Let’s talk about cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone produced by our adrenal gland as a response to both physical and psychological stress. We all have cortisol in our systems, and it is supposed to kick in during individual stressful situations or activities like intense exercise.The advantage of cortisol is that it restores homeostasis – our proper internal balance, or human “ecosystem” if you will – after times of stress. Our bodily fluids must maintain this steady state to protect our genetic material. So it would also be bad to have no cortisol at all.
But when forced to function all the time due to constant high stress levels, cortisol becomes highly toxic in its release – attacking muscle mass and organs, preventing quick recovery from ailments, raising blood pressure and blood sugar, and diminishing our strength while lowering our natural immunities. All of this taxes the heart. Plus we won’t have any left for extreme situations.
Oddly enough, you may have heard of cortisol in a pharmaceutical context – medicinally it is referred to as hydrocortisone – yes, the same hydrocortisone used as an external anti-inflammatory for skin conditions and sometimes joint inflammation. There will generally be warnings about side effects similar to those above on containers of hydrocortisone.
Help has arrived in the form of “Adaptogens”
Adaptogens are plant extracts that can control excess cortisol levels. They are totally non-toxic to human cells and support the cells to remain at a healthy state while helping the body to adapt to stress. Adaptogens can boost our energy levels, limit the amount of cortisol released during stress, boost our immune system and improve focus and concentration.
How can you control your cortisol levels?
- Make a list of situations you regularly face that cause high stress levels. Ask yourself:
- How many times do they occur per week?
- Is there a way to avoid them?Are any of these situations due to waiting until the last minute to do things? (This is very fixable!)
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Exercise to relieve stress and frustration.
- Take time each week to listen to soothing music or work on a hobby.
- Limit eating on the run.
- Have a spiritual focus.