Saliva Testing for Adrenal Hormones

What is Saliva Testing?

Your adrenal glands are responsible for all of your responses to stress. Levels of the main adrenal hormone, cortisol, rise and fall in a daily pattern that underlies the more erratic fluctuations caused by the stress response. Cortisol output by your adrenal glands is one of the most reliable indicators of your adrenal function and how well your body is dealing with stress. The Cortisol/DHEAS Saliva Test measures the levels of the stress hormones DHEAS and cortisol in your saliva, and provides an evaluation of how cortisol levels differ throughout the day.

Health conditions this test is used to assess

Most saliva hormone tests can uncover biochemical imbalances that can be underlying causes of such conditions as chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, chronic fatigue, obesity, diabetes, depression, insomnia, and many other chronic conditions.

What does this test involve?

The test involves simply spitting into a test tube. Cortisol is measured four times - in the morning (8 AM), noon, evening (4 PM) and night (best between 11 PM and midnight). Other steroid hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, DHEAS and testosterone can be measured along with cortisol in the 8 AM saliva sample, if desired. You carry the test tubes with you during the day (they easily fit into a pocket or purse) so they are handy when it’s time to give a saliva sample. Immediate refrigeration is not necessary. Once the sample set is complete, you mail the tubes back to the lab for analysis in the mailing envelop that is included with the test kit. Both you and your doctor will receive copies of the results, usually within 2 weeks.

Is saliva testing for hormones reliable?

Yes, saliva tests are reliable indicators of the levels of all steroid hormones (cortisol, DHEAS and all sex steroids) in your body. However just as with blood tests, some labs are more reliable than others – especially for sex steroids, like estrogens. In fact, saliva cortisol testing is covered by Plan B medicare. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO), recognize saliva cortisol testing as being very accurate. Some insurance plans also cover saliva cortisol testing.

How can I get this test done?

Talk to your health care professional about your symptoms and ask if this test would be useful for you. Unfortunately many physicians are still unaware of the validity, reliability and value of saliva hormone tests. Some labs, such as ZRT and Genova, allow patients to order tests directly. Several other labs also do saliva testing. You can search online using “saliva test” as your search word.

For more detailed information on saliva testing:

Article on salivary cortisol testing