In recent years, you’ve probably heard a lot of things about the hormone cortisol. There are numerous articles that have been written that could give people the idea that cortisol is something that you want to avoid. A more balanced viewpoint would acknowledge that cortisol is a part of a complex system, so creating an environment where it is kept under control might be more effective. Here are some reasons why you might want to lower your cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a Safeguard
It’s true that cortisol is a stress hormone, but there are still many things that aren’t fully understood about the complex mechanisms behind these processes. What science has shown us is that it is produced during stressful situations to help regulate responses to stimuli resulting in the fight or flight responses. This should already tell you that this process is reserved for special emergencies only, so living life in that state would be unhealthy. When appropriate, the hormone works in favor of quick energy straight to muscles and other areas, but if unchecked, cortisol could create a conflict between other essential processes leading to illness.
Heart and Arterial Disease
When cortisol is pumped into the body, it immediately causes constrictions in the vascular system to quicken the delivery of oxygen to your muscles, but living day to day life in that state can put tremendous strain on your heart. Under those circumstances, it’s also important to keep a close eye on your arterial elasticity because a brittle and clogged vascular system is a leading cause of complications during those kinds of medical emergencies. That is why smoking, excess weight and dehydration are leading contributors to heart disease.
When your body is repeatedly subjected to a wave of cortisol, it can create a situation where your body is always burning the newest and most readily available bio-fuel, which is never the energy that is stored in the body. It’s whatever the body can turn into sugars as soon as possible. There are also issues that take place on the cellular level that can make a stressed out person more apt to eat high calorie foods so that the body will get more of what it’s looking for at a quicker pace, but an unawareness of this fact can lead to a cyclical problem that compounds itself.
Various Other Issues
One of the biggest issues with over production of cortisol is simply that it is produced where many other important hormones are made, and if your body is focused producing cortisol, it simply won’t have the time or energy to produce other important hormones like the ones that support sex drive and regulate your immune system. This can lead to reduced functionality in many areas, so it’s essential that you find effective ways to deal with stress so that your life can be more balanced, both emotionally and biochemically.
What To Do About It
If you’re finding that an imbalance of cortisol might be an issue for you, there are a few steps to take to get it under control. First, we recommend doing a saliva test to check for your current levels. The saliva sample should be collected 4 times a day at specified intervals to give the best overall picture of how the levels are shifting throughout the day. Check out Dutch Test or Everlywell for options.
There are also a long list of supplements and herbs that can help get levels where they should be. Check out this article for details.
Regular acupuncture can also lower cortisol levels. Treatments should be at a frequency of about twice a week for a few weeks followed by once a week for another few weeks to get levels under control. Read more about how acupuncture can help stress and cortisol levels here.