Wisdom Magazine's Monthly Webzine Skip Navigation Links
Wisdom Magazine is also one of the country's largest free holistic publications with 150,000 copies printed bi-monthly in three regional print editions. Wisdom is dedicated to opening people's hearts and minds to the philosophies, products and services of the new millennium.
Home  About  This Month's Articles  Calendar of Events  Classified Listings  Holistic Resource Directory
 Educational Programs  Sacred Journeys & Retreats  Reiki Healing
 Article Archives  What's New in Books, CD's & DVD's  Wisdom Marketplace
 Where to Find Wisdom Near You  Subscriptions  Web Partner Links
 Advertising Information  Contact Us
Denali Institute of Northern Traditions
Miriam Smith
Margaret Ann Lembo
Judith Costa
MUFON SYMPOSIUM
Laura Norman Reflexology
Vibes Up
Light Healing
Get the Gel
Alternatives For Healing

Understanding Cortisol: Your Energizing Hormone

by Laurie Steelsmith, ND, Lac,


We often hear about cortisol in a negative context—the chemical responsible for that extra layer of flesh around your stomach, the hormone to blame for your insomnia, the source behind the state of conflict your body seems to be besieged by.

But while cortisol is frequently referred to as “the stress hormone,” in that your body releases it under stress in order to send you into action, it’s more appropriate to think of it as your energizing hormone.

Produced in your adrenal glands (small glands above your kidneys), cortisol plays a crucial role in the energy you feel in your body day after day. But to keep your energizing hormone working in your favor—giving you vibrancy during the day and tranquility at night—it’s essential to strike a healthy balance and to nourish its natural cycle, as the right level of cortisol supports your immune system, enhances your normal blood-sugar regulation, and helps you respond appropriately to stressful events.

Additionally, your body’s natural cortisol cycle continually promotes your energy and health in several other ways. When you’re in good health, you have an elevated cortisol level in the morning, and it gradually decreases as you approach evening. This heightened state encourages you to wake up feeling full of vitality and ready to surmount whatever lies ahead; the decreased state enables you to quiet your mind and feel tired at day’s end to prepare your body and brain for rest. Healthy levels of cortisol also aid in healing from illness.

If your natural cortisol cycle is imbalanced, however (owing to either low blood sugar or unrelenting stress), your cortisol level may become elevated at night and reduced in the morning—precisely the opposite of what you need to navigate life and harness well-being. If this happens, you may experience insomnia at night and difficulty getting up in the morning, which can further compromise your health.

If you have low cortisol, the effects may include diminished energy, exhaustion, a lack of get-up-and-go, reduced immunity, and, for women, exaggerated menopausal symptoms. On the other hand, if chronic stress causes your cortisol level to be consistently too high, your energy is also likely to collapse—and this is in addition to feelings of anxiety and fragility, weight gain, and, again, aggravated menopausal symptoms. What’s more, by throwing your other hormones out of whack, chronically high cortisol can jeopardize your overall hormonal equilibrium and wreak, well, hormonal havoc. Here, your body may experience a perpetual mode of SOS, thus impacting levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA. (And for women, this may result in the cessation of ovulating consistently, which may lead to infertility, reduced progesterone, exacerbated PMS symptoms, and heavier menstrual flow.) Excessive cortisol can cause further mayhem by inhibiting your thyroid hormone function, which is also central to your health. In other words, imbalanced cortisol may feel like a no-win situation either way—it depletes your energy and engenders complications whether it’s high or low.

But the potential win is just as significant. Once you understand that cortisol can be a friend—not a foe—you can nurture it with as much strength and care as any other part of your life you deem important.

One of the first steps in achieving healthy cortisol levels is to candidly assess the stress in your life and make changes to, perhaps, accommodate a more relaxed, enjoyable lifestyle, whether it means ending toxic relationships or simply taking on only what you know you’re truly capable of. Pushing yourself nonstop ultimately reduces your efficiency by generating the excessive cortisol output that can lead to adrenal fatigue—a condition in which your adrenal glands are “burned out” and unable to correctly perform their normal functions, and results in a lack of stamina, thorough exhaustion, and the inability to will the muster to be creative or productive.

In addition, a healthy diet can help you find the ideal cortisol level your body needs—and wants—to function seamlessly. To this you can add supplements and herbs to further support your adrenal glands and the cortisol it releases. Vitamin C is particularly essential, in that stress can increase loss of Vitamin C through your urine. Phosphatidylserine is also key to healthy cortisol levels. If taken during the day, it can lower anxiety associated with stress-induced high cortisol; if taken in the evening, it can help prevent insomnia linked to the same condition. You might also want to consider Siberian ginseng, as the centuries-old herbal remedy can support lower stress levels while also improving your energy, general well-being, and mental sharpness. Galvanized, and your cortisol cycle can return to its natural, operating, and optimal state, leaving you buoyant and youthful.

Laurie Steelsmith, ND, Lac, is a naturopathic physician, acupuncturist, and passionate spokesperson for educating and empowering women to transform their lives with better health through natural medicines and practices that work with, rather than against, the body’s own healing processes. She is the Naturopathic Medical Advisor to Daily Wellness Company, and the coauthor of three books: the bestselling Natural Choices for Women’s Health, the critically-acclaimed Great Sex, Naturally, and her latest, Growing Younger Every Day. A leading advocate for natural medicine, Dr. Steelsmith is the medical director of Steelsmith Natural Health Center in Honolulu, where she has a busy private practice, and is an associate clinical professor at Bastyr University, America’s leading center for the study of natural medicine. www.DrSteelsmith.com.


Add Comment

Article Archives  This Month's Articles  Click Here for more articles by Laurie Steelsmith, ND, Lac,
MUFON SYMPOSIUM
Get the Gel
Light Healing
Miriam Smith
Kiros Book
Alternatives For Healing
Judith Costa
Laura Norman Reflexology
Denali Institute
Margaret Ann Lembo

Call Us Toll Free: 888-577-8091 or  |  Email Us  | About Us  | Privacy Policy  | Site Map  | © 2016 Wisdom Magazine