Most people assume cortisol is bad and inflammatory, but that is not the case. I want to explain HOW cortisol works..

For any kind of hormone or signaling mechanism involving cortisol (testosterone, estrogen etc.), there is going to be an issue about receptor down-regulation in most people.

If your body signals strongly, the cells will respond by diminishing their responsiveness to the signal. A good example of this is insulin resistance. When the glucose levels are too high and the pancreas pumps out insulin in high levels, the cellular receptors for insulin will diminish. The cell will decrease the number of receptors on the cell for insulin. This is true for ANY hormone!

The issue here is that cortisol is inhibitory to the NFkB expression of proinflammatory substances. AKA… CORTISOL REDUCES INFLAMMATION! If a person has diminished responsiveness to cortisol then the capacity to inhibit NFkB (aka inflammation) using the body’s own production of cortisol can be greatly diminished and this is very problematic.

With acute stress, the body pumps out lots of cortisol and it is very anti-inflammatory. However, with chronic stress, the constant release of cortisol leads to a reduction in cellular sensitivity to cortisol. Therefore, the capacity to respond to cortisol through an anti-inflammatory effect can be diminished.

Long term chronic stress leads to loss of cortisol inhibition of NFkB-mediated anti-inflammatory process. In other words, long term chronic stress is inflammatory. This is why chronic steroid use is NOT advised either! It has the same effects as being chronically stressed: your body loses its anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Some things I suggest doing doing are:

  1. Take adaptogens such as ashwaganda or ginseng
  2. Reduce oxidation with glutathione and/or resveratrol
  3. Balance blood sugar with inositol 
  4. Practice deep breathing, meditation and other relaxation techniques

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