WHAT Cortisol REGULATES AND MODERATES

cortisol

I-Metabolism

  1. Blood sugar levels: this relates back to the mists of time when cave man was faced with fight or flight dangers (for example a saber tooth tiger). The adrenal cortisol reaction stimulated the liver to pour out more sugar for fuel to accomplish the fight or flight; The latter is known as the Acute Stress Reaction (ASR). Unfortunately our modern life  turned this ASR into a Continuous Stress Reaction (CSR) but the adrenal – cortisol – sugar reaction is exactly the same. The problem is that the ASR ended and all went back to normal and the sugar was used. (Unless he did not get away, but then it ended his stress forever). With the CSR it never ends and the body does not return to its normal functioning and the sugar is not used. The evolution of ASR to CSR is in my book which is written for the layperson.

  2. The metabolism of fats and protein are converted to sugar in order to maintain blood sugar levels at physiological levels (what nature intended). This is called gluconeogenesis, which is converting protein & fats into glucose when necessary.

  3. Immune response of moderating the inflammation reactions. This includes the anti-inflammatory responses. For example, that is why they use cortisol medications to control so many medical conditions such as transplants, allergies and dermatitis of different types etc.

  4. Blood pressure moderator-a lot of this is due to the metabolic effect and the weight response by creating too much blood sugar under stress which will be stored as fat in organs and the blood vessels. The latter leading to hardening of the arteries. Again cortisol is responding to stress and therefore I suggest some of my blogs on stress. I have also written about aldosterone which is put out by the adrenals and affects the BP. It is inhibited when stress causes a surge of cortisol.

  5. Central nervous system activation

                                          II-Elevated Cortisol level

  1. Impaired cognitive performance: one reason for this is at first the stress reaction which includes adrenal-cortisol -liver-sugar-insulin response can lead to hypoglycemia. The brain needs the physiological quantity of blood sugar to function. Hypoglycemia can be a precursor of diabetes which causes so many pathologies one of them being hardening of the arteries which certainly affects blood flow to the brain. Because of the sugar surge stimulating an insulin surge the blood sugar can fall below the necessary homeostasis for a person. This is called a reactive hypoglycemia. Symptoms can be anger, hunger, fatigue, aggressiveness and depression.

  2. low thyroid output (hypothyroidism) an explanation is in my book: Emotional Vampires….but briefly cortisol is the fight-flight response hormone and stops digestions (which is not needed in fight – flight situation) and without gastric juices the breakdown of protein is  inhibited. Without protein breakdown amino acids cannot be produced.  Tyrosine, one of the amino acids is necessary for the thyroid hormones production. Cortisol in the exact physiological amount is needed to change the inactive T4 to the active T3.  Then exact physiological dose of cortisol is necessary to activate the cell receptors to allow T3 into the cells to metabolize for energy production.

  3. Decreased bone density-That is one of the reasons why there is warnings on taking cortisol  for too long. Cortisol inhibits the sex hormones which are the bone builders.  When cortisol is used for a long time it can lead to osteopenia – osteoporosis.

  4. May cause G.I. ulcers and shutting down ones own adrenal functioning. Again there is a black box warning from the FDA about the latter two side affects. Aspirin, NSAIDS (Non-Steroid Anti-inflammatory Drugs) and cortisol are the leading causes for bleeding ulcer hospital admission of the digestive system

  5. Insomnia: but also remember the person under stress does not get adequate sleep  and a vicious cycle is created leading to adrenal fatigue.

  6. Decreased muscle mass

  7. Increase blood pressure: again due to increase of sugar which causes Insulin Resistance thereby eventually converting the sugar to fat (triglycerides) which under certain conditions causes hardening of  the arteries and high BP.

  8. Slow wound healing

  9. An increase of fat deposition and therefore cardiovascular problems, due to stress and the continuous out put of sugar for flight or fight reaction. Being stressed and the adrenal cortisol response can sabotage any diet.

                                   III-Decreased cortisol levels

  1. Brain fog which is part of the Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Emotional Vampires…… In the book there is a lot about the antidepressants.  All the book is  evidence based medicine with a biography for  reference.  More and more evidence based science is coming out that it may be the high serotonin levels that the anti-depressants are causing that may be responsible for anxiety.

  2. Depression: of course with all these functions  of the body not functioning (sex hormones and digestion for example) plus insomnia.

  3. Blood sugar: low  hypoglycemia episodes or chronic hypoglycemia due to the eventual adrenal fatigue and the eventual pancreatic collapse

  4. Fatigue

  5. Insomnia

  6. Low blood pressure

  7. Low immune function with adrenal fatigue

  8. Increase of inflammation because of the inability to moderate the chemical blood cell reactions that cause inflammation.

 THE ADRENAL CORTISOL STRESS RESPONSE INHIBITS FUNCTIONS THAT ARE NOT NECESSARY FOR FIGHT OR FLIGHT SO THAT ALL THE BLOOD IS DIRECTED TO THE LARGE MUSCLES OF THE LEGS AND ARMS. THE FUNCTIONS THAT ARE STOPPED ARE DIGESTION, AND THE HORMONES; ESTROGEN, PROGESTERONE, TESTOSTERONE, ALDOSTERONE (WHICH HELPS REGULATE BP) and thyroid eventually. One can easily understand when you inhibit the above functions the illnesses that can be caused.

It is also necessary to realize that at first stress causes high adrenal output of cortisol. When the stress (s) continue eventually the adrenal gland runs down and puts out little or no cortisol = Adrenal Fatigue.  The same is true for the pancreas. At first the pancreas releases a lot of insulin to keep up with the liver’s output of sugar. Eventually the cell receptors get fatigued and insulin resistance  begins. The pancreas once again trys to overcome this problem and puts out more and more insulin until like any engine just quits and we have diabetes.

This is all explained in understandable English with diagrams in my book: Emotional Vampires and Your Hormones: an holistic physician’s view of how stress affects your well-being and what you can do about it.

holisticsecondopinion.net/vampires

Author: Alan J. Sault MD, ABHM – Diplomat

 

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