The Cortisol Awakening Response

Ep 67
In today's episode, we discuss the cortisol awakening response, which is a salivary test that's part of the Dutch test and other hormone tests. We'll be looking at the patterns of this response and discussing what can cause it to go out of balance. This test, along with urine-based metabolite measurements, provides a beautiful picture of your overall cortisol levels.


Cortisol Awakening Response Test
The Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) is a natural biological process in which the hormone cortisol is released by the adrenal glands upon awakening in the morning. The CAR typically occurs within the first 30-45 minutes after waking and is responsible for preparing the body for the day ahead. The Cortisol Awakening Response Test measures the amount of cortisol in the saliva at awakening. It is used in conjunction with the urine metabolite testing to evaluate response to stress. When used with metabolite testing, it allows you to see the dips and peaks throughout the day to see if there are any imbalances. 


Why Timing The Cortisol Awakening Response Matters
The cortisol awakening response is a natural physiological pattern where cortisol levels increase rapidly within 30-45 minutes after waking up in the morning. When testing, it is crucial to test immediately upon awakening, within the first 5 minutes at most. Once a person starts moving around we are no longer going to see the baseline amount.  The timing of the cortisol awakening response is critical because it sets the tone for the body’s stress response levels throughout the day. If cortisol levels are not elevated in the morning, it can impact our ability to cope with stressors, increase our risk for diseases, and affect our mood and energy levels for the rest of the day.

The HPA Axis and Blood Sugar Dysregulation
The HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis is a complex neuroendocrine system that regulates the body’s response to stress. When we encounter a stressful situation, the hypothalamus in the brain signals the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which then stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body to respond to stress, but chronic stress can cause dysregulation of the HPA axis and lead to various health problems. One of these problems is blood sugar dysregulation, which occurs when cortisol raises blood sugar levels in response to stress. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.


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Ritamarie Loscalzo

Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo is a best-selling author and speaker known for her extensive knowledge, infectious energy, and inspirational message that encourages individuals to become their own best health advocate. She is an internationally recognized nutrition and health authority who specializes in using the wisdom of nature to restore hormone balance with a special emphasis on thyroid, adrenal and insulin imbalances. She founded the Institute of Nutritional Endocrinology to empower health and nutrition practitioners to get to the root cause of health concerns by using functional assessments and natural therapeutics to balance the endocrine system, the body's master controller.

Dr. Ritamarie is a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic with Certification in Acupuncture and is a Diplomat of the American Clinical Nutrition Board. She is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist with a Master’s in Human Nutrition, has completed a 2-year, 500-hour Herbal Medicine Program at David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies and has a master's degree in Computer Science, which contributes to her skills as an ace problem solver.