors the circadian variation of cortisol and DHEA-S levels. An increased cortisol level, a decreased DHEA-S level, or a decrease in the DHEA-S/cortisol ratio is an indication of a chronically stressful physical or mental condition.
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