The Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) is the predictable rise in cortisol within the first hour of awakening. There are two events that contribute to this dynamic rise in morning cortisol. The first is in response to adrenocorticotropic hormone output from the pituitary as a part of the normal circadian activities of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis with involvement from the sympathetic nervous system. The second occurs in response to exposure to daylight with the activation of the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus, which happens within 30-45 minutes after awakening and can increase cortisol by 50-60% from the waking value. These events take place in a timed and metered fashion, allowing for a rise and fall of cortisol over a one-hour period [1].…

Tags: Anxiety, Depression, Cortisol Awakening Response, Cortisol, Mental Health


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Anxiety, Depression, and the Cortisol Awakening Response

Anyone who has dealt with issues related to chronic fatigue has likely evaluated their hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis performance through a multi-point salivary test. Cortisol is readily measured in saliva when samples collected at predetermined intervals throughout a single day, revealing one’s physiological resilience and metabolic reserve in response to daily stressors.…

Tags: Covid19, Adrenal and Cortisol, HPA Axis


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Part IV: Long COVID and HPA Axis Dysregulation

Training for athletic competition or exercising to stay healthy is already hard, but the unique physiology of hormone fluctuation due to the menstrual cycle can make it downright tough at times. However, your menstrual cycle does not have to be a bad thing and there are many changes that occur that can be taken advantage of while training. The US Women’s World Cup Championship teams use specialized training approaches that conform to the different phases of the cycle [1]. I hope after reading this blog, you can better understand what changes happen at the hormonal level and how to better harness these changes to perform your best.…

Tags: Athletes, Menstruation


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Athletic Performance and the Menstrual Cycle: How to Tailor Workouts to Achieve Optimal Performance

In parts one and two of this series, we looked at the issues related to long COVID and its impact on the nervous and the immune systems. The effects of COVID-19 on the nervous system can present as localized effects such as loss of smell and taste to chronic fatigue, headaches, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, and cognitive issues. The potential to trigger an autoimmune reaction is a very real possibility with any infection and is provoked? stimulated? by molecular mimicry, bystander activation, and viral persistence. The presence of a healthy and diverse gut and lung microbiome helps to regulate the immune system and supports a robust and balanced innate immune response.…

Tags: Covid19, Neurotransmitters, Saliva Testing, Thyroid Health, Heavy Metals


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Part III: Long COVID and Mitochondrial Dysregulation

When the COVID-19 pandemic began to threaten the United States in early 2020, ZRT began work on dried blood spot (DBS) COVID-19 antibody testing. This was prior to the molecular (polymerase chain reaction or PCR) testing boom starting in mid-2020 that eventually became the most dominate and useful test for detecting current COVID-19 cases using nasal/oral samples. Antibody testing took a backseat to molecular testing for most of 2020, but with rapidly dropping case counts and the introduction of vaccines, antibody testing is making a comeback for research, public health surveillance, and clinical testing in 2021.…

Tags: Covid19, Blood Spot Testing, Research


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ZRT Dried Blood Spot COVID-19 IgG Antibody Testing: An Update

Discovering the detailed interplay between neurotransmitters and perhaps other endocrine signaling molecules, has helped fortify our understanding of how biological function in the body influences brain health. The results of the test provide a biochemical basis that helps explain mental health-related symptoms the patient is suffering from and enable the practitioner to move forward with creating a highly individualized therapeutic intervention, usually based on a combination of lifestyle and dietary changes that include personalized nutritional intervention strategies (e.g., methylation support, antioxidants, targeted amino acids, vitamins + minerals, adaptogens, etc.).…

Tags: Neurotransmitters, ZRT Laboratory, Dried Urine Testing, Cortisol


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New Frontiers in Neurotransmitter Lab Assessment: Everything You Need to Know About the Expanded NeuroAdvanced Profile

In the first part of this series on post-COVID illness, I reviewed some of the issues of post-viral syndromes and their relationship to the current pandemic with a deeper look into the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on the nervous system. Many of the symptoms associated with long COVID present as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) with some additional symptoms specifically associated with COVID-19. Post-viral syndromes are not new, but it is not completely clear as to why some patients experience lasting symptoms after a viral infection and some do not. We do know that immune system activation by a virus increases systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, and tissue damage. We also know that our genetics play a role, as evidenced by the tendency to develop autoimmune conditions for those with specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) phenotypes that can be triggered by certain infections.…

Tags: Covid19, Neurotransmitters, Adrenal and Cortisol


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Long COVID: Immune and Systemic Effects of Post-Viral Infection Part II: Ongoing Inflammation and Autoimmunity

SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating in the global population for over a year. According to Worldometer, at the time of this writing on March 2, 2021, 115 million people have been infected with the virus, 2.5 million have died, and 90 million have survived the infection to go on to have possible immunity. The immune response to the virus can range from asymptomatic to severe illness and death and has aroused fear and uncertainty around the world. For those who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and survived, some experience prolonged symptoms beyond recovery from the acute illness. Long COVID presents with ongoing symptoms of fatigue, post-exertional malaise (PEM), sleep issues, headaches, brain fog, cognitive issues, depression, anxiety, musculoskeletal pain, respiratory distress, and muscle weakness that extends far beyond initial recovery.…

Tags: Covid19, Brain Health, Neurotransmitters


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Long COVID and the Systemic Effects of Post-Viral Syndromes Part I: The Central Nervous System

Many children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) struggle with fitting in and according to some experts, may receive as many as 20,000 negative messages by age 10 than their neurotypical peers. Little wonder then that many struggle with self-esteem and the belief that they are somehow broken.…

Tags: ADD and ADHD, Mental Health, Brain Health


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An Individualized Plan for Managing ADHD: Laboratory Testing & Lifestyle Modifications to Provide Symptom Relief

The fact that we produce vitamin D in our skin in the presence of sunlight signifies how necessary it is to our health. Even though it seems easy enough to get, according to recent data published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in 24% of Americans, 37% of Canadians and 40% of Europeans [1]. Data from 2012 indicate that 50% of the world’s population are vitamin D insufficient. A deeper look reveals that vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency vary by age, sex, ethnicity and geographic location, with reduced time spent outdoors and insufficient consumption of vitamin D-rich foods having the greatest impact on suboptimal levels [2]. The medical community is certainly testing more than it did in the past, naturally picking up on more deficiencies, and providing us with the opportunity to address this key biomarker of good health. This blog discusses sources of vitamin D, contributors to vitamin D deficiency, and its role in chronic and acute disease, especially its association with comorbidities that predict an increased risk of complications and poor outcomes to COVID-19.…

Tags: Covid19, Vitamin D, Immune System


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Vitamin D: Its Role in Health and the Importance of Adequacy in Acute and Chronic Illness

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