Whenever you run into a possible threat, your body starts sending off messages to different parts of your body in order to produce necessary chemicals such as cortisol. While this hormone can often save us when we encounter a dangerous situation, releasing too much of it can lead to stress, fatigue, and even illness. Here’s a basic primer to what cortisol is, how it functions, and what you can do to maintain it.
Understanding Cortisol: The Stress Hormone
According to the Society for Endocrinology, once your brain’s amygdala has encountered a threat, it proceeds to shoot off a warning to your hypothalamus, which responds by producing a corticotropin-relasing hormone (CRH). This then signals your pituitary gland to start producing adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which is responsible for telling your adrenal glands to release cortisol.
During dangerous situations, cortisol tells your body to start breaking proteins down into amino acids more quickly. These amino acids then travel through your bloodstream and toward your liver cells, where gluconeogenesis (the conversion of amino acids into glucose) occurs. With this spike in your glucose levels, your body will have the energy it needs to confront the treat.
Cortisol’s Side Effects and How to Control It
As with all things, too much of anything can be bad for you. While cortisol is crucial to our survival, if you undergo too much stress for too long, you end up producing cortisol non-stop. The side effects of cortisol overproduction include spikes in your blood sugar and blood pressure, a lowered sex drive, and a compromised immune system, among many others. Luckily, there are a few ways you can control the level of cortisol in your bloodstream.
Practicing meditation is inherently a relaxing practice, and there appears to be a scientific explanation for that. According to a study conducted by Maharishi University, people who meditated everyday for a few months had less cortisol, while those who didn’t meditate found that their cortisol production increased.
Your parents may have been on to something when they kept reminding you not to stay up too late. In his book, The Cortisol Connection, Shawn M. Talbott cites a study by a group of German scientists. They found that helicopter pilots who only got six hours of sleep (or less) each night had spikes in cortisol production by as much as 80 percent.
If you’ve tried many non-invasive strategies and still have too much cortisol in your bloodstream, you may want to consider consulting a professional for hormone-replacement therapy in Beverly Hills. Failing to address the overproduction of cortisol in your body may lead to medical conditions such as Cushing’s Syndrome.
Cortisol is vital to our body’s daily functions, but having too much of it in our systems could be a threat in and of itself. With a better understanding of how this hormone keeps our body in check, you should be able to maintain your stress levels even when you aren’t being faced by any direct threat.