Health benefits and Detriments of the Cortisol Hormone
The cortisol hormone is a hormone that the body produces, generally in response to great amounts of stress. When triggered by a high-stress situation like an impending car accident or a fight, the cortisol hormone can provide the body with a quick burst of energy and heightened awareness. Cortisol can also benefit the body in many unexpected ways, but also cause problems if it remains at heightened levels for too long.
Benefits of the Cortisol Hormone
Cortisol, aside from assisting the body during a “fight or flight” situation, has many amazing benefits that are utilized by doctors and patients all across the world. Cortisol is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, and so effective that synthetic cortisol (hydrocortisone) has been developed to help patients. Hydrocortisone is used directly on inflamed skin and can also be rendered into an injectable form that can reduce tissue inflammation as well. It’s a very popular treatment for athletes and sports-related injuries.
Because of its effectiveness in treating inflammation, cortisol preparations are also occasionally prescribed to people suffering from severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis and angioedema. Ailments do not have to be life threatening, however; cortisol is also used for diaper rashes and mild forms of eczema.
When in tablet form, cortisol has several medicinal uses as well. It is very beneficial in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, severe cases of asthma, and arthritis. It can help with disorders affecting the eyes, skin, kidneys, and blood as well. Cortisol has even been proven helpful in treating certain forms of cancer.
Detriments of the Cortisol Hormone
With every good comes a bad, and cortisol is no exception to this rule. Although it is generally produced only at certain times of the day or in moments of great duress, it is possible to have chronic heightened levels of cortisol in your system. People that suffer from dangerously high levels of cortisol usually lead very stressful lives, and unfortunately, this can cause several problems in their day to day health.
High levels of cortisol can lead to high blood pressure and low bone density, common problems for many aging people. In addition to this, the immune system may eventually weaken and the body’s defenses will be lowered from the threat of illness or infection.
For the weight conscious, high cortisol can wreak havoc on a waistline. Unhealthy cortisol levels routinely result in weight gain, muscle degeneration, and high cholesterol levels. This may lead to other hormonal imbalances and a litany of problems that may develop from those.
How to Reduce Levels
If heightened cortisol levels are a concern for you, there are several things you can do to reduce them. First and foremost is to try and reduce as much stress in your life as possible. If you have a high stress career, be sure to take breaks throughout the day and leave your problems at work. Your home should be a place of relaxation; a sanctuary.
If needed, practice meditation a little each day or relax in a warm bath with some calming aromatherapy candles and oils. Doing so will greatly reduce the physical effects of the stress in your life.
On a more practical note, you also need to be drinking plenty of water. Coffee and sweet tea are not going to help the situation at all, but drinking water can help keep you hydrated. This is very important because cortisol is also produced more when your body has low fluid levels. If you are an athlete or if the weather is hot, be sure to drink as you sweat so that all of your fluids are replenished.
If problems persist, seek medical advice and consultation. You may be suffering from a serious medical condition and your doctor will need to prescribe medication for you.