Hormone Series – Part VI: Cortisol

cortisol

The 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.

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 situation.Cortisol-is-a-hormone-300x210

Eventually the immune system falters and Lupus, Crohn’s, colitis, chronic sinus and infections can 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.

At The Baucom Institute, treatment is based on the stage of fatigue and support is given to the glands until they are healed. We also encourage your lifestyle and diet be altered. Of course, alleviating the stress factors is paramount to getting the most out of your treatment.

What is your stress level? What do you think your level of well-being is right now?