What is Saliva Testing and What Can it Tell Me About My Health?
One of the most common tests I recommend my clients undergo to assess their hormone levels is saliva testing. But what is it and what can your saliva tell you about your health that a blood test can’t?
Stress and Hormones
Your adrenal glands—the gatekeepers of your stress hormones—are two of the most important glands in your body. They are the workhorses that maintain healthy organ system function during bouts of stress. But as efficient as your adrenals are at helping your body cope with stress, they do have a breaking point. And when that happens, it can wreak havoc on your body, sapping you of your energy, altering your mood, and interfering with your overall health.
Blood Tests vs. Saliva Testing
One of the most reliable methods for assessing your adrenal function is to measure your cortisol and DHEA levels—two of your body’s most important stress hormones. The problem is that cortisol and DHEA levels fluctuate throughout the day. So that single blood test that your general physician has you undergo at the lab is just a fraction of the picture. Saliva hormone testing provides a more accurate assessment of your adrenal function by evaluating how your cortisol and DHEA levels vary throughout the day.
Saliva hormone tests can reveal a variety of hormone imbalances, many of which are the direct cause of conditions such as adrenal fatigue, chronic stress, depression, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and even diabetes. Common symptoms of adrenal and other hormone imbalances include:
- Fatigue or overall lack of energy
- Weight gain or trouble losing weight (even with healthy diet and exercise)
- Irritability or mood swings
- Chronic joint and muscle pain
- Change in bowel habits (irritable bowel)
- Depressed mood and/or anxiety
- Sleep disturbances or insomnia
- Night sweats or hot flashes
How Saliva Testing is Performed
The great thing about saliva testing is that it doesn’t involve any needles. Providing a sample is as simple as spitting into a test tube. Cortisol testing involves four separate samples throughout a single day—one in the morning (usually upon waking), one in the mid afternoon, one in the late afternoon, and one in the evening (usually between 10 p.m. and midnight). Sex hormone levels, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, can also be tested using one or more of your saliva samples.
The test tubes provided in saliva test kits are small and easily fit into a purse or pant or coat pocket. This allows you to have them readily available when it comes time to give a sample—no matter where you are. After collecting all four samples, the tubes are sent off to the lab for analysis. Results are usually received back from the lab in about two weeks.
Which Saliva Test is Right for You?
Having your saliva tested is an important step in understanding where your adrenal and other hormones may be out of balance. For help in deciding which saliva hormone test is right for you, contact me or schedule an appointment. My experience and expertise in correcting adrenal fatigue and other hormone imbalances can help you make sense of your test results. Should your results point to adrenal fatigue or another hormone imbalance, I can provide you with your Personalized Energy Plan (PEP™) you need to get your body and your health back on track.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on saliva testing! Do you think it’s gross? Are you relieved that blood tests aren’t needed? Post a comment and let me know!