Today I’m jumping into all things related to adrenals, improving cortisol levels, and DUTCH testing. Ready for it?
Your adrenal glands
Your adrenal glands are small glands located above each kidney. They produce a type of hormone that you truly can’t live without (including sex hormones and cortisol, shocking right?) and helps you respond to stress properly. Not only that, but the adrenal glands support your digestive and immune system. When these glands don’t produce enough hormones or if they OVER produce- health complications can occur. In short, these glands produce all the hormones you need in order for your body to function properly.
Do adrenal glands and cortisol go hand-in-hand?
Yes, yes, YES… they do! The adrenal glands make cortisol (which is a hormone), which then helps keep inflammation down by regulating the metabolism and the immune response. The most important role is that cortisol helps the body respond to stress properly (aka fight-or-flight mode). However, sometimes your body can get stuck in this response (no good). This ultimately means you are living in a constant state of stress.
Stick with me here; we spend too much time in our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and we need to engage the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and recover) more! Do you love practicing self-care? If yes, fab. If not, I get you and that was me. Here are some activities that can help engage that rest and recover state that we all NEED. I'm talking this-is-not-negotiable type of need:
Being in nature
Drawing, painting, journaling (creating)
Sex (ok, this uses both systems)
Laugh (the best type of medicine)
(Stay tuned for a self-care article coming to you soon).
Struggling with any of the things mentioned above? No worries, I’ve posted about symptoms of low cortisol, high cortisol, low progesterone, poor estrogen metabolism, and acne related to high testosterone in some previous posts as well. BUT, good news! All of these can be identified or confirmed by pairing symptoms with appropriate lab work (there is hope, I promise you).
The DUTCH test stands for Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones. It’s the test that made me realize my stress levels NEEDED to change a few years ago. Sometimes, it’s not enough to have obvious symptoms or even for someone to tell you what’s going on to make a change. Some people need practical evidence and data… and I get that (hand is up here).
I run this test on clients (when needed) and it’s incredibly helpful to identify hormonal issues and provide additional guidance for the actual root issue. Remember, hormones themselves are rarely the root issue but rather a symptom of the root issue. I firmly believe in getting to the bottom of what’s happening with your body. Knowing the why is empowering and motivating. It gives you hope and shifts your lens to a “I have control” vs “I was dealt shitty cards.” Self-care is just another way to honor your body and get you through everything you might be going through.
If you suspect you may have a cortisol or adrenal issue, babe, listen to that! There's ways to find out and plenty of ways to support yourself (and get on top of it before it gets worse).
There may be other root stressors going on with diet or infections but this is still a huge starting place...