By Acupuncturist Dr. Jeannette “Jett” Kerns, AP, DOM, L.Ac., St. Cloud, FL owner of East Lake Acupuncture
Today’s health care practitioners face the challenge of helping patients cope with hormone imbalance. Whether that’s women suffering from weight gain, insomnia, hot flashes and night sweats or men troubled by symptoms of low testosterone, accurate testing is the best way to make sure hormone dosing is optimal.
Matching the type of testing with the type of supplementation has a great impact on the clinical usefulness of hormone assessments. If providers are measuring with the wrong method, tissue uptake of supplemented hormones may not be accurately reflected in the test results – leading to inappropriate dosing, leading to possible under or overdosing of hormones. There are four methods of testing hormones: Serum (blood draw), blood spot (finger prick), saliva and urine. Each is better than the other in certain situations. Knowing which test to order when, is the trick.
Serum vs. Blood Spot: Because serum levels do not rise significantly after topical dosing, serum (blood draw) testing grossly underestimates the amount of hormone being delivered to tissues from hormones applied topically through creams. This could lead to prescribing a higher than necessary dose of hormones (no one likes plucking chin hairs.) In this situation, blood spot tests are better because they test blood obtained from the capillary beds (arterial/venous/lymphatic) from the finger, and thus better reflects tissue hormone levels.
Serum vs. Saliva: Serum levels may not rise significantly after topical dosing, but saliva levels do, making saliva testing a good way to measure tissue delivery of the topically delivered hormone. With saliva measuring the bioavailable (non-protein-bound) fraction of circulating hormones that can freely diffuse into tissues, it provides a more accurate assessment of topical hormone supplementation than serum.
Blood Spot/Saliva vs. Urine: Urine testing cannot accurately assess topical or oral medications – as it is not reflective of tissue uptake – and may show no uptake with topical or extremely high levels with oral medications. Urine testing is not recommended for assessing vaginal hormone delivery as there is a high risk of contamination of the urine sample leading to false-high results. Finger-prick blood spot or saliva testing provides the best assessment of oral, topical and vaginal hormone supplementation.
Saliva vs. Urine: Urinary hormone testing is the only way to see how the body is metabolizing hormones a blood test cannot do this. Both saliva and urine can be used for measuring diurnal (a pattern that occurs every 24-hours) cortisol levels; but urinary free cortisol output reflects an average of the time since the previous urine void (hours), while saliva provides an instantaneous assessment at the time saliva was collected (minutes).
Where to get tested: Right in the comfort of your own home. Test kits are free. Lab fees apply. Call 407-738-7412 or visit www.eastlakeacu.com to arrange for your kit. Test kits also available for: Heavy Metals, Nutrients, Sleep Disruption and neurotransmitters.