Hormone balance can greatly affect immune function. 3 hormones are very important in this process.
Dr. Rodgers provides the following tests for her patients.
When the thyroid system is not functioning properly, the innate immune system may not function optimally[i]. Innate immunity is the part of the immune system that is always functioning to reduce infection. Innate immune cells include natural killer cells (NK cells), white blood cells, macrophages, and other immune cells such as dendritic cells.
- Testing thyroid hormone: TSH, Free 3, Free T4, Reverse T3.
Cortisol is an important stress hormone produced in the Adrenal glands. Cortisol reacts to stress by raising blood sugars, activating the immune system, and triggering the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (inflammatory signaling molecules). Chronic stress can dampen the feedback system that helps to reduce cortisol production.[ii] Chronic cortisol release may lead to chronic inflammation, resulting in a reduced immune response when needed.
- Testing cortisol levels: A diurnal rhythm test of cortisol and cortisone (cortisol’s storage form) can be helpful to determine the daily total amount of cortisol and if there are high and low points of cortisol release during the day. A diurnal rhythm test is usually collected from urine or saliva samples.
- AM Cortisol. If a diurnal test is not available, an early morning blood draw can be helpful. Obtain the blood sample as early in the morning as possible, before 8 AM.
Vitamin D has a significant role in supporting immunity. Vitamin D helps to regulate innate immunity. Vitamin D influences the immune system in the digestive tract, the location of majority of immune cells. Vitamin D may also be a key nutrient to reduce inflammatory cytokines.[iii]
- Testing Vitamin D levels: A simple blood test can determine Vitamin D levels.
- Retesting. Testing 3 times a year for several years may be helpful to determine your levels during high and low sun exposure months.
- Test results low: If you have low Vitamin D levels. Please ask your prescriber how much Vitamin D you need to raise your Vitamin D levels. Also ask for a re-test of Vitamin D 6 weeks after you start supplementing. A re-test will determine if the therapy was successful.
[i] Montesinos MDM, Pellizas CG. Thyroid Hormone Action on Innate Immunity [published correction appears in Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019 Jul 19;10:486]. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019;10:350. Published 2019 Jun 4. doi:10.3389/fendo.2019.00350
[ii] Morey JN, Boggero IA, Scott AB, Segerstrom SC. Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function. Curr Opin Psychol. 2015;5:13-17. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.007
[iii] Sassi F, Tamone C, D’Amelio P. Vitamin D: Nutrient, Hormone, and Immunomodulator. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1656. Published 2018 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu10111656