The Validity of Saliva Cortisol Testing
For 30 years saliva has been used as a reliable, cheap and effective way to measure the body's major stress hormone, cortisol.
Although use of saliva cortisol is by no means limited to natural or "functional medicine," that is probably where it has been used the most. Natural health care practitioners will often give patients saliva test kits to measure cortisol and hence their stress response.
Nonetheless, if a patient happens to then go to a medical doctor with the results, they may be told that there is no validity to saliva tests.
I want to make these points very clear:
1) If a medical doctor says there is no validity or reliable way to measure cortisol through saliva that doctor is ignorant.In such a case what that doctor really should do, is tell their patient that they are not familiar with saliva cortisol testing.
2) The debate on saliva cortisol testing has nothing to do with differences between functional medicine/ holistic medicine/ naturopathy / eastern medicine or anything else you'd like to call it and conventional mainstream medicine.In reality, such lab testing is far within the scope of anything that can be called "western medicine." Not only that, it has been accepted by mainstream western medicine.
The use of saliva cortisol testing is actually a guideline in the practice of mainstream endocrinology! See link to Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism abstract
Among the many studies done on saliva cortisol in the last 30 years, this one also stands out as well.
3) Most medical doctors don't understand cortisol, stress and the circadian rhythm
Many times medical doctors tell patients things which are just simply not scientific with regards to such testing. This includes:
- "Cortisol doesn't affect your health."
- "Timing of testing cortisol doesn't matter"
- "There is no science behind this"