Please help me hack my cortisol/hormone/bloodwork results

Commented on October 13, 2012
Created October 13, 2012 at 3:18 PM

I've been having some MAJOR issues lately and just got a ton of bloodwork done. My results are in (and very troubling-especially the hormones) but I can't get in to see my doc for another 2.5 weeks for a consult. She's very progressive and I'm confident in her advice, but she's so busy that I'm just sitting here spinning on all these numbers trying to figure out what they might mean and what intelligent quetions to ask her at my appointment. I was hoping to tap into all the knowledge and insight you fine paleohacks bring to the table.

Symptoms I've been dealing with: I've been dealing with SUPER low energy, poor physical performance and slow/bad recovery, weight gain/inability to lose weight (continues to store in my hip/butt area) and weight gain has been increasing over the past several months, constantly hungry from low energy (even though not really hungry thanks to high fat/nutritious foods-I've been Paleo for over a year now and rarely if ever stray) and craving sweets/chocolate a lot, trouble sleeping, sometimes night sweats, poor circulation in hands and feet, low BBT, low libido. *To date have experienced regular cycles but unsure about ovulation. Have also had pain from benign falicular cysts in the past.

*Stopped taking birth control pills April of 2012. Wasn't trying to get pregnant, just didn't want to pump my body full of synthesized hormones any longer (was on them for 11 years).

Peronal info: I eat very little industrial meat/poultry. Most meat I get is from pastured animals from a farm close to my home. Wild caught salmon 1-2 times per week. Most of my produce is organic. I use little to no industrial cleaners or products and all are checked on EWG for toxicity. I use as little plastic as possible. Glass food storage and heating containers, metal/wood cooking utensils, steel or cast iron for cooking, steel water bottles.

I drink almost no caffeine (don't like it black, won't drink it sweet). Not even any tea usually. Most water is Berkey filtered, with added sea salt and concentrace minerals. Shower has a chlorine filer on it.

I drink a cup of bone broth (cooked with sea kelp) each day, and about a half bottle of Komboocha (only those with 2g sugar/serving).

Daily probiotics, bone broth, and 2 enzymes with each meal. Also taking adrenal support adaptogens, vitamin C, fish/butter oil, turmeric, vitamin D. Have tinkered with magnesium (naturalcalm) and melatonin for sleep aid. Melatonin doesn't have major effect. Magnesium seems to help but I end up with digestive issues as a side effect so I don't often use it.

Test results:

Thyroid: T4 = 1.12 TSH = 1.690 RT3 = 21.1 (thyroid slowing down to conserve energy?) Ferritin = 169 (HIGH) Thyroid Peroxidase Ab = 7 Triiodothyronin = 2.2

Cortisol test: AM: 2.53 Noon: .2 (low) Evening: .19 Night: .09 (low)

Hormones: Estrone (E1) 1.8 Estradiol (E2) .9 Estriol (E3) .4 Progesterone 1.0 BASICALLY NON EXISTENT (normal is 80-270) DHEA .06 SUPER LOW Testosterone: 11.3 (low normal)

Progesterone/Estrogen ratio: 1.0 (WAY LOW, SHOULD BE 45-450)

Bloodwork: WBC: 5.1 (low normal) RBC: 5.0 (high normal) Hemoglobin 15.4 (high) range 11.5-15 Hematocrit: 44.7 (high) range 34-44 glucose: 77 BUN: 13 Creatinine: .82 eGFR: 96 Iron binding (TIBC) 345 UIBC: 190 Iron: 155 (HIGHEST POINT OF NORMAL) Iron saturation: 45% (high normal)

Total Cholesterol: 196 LDL: 85 small dense IV: 110 HDL: 99 tri: 51 ApoB: 58 Lpa: 6.7 CRP: .8 (down from 4.3 in March-possibly due to a fractured knee cap last year) Insulin: 6.5 Homocysteine: 8.7

Current Vitamin Deficiencies: Folate, Pantothenate borderline in: B2, B3, B6, B12, Serine, Glutamine, Chromium, Choline, Zinc, Inositol, Cysteine

154lb, 25.6% body fat [31 year old female, 5'10"]


I am suffereing from secondary state 3 adrenal faituge brought on by iron overload (possibly heterozygous hemochromatosis-would need a genetic test to diagnose this). Ferritin level is 169 (arguably high due to past high inflammation of ~4.3 CRP/knee injury)

The Ferritin levels have affected my pituary gland, which has in turn been mis-signaling and stressing the adrenal glands (and probably disregulating my sex hormones).

The Adrenals have been having difficulty pushing out cortisol, and there has been a SEVERE pregnenaolone steal. As a result, I have almost no estrogen, progesterone or DHEA.

I also have an underperforming thyroid (does not appear to be autoimmune). Most likely low T3 syndrome stemming from the lack of sex hormones and adrenal fatigue.

Solution (prior to talking with Dr) : Iron issue: Blood donation (every 2 months) with retests to look at hemoglobin/ferritin levels to reduce ferritin load and ease burden on organs Supplement with free phytic acid? (binds to the iron)-probably not necessary for my levels Limit red meats/organ meat??? Add more lean poultry and seafood?

Adrenal support: adaptogenic herbs acupuncture/stress reduction salt/water rest/do not over exert with CF workouts sleep gut healing moderate carb intake?

Balance hormones: support production with DHEA precurser/pregnenalone estrogen detox? supplements (progesterone cream?)

Thyroid: wait for now, watch to see if function improves with fixing of underlying problems. If not, consider supplementing with ARMOUR bad to supplement before system can handle it. If it has been downregulated to allow the body to rest, adding thyroid hormones is like throwing gas on a fire and will push the system into further burn out.

QUESTIONS: Should I take a liver cleanser to help with the extra load of all the herbs I'm taking in? Genetic test for hemochromatosis? What about testing for other influences on the adrenal(yeast, bacterial, fungal infections and parasites, other food sensitivies, heavy metals?) Should I stop taking the Vit C? (enhancing iron absorbtion)

Has anyone experienced anything similar to this? What path did you take? What results did you see? Thanks in advance for all your comments!



on October 13, 2012
at 05:00 PM

Anytime I see someone saying they crave chocolate is a good indicator that you're magnesium deficient.



on October 13, 2012
at 04:44 PM

Direct Healthcare Access out of Illinois does the testing for only $80 (inc shipping both ways) and is apparently the best place in the U.S. to get the test. I've called them and talked to them and they seem pretty cool.



on October 13, 2012
at 04:24 PM

Thanks Lynn! I'll be sure to ask my doc about testing for pyroluria. Viral infections could make sense as well (fits in with my concern about hidden adrenal stressors). I'll definately update when I get new information from the doc!



on October 13, 2012
at 03:41 PM

I just read Nutrient Power by Walsh last night (was able to find it at my local library), you might check it out. I too have very low cortisol and I'm still trying to figure out the underlying issues, which for me is looking like pyroluria (GREAT supprt group on Facebook, you might post to them too, some docs even chime in) and/or chronic viral infection. I hope some folks here have some immediate advice and that you'll come back & tell us what the doc said. Sounds like you take VERY good care of yourself, at least you have a good place to start from. Good luck Sue!

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