Now that we have completed the 5 consecutive blog posts on hormones for women, lets revisit the hormone cortisol. The “stress hormone.” This is important for all. Women, men and children. Yes, children.
Children themselves can be stuck in the stress mode. Or, cortisol can be an issue in previous generations or during gestation (the time when the mother is pregnant with the child) and through epigenetics, adversely affecting a child’s health.
We discussed cortisol in a previous post but so much of chronic disease, and autoimmune disease specifically, is related to stress and it’s negative impact on the body. So much needs to be said about cortisol. And if you recall, cortisol is called “the forgotten hormone.”
Functions of cortisol
Balances blood sugar
Immune system response
Bone turnover rate
Protein synthesis. Think other hormones, neurotransmitters (like serotonin/dopamine/GABA), enzymes (needed to turn one thing into another thing) and cell walls. So much of our body is protein based.
Mood and thoughts
Influences testosterone/estrogen ratio
Influences DHEA/insulin ratio
Affects pituitary/thyroid/adrenal system
Participates with the hormone aldosterone in sodium reabsorption in the kidneys
Is an anti-inflammatory
What elevates cortisol?
High “progestin” intake. Remember the artificial, not like our progesterone, medicine named “progestin” that we talked about in a previous blog post? The one women should never take.
What are the consequences of elevated cortisol?
Decreased immune system
Increased osteoporosis risk
Shakiness between meals
Memory is not as sharp
Increased blood pressure
Increased blood sugar
Increased insulin/insulin resistance
More frequent infections
Weight gain around the middle
Impaired liver conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone T4 into the more active/usable thyroid hormone T3
Abnormal cortisol levels are associated with…
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Generalized memory loss
Irritable bowel syndrome
Exacerbations of multiple sclerosis
What are the consequences when cortisol levels crash? Adrenal burnout. Hypoadrenalism. Both cortisol and DHEA levels decline.
Low blood pressure
Sensitivity to light
Emotional imbalances/lack of motivation
Low blood sugar
Decreased sexual interest
Lack of stamina
Poor wound healing
Unresponsive hypothyroidism (does not respond to thyroid medication treatment)
Feeling of being overwhelmed
Causes of Hypoadrenalism. Hypocortisolism.
Dysbiosis (too few good bacteria and too much bad bacteria in the gut)
Overly aggressive exercise
Low blood sugar
Poor sleep hygiene
Remember that hormones are like a big symphony orchestra. Thus, if cortisol is increased, it decreases the making of progesterone. It also blocks progesterone receptors all over the body so we don’t get much bang for our progesterone effort.
When cortisol is elevated, thyroid hormone is more bound up in an unusable form and less active. Thus, we don’t get much bang for our thyroid effort either.
Decreased estradiol in a women is a stressor to the body which negatively impacts the stress hormone cortisol. This causes a decline in the function of important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine.
“Got a revolution. Got to revolution.”