Yesterday, I went to try hair mineral analysis. The clinic was not far from my home, and it caters for general medical and well-being issues. The physician tried to sell me their saliva test instead of the hair test. He explained how the saliva test could measure five hormones, including cortisol. This was certainly of interest to me, as I wonder about the possibility of adrenal exhaustion being a major cause of my particular strand of M.E., and had cortisol on a list of tests that I wanted to be looked into over the course of the next 12 months. If cortisol/adrenal exhaustion does play a role in my illness, then there is some hope that it can be treated. My main crash occured after a series of particularly stressful events back in the mid 2000's, so the role of stress and cortisol do raise some real red flags. I've never been tested for cortisol/adrenal stress levels, since I guess my earlier physician wasn't aware of how it could be linked, and, well, neither was I ... Until this year.
Apparently, saliva testing has certain advantages over blood testing in that saliva levels represent tissue concentration, and that concentration level is more critical than in blood levels. I would need to take four saliva samples over the course of a day and send them off to a lab. The results would come back within two weeks. The cost of the initial saliva test would be US$100. Depending on the results, you could be offered supplements that would aim to restore balances.
I thought a lot about this. I certainly would be interested in the test. But I wasn't sure it was the right place to get it done, or at least the right place to see through a course of 'treatment'. The physician reckoned that he had seen "thousands" of chronic fatigue patients and had treated 80% of them (his citation) through adrenal restoration. However, when asking me about some of my symptoms linked to M.E., he couldn't understand how IBS and nausea could be linked, and seemed to just see chronic fatigue as being purely about tiredness. I couldn't feel that he really knew enough about the condition to treat it in a way other than just checking off a list the supplements that he could offer. Also, the cost of saliva testing could add up to quite a lot. You would surely need follow-up measurements at intervals, and on top of that, the supplement treatment could be costly, too. There's also the time and energy that's needed to make several trips to the clinic. If there is any doubt about the insight of the physician, I would rather hold off and do a bit more research into saliva testing and its accuracy before I feel I could trust this particular physician.
But I did go ahead with the hair mineral analysis, since I felt that it could offer some potential insight if there were to be any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. I ran out of my multi-vit supply at the start of the year, and it's been the first time for a few years that I haven't taken a daily multi-vit and mineral supplement. I've got a really strong suspicion that my magnesium levels are low, since I am always jumping at the slightest thing. If it showed up to be the case, then I would feel that all this research into nutrition is starting to pay off, and would be really pleased that I'd managed to spot the signs of something - although it'd also mean that I need to worry that I do actually have a real deficiency at the same time. Anyway, around 3 centimeters of hair cut from two different places of my head were cut, and enveloped up, and the results will come back within 2 weeks. I'll have to work out a way to muster up the strength to go back to the clinic to get them, but I'm glad I've made the first step to undertaking all the tests I want to get done. I've now got a list of tests I would like to tackle over the next 12 months. The aim is to see if there is anything else that might be causing the M.E. If nothing can be found, then I'm surmising that the only thing left to do is to fall back on pacing to try and keep all symptoms in check. The more years that go by with this illness, and the more I'm reading about 'miracle cures', I'm suspecting that pacing is all that is going to help me in the end.
In doing a bit more research into adrenal fatigue, I came across this book/site by Dr. James Wilson: http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/