Thoughts on Better Aging

Cortisol Regulation Could Help Your Brain Live Up to Its Potential

June 14th, 2019

Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, is released from the adrenal glands during times of stress, and plays an important role in the body’s fight or flight response.

A Normal Fight or Flight Response is Helpful

During times of stress, your sympathetic nervous system triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline from the adrenal glands. Once these hormones are released, respiration quickens, your heart beats faster, and your blood pressure elevates. This is all so you’re prepared to “fight” the stressor or run from it. When the threat is gone, these hormones decline, and your body quickly returns to normal.

This biological response was beneficial to our ancestors when faced with the occasional life or death threat, such as being chased by a predator. However, when a person experiences chronic stress, as is often the case in modern day life, cortisol levels can remain chronically elevated. The result can be an almost-constant experience of fight or flight-type symptoms.

Cortisol’s Role in Brain Health

When stress becomes chronic, excess cortisol can stay in the brain. Unfortunately, prolonged cortisol exposure can damage the hippocampus, a portion of the brain essential for making memories and retaining them.

Cortisol can also interfere with how well a person’s neurotransmitters work, which can also result in memory not functioning properly. In particular, long-term excess cortisol exposure can make it difficult to maintain old memories and prevent us from making new ones.

Excess cortisol can also contribute to anxiety, depression, and brain fog.

Other Effects of Excess Cortisol

Other negative effects from excess cortisol include:

  • Headaches
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Poor digestion
  • Heart disease
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Suppression of the immune system

If you have questions about cortisol, stress, or treatment for adrenal dysfunction, call Renew Youth today at (800) 859-7511. We can test your cortisol levels, and recommend treatment if production is too high or too low.

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