SALIVA VERSUS SERUM (BLOOD) TESTING
The major sex hormones to assess are ESTRADIOL, PROGESTERONE and TESTOSTERONE. The main adrenal hormones are DHEA and CORTISOL. These 5 hormones will provide crucial information about deficiencies, excesses and daily patterns, which then result in a specifically tailored treatment approach. Below is a brief description of each of these five hormones:
There are three forms made by the body: estrone, estradiol and estriol. The form used in hormone replacement therapies is estradiol, often in the form of concentrated pregnant mare’s urine (Premarin). It is a proliferative (causes growth) hormone and is also a known cancer-causing hormone. However, it will treat menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia and memory-loss. If you choose to use a bio-identical formula, estriol is matched with estradiol (bi-est) to provide protective effects and additional estrogenic benefits. The other major protector in keeping estradiol from running amok is progesterone.
Progesterone is called the anti-estrogen because it balances estradiol’s proliferative effects. It is considered preventive for breast and prostate cancers as well as osteoporosis. In addition, too little progesterone promotes heavy menses, breast tenderness, urinary frequency, depression, irritability, increased inflammation, irregular and prostate gland enlargement (BPH).
Testosterone is an anabolic hormone (builds tissue) that is essential for men and women. The proper level of testosterone is necessary for bone health, muscle strength, stamina, sex drive and performance, heart function and mental focus.
DHEA & CORTISOL:
DHEA is an important adrenal gland hormone, which is essential for energy production and blood sugar balance. DHEA is a precursor to other hormones, mainly testosterone.
Cortisol is your waking day hormone (highest in the morning and lowest at night). It is necessary for energy production, blood sugar metabolism, anti-inflammatory effects and the stress response.
Some of the common imbalances identified through testing include: estrogen dominance, estrogen deficiency, progesterone deficiency, androgen (testosterone and DHEA) excess or deficiencies and adrenal dysfunction.
WHY USE SALIVA RATHER THAN BLOOD FOR TESTING?
Saliva testing is an EASY and NONINVASIVE way of assessing one’s hormone status and is proving to be the most reliable medium for measuring hormone levels. The difference between steroid hormones in saliva and serum is based on whether or not the hormones are bound to proteins in the medium used for testing. The majority of hormones exist in one of two forms: FREE (5%) or PROTEIN BOUND (95%). It is only the FREE hormones that are biologically active, or BIO-AVAILABLE, and available for delivery to receptors in the body. Those which are protein bound do not fit those receptors and are considered not bio-available. When blood is filtered through the salivary glands, the BOUND HORMONE COMPONENTS ARE TOO LARGE to pass through the cell membranes. Only the UNBOUND hormones pass through and into the saliva. What is measured in the saliva is the BIO-AVAILABLE hormone, the clinically relevant portion which will be delivered to the receptors in the tissues of the body.
SALIVARY HORMONE levels are expected to be much lower than serum(blood drawn) levels, as only the UNBOUND hormones are being measured. When your provider measures serum hormone levels and prescribes hormone replacement therapy based on those results, you may be overdosed. If you are then tested using saliva, the results are extraordinarily high, and confusion results from a lack of correlation between the two methods.
WHY TEST HORMONE LEVELS?
Hormones are powerful molecules essential for maintaining physical and mental health. We frequently think of estrogen as being a female hormone, and testosterone as being a male hormone. But men AND women make both, plus several more that need to be in balance for optimum health.
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL when it comes to hormones. For decades western medicine has prescribed Hormone Replacement Therapy as if everyone needed the same thing and the same amount. However, your HORMONES ARE LIKE YOUR FINGERPRINTS and in order to achieve optimal health, you need to know what your specific imbalances are.
Again, There are several ways to test for hormones (saliva, serum and urine), but the state-of-the-art method is through saliva. This is because only the ACTIVE portions of hormones are measured and it is these portions that determine how individuals feel. In addition, if you’re using a topical (transdermal) hormone preparation for treatment, saliva testing is the most accurate tool to measure and monitor hormone status.
WHERE SHOULD I START?
I believe the bare minimum for assessing hormonal status and endocrine function is a five hormone panel; Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA and AM(morning) cortisol.
My Preferred Suggestion:
A COMPREHENSIVE SALIVA PANEL used for Men and Women includes 4 CORTISOL LEVELS THROUGHOUT THE DAY, DHEA, TESTOSTERONE, PROGESTERONE & ESTROGEN. It is especially important to assess the mid-day cortisol levels in individuals who are experiencing blood sugar dysregulation, hyperlipidemia, weight gain around the waist, bone loss, infertility, sensitivity to chemicals and increased joint pain.
It will frequently be seen that when the estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are showing deficiencies and excesses, the adrenals have already been working overtime to attempt to compensate for the strain to our reproductive and other systems in our body.
AM cortisol levels represent the maximum output of cortisol for the entire 24 hour period and initiates and maintains waking day activity and function. DHEA has equally important duties and is often referred to as the “anti-aging hormone” because it is central in its role for disease prevention and health optimization. Measuring DHEA and AM cortisol is your first glimpse into the status of the endocrine balance and function. As we age and our production of sex hormones is changing, the ADRENALS will maintain a central role in sustaining optimal health and function. AGING IS OFTEN FIRST NOTICED WHEN OUR SEXUAL FUNCTION DIMINISHES & MENOPAUSE OR ANDROPAUSE HAVE BEGUN.