Cortisol, what we will refer to as our “survival hormone”, is produced by your adrenal glands. Think of your adrenals as a thermostat that helps regulate several systems in the body. In your house the thermostat tells the furnace to turn on when the temperature is too cold. In your body the adrenal glands produce cortisol (amongst other things) when your body needs support in certain areas as I will now explain. There are four key areas that Cortisol supports (at least in part) and you will soon realize the critical importance of each one. Here are the four areas: 1 – helps to maintain blood sugar stability between meals and while you are asleep, 2 – regulation of sleep/wake cycle in tandem with Melatonin (produced in your pineal gland), 3 – reduce and manage inflammation (this could be secondary to an injury or systemic inflammation in the body), and 4 – it helps support the body in times of emotional stress. I hope you can begin to appreciate the important nature of Cortisol. It is critical to the body’s health and stability but it is a limited resource which means that you only get so much a day and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Well if your car depends on gasoline then what happens when it’s gone? Now keep in mind that the normal allotment of cortisol is generally enough for your body when your systems are running properly. Problems occur when your body moves into what we will call “Survival Mode” and away from “Rest and Recovery”. In other words when your exceed your stress tolerance. Physical, chemical and emotional stresses have reached a tipping point for most people today and they are finding themselves out of balance. That can result in one of more of the following: fatigue, weight gain, poor sleep patterns, emotional disturbances, and the list goes on and on.
So what happens when your body runs low on Cortisol? The first thing it does is steal resources from other pathways in the body. Think of it this way: If your body had a choice between breeding and surviving then what would it choose? I hope you said Survival, because that is the correct answer. However, if your body is struggling it will deplete resources for sex hormone production and move them to the survival or “cortisol pathways”. That may be necessary but it is never ideal and leads to so many of the hormonal imbalances seen today. Low libido, vaginal dryness, female facial hair, and erectile dysfunction are all on the rise along with the many other negative consequences such as breast and prostate cancer. It is important to note that the resources in your other pathways are limited too. So when “Susie Survival” has stolen all of “Bobby Breeder’s” resources and you are still in survival mode then what happens next? This is where many people experience varying degrees of adrenal fatigue and that is never good. I could go on and on and will gladly continue this on future posts but for now suffice it to say that there is no one size fits all solution for fatigue, hormonal imbalances, sleep disturbances, emotional challenges and so forth. The focus of my practice and life is to bring our clients back into balance. To that end I harness some unique tools and technology as we help them transform their lives and express their divinely engineered potential.