Cortisol: Good or Bad? How to Maintain a Healthy Balance
Cortisol has gotten a bad reputation in the world today. It is said to cause a number of health problems including anxiety, high blood pressure, and strokes. But is cortisol itself bad? Or is just harmful when an imbalance is created in your body?
To answer this question, let’s first discuss what cortisol actually is:
According to WebMD, cortisol is:
It’s best known for helping fuel your body’s “fight-or-flight” instinct in a crisis, but cortisol plays an important role in a number of things your body does. For example, it:
- Manages how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
- Keeps inflammation down
- Regulates your blood pressure
- Increases your blood sugar (glucose)
- Controls your sleep/wake cycle
- Boosts energy so you can handle stress and restores balance afterward”
If cortisol helps with all these things, it seems pretty important to a body’s healthy function. So how did it end up with a bad rap?
Cortisol Imbalance = Trouble Ahead
Did you know that cortisol is also known as the “healing hormone”? It’s true. Cortisol in balance is actually indispensable to normal function. So how does it become harmful?
Well, cortisol is produced when your body is experiencing stress. It helps to turn off less important functions so that your body’s resources and energy can be diverted to vital systems. This is both a useful and essential evolutionary defense mechanism to make us function at optimum levels when survival is threatened.
But what if you are constantly under stress?
Your cortisol production “switch” can get stuck in the on position.
Handling Stress “Organically”
In this day and age, avoiding stress is easy…
…said no one ever. Unfortunately, stress is just a part of modern life. How we handle stress can have a large influence on our overall quality of life. There are many things you can do to manage stress, but one of the most effective ones is to address its physiological effects from the inside out:
As covered earlier, cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands. These glands are sensitive to stress. Through continuous production of cortisol, something called adrenal fatigue can set in and you can become less able to produce the number of hormones you need.
As you can imagine, this can lead to a whole host of body problems including:
- Low energy levels
- Mental “fog”
- And much more
Knowing how continuous stress can overwork your adrenals, it becomes obvious that taking care of these important glands will lead to better health.
Adaptogens to the Rescue
What are adaptogens? They are wild-crafted herbs with adaptogenic properties. But what exactly does this mean?
Adaptogens got their name because they help the cells in your body ADAPT to environments that are putting stress on your body. They help handle stress from the inside out at a physiological level.
Stress = cortisol production. Too much or constant stress = adrenals that never shut off.
Since adaptogens are designed (by nature) to address stress at a cellular level, they are specially adapted (no pun intended) to support your adrenals and address cortisol imbalance.
So is cortisol good or bad?
Cortisol in balance is essential to healthy function. So if your energy level has been dragging, you’ve been having trouble sleeping, or you’ve been under constant stress, your best bet is to start on a regimen of adaptogens as soon as possible.
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