Cortisol

Cortisol is one of the most important hormones in your body, essential to vital functioning of the body. It influences protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, helps regulate blood pressure, modulates the immune system to fight bacterial and viral infections, improves the integrity of blood vessels, and reduces inflammation.

Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone.” It shields your body in response to emotional and physical stresses. When these stresses occur occasionally, cortisol levels go up and down in response and everything is great. But when stress is chronic, persistently elevated cortisol leads to fat accumulation, blood-sugar control problems, fatigue, bone loss and immune system impairment.

Your levels of cortisol should be the highest in the morning and the lowest in the evening. Under chronic stress, the adrenal glands that make the cortisol can no longer produce enough of this stress hormone, leading to low levels of cortisol in the morning (when they should be the highest). As the day goes on, your adrenal glands continue making an effort to produce cortisol — leading to higher levels in the evening when they should be at their lowest. During the day, patients experience fatigue, need for naps, and foggy thinking. At night patients, may experience difficulty sleeping, carb cravings, racing thoughts, and night sweats. This type of cortisol imbalance is extremely important to correct since it affects several other hormones in the body, such as thyroid.

Treatment for cortisol imbalances is a multifactorial approach that involves lifestyle and dietary modifications, appropriate herbal and nutrient support, and in some cases, pharmaceutical support.

 

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