Cortisol – friend or foe

It is a common thought! Is cortisol good or bad? Most of the time it is demonized as a stress hormone, but it keeps us very much alive and kicking! I am looking into how chronic disease is started and how it develops and why it is so difficult to stop or repair and regenerate. It seems that once you are on the stress hamster wheel and merry go round it is almost impossible to get off.

Let’s take a look at how stress turns into this runaway freight train. This understanding is beneficial for people with any chronic disease just starting or advanced. I say this, as the stress hormone, cortisol, is the pathway the body uses to control inflammation and survive the onslaught. You know how you may have a stressful day but get through it and wonder to yourself… I’m actually amazed at how I dealt with that incident or difficult situation. In fact, it was your hormonal system stepping up to the plate, your cortisol raising and making you deal efficiently with the stress.
After the stressful event, your body is designed to go into what we call homeostasis or balance, which means it recovers and is able to function optimally.

When we have a continual stressor that prevents the above… something like poor sleep, nutrient deficient diet, inflammatory diet, high stress events, emotional trauma or even lack of or excess exercise, this causes cortisol to rise in an attempt to support the body, but when this goes on for too long and there is not sufficient recovery, we get the situation of chronic disease forming and you start with symptoms like insomnia, hypertension, weight gain around the middle, irritability, hormone imbalance, poor sexual function and desire, difficulty remembering things and irritability – all the symptoms of stress and ageing. Basically, if you are living a western lifestyle, you can most probably be classed as stressed out and maybe even burnt out.

When you are in this phase, your adrenals which are responsible to produce and manage the cortisol are over worked and you remain tired, lacking motivation and you are just existing, not living. The problem which arises is that you begin to feel like this is your new norm and you accept it and say things like, I must be getting older and this is ageing, or ‘at this age I’m sure it is normal to have arthritis’ etc. Well, it should not be like this!! The human body is designed to be vibrant and function optimally if you give it the basic substances like good food, air, water and sunlight and a satisfying emotional existence or emotional life experiences. I’m finding that emotional trauma is a big factor in shutting down the autonomic nervous system which then does not allow the body to regulate and make appropriate decisions and metabolic processes. i.e.: it is not able to produce sufficient energy from carbs, or it cannot respond with the appropriate hormonal release in the brain and you have a hormonal imbalance like diabetes, or obesity etc.

People are not trained to get healthy after they have fallen into the stress trap. They want to continue burning the candle at both ends. This is one of the reasons why today we have the best technology and hospitals that we have ever had, but we are the sickest generation of people ever. Pharmaceuticals are not being used in an optimum manner to support healing with changes in lifestyle, diet and environmental changes. Instead, they are the mainstay of treatment with the other factors being secondary. Clearly this is not an effective approach to keep us healthy.

I use natural medicine, homeopathics and acupuncture with education to get the patients to be more in touch with who they are and understand what they can do to improve diet, release emotional trauma and live in the present, instead of with grief, regret, suppressed anger, insufficient sun exposure, and chronic disease due to excess cortisol and unmanaged stress.

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