Cortisol is a hormone which is released by the body when it is faced with certain day-to-day activities and situations. It has received a lot of press recently and is also known as the stress hormone. When the body becomes stressed then this hormone is released.
On a short term level this is very helpful, as it helps the body to be more alert and responsive but on a long term basis can become detrimental to the health.
So what is this stress hormone? How does it affect you and what can you do to bring your these hormone levels into balance?
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands (the adrenals are located at the top of each kidney.) This hormone is released by the body with:
Cortisol is actually a very important part of the body's functioning. The optimum level of this hormone in the body should be a moderate amount. Indeed this hormone helps you to stay alert and improve performance. According to a scientific paper on by Len Kravitz at the University of New Mexico, when someone has a life without stress, “an individual will lose his/her ability to react to the different challenges of life.” So some stress is important.
What has happened recently is that the
body has become 'bathed' in high levels of this stress hormone on a consistent
basis. This is due to the stressful lives a lot of people are now
living. Instead of us having time to allow the cortisol levels to drop we go from one stressful situation to another.
Cortisol is naturally released by the body in an irregular manner every day with peak secretions around 8 AM ( helping you to get up ) and drops off in the afternoon and evening. The lowest level of cortisol is around midnight ( allowing you to sleep).
What Does Cortisol Do?
According to this scientific paper by Len Kravitz at the University of New Mexico cortisol has the following functions within the body:
What are the Side-Effects of High Levels of Cortisol?
According to Dawson Church, PhD of the Foundation for Epigenetic Medicine, the side-effects of high levels of cortisol over a period of time can be as follows:
Bringing Cortisol into Balance
various drugs and supplements which have been said to reduce cortisol
levels. According to Dr Church, these drugs and supplements have
possible side-effects. The side-effects can include stripping, “
the body of cortisol's precursor molecules which are used for cell
repair when we are in a relaxed state.” Essentially by taking these
drugs cortisol will drop but so will the body's ability to repair
In a randomised trial led by Dr Church, it was shown that EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique – a technique based on acupressure points) was able to reduce cortisol levels within one hour by 24%. The decline in the stress hormone also correlated with a decline in anxiety, depression and other psychological systems as measured by a standard psychological assessment tool. This was compared to a 14% reduction when subjects were given an hour of rest or psychotherapy.
According to Dr Kravitz stress can be managed by doing:
Cortisol is receiving more and more publicity but as we've seen it is not as bad as we think if it is in a balanced amount.
Indeed it is an important part of the body's everyday activities from mobilising energy to moving fat. Too much as we have seen has a detrimental affect on our health.
Tools like EFT, meditation and exercise are a powerful way of reducing high cortisol levels.