Chronic, low-grade stress or severe, short-term stress can lead to adrenal overload with high cortisol production. This can be followed by adrenal fatigue, meaning that the adrenal gland is under performing and cannot make the needed quantities of cortisol and DHEA for optimal daily functioning.

Low cortisol symptoms include fatigue, low blood pressure, depression, dizziness or lightheadedness, cold hands and feet, salt craving and tending to be thin and sometimes unable to gain weight.

High cortisol symptoms include being tense and anxious, depressed, unable to sleep, being overweight, especially excess truncal weight with thin arms and legs.

Low DHEA symptoms include low energy and loss of muscle mass since DHEA is a growth hormone for our muscular tissue.

The best adrenal cortisol test is 4 saliva specimens done in one day: morning, noon, 4 pm and bedtime, each in a separate vial. The daily cortisol levels vary in a normal person from highest in the morning to lowest at bedtime and each time of day has it’s own normal range. A DHEA level will also be measured.

Other more extensive hormonal tests also include melatonin, estradiol, estriol, testosterone, progesterone and secretory Immunoglobulin A (an important first line defense immune marker).