Among all bodily fluids, saliva is perhaps the one least considered, at least by healthy individuals with no abnormal health concerns. However, medical science is confirming of late that saliva is just as relevant in health testing as any other bodily fluid. It is a medium replete with information, especially when it comes to diagnosing several conditions, since it contains data regarding the production of several hormones, which are essential in regulating the proper functioning of the human organism. For one thing, an at home saliva test can gauge whether or not one’s body is producing a sufficient amount of cortisol and melatonin.
Cortisol, which goes by the more scientific name of hydrocortisone, is the hormone that the body releases through a specific area of the adrenal gland, and which regulates responses to stress and anxiety, by increasing the level of blood sugar. Moreover, hydrocortisone plays an essential part in bone formation, whose levels it lowers, while also suppressing the immune system and helping metabolize fat and protein containing substances. Similarly, melatonin is also important to the proper workings of the metabolism, since it is a strong and efficient antioxidant. What’s more, melatonin has been recently hailed as an important element in the composition of several types of medication – their efficiency, however, remains disputed and is regarded by many as equivalent to that of homeopathic medication. On a more scientifically founded note, however, both melatonin and cortisol tie in with certain serious health conditions, discussed below. As such, the fact that their levels and production can be appraised through a simple saliva test represents great strides for medicine.
- Cushing’s Syndrome
While cortisol plays an important effect in regulating several naturally occurring processes of the human body, excess levels of the hormone can become highly detrimental. Our research revealed that such a basic, affordable, and quick home test, administered on two consecutive days can establish whether or not has been exposed to excessively high levels of cortisol. These findings are also supported by the diagnostic guidelines for Cushing’s syndrome, published in 2008 by the American Endocrine Society.
While it may seem like this disease is linked with being exposed to too much stress over a lengthier period of time, such a description is inaccurate. Cushing’s is usually caused by a prolonged and excessive intake or steroids from the class of glucocorticoids, or by another health condition, which results in elevated levels of cortisol being produced by the body. One of the most telling signs of Cushing’s syndrome is massive weight gain within a short span of time, which does not affect the limbs. A saliva test is the preferred method of screening for Cushing’s, says the 2010 research report published by Sakihara et al.
- Addison’s Disease
Not long ago, Addison’s disease would only be screened for via tests performed on human serum. However, a 2008 study authored by Restituto et al. found that a cortisol saliva test is just as good, provided the saliva is collected early in the morning. These findings are especially important, since Addison’s, albeit a rare condition, is also a chronic and severe one, which causes the adrenal glands to produce fewer steroids than they should. The result is a dangerous mix of disparate symptoms, which range from pain in the sufferer’s abdomen to a general weakened state, but can even lead to a coma, if the illness progresses into an Addisonian crisis.
Photo Credit: Nina Jean (CC BY-ND 2.0)
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