Cortisol is a stress hormone, also commonly referred to as hydro-cortisone, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Synthetically prepared cortisol is used to manage a wide range of illnesses including bronchitis, arthritis and asthma.
The natural production of Cortisol tends to rise in response to stress or anxiety and cortisol is essential for an individual to cope with the stress. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal gland located above the kidneys and performs a wide range of functions.
Cortisol levels are elevated under conditions of stress may be mental or physical. Cortisol increases blood sugar and blood pressure.Cortisol is also important for fat and sugar metabolism in the body.
Under normal conditions, cortisol levels fluctuate during the day, as it follows the circadian cycles (i.e. day and night cycle). Cortisol levels rise during early morning hours and are at its peak between 7 to 8 am. Cortisol levels may remain constant for the rest of the day and dip about three to five hours after sleep. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal gland and its levels are elevated in response to any form of stress.
Symptoms Of High Levels Of Cortisol
Continuously elevated levels of cortisol may result in a condition referred to as Cushing syndrome, which is characterized by the over-stimulation of the adrenal glands.Elevated levels of cortisol are also observed in a condition referred to as ‘anorexia nervosa’, which affects teenagers who self induce starvation, due to fear of gaining undue weight. Starvation results in undue stress on the body, which in turn increases the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. The key symptoms associated with elevated levels of cortisol include,
- Fatigue associated with generalized weakness and tiredness.
- Mood changes along with stretch marks on different parts of the body.
- In individuals with anorexia nervosa, other additional symptoms observed (though not linked with elevated levels of cortisol) include excessive exercising, self injury, etc.
In addition to this, elevated levels of cortisol are associated with problems of blood sugar regulation and with a compromised immune response and bone loss. In severe cases, the condition is often associated with memory loss and cardiac disorders. Constantly elevated levels of cortisol may result in ‘adrenal exhaustion’ which in turn may be associated with wide range of health complications.
Treatment For Elevated Levels Of Cortisol
The elevated cortisol level treatment needs to comprise of a multidisciplinary approach of clinical management,
- Stress management plays a crucial role in the management of elevated cortisol level treatment. Meditation helps concentrate and helps to reduce stress.
- Meditation and yoga also help in management of depression.
- Regular testing of urine, blood and saliva to measure the levels of cortisol levels, which gives an indication of cortisol levels, is important technique to monitor stress levels.
- Dietary deficiencies also play a crucial role in stress management. Include vitamin and mineral supplements in your diet. Include fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet.
- Home remedies like St. John’s Wort helps in the management of depression and anxiety.
- Homeopathic drugs like Arsenic Alb have been found effective in the management of stress associated with anorexia nervosa.