Tag Archive for: adrenal glands

This month I would like to bring the fabulous DUTCH test into focus. acronym for; Dry Urine Test For Comprehensive Hormones

If you think you have issues with chronic stress, that is affecting your hormones then this is the test for you to complete.  Like most private LAB tests it can be done in the privacy of your home, taking only minutes to complete.




The definition of STRESS is the down-regulation of the HPA axis. Down-regulating the para-sympathetic nervous system, creating a dominant sympathetic response.

What happens when we get stressed? We release cortisol, taking 10 minutes to release, but then between 1-2 hour to break down.  This can vary however depending on the health of the individual since the liver is involved within the process of breaking down cortisol when liver issues are present it can take 3-4 hours or even all day to break down.

Cortisol is then affected by the balance of all other hormones in your body. The Dutch test is a highly sensitive test, bringing all hormones into focus when considering your stress hormones.  See the sample report above.

Cortisol is bound up by cortisol binding globulin transcortin.  Transcortin is very sensitive to estrogen.  Actually, all binding globulins are sensitive to estrogen.  Therefore, when a woman is on the contraceptive Pill, or has been on the Pill for some time, there is a very good chance she is low in FREE cortisol, simply because it is all bound up to the binding globulins.

Free cortisol is less than 5% circulating but in its active form.




  • DHEA, 80% is made in the adrenal glands 20% in the ovaries.
  • DHEAs is what is measured, however, this is not the active form.  DHEA needs to un-S taking the S off to become the active form. This conversation is dependent on the SULT1A1 gene, therefore sulphonation plays a role.
  • DHEA is your master hormone, breaking down to the three estrogens.
  • If you’ve had your 23&Me interpreted, you can check to see the status of your SULT genes.
  • DHEA made in the brain protects the hippocampus from cortisol, therefore DHEA in the brain is a good thing.
  • Stress damages our hippocampus, affecting our short term memory, not good!


When we get too much free cortisol roaming the system, our receptor sensitivity stopping being so active. Adrenaline and cortisol end up circulating.  In this way, chronic stress leads us into a rut, in which the wiring of our neural networks keeps us repeating the same dysfunctional behaviour.  Yet hoping for a different outcome! This by definition, is a form of insanity.

Adrenal Medulla

Other genes which are relevant to our stress response, mood and thinking are the COMT and MAOA. When these are running slow, you will not be breaking down catecholamines easily, and therefore do not break adrenaline down easily either. Check these genes if you are feeling stressed all day! Running slow means a high amount of neurotransmitters are stored since you are not going to break down adrenaline or nora-adrenaline.  Rather, it can carry on ALL day.  Stressy, buzzy, tense.

All there needs to be present to impact this system significantly is an infection, inflammation, food intolerance or a pile of housework building up to tip someone with slow genes to be tipped into overwhelm.

Cerebral cortex > CRH > anterior pituitary > ACTH > cortisol release > adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Our protective, survival mechanism is to shut down the parasympathetic nervous system and upregulate the sympathetic, now we are chronically in fight and flight! At this stage, we are likely to get receptor sensitivity. We can liken this to ‘annoying kid syndrome’ which I use to call being ‘mummed’.  Mum, mum, mum .. for hours.  We then get hyper-sensitive, and cortisol goes up even further because we are not tolerating it.

On the other hand, if you are a super laid back person your COMT and/or MAOA may be running too quickly.  Feed the furnace with additional protein plus Tyrosine.

How do we break the cycle? 

Change the biochemistry through food and nutrient therapy and then also rewire your habits.

Two analogies work for me here:  First, we need to dry up the riverbeds were ‘too much’ of a hormone/catecholamine/ transmitter has been allowed to flood the system. Secondly, it takes a while for a worn-down path to grow grass again, was ‘not enough’ of the right hormone/catecholamine/transmitter has been present.

Stress and Fasting

Clients like to bring in the option of fasting, believing that fasting will help to clear the system and take the stress of the system.  Whilst this is true in cases where adrenal fatigue is NOT present, it is not true for those who do not have a robust HPA axis. Primarily cortisol manages blood sugar levels. Do not stress the system out even more by Fasting when adrenal dysregulation is present.


Cortisol is higher in the morning with the sun. When cortisol is high it suppresses melatonin and growth hormone production.  Cortisol helps to fight infection via inflammation, think viruses, bacteria, etc.  The pro-inflammatory cytokines stimulate the stress system releasing cortisol.

There is real importance in this morning cortisol spike.  When auto-immune symptoms are presented then understanding your cortisol patterns is super important.  Low cortisol in the morning means that the auto-immune regulator does not happen.  Morning cortisol triggers those cells in the thymus who failed central tolerance to get destroyed.  What that means is, before immune cells get let out into the body, the thymus checks whether immune cells are auto-immune.  If cells are auto-immune, then the thymus pushes the cells off to the side and the thymes kill those cells.  Without the morning spike THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN!, and auto-immune cells get let out into the system.

Therefore, if we are consuming foods which create a cortisol spike at night, or we are fighting an infection at night, this suppresses melatonin, which in turn stops us from sleeping.  Leads to a low cortisol spike in the morning with auto-immune flare-ups.  For this reason, gluten and HHV6 will play more than one roll in creating auto-immune flare-ups.



When is it best time to test?

  • 5-7 days after ovulation on days 19, 20, 21
  • If your cycles are long, then shift up. If your cycles are short, then shift down.
  • First, track your ovulation through temperature gauging or other symptoms.  Then count forward by 5-7 days and collect your urine.

Look at your Estrogens

Dutch tests for Estrogens E1 E2 E3, which then go through the liver and get converted to Hydroxy 2, Hydroxy 4 or Hydroxy 16.

Each esterogen dominant pathway has key characteristics. Estrogen 4 hydroxy for instance goes down the quinone pathway, correcting to estrogen-related cancers.

16 Hydroxy, the 2/16 ratio 2:16 can implicate estrogen proliferative symptoms such as moody, PMS, tender breasts and weight gain.

2 Hydroxy is The Happy Healthy Way.

Estrogen in the right amount

Good for > bone health

Good for > brain cognition

Good for > temperature regulation

Good for > collagen, tissue skin

Good for > fertility

When it’s decreased, we can face menopausal symptoms, skipping of cycles, low cholesterol even anorexia!

Too much estrogen, pre-disposed from either being on the contraceptive pill, environmental estrogens such as cling wrap, tap water (re-cycling of the hormone pill within the water system:

We can experience being over-weight, diabetes, increased risk of Alzheimer, PCOS.

Reduced hormones, on the other hand, can be a direct result from cholesterol-reducing medication for instance. People seem to over-look that cholesterol makes up all our hormones.  When we lower cholesterol we also lower our testosterone, DHEA and Estrogens.

Other estrogen lowering activities

  • Extreme exercise, marathon running, cross-fit.
  • Frequent flying
  • Under appropriate body weight.
  • Head injuries.
  • Surgery decreases the blood flow to the area as capillaries are damaged.
  • Sugar, gums up the works, diabetes, and smoking.
  • Birth control pill reduces estrogen in the long term.

Consider Progesterone

Progesterone helps with anxiety and insomnia as well as the lining of the uterus, as women losing progesterone report anxiety and insomnia.

Alpha-pregnanediol goes down, usually goes up to GABA, supporting the glymphatic system during sleep.

A-pregnanediol typically converts into neuro-steroid ALLO, that crosses BBB (blood brain barrier) and can activate GABA a-receptors.

Progesterone in the brain is calming, supporting neurons, and is even used after traumatic brain surgery or after Stroke.

Progesterone enhances serotonin receptors in the brain and reduces gall bladder activity. Conversely, higher estrogen increases the risk of gall bladder disease and stones.

Those on lots of NSAIDS will typically have low progesterone activity when used for more than 10 days.

Consider Androgens

DHEA: facial hair, acne

Consider FREE cortisol, verses stored cortisol

  • Consider infections
  • Consider allergies
  • Consider food intolerances
  • Consider weight gain

Marker 8-hydroxy-2-deoguanosine (8OHdG)

Marker correlating to chronic inflammation, high stress, high cortisol, insomnia, hypertension, kidney disease, IBD, depression.

What do we do now with this information?

Note where on the dials we are, which is dominant. Are we triple estrogen dominant?

Depending on where your markers are, we may wish to support Phase 1 liver with P450 enzymes and DIM. Or Phase 2 Liver with SamE precursor or SamE if you wish to order it in from the US.  P%P, Mg, Choline, Methionine, Methyl groups TMG are all useful here.

Foods can be influential, but ONLY if stomach acid is good.  This will not be the case where P5P and/or TMG is warranted. Kale, broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli Sprouts, artichoke, onions, foods high in FOS and fibre.

Support Glymphatic system for catecholamine clearance at night.

Support MAOA with SamE donations and methyl donors.

Support COMT with Mg chloride.

Support the serotonin pathway.

Support the dopamine pathway.

Harness the benefits of apoptogenic herbs.

Combat infections.

Temper exercise according to the dominant hormone, verses hormone insufficiency.

Support HPA axis with key nutrients; C, B5, Zn, Fe, Mg, Sel

Weight management.

Given the results of your DUTCH test, there are plentiful options to improve your health.  So, if you are interested in ordering this test with result interpretation you can email Anna directly.

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What is Toxic Stress?

Stress can be toxic, or it can be beneficial.  Simply put, toxic stress is stress that we are no longer able to adapt to.  It is stress that tips us over the edge, and we all know what that can feel like. Overwhelm.  

Stress that is toxic can be defined as ‘the tipping-point’ between what we experience as ‘good’ and healthy stress, helping us to flex and grow as we adapt to the new experience.  And ‘bad’ stress, resulting in over-whelm and low tolerance, or a lowered thresh-hold to tolerance and overwhelm.  

Examples of some categories of stressors are; thermal, emotional, spiritual, EMF / electrical, environmental, viral and physical stressors.

Although stress is commonality within 21st-century living, when we reflect back through the ages we could argue that stress has, in fact, decreased during the last century. 

This might be the direct result of our raised ethical and living standards; improved home appliances, women’s right to vote, racial equality, even the digital age.  All of which apparently lower overall stress levels and decrease uncertainty.  

Let’s face it, we’ve never had it so good! 

Edwardian England and post second world-war Europe saw the age of invention and new home comforts. But, the type of stress that we do experience today is very-very different from before the age of invention.

Ancestrally,  stress meant life or death uncertainty;  tribal rejections, the survival of the fittest, plagues, wars, religious and social class. 

Modern stress

Today we have adopted novel stresses such as holding down more than one job, or the stress of being a working mother – effectively holding down two jobs.  The stress that comes with relentless studying, or sitting in relentless city traffic jams.  The feeling of constantly being up against time, and the persistent stress of environmental toxins such as glyphosates in our air, herbicides, and pesticides in our food, and fluoride in our water.  All persistently burdening and stressing out our immune systems. 

And then there are the controversial stressors of mandatory vaccinations, and their counter-part viruses being routinely shot into our bloodstream.  And the subsequent immunological stress and reactivation of retroviruses embedded within our RNA / DNA.

Dietary stressors

There is also the stress that sugar and refined grains can cause within our biological systems.  Creating a mass internal tsunami of inflammation every time we consume these non-foods, as well as stripping us of our valuable growth and repair nutrients. Sugar and highly refined grains have been coined as A-nutrients – meaning Anti-nutrients. 

And, since food can be used as a medicine, used to palliate and anti-dote all the other stressors by decreasing inflammation and up-regulating detoxification, why are we not always using it in this way.  Detoxification as a way of life.

It’s simply crazy silly and even down-right stupid to be stuffing yourself and children with inflammatory promoting foods, which either corrupt or bung up our mitochondrial membrane mechanics whilst inhibiting detoxification.  

And of course with the advent of the digital age, comes persistent invasive and pervasive EMFs such as electrical circuits griding our homes: Consider 3G, 4G, and now 5G, SMART meters.  

It seems, at least in my view, that today’s stressors are more subtle, insidious, virulent and internally toxic than those experienced by our predecessors. 

So let’s take a few steps back

Good stress, may at first help us to achieve great things, but when not well managed and fortified with appropriate diet, and nutritional building blocks, stress may stop being ‘good for us’.  We counter this by reaching for stimulants such as caffeine, refined carbohydrate, and sugar. We stay up late. We become addicted to our devices and the trap of toxic stress ensues.

Personally, I have always enjoyed stress to some degree, or at least I did until I pushed through until breaking-point.  What came next, was that I developed a series of debilitating conditions: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, followed by Benign Fasciculation Syndrome, along with other symptomatic profiles.  That taught me!!

So when does healthy stress become toxic stress?  Or is all stress potentially toxic once we pass a certain thresh-hold?

From a Functional perspective, once there has been a neuro-endocrine reset, the body never experiences stress in the same way again.  The reset point occurs from the day impactful trauma was experienced, and so the thresh-hold to stress has been lowered from that moment and going forward. 

A single major stressor such as divorce, death, car accident, extreme shock can be enough.  Or perpetual emotional trauma such as bullying or abusive parents can also lower a person’s threshold very early in life. 

From the moment of the reset, all stress becomes toxic.  The nervous system and amygdala literally re-train to respond to a PTSD type picture. 

Or it may not be PTSD, but instead categorised as relational trauma, but it is still felt in the nervous system as PTSD lowering the person’s threshold to stress.

Healthful hormetic stress

On the other end of the stress-spectrum, when we are young, fit, and uncompromised. When glyphosate has not messed up our hormone endocrine signaling. When heavy metals do not yet inhibit mitochondria energy production or cause us to become electrically sensitive.  If we are lucky enough to have parents who are not addicted to their screens. Then, stress can actually be good for us. 

This type of stress is known as hormetic stress.

It occurs when the body is capable of adaptation.  Then, all stress may serve to strengthen the body.  In much the same way that a virus or bacteria in small doses can aid to strengthen the immune system of the host, and even stimulate growth in the development of a child. 

The stress experienced by the beating of newly formed butterfly wings against the wall of its chrysalis, this stress is also known as hormetic stress.  

Science shows that hormetic stress serves to strengthen, whilst toxic stress serves to deepen non-adaptive endocrine issues.  Ultimately leading to a myriad of complex health conditions. 

Which category are you?  

How many people do you know who are ‘tired all the time’? How many people do you know with an auto-immune condition?  Or a complex health condition, with a as yet unidentifiable cause.

Fatigue has become the common thread within all complex, chronic and non-responsive diseases.  So why are doctors not considering the mitochondria and/or adrenal glands when these patients are flooding their surgeries. 

When Functional testing could provide many answers if only our GPs were willing to look in the right places.  Or more appropriately, refer their patients to a Function Nutritionist who has experience in working with complex health cases. And an understanding when it comes to identifying which tests clients should engage in. 

Disease paradigm vs the wellness paradigm 

One of the reasons the medical model is stuck in a cul-de-sac, is because traditional medicine is built upon what is termed as the Disease Paradigm, rather than a Wellness Paradigm. 

Mainstream medicine is literally operating in the ‘Disease game’, focusing on inhibiting patient symptoms, inhibiting the disease with a targeted drug.  At no time was traditional mainstream Western medicine in the Wellness game, AKA holistic medicine, which instead focuses on riding the body of underlying triggers that caused the dis-ease in the first instance, with a view to getting the person actually well again.  

And so if the aim of mainstream medicine remains to ‘name the disease’ with its sole aim ‘to create a single drug’ as a ‘palliative-cure’, then it will never have the intention of supporting the person toward total health. 

Therefore mainstream medicine diametrically opposes the functional perspective of nutritional therapy; which is to read between the lines, to observe multiple biological systems, to open drainage pathways and allow the body to heal itself.   

The British Food Plate

Is also part of the problem! We are taught in school this overly simplistic theory that our energy is derived from calories, found mainly within carbohydrate and sugary foods. Apparently, according to the BFP this linear model of thinking is good.  Unfortunately, it is both dated and completely untrue. Our bodies do not rely upon one singular source for energy, calories.  Energy production is complex and dynamic, requiring nutrient density within our food to deliver.  

How do we actually produce energy?

Firstly, we are not a car, requiring a single oil for fuel.  Our mitochondria create energy and for healthy mitochondrial activity, we need nutrient density, phospholipids, and fats.  

We also need to NOT have toxic elements such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium which may block mitochondrial performance. We also need to have a reasonably strong immune system so that opportunistic viruses hosted by us, do not switch off our mitochondrial performance.

There are many other factors that we could consider when wishing to improve our energy and ability to deal with stress; healthy adrenal performance; balanced blood sugar levels; a healthy thyroid; and of course a clean liver and a healthy gut.  All play into an optimal energy machine.

Adrenal glands

And then lastly we have the adrenal glands.  Our adrenal glands love to run into any fight and flight issue to save the day!

Adaptive adrenal functions involve squeezing out cortisol, which both acts as a fire blanket to decrease inflammation and also mobilses stored sugar from our muscles back into the blood so that we can run and think really fast!   

Cortisol and its uses

Cortisol decreases inflammation in our tissues, or in our joints, due to wear and tear from inappropriate exercise, for instance.  

Cortisol decreases inflammation in our guts, due to postprandial stressors caused by metabolites resulting from undigested and digested food.  But especially after consuming those foods that we are intolerant to, for instance. 

People who persistently eat food that they are intolerant to every single day, sometimes every meal every day (think wheat, sugar, and milk) run the risk of driving their cortisol levels into the ground.  30 years of persistent food abuse is just about enough for anyone to run the risk of maladaptive cortisol levels.  

Test-kits you may considering Energy production and Toxic stress

  • Chemical Immune Reactivity Screen

  • Lymphocyte Sensitivity Testing

  • Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen

  • Wheat/Gluten Proteome Reactivity & Autoimmunity

  • Gluten-Associated Cross-Reactive Foods and Foods Sensitivity

  • Adrenal Stress Profile

  • Metabolic Analysis Profile

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