Cortisol; The Good & Bad Stress Hormone

Updated: May 8


Cortisol is the main hormone released during the famous “fight-or-flight” stress response, (I have to survive reflex), without it we would not be able to respond to changes in our environment. Cortisol itself tends to get a bad rap, mainly due to the amount of it get pumped out and the timing in which this happens (too much, too often).

Cortisol is the main hormone released during the famous “fight-or-flight” stress response, (I have to survive reflex), without it we would not be able to respond to changes in our environment. Cortisol itself tends to get a bad rap, mainly due to the amount of it get pumped out and the timing in which this happens (too much, too often).

Cortisol is not evil or bad for us, it is more the timing of its secretions throughout the day and how much is released which is more the main problems. Cortisol in proper level is essential to survive life and is involved in many bodily functions. The secretion of cortisol follows a rhythm, it is typically highest in the morning to wake us up and then decreases at night to allow us to sleep and restore. However, in most of us we are contestant on overdrive, pushing and pumping cortisol all day and even into the night, and like so many other process related to optimal aging, balance is always the key. In proper levels, (and timings) cortisol performs many beneficial functions in the body.

Some of the benefits of proper cortisol levels include:

  • Stabilizing your blood sugar

  • Stimulates the creation of glucose to ensure an adequate fuel supply,

  • Helps maintains our blood pressure, that is why low blood pressure can also mean low cortisol or adrenal function.

  • Stimulates protein breakdown to release amino acids for use in repair, enzyme synthesis, and energy production.

  • Helps the body respond to stress and illness.

  • Increases and accelerates the breakdown of proteins to provide the fuel to maintain body functions

  • Acts as a physiological antagonist to insulin by promoting breakdown of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins and so mobilizing energy reserves.

  • Assists the immune and inflammatory responses

  • Makes fatty acids available for metabolic use such as the brain.

  • Acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

  • Increases the vasoconstriction *squeezes blood vessel tighter) caused by epinephrine in the stress response.

Too much or too little cortisol can lead to serious health problems such as:

  • Sleep disturbances – light sleep, trouble falling and waking up constantly.

  • Elevated Blood Pressure

  • Miscarriages and infertility

  • Decreased sexual function and libido

  • Cognitive/mental impairment anxiety and depression

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or fatigue that is chronic

  • Suppressed/low Thyroid Function

  • Lower Immune function

  • Food allergies and hypersensitivity

If you have more 1 or more of these symptoms, consider having your cortisol and adrenal system checked. This is done by measuring a 4 sample saliva cortisol panel, that looks at the circadian rhythm of cortisol excretion, along with several other key tests related to immune and digestive function.

For more information, BOOK NOW or call EnerChanges Clinic.

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