The Adrenal Stress Index (ASI) is a simple, non-invasive saliva test used to evaluate the effects of stress on your body. It is used to specifically evaluate the function of the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands sit right on top of the kidneys and are responsible for secreting cortisol in a natural and timely rhythm. The adrenal glands are part of a system called the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
This axis is regulated in large part by the circadian rhythm – in other words your sleep cycle.
The adrenal glands have an outer portion, or cortex, that accounts for 80-90% of the weight of the gland and is responsible for production of adrenal steroids including cortisol, DHEA-S, aldosterone, and other sex hormones. The inner portion of the gland, or medulla, compromises 10-20% of the gland and produces catecholamines including adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. Cortisol, DHEA and adrenaline are the three main adrenal stress hormones.
DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is key in the regulation and balance of sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone), so abnormal production or rhythm can obviously negative impact your sex drive, as well as energy and maintenance of a healthy body composition.
Cortisol is usually referred to as the main “stress hormone”. Levels should typically peak in the morning to get you going with a little pep in your step, and then taper off towards the end of the day to allow you to quickly fall asleep and sleep soundly throughout the night.
Cortisol and adrenaline can be released as a natural response during stressful situations to help boost your energy and focus. This is sometimes referred to as the fight or flight response. Normally this is a short-lived response. Cortisol levels that remain elevated due to chronic stressful situations can have a catabolic effect, wearing the body systems down. This can also seen in athletes with chronic over training, not allowing their bodies time to adapt and recover from the stressful demands of their sport.
What most people don’t know is that when you skip or delay meals, or have even a couple of nights of disrupted or shortened sleep patterns, the natural rhythm of cortisol production can be turned upside down.
Abnormal cortisol levels can have widespread effects on your body and can contribute to a wide range of negative health conditions.
Is this test right for you?
You should get tested if you suffer from any of the following:
- Chronic stress
- Excessive fatigue, lack of vitality or low energy
- Issues with low blood sugar or blood sugar regulation throughout the day
- Uncontrollable food cravings
- Difficulty building and maintaining muscle mass, or decreasing body fat
- Chronic infections
- Poor injury healing
- Slow recovery from exercise
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Brain fog, low cognitive function, or issues with memory
- Low sex drive
Optimizing adrenal function and cortisol levels can positively impact your health in a number of ways:
- Boost energy production
- Improve muscular strength and bone health
- Strengthen immune system function
- Enhance sleep quality
- Skin health
- Optimize thyroid health
- Sharpen brain function and improve mood
Treatment will typically involve balancing the peaks and valleys of cortisol production throughout the day with appropriate dietary recommendations and supplements, not pharmaceutical medications.
If you are feeling fatigued, stressed out, or just flat out run down despite your best efforts to get healthier, contact us to get an appointment and see if your adrenal function is part of the problem.