Saliva Test for Hormone Levels

Saliva testing is just that, testing your saliva for all hormones.  A naturopath can furnish you with a kit for the specific hormone panel which you are wanting to test.  Follow the instructions exactly.  You will need to spit into a little tube several times a day over a series of days.  You would think you will never run out of saliva, but it can be surprisingly challenging to collect the amount that the sample requires.  Just be patient with yourself, and allow a few minutes of quiet during collection.

Your test kit is then returned to the Naturopath, who will then forward it directly to the lab and you will have your results within one or two weeks, depending on how far afield the lab is from your home town.  Saliva testing is not generally covered by government medical plans, but it may be covered under your corporate benefits.  Check with your administrator.

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Thyroid Levels – You And Your Thyroid

Meet your best friend — your thyroid. If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, little else in your body functions properly. This little gland sits at the base of your throat in the notch of your collarbone. It is often called the “butterfly gland” because of its shape.

Our thyroid oversees every function in our body. An upset thyroid will reveal itself in two forms: underactive (hypothyroid); or overactive (hyperthyroid).

The health of your thyroid and how it functions is revealed through a blood test as requested by your regular family doctor. When you receive the blood test requisition, ensure that it does ask for a thyroid function test. This is called a TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. This test is usually adequate to determine if there is a problem, but if your doctor is concerned, she may also request a Free T4 test, which tests another background aspect of the thyroid function.

Symptoms of hyperthyroid (overactive, and in extreme cases is called Grave’s Disease)

Heart palpitations
Tremors (when you hold your hands out in front of you, your hands shake noticeably)
Sleeplessness
Feeling hot or overheated
Profuse body sweating
Unexplained weight loss
Hair falling out in noticeable amounts
Premature grayness
Muscle waste (you notice your muscle tone and strength is decreasing, even in the face of regular exercise)
Migraine headache
High blood pressure
Difficulty conceiving
Diminished immune system (you seem to catch every little cold or flu bug)
Poor digestion and upset stomach, nausea
Constipation and/or diarrhea
Emotional instability (anger, aggression, impatience)

A note here about Grave’s Disease having an additional symptom. In severe overactive state, the muscles around the optic nerve behind the eye will swell, sometimes slightly, sometimes greatly. This swelling puts pressure on the optic nerve as well as forcing the eye to protrude forward. Grave’s Disease sufferers tend to have very prominent eyes, almost a bulging look, with the white of the eye visible all around the the colored iris. This condition is dangerous and can affect the eyesight permanently. It is critical to be under the care of qualified eye doctor who is familiar with Grave’s Disease and it’s impact.

Grave’s Disease is my condition, and I was under the care of an eye specialist for several years until he determined that the danger was over and I could attend a regular eye doctor for yearly examinations.

Symptoms of hypothyroid (underactive, and in extreme cases is called Hashimoto’s Syndrome)

Heart palpitations, often accompanied by anxiety
Depression
Sleeplessness
Feeling cold, in spite of surroundings being warm
Dry, scaly skin
Fatigue
Unexplained weight gain
Low blood pressure
Difficulty conceiving
Elevated cholesterol
Poor digestion and upset stomach
Constipation and/or diarrhea
Emotional instability (fear, insecurity, weepiness)

The problem with thyroid symptoms, whether hypo or hyper, is that they can come on gradually one by one. Each symptom can begin so subtly that you don’t realize until months later that “hey, I feel terrible.” Also, the symptoms alone or in a group of two or three can also be associated with many other conditions. Take half of the symptoms and you’ve just described your PMS days.  This is the danger of the thyroid. If the thyroid function is not checked regularly, we may be chasing and treating other conditions in vain.

What causes our thyroid to change? It can be many things. My doctor told me that at “middle age” (thanks for that, by the way!) the thyroid can sometimes decide that it will function at a lower level, just in the same way that our eyesight fades resulting in needing glasses. A time of prolonged or severe stress can knock out our thyroid, as well as our other hormone levels. Thyroid problems also run in families, and mostly affect women. Check with your aunts, grandmother, and mother. With thyroid function testing really only coming to light in the past twenty years, it is possible that some members of your family have suffered with this and it has gone undiagnosed. The thyroid is getting a lot of press these days since Oprah announced that she is struggling with a hypothyroid condition.

Once you have a blood test and determine your thyroid is either hypo or hyper, what happens next?

Hypothyroid (underactive) can be treated easily with a synthetic pill. Thyroid medication has been around for decades and has been proven to be very effective with little side effect. If you do want to opt for a natural supplement, your Naturopathic Doctor can give you thyroid granules, which simply melt under your tongue.

Hyperthyroid (overactive) is a little more complicated. If the thyroid is over functioning, that function needs to be reduced. The most common method is an old one which is still used to this day. Radioactive Iodine Treatment. This treatment is completely painless, but the method can be unnerving. You will be asked to drink a container of water containing Radioactive Iodine. There is no taste to it and it doesn’t hurt to drink it. With this method, it is difficult for the physician to order the exact correct amount of Radioactive Iodine to correct the thyroid, and often what happens is that a bit too much is given. When this happens it puts the patient into a hypothyroid state which then requires some thyroid medication to bring the thyroid function up to the level needed for optimal health.

How the Vega Test Works

The machine which my ND uses is roughly the size of a common kitchen toaster.  It sits on the desk and has several small compartments.  Into these compartments are dropped sealed vials which contain, for example allergens or homeopathic substances.  The substances would be pertinent to whatever you are being tested for.

The patient then holds a metal bar in one hand.  The bar is attached to the machine by a cord and the bar itself is similar in size to the barrel of a curling iron.  The tester holds the electrode, roughly the size of a pen with a small metal ball on the end, which is also attached to the machine by a cord.  The probe is placed on a pressure point (such as the side of your middle finger by the first knuckle) and the meters on the machine immediately measure your body’s response to the substance in the vial.

If a patient is being tested for allergies, the practitioner will use many different allergen vials alone and in combination with each other to try to pinpoint the problem as accurately as possible.

The tester monitors the meters to see if the reading is “normal” or if it “shows” an imbalance.  The ND will then use this clue, along with the other information gathered at your appointment to determine a course of action or further testing.

 

My Experience With Vega Testing

When I visit my ND, I am tested for yeast, hormone balance, thyroid, stress, B vitamins and organ function (kidney and liver).  It has been my experience that these tests have often accurately indicated the beginning of a problem before my GP found it, and conversely, I have had my GP find a problem, and the Vega test has confirmed the findings.

During one testing session, the Vega indicated an imbalance in my thyroid, which until that point had remained at a stable level for 10 years.  A blood test with my family doctor showed no change in my thyroid, until six months later when I returned to my family doctor for more blood work which showed my thyroid level which had been unchanged for 10 years had now nearly ceased to operate.

On another occasion, my blood work told my family doctor I had a strange viral infection manifested itself later in small boils on my skin.  Before the boils appeared, I went to my ND for a Vega test without explaining my GP’s findings.  The testing indicated a viral attack on my entire body symptom.  From this test, my ND advised me that the virus may reveal itself through erupting boils on my skin.

Vega testing is one of those things which is best for each person to discover for themselves if there is value.  Because it is a completely painless and non-invasive test, what is the downside of trying it?  It may prove to be that extra piece of information that assists your ND in a more accurate diagnosis.

What is Vega Testing?

Vega or Voodoo??  Vega testing is considered a controversial method, however it is used by many Naturopathic Doctors (NDs).  Studies have been done by experienced Vega practitioners which drew inconclusive results in determining whether or not test subjects had allergies.  Many articles on the web dispute the Vega’s efficacy, but I feel that a decision on effectiveness should be left up to the individual and her ND.

Vega is the name of a machine which was developed by German physician, Dr. Voll, in 1958.  In technical terms, the machine works on the theory of “energetic pathology”.  This theory holds that a physical body’s first symptom of imbalance is an electrical charge.  In layman’s terms, the technology works similarly to a lie detector test.  If you are not familiar with the test, the first time you submit to it can seem a little bit “voodoo”, but all it really does is measure the electrical charges at a body’s acupuncture points.

The Vega machine will indicate if there is an imbalance in some component of the body’s chemistry.  It can test for chemicals, hormone levels, food allergies, vitamin and mineral deficiency, virus, organ stress (heart, liver, and kidney), yeast in the system.  It is very important to ask if the person using the Vega is a qualified and experienced practitioner.

When a ND uses the Vega test, it is only part of the diagnosis.  The doctor must deduce possible problems and solutions based on many factors:  patient’s appearance; patient history; current ailment complaints; and, the Vega test.

Click here for how the Vega tester works

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Blood Test for Hormone Levels

Having your hormones tested is critical if you are experiencing symptoms of hormone disruption.  Testing gives a starting point for treatment and understanding of what your body is doing.

Thyroid testing – this is done easily as a blood test requisition by your family doctor.  However, be aware that requesting general blood work, does not include thyroid levels.  The thyroid must be requested and tested separately.  Be sure to ask your doctor if the requisition includes a Thyroid test.

Cortisol testing – Cortisol is also easily tested through a requisition from your family doctor.  Like the Thyroid, it must be noted separately on the requisition, otherwise it will not be included.

Sex Hormone testing (progesterone, estrogen, testosterone) – These blood tests are not commonly requested by a doctor unless there is a suspicion of a woman entering menopause.  Having these levels tested, even when not in menopause, or long after menopause has occurred, can be important in managing your optimal health.  If your doctor is reluctant to request these tests, go to a Naturopath and request saliva testing.

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Hormone Test Results

Hormone Test Results – what you should know that no one will tell you!

Test Results – Whether you return to your general family doctor, or to your Naturopath for results, the doctor will explain to you what the results mean.  Here is an important thing to consider.  Sometimes, test results will show that your levels are in a “normal range”, and this may lead your doctor to say that all is well and send you on your way.  Sometimes, to feel optimal, you may need your level to be in the lower or higher end of the “normal range”.

This happened to me with my last thyroid test.  The normal range is considered 0.5 – 5.0.  My test came back at 4.85 so my doctor said I was normal.  I explained that I still was not feeling well.  The symptoms I had been enduring had lessened somewhat, but I was not feeling the fullness of health and well being.  After some research, and speaking to another doctor, it was recommended that I try for a level of 1.0 – 2.0.  As of the time of writing this article I am working towards this score and am feeling progressively better as weeks go by.

Moral of the story – you know your body better than anyone.  Listen to your symptoms and if you don’t feel well, keep going back to your doctor, keep talking, or get a second opinion until someone works with you to find your body’s optimal level for health, regardless of what is considered normal for the entire population.

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Saliva Test for Hormone Levels

Saliva testing is just that, testing your saliva for hormones. Why use a saliva test instead of a blood test?

Blood test for hormones measures the level of a particular hormone as it is circulating throughout your body.  However there is always a portion of your hormone level which is “unbound”  and bio-available.  This means that a quantity of hormone is readily accessible and usable by the cells in your body.  This level is not captured in a regular blood test.  When we are supplementing our hormone health with a natural therapy, it can take weeks, and sometimes months for the level to show in a blood test, even though our bodies are using the hormones immediately.  A saliva test gives a picture of what your hormone levels are right now!

Whether you visit your Naturopathic Doctor for a kit or if you order at At-Home kit online, you must be careful to follow the instructions exactly. Depending on which hormones you are wanting to test, you will need to spit into a series of little test-tubes several times a day over a series of days. You would think you will never run out of saliva, but it can be surprisingly challenging to collect the amount that the sample requires. Just be patient with yourself, and allow a few minutes of quiet during collection.

Once your collection has been completed, your test is then returned to the Naturopath, or returned per the instructions in your At-Home test kit.  Your results are forwarded to a lab and you will have your results within one or two weeks, depending on how far afield the lab is from your home town. Saliva testing is not generally covered by government medical plans, but it may be covered under your corporate benefits. Check with your administrator.

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Your Hormone Test Results

What you should know that no one will tell you!

Test Results – Whether you return to your general family doctor, or to your Naturopath for results, the doctor will explain to you what the results mean. Here is an important thing to consider. Sometimes, test results will show that your levels are in a “normal range”, and this may lead your doctor to say that all is well and send you on your way. Sometimes, to feel optimal, you may need your level to be in the lower or higher end of the “normal range”.

This happened to me with my last thyroid test. The normal range is considered 0.5 – 5.0. My test came back at 4.85 so my doctor said I was normal. I explained that I still was not feeling well. The symptoms I had been enduring had lessened somewhat, but I was not feeling the fullness of health and well being. After some research, and speaking to another doctor, it was recommended that I try for a level of 1.0 – 2.0. As of the time of writing this article I am working towards this score and am feeling progressively better as weeks go by.

Moral of the story – you know your body better than anyone. Listen to your symptoms and if you still don’t feel well, keep going back to your doctor, keep talking to your doctor, or get a second opinion until someone works with you to find your body’s optimal level for health, regardless of what is considered normal for the entire population.

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Blood Test for Hormone Levels

Thyroid Testing
 
This is done easily as a blood test requisition by your family doctor. However, be aware that requesting general blood work often does not include thyroid levels. The thyroid must be requested and tested separately.  It is a separate box to be “ticked” on the form.  Be sure to ask your doctor if the requisition includes a Thyroid test.

The common test is for the thyroid is TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).  The TSH results will be measured against a scale from 0.5 – 5.0.  Results within this range are considered normal.  The score can be a bit confusing, as a low thyroid is a score of over 5.0 and an overactive, or high, thyroid is below 0.5.  A less common test for thyroid is called a Free T4.  This measures another background aspect of thyroid function and can be very helpful for your doctor in getting a full picture of what your thyroid is doing.  Free T4 testing is expensive and must be made by special request by your doctor.

Cortisol testing

Cortisol is also easily tested through a requisition from your family doctor. Like the thyroid, it must be noted separately on the requisition, otherwise it will not be included.

Usually this test involves going to the lab for your bloodwork twice during the day of the test.  Once, to measure your morning cortisol level (usually before 9 a.m.) and again in the afternoon to measure your p.m. cortisol level (usually around 4:00 p.m.)  Specific times are required for this, so ask your doctor which times you need to attend.

Sex Hormone Testing
(progesterone, estrogen, testosterone)

These blood tests are not commonly requested by a doctor unless there is a suspicion of a woman entering menopause. Having these levels tested, even when not in menopause or long after menopause has occurred, can be important in managing your optimal health. If your doctor is reluctant to request these tests, go to a Naturopath and request saliva testing.
For more excellent information, consult Dr. Maegen Davis’ website:  www.NaturalBodyinBalance.com