Your quality of life can really be transformed from bringing your cortisol output up. Mood and motivation will increase, and so will your energy levels. Lack of this hormone could be the cause of your fatigue, your postural tension, muscle weakness, anxiety, PMS, menopausal symptoms and some food cravings.
If you have low cortisol you may not want to get out of bed in the morning, you may be wanting to take naps during the day, and it could keep you up during the night.
Okay, but what is this “cortisol”?
A gland, the adrenals, is the director of the hormonal system, the whole body! It is located in the lower back, under the last rib. It secretes hormones such as cortisol, DHEA, aldosterone and a few more. It is useful in stressful situations, it keeps our body in hyper mode, switched on, ready to go.
But wait, what if your stressed all the time? Sore back, on the run, going from one coffee to another, chocolate, croissant, that’s me under stress, and it works, it keeps me going on all that stuff. Is this the best thing to do?
Slowly, with genuine effort, your forcing the director, the adrenals, to keep working, without considering that you are intimately connected to the director, and if the director quits, your going down too! Your mood is effected, you need more external food stimulation to keep up with your schedules, because at one time you thought you had the energy, but now?
In the meantime, your sex hormones are effected, menstruation, sex drive, your stomach fat is growing, you could even be getting some unwanted hairs on your face, if your a women. Either way, your body goes into a catabolic state and your muscles get literally eaten away, used up to generate more energy, and you could end up with skinny legs, but a fat tummy, always fighting infections, skin eruptions, inflammation and digestive disturbances.
Hang on, aren’t adrenals there to cope with the stress?
If your under a lot of stress and your adrenals are responding appropriately, then your cortisol goes up. If for example, you are in a fight or car accident, the cortisol will rise, it should go back to normal after the event. But, if that stress becomes chronic as is often the case these days, then the cortisol isn’t being put out as much, and it’s balancing hormone DHEA is also not being put out, then we start to see adrenal dysfunction and possibly thyroid dysfunction, and that’s another complex topic. DHEA though, is crucial, it is the most abundant steroid hormone found in the blood. This wonderful hormone, impacts mood, our brain and energy on the positive side, it also modulates our immune system, bone density, muscle mass formation and improves insulin sensitivity, it is the other side of the coin from cortisol.
How can you be sure?
Testing, salivary pathology tests examine these accurately over a 24 hour cycle. It measures the flow of adrenal secretions during the day and night, and you can do the test from your own home.
In the morning the cortisol level should be the highest, and DHEA, the lowest. In the morning, our energy should be at its peak, ready for activity, and your blood sugar should also be higher at this time. There is a daily natural rhythm, as the day progresses, it should get lower and lower, and by night it is the lowest, ready for sleep and rest. While DHEA, is at its highest.
Both DHEA and cortisol are looked at via the salivary testing.
How to go from fatigued to feeling amazing?
Through lifestyle and nutritional changes. Examine the why, look at the how, and implement it. Usually best done with guidance and support, with the right supplementation and practitioner. Definitely no calorie restricting diets as this will further deplete the adrenal function.
Overall, rest, nourish, replenish, learn anti-stress techniques that work for you, walk slowly, draw, paint, long breaths, listen to music, lie in the grass, walk on the beach, get some comedy movies, laugh, jump on trampoline 5 minutes a day, meditate, read a great book, learn to play a musical instrument, love your pet. Many ways to chill out and nourish.
How to know if its working?
Sometimes you may not know what the stressors are, and think that its normal to be tired. In that case, you can monitor your stress through the Heart Rate Variability app, you can check this out at SweetWater Health for real time assessment Alternatively, through how you feel, how you heal, how your digesting, how you look, and even what your craving? For example craving salt? Still low cortisol.
If your interested in measuring your cortisol and DHEA levels, contact me for a salivary at home testing kit, current cost is $110 for a basic stress profile. To test any other hormone at the same time, the price is $20 per hormone, for example; testosterone, progesterone, melatonin or estrogen, but this can be discussed during consultation. The saliva is sent to a Pathology Laboratory for examination and the results returned within a few weeks.