If a patient chooses to undergo adrenal fatigue testing, practitioners will routinely test for several hormones, with a primary focus on cortisol levels. Cortisol levels have a natural diurnal variation over 24 hours and can be influenced by other hormones circulating within the body. Therefore, your practitioner may also choose to test for these hormones as well, as part of an adrenal fatigue test.
Cortisol is a natural steroid produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol levels can be tested using blood, urine, or saliva samples. Levels may fluctuate in response to stress, this is due to the brain releasing a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH causes the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and adrenaline. This is a normal part of your body’s natural stress reaction.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
TSH is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. This hormone, in turn, stimulates the thyroid gland to produce triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which are required for normal bodily function. TSH is routinely tested to establish if your thyroid is over or underactive.
The majority of T3 is bound to proteins, however, we can detect any T3 circulating freely in the blood (FREE T3). This can help doctors to identify potential thyroid or pituitary dysfunction.
Similarly, T4 can also be bound or free, we can measure free T4 circulating in the blood and like free T3 it can help doctors identify pituitary and thyroid dysfunction.
ACTH is also produced by the pituitary gland within the brain and is responsible for regulating cortisol levels. A blood test can be conducted to obtain an ACTH level which can help identify adrenal, pituitary or ectopic pathologies.