DUTCH hormone test

What to Do About Menstrual Migraines

Of all of the symptoms that women experience with their menstrual cycles, menstrual migraines are among the most debilitating. Read on to learn what they are and how to avoid them.

Herbals vs. Bioidenticals for Hormones: Which Is Better?

The question “What do you think of hormone replacement therapy?” is one of the most common I get asked as a health practitioner focused on women’s health. Read on to learn more about HRT and other options.

Do You Have Low Hormone Levels?

Though usually undiagnosed, I’d say ‘low hormone levels’ is an epidemic these days. Let’s learn about what that term even means, how you can be diagnosed, and what you can do about it!

Case Study: A Functional Approach to Hormones and Gut

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How Functional Health Coaching Treats Mood, Gut and Hormones in an Integrated Way

The Symptoms

When Emily joined our coaching program, she was struggling with depression, anxiety, fatigue, and brain fog. She said that she did not have the energy to improve her diet or exercise regimen to support her health. She feared that trying to make major changes could have the potential to elicit panic attacks that would prevent her from moving forward.

Photo by Jason Briscoe

Photo by Jason Briscoe

Emily felt “tired almost all of the time.” Up until a few years before joining our functional coaching program, she had lived an active life. She had spent years gaining her education and working as a public health professional. And, at 38-years-old, she found herself barely making it through the day.

Emily had resorted to some of the most common coping mechanisms available: coffee in the morning to give her enough energy to get going, and alcohol at night to help her sleep.

Emily had resorted to some of the most common coping mechanisms available: coffee in the morning to give her enough energy to get going, and alcohol at night to help her sleep.

She suffered from symptoms of gas, bloating and indigestion. Her symptoms eased when she was strict about her diet but returned whenever she wavered slightly. 

The First Steps

The first thing we advised Emily to do was to take the huge step of removing coffee and alcohol from her diet. Within a matter of a couple of weeks, she was amazed at how much better she felt, just from those small changes. While this is not always as impactful for everybody as it was for Emily, it does show that sometimes a couple of small tweaks can have big effects.

The Labs

As Emily made those early changes to diet, we ran a handful of functional labs, including:

  • DUTCH Complete hormone panel

  • Comprehensive thyroid panel

  • GI-Map stool pathogen test

  • Micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) test.

The Test Results

The test results showed that Emily was quite deficient in the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone but it is also responsible for providing a sense of energy and plays an important role in regulating the circadian rhythms controlling sleep/wake cycles.

Emily was also very low in all of her female sex hormones (the estrogens and progesterone) and she was also very low in melatonin, a hormone that helps promote restful sleep.

Emily's thyroid appeared to be slightly sluggish and she was deficient in seven different important micronutrients.

Her stool test detected two different parasites, an overgrowth of two different opportunistic yeast species, suppressed immune response in the small intestines, and a very strong sensitivity to gluten-containing foods.

Part of the Hormone Report

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Stool Test Results

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The Protocol

Emily remained free from coffee and alcohol and began to adopt a gluten-free diet.

She started doing moderate exercise, managing her stress levels, eradicating gut pathogens through an herbal protocol, and supporting her healthy hormone balance through diet, herbs, and lifestyle changes.

She introduced some herbal tinctures such as black cohosh, red clover, vitex, and motherwort to support her female hormone levels. She used a product called Adrenotone from Designs for Health to support the adrenal glands and the balance of stress hormone production through the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

Emily supported her micronutrient balance through the introduction of a complete mineral support formula and used the Designs for Health GI Microb-X product as one of the antimicrobial blends for eradicating infectious microorganisms. She also introduced Megaspore probiotic to rebuild beneficial gut flora and to support the immune system. 

For dietary support, Emily began seed cycling and introduced more healthy fats into her diet. She also incorporated detoxification strategies such as dry brushing and rebounding into her daily routine to help her move toxins out of the body in a natural way.

The Transformation

Photo by Patrick Hendry

Photo by Patrick Hendry

As Emily gained energy, she was able to reintegrate exercise into her life and she enjoys mountain biking and outdoor sports of many kinds.

After six months on the coaching program, Emily reported feeling better than she had in years despite experiencing some extreme stress, including the sudden death of her partner’s mother.

Over the course of her six months on the program, Emily gained enough energy and mental clarity to make big decisions about her life, including the purchase of a new home and a desire to have a baby.

Emily is now thriving, pregnant, happy in her life, and excited about her future.

 

 

Are You Ready for Your Transformation?

Work With Us!

We would be honored to work with you as a private client. We provide testing and coaching options to women in most every state and country. Come check out our coaching options to see if it’s a fit.


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Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.

The Benefits of Lab Testing for Women's Health

LabTestingBlog

You are trying to fix your hormones, tame your hormones, survive your hormones…is it working? If not, here’s help and an explanation of why it’s so complicated.

Your body is complex- 11 systems comprised of 37.2 trillion cells working together with 100 trillion bacteria to keep you energetic, sleeping well and thinking clearly.  Source

Our modern environment is also complex. Wi-fi, international news reports, food additives, long work days…we all have a lot challenging us right now.

You are probably already trying to be healthy. Did you cut down on sugar, caffeine, gluten?  That’s great! Are you noticing some steadier moods or a slimmer waistline? I hope so. 

You may also be trying to get regular exercise, and maybe even meditating.  That’s great too!  How about reading blogs like this one and attending online health summits? Yup. These foundations of diet, exercise, stress reduction, and education are all very important.

But what if you are still tired? What if you still have no sex drive?  Raging acne? Creeping weight gain?

You may think, “well I must have adrenal fatigue.”  

That’s the mindset I had several years ago. I was eating really well but still had spotting before my periods and really low energy in the afternoons.  I thought, “Well, it’s the stress. I need to do a better job of handling stress.” But I never seemed to accomplish that.

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Later I had a DUTCH (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) test, and it revealed something new to me.  It suggested I may have low thyroid function, which I had never suspected. I didn’t have the hair loss, weight gain, etc. that I had learned about with low thyroid.

Important Point #1: Your hormone problems are not always what you think. 

It’s easy to come to a conclusion that you have estrogen dominance, low hormone levels, low adrenal function, etc, but you don’t really know until you test. You can, like me, beat yourself about a diagnosis you’ve decided on and keep self-treating for it, but it’s better to test and really know.

After my DUTCH results suggested I had low thyroid function, I ran a full thyroid panel on myself for the first time. Although I had run blood tests in the past, I had never tested my thyroid antibodies as I hadn’t suspected an issue there.

My results showed a very low level of thyroid antibodies, and I’m so glad I caught it early.  Around the same time I was chronically sick, and, at first, I figured it must be this thyroid issue. 

But soon after we learned that we had toxic mold within the walls of our house, which took me down a deeper rabbit hole of testing.

Important Point # 2: Your hormone problems came from somewhere.

It’s important to realize that your body will not randomly give you a thyroid condition, or any other hormonal imbalance.  It wants to have a working thyroid gland and balanced hormones.

As I learned about mold, I learned that it, among other triggers, can contribute to thyroid issues. This is why I still do not identify with a Hashimoto’s diagnosis, but rather I consider myself a person in the process of healing and clearing deeper causes of illness.

Recently I had a new type of stool test. My past stool tests had revealed some bacterial imbalance and H. Pylori infection, an infection I cleared without any improvement in my gastrointestinal symptoms.  

I was ‘inspired’ to run a GI Map test by Diagnostic Solutions laboratory after interviewing Dr. Todd Watts about parasites on my podcast, and then promptly passing a worm in my stool the next day! What timing. Side note: if you see something that looks like a pad thai noodle or a bean sprout in your stool, but you’ve didn’t eat either the day before, you should be highly suspicious!

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The GI Map is different because it looks for DNA fragments of parasite and other infections in your stool.  So it doesn’t miss much.  However, according to Dr. Watts, it is still inadequate because it does not test for every type of parasite.

But for me, a parasite was found, and it did appear to roughly match the specimen I had found in my stool.  I lived a year in rural South America about 20 years ago, and I had suspected a parasite back then.  But you don’t need to leave the country to get a parasite!  Again according to Dr. Watts, “everyone who has a pulse has a parasite.”  According to the Center for Disease Control's website, " Parasitic infections affect millions of people in the United States every year."

I mention stool testing because 100% of the clients in our coaching program have GI issues contributing to hormonal issues.

When you are housing candida infections, aberrant bacterial growth, parasites, H. Pylori infection or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), it’s a chronic stress or your body, leading to inflammation, malnutrition or even autoimmune disease. It’s incredibly common, and digestion and hormones are not often enough linked in the medical conversation.  

Important Point # 3: Your primary care doctor probably doesn’t take a functional approach to health care.  

Many people comment to me that they want to feel better and they are very interested in the functional approach, and then their next question is, “Can my doctor run these tests for me?”

Yes and no. Sometimes your doctor to run a full CBC blood panel for you, and have them add vitamin D and thyroid antibodies. However:

  1. Within a conventional medical system, she can’t run labs for diagnoses they don’t suspect based on their training

  2. If she is not a functional practitioner, she will not interpret your results in a functional way, and may tell you you are fine (when you don’t feel fine)

  3. She definitely cannot run the advanced urinary, saliva and stool tests we use because these tests are not available to them through the conventional medical system

You can’t ask your doctor to practice functional medicine if that’s not what she practices.

It’s like asking your massage therapist to give you acupuncture.  It's not within their training.

Our clients can sometimes get helpful blood tests through their doctors that we can review, and I also encourage them to use a Health Savings Account (it’s pre-tax money you put towards health expenses) when possible.

I understand that spending money out-of-pocket on medical expenses is not fun. I understand that many people are living on modest means and supporting kids, parents, and other family members financially.

Our family has spent, get this, at least $100,000 in remediating mold in our house, replacing all our stuff, missing work, moving to a safer space, and treating our health.  And the spending hasn’t stopped because I’m not all healed up yet, and we still have some mold-infected belongings to replace.

Still dealing with mold, over a year after it was found.

Still dealing with mold, over a year after it was found.

So I am sympathetic, but at the same time, I have made incredible sacrifices to heal myself and my family.  And I would do it again in a heartbeat.  

The experience I went through with mold was a huge growth opportunity.  It made me realize how short and fragile life is, and gave me a deep hunger to get well and live my life to the fullest.

I recently read this quote in the book, Gratitude, by author and physician Oliver Sacks, after he learned he had advanced liver cancer, "It is now up to me to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can."

I had a firsthand experience with the web of diseases and how they interconnect. It was not easy to identify my root causes nor navigate the options for care. 

As a health coach, my experience made me a strong advocate for my clients to persist and get well, even if the path seems impossible to find, or the mountain too big to climb.  

We have women in our program who are too sick to work, homemakers or who are working low-wage jobs. I am fiercely proud of them for choosing to invest in their health. Others have parents that choose to support them in their healthcare, often in cases of infertility where the odds of becoming a grandparent are increased!

It comes down to choosing more for yourself- to believing your health could be improved, which allows you to be happier and more productive.  You also have to be willing to work and to pick yourself up when you have a hard day of symptoms.

If you'd like to have a conversation with me about your health journey and what we do in our functional health coaching program, please check out our current coaching options  Our private coaching program does include choosing the best lab test for your case, placing the orders for you, interpreting your results, setting a protocol based on those results, and adjusting and monitoring your protocol for best results.

Free Educational Videos on our Favorite Lab Testing

In this video, Ann Melin is describing about the DUTCH i.e Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones by Precision Analytical. She will also explain about different types of hormones and organic acids.
In this video, Ann Melin is describing about the GI-Map from Diagnostic Solutions Lab. She will also explain about Stool testing techniques, different types of pathogens, worms and intestinal health.

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Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.

Natural Solutions for Hormonal Imbalance with Dr. Carrie Jones

You are in for a treat with this interview with Dr. Carrie Jones!  Dr. Jones is a naturopathic physician who specializes in women's health.  She currently works as the full-time medical director for Precision Analytical, Inc, makers of the DUTCH test.  

You have heard me sing the praises of the DUTCH test on a past episode with functional medical practitioner, Ann Melin. DUTCH stands for Dried Urine Test of Comprehensive Hormones.  I really like this test because it is a great way to measure adrenal function, female hormone status and detox capacity.

Dr. Jones has looked at many thousands of these tests, and she recaps the common patterns she sees on this episode. She also talks about why and when to take such a test.

Finally, she dishes on all her favorite herbs and supplements for female hormonal complaints.  We put this together in a handy sheet for you. You can get a copy by using the button below:

 

Thanks for listening!

Bridgit Danner, Founder of Women's Wellness Collaborative

You Don't Have Adrenal Fatigue by Maria Claps

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There are too many people walking around thinking that they have adrenal fatigue. This diagnosis was handed to them after a saliva test and a visit to a holistic clinician. I admit, I used to use this method of testing. I’ve ordered saliva tests on my clients and have coached them in recovering from the maladies of modern day lifestyles, and at that time I too called it adrenal fatigue. It was a good way to learn and it had some value, but the science of lab work is changing.

Many of my clients got better, because when we get adequate rest, deal with our stressors, eat nutrient dense food and take high quality supplements, our bodies usually respond well. But this didn’t mean that they had adrenal fatigue.

So if you don’t have adrenal fatigue, what do you have?

Most likely, you are experiencing a mismatch between your biology and your lifestyle. This shows up in two main ways. The first is nutrition. For the vast majority of our time on earth, we’ve consumed wild game, fish, vegetables, starchy tubers, nuts, seeds and fruit in season. Nowadays, the 6 most common foods in the modern diet are pizza, sugar sweetened beverages, beer, bread, grain based desserts, and fried chicken. This type of diet is inflammatory and is a factor in our modern day chronic unwellness.

The second, lesser known, mismatch between our bodies and our lifestyle is the activation of our stress response system. Our stress response system has two components, the sympathoadrenomedulary system (SAS) which is responsible for our immediate or short term stress response and the HPA axis, which is responsible for our intermediate or long term stress response. The HPA axis consists of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands (in the brain) and the adrenal glands (in the mid back). It helps us process threats to the body (whether those threats are a car accident or refined, nutrient poor food.)

Both of these stress response systems exist for our good. But the protective mechanisms they produce can become harmful over the long term if continually called upon.

Here’s the perfect scenario for understanding this: Imagine you're a hunter gatherer out for a walk on the savannah and all of a sudden a wild boar charges you. It's a good thing that your heart rate, blood pressure increase. It’s a crucial part of your physiology meant to ensure your escape and this your survival. But at the same time these survival mechanisms activate, your digestion and sex hormone production plummet. This is how it’s supposed to be, but it’s a problem when it rarely or never calms down.

Enter the modern lifestyle….traffic, work deadlines, inflammatory food, over-exercise, or its opposite, couch potato syndrome, smoking, OTC drug abuse, lack of rejuvenating activities. The list goes on…I’m sure you get it.

The constant activation of the stress response via the SAS and HPA pathways erodes resilience and paves the way for metabolic breakdown.

The loss of resilience is associated with the modern day disease epidemic and is why stress contributes to so many conditions.

SOME CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH CHRONIC HPA AXIS STIMULATION:

  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Excessive exercise
  • Diabetes
  • Central obesity
  • Asthma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Eczema
  • PMS
  • Thyroid disease

If you’ve gone to a holistically minded doctor and you’ve got any number of these problems and a saliva test, you’ve probably been handed an adrenal fatigue diagnosis.

The adrenal fatigue model is loosely based on the work of Hans Selye and his general adaptation syndrome theory. Selye explained the progression of stress over time in 3 stages: alarm, resistance and exhaustion.

THE ADRENAL FATIGUE MODEL WITH THE THREE STAGES OF ADRENAL BURNOUT IS LOOSELY BASED ON THIS MODEL:

  • Stage 1 of adrenal fatigue is high cortisol with DHEA on its way down.
  • Stage 2 of adrenal fatigue is falling cortisol (which is sometimes in the normal range) and decreasing levels of DHEA
  • Stage 3 is even lower cortisol and lower DHEA.
But is the adrenal fatigue concept really accurate?
— Maria Claps, HHC, FDNP

Not really. Consider two problems with the “adrenal fatigue” diagnosis:

Most people with “adrenal fatigue” don’t have low cortisol levels. The assessment of adrenal fatigue has depended on saliva measurement of cortisol taken at 4 distinct points throughout the day. Cortisol measured in saliva is only 2-5% of our total cortisol production. The vast majority (around 70%) of our cortisol is excreted in urine. This measurement is called metabolized cortisol. Free (salivary) cortisol is NOT the best marker for cortisol production. Metabolized cortisol, however, is a good marker for overall cortisol production.

This would not matter if free and metabolized cortisol was the same. But often, they are quite different.

It’s possible to have low free cortisol and high metabolized cortisol.

Some conditions with associated with low free cortisol and high total (aka metabolized) cortisol:

  • Obesity
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Insulin resistance
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Active stress response
  • Long term glucocorticoid use

Also, it is possible to have high free cortisol and low metabolized cortisol. This is commonly seen in liver damage and hypothyroidism.

***Special note for hypothyroid sufferers: If you get a DUTCH test and it shows up as high free cortisol and low total (aka metabolized) cortisol, you might be getting overdosed on your thyroid medication***

Therefore, a saliva test is an incomplete picture of true cortisol production.

Even when total cortisol is low, it's rarely because the adrenals are tired and unable to produce it. The control mechanisms for cortisol production reside in the brain and central nervous system, not the adrenal glands themselves. The adrenals produce cortisol but the regulatory mechanisms are primarily outside the adrenal glands. Therefore we should not be calling the problem of low cortisol adrenal fatigue, but instead it should simply be called “low cortisol mechanisms”.

Here are two reasons why cortisol production can drop:

1) Down regulation of the HPA axis – when we are exposed to stress for a long time, there can be a down regulation in cortisol receptor sensitivity. This is the body’s attempt to protect itself from the damaging effects of chronically high cortisol levels. The problem with this is that it actually ends up hampering the body’s ability to produce cortisol. This is an adaptive short term mechanism that becomes harmful in the long-term.

 

2) Impaired cortisol signaling – High cortisol levels will lead to cortisol resistance. This can be caused by a decrease in cortisol receptor sensitivity and/or a decrease in cortisol receptor expression.

With the DUTCH (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) method of testing, which tests both free and metabolized cortisol, we have a greater understanding of the health of the adrenal glands. (We also get to look at sex hormone production and estrogen metabolite breakdown.)

True adrenal fatigue, if the term is to be used at all, should be reserved for those who have Addison’s disease, an autoimmune inability to produce cortisol.

But for the vast majority of us, our “adrenal fatigue” is simply a miscommunication between the brain/adrenals exacerbated by how we were designed to live (nutrient dense food, infrequent activation of the stress response, plenty of exposure to sunlight, connection with nature) and how many of us actually live (too much exposure to electronic screens, nutrient poor food and go-go-go lifestyles).

So what’s a woman to do?

You can get your adrenal hormones accurately (key word here!) and this is called the DUTCH test. This test uses dried urine to measure hormone levels. Precision Analytical laboratory in Oregon is the maker of this test.

Maria Claps, HHC, FDNP

Maria Claps, HHC, FDNP

Found This Interesting? Want To See More?

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