Cortisol “The Stress Hormone”

2010-10-22-TheVisualMD_Wellness1Tip_StressThe adrenals are two triangular shaped glands located on top of each kidney. Cortisol is one of several hormones released by these powerful glands. It is released as a “stress hormone.”

Cortisol controls:
1. Blood sugar
2. Fat and Protein mobilization
3. Prevents inflammation
4. Will make the liver make sugar from fat

The pituitary gland activates the adrenal gland by secreting ACTH. ACTH is adrenocorticotropic hormone. It stimulates the “cortical” layer of the gland to make cortisol.
Cortisol has distinct bio-rhythms. It is high in the morning and by the evening is down. Stress alters the rhythm and may eventually cause the gland to become “exhausted.” “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by James Wilson, ND, PhD, is an excellent book to explain why and how cortisol depletion can result in severe exhaustion.

Unfortunately this hormone is not understood by most physicians. It is a test rarely ordered and a syndrome basically ignored.
Stress factors:
1. Anger
2. Fear
3. Death of family member
4. Divorce
5. Marriage
6. Financial Worries
7. Job
8. Relationships
9. Personal Illness
10. In-laws
Just to name a few, are viewed as stress. These issues if chronic and severe can totally deplete this vital hormone. Thyroid and severe adrenal stress go hand in hand. Low blood pressure as well as low blood sugar may be the only symptoms.

Recovery from adrenal stress can take up to a year with treatment to resolve.
Cortisol is vital to the feeling of well-being. Longevity and quality of life are severely compromised when this powerful and needed hormone is barely available. Patients will rely on sugar and caffeine to “boost” their drive because they are unaware as to the real reason for their chronic fatigue.ponokefalos andras

Since the adrenal gland is needed for survival when compromised, all the other glands suffer as well. The thyroid gland in trying to pick up the slack will, in time, become hypo active itself, further compounding the clinical situation.

Eventually the immune system falters. Lupus, Crohn’s, colitis, chronic sinus and infections plague the individual. Abdominal obesity (cortisol paunch) along with decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and increased blood pressure herald the demise of this vital hormone. There is acute adrenal fatigue, and mild and high adrenal fatigue. Saliva testing of the morning, noon, evening and night cortisol levels is the best way to determine the level of fatigue.

Treatment is based on the stage of fatigue. Support is given to the glands until they are healed. Lifestyle and diet must be altered. Of course, alleviating the stress factors is paramount to treatment.

What difficulties do you have that you might relate with stress?