Suspect imbalanced cortisol levels if you have:
- Low Sex Drive
- High Stress Levels
- Poor Blood Sugar Metabolism
- General Fatigue and Trouble Focusing
- Sleep problems
The above bullets are signs and symptoms of a hormonal imbalance associated with having excess cortisol or cortisol deficiency.
A brief cortisol education:
The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system and sit atop the kidneys. The function of the adrenals is to secrete cortisol in response to stress.
If you have normal cortisol function – cortisol helps:
- Blood sugar: During a stressful event, the brain and body needs more energy; Cortisol increases blood sugar so the body/brain can handle the stressor.
- Increase the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates.
- Decrease inflammation and histamine in the body. This can help reduce joint pain, muscle pain and allergies.
- Reduce heavy metals in the body.
If you have excess cortisol production – cortisol can:
- Cause insulin resistance (the inability for insulin to drive glucose into the cell). This may lead to increased blood sugar levels, therefore contributing to hyperglycemia.
- Cause collagen loss in the skin (It makes you look older – basically)
- Depress the immune system – making you more susceptible to infections.
- Lowers bone formation and contributes to osteoporosis if levels are chronically high.
- Cause damage to the hippocampus, hampering learning and contributing to memory loss.
- Increase blood pressure.
- Decrease fertility in both males and females.
- Reduces serotonin levels – contributing to depression.
- Create feelings of being “amped up” or wired.
If you have Low/Deficient cortisol production can lead to:
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Low DHEA
- Low Testosterone
- Low Free Testosterone
- Low Pregnenolone
- Excess adrenaline
- Feelings of impending doom
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Salt and sugar cravings
Having balanced cortisol levels helps maintain optimal health and prevents disease. I believe a cortisol 4X saliva test which includes DHEA-S should be performed at least every six months (If there is an acute cortisol problem, the test may be necessary to do multiple times. (Women may have to perform this test at different and multiple times due to the menstrual cycle.) If your hormones (cortisol being one of the) are not balanced, then it can be very difficult to lose weight!
About every six months, I order a comprehensive male blood panel for myself which includes everything from minerals to hormones. It amazes me how many people will go for a dental cleaning every six months but will not do a blood panel of any kind!
In future posts on cortisol, I will provide general protocols for those of you who test out to be excess or deficient in this powerful hormone. If you are a client of ours, we can test your levels. If you are not a client, please seek out a medical professional who can order the test for you.
Below is a sitemap of my other articles on adrenal fatigue: