Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands and is necessary for life. Although cortisol is made and secreted by the adrenal glands it is regulated primarily by the brain.
The actions of cortisol on the body include:
• Blood Sugar Regulation
• Immune Response Modification
• Stress Handling
• Central Nervous System Stimulation
• Strengthens Heart Contractions
• Powerful Anti-Inflammatory
• Homeostasis (internal & external balance)
Cortisol greatly influences the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates to maintain blood glucose levels. Your body depends on glucose as its most consistent form of energy. Additionally, Cortisol works in tandem with insulin to provide adequate amounts of glucose to the cells where it is burned for energy.
To get a better idea of just how important cortisol is to life and health, many medical conditions are treated with drugs that imitate the actions of cortisol. Synthetic corticosteroids such as cortisone, prednisone and prednisolone are commonly used to treat many auto-immune conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis, viral infections, allergies, colitis and more.
Whenever you have an excessive amount of redness & swelling you can assume you do not have adequate amounts of cortisol in circulation. Auto-immune reactions are white blood cells attacking parts of your body as if they were the enemy. This is why steroids appear to work so well. Unfortunately, these synthetic steroids have many life threatening side effects including weakening the adrenal glands further.
Cortisol follows a diurnal pattern (recurs every 24 hours) with the highest levels secreted at approximately 8:00am and the lowest between 12:00am and 4:00am. Rising cortisol wakes us in the morning and low cortisol allows us to sleep. In a healthy individual cortisol will be the highest in the a.m. and slowly taper down. Measuring cortisols’ patterns and output is a common and informative test to determine the health and function of the adrenal glands.
Prolonged stress (emotional, mental and/or physical), poor dietary habits and unhealthy lifestyles all can contribute to adrenal stress and will eventually affect the health and function of the adrenals. Cortisol output can be high for some time and eventually peter out.