Dr. Laura: Long Term Effects of Cortisol and Stress

Cortisol is released in a daily rhythm, but also in response to stress. Ever wonder what are the long term effects of cortisol (stress) in the body?

picture from  philosophytalk.org

Long term danger can be perceived in the form of anything that takes away our freedom, feeling unloved, feelings of insecurity, projecting into the future something that is not true, as if it were and  fear-based memories for future survival so as to avoid any repeat of traumatic events.

Cortisol is not all bad, it has some daily and life-saving functions. The problems lies when the body gets stuck in fear gear, cannot return to its natural state of homeostasis and subsequently has difficult with rest and digestion.

Normal Cortisol Function

Cortisol hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is released twice a day with blood levels peaking in the morning, and rising slightly again in mid afternoon.

Throughout the day, cortisol:

  • Helps provide energy; maintains blood glucose
  • Suppresses nonvital organ systems to provide energy to the brain, nerves and muscles
  • Is a potent anti-inflammatory hormone
  • Prevents widespread tissue and nerve damage associated with inflammation

Short Term Stress Response

In response to a moment of physical or emotional shock or trauma, the body releases three main chemicals: epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. In the short term, these chemicals trigger a series of events in the body to promote survival including anti-inflammatory actions and activation of energy to flee from the danger. Short term response has a clear purpose to better outcome (safety, life).

Once the epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol are released into the blood flow,

  • heart rate increases
  • blood pressure increases
  • respiration rate increases
  • arteries vasoconstrictor & release sweat.
  • pupils dilate
  • Pro inflammatory response so as to destroy antigens, pathogens, or foreign invaders; adrenoreceptor antagonists have been shown to inhibit stress-induced inflammation and cytokine production by blocking the proinflammatory effects of norepinephrine.

Long Term Cortisol Danger

Body’s release

When the brain feels you are in danger on an ongoing basis, cortisol release goes into overdrive. This can be things that threaten our survival like financial concerns, relationship problems, too many commitments, feelings of bitterness towards others, anger, resentment, being unhappy with yourself, lack of faith, hope, love, fear of loosing something you treasure… the list can go on.

Basically the body gets stuck in some type of survival mode. It is then difficult to re-establish to its natural balance.

Medications

Long term medications that end on “-sone” are often producing similar effects to cortisol in the body. These are drugs that suppress the immune system like prednisone, hydrocortisone.

Cortisone type drugs are used to treat pain, allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or breathing disorders.

Be sure to also be aware of information on cortisone drug side effects. 

  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle wasting
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hyper irritability
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Vascular fragility including easy bruising
  • Striae or redish stripes over the lower abdomen (thinning of the skin structures)
  • Suppressed immune system, make it easier to get infections
  • Central obesity

If you feel like you are “always on” , have difficulty digesting food or feel “tired and wired”, chances are you are running the meter up on cortisol. As you can see the long term effects are not favourable for good health.

Have Hope

Don’t give up hope, however. The first step is to recognize what is stressing you out. This is more than relationships, it can be pain, inflammation, poor diet, lack of sleep, poor coping mechanisms or genetic wrinkles.

Resolution doesn’t happen overnight but can be improved on a steady course of treatment over time.  Treatment will look at things like sleep hygiene, a healthy diet, the right amount and type of exercise,  and new perspectives on managing yourself in relationships with yourself and others.

The Last “Peace”

Need more peace in your life?  Join me at Goodness Me! on Sept 19th in a presentation on Anxiety Antidotes.

 

References:

Constanzo LS. 2011. BRS Physiology Fifth Edition. Walters Kluwer|Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Philadelphia.

Hannibal KE, Bishop MD. Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation. Physical Therapy. 2014;94(12):1816-1825. doi:10.2522/ptj.20130597.

Wright H. 2009. A More Excellent Way. Whitaker House. Pennsylvania.

Dr. Laura: Nutrition for the New Year!

Kick the New Year off right – reset your diet, your health and invigorate your life!

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND offers Naturopathic Medicine with a Functional Medicine approach. She helps people better digest their food and the world around them. She is a Naturopathic Doctor, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, HeartMath Certified Practitioner and is engaged in a year long training module at the Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine.

Achieve Optimum Health

Why wait until disease sets in? A visit to Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help you identify nutritional deficiencies before disease sets in. With a physical exam and intake that looks at your hair, skin, nails, sleep, stress and diet, Dr. Laura may identify nutritional deficiencies that, if left alone may lead to a number of common problems:

  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • dry skin
  • acne
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • leg cramps
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • poor workout recovery
  • poor memory and concentration
  • brittle, cracked or peeling nails

Food Sensitivity Testing

Sometimes we can be sensitive to foods and not even know it. Testing helps identify what foods may be bothering your system. Using blood or electro dermal screening test will help identify foods that need to be rotated, avoided or eaten occasionally. Knowing your personal food fingerprint may help reduce or even eliminate skin conditions, depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach aches, joint pain and more.

  • Electro Dermal Screening Tests
  • Blood Tests

Nutritional Analysis

Naturopathic Medicine is a comprehensive framework for medicine that looks at the body as a whole and integrated biological web of physiological function. Dietary analysis helps see if you get the ratio of fats, carbs and protein that best suits your individual requirements.

Clinical and laboratory testing is used to evaluate optimum levels for your best health. Most conventional interpretation use metrics that diagnose disease… but why wait until then? Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can evaluate:

  • Physical evaluation of the health of the hair, skin, nails
  • Dietary analysis helps identify meal timing and preference, macronutrient balance
  • Blood tests are available to evaluate status of nutrients like iron, B12, folic acid, magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, Vitamin D.
  • Electrodermal screening will help identify an imbalance of a given nutrient.

Kick off the new year with an overview of your nutritional status and find your optimum health. Call 519.826.7973 to book your appointment today.

New! B12 injections & more

B12 intramuscular injections are useful for those deficient in B12, pernicious anemia, fighting depression, stress or fatigue, diabetic neuropathy, chemotherapy induced neuropathy, herpes zoster (including prevention and treatment of shingles).

Book your Appointment Now

Existing patients:

Injection B12 1000ug + 1mg Folic Acid = $16.00b12folic
Injection B12 5000ug + 1mg Folic Acid = $18.00
You could be at risk for B12 deficiency if you are taking the following medications: Metformin, H2 blockers (Pepcid, Zantac), Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) (Nexium, Prevacid, Losec, Tecta, Pantoloc, Pariet, Dexilant) , Phenytoin, also long term use of Oral Contraceptives or Aspirin. Excessive alcoholic intake longer than 2 weeks, inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac disease,  gastric or small intestinal resection, prolonged vegan diet, no meat, poultry or dairy product consumption, age over 75 years. Long term supplementation of Folic Acid.

Signs of B12 deficiency: Unexplained neurologic symptoms like paresthesias, numbness, poor motor coordination, memory lapses or cognitive and personality changes.

B12 status is measured through a Complete Blood Count (CBC), blood analysis and Serum B12 (cobalamin), and folate. Related tests include Complete Blood Count, Methylmalonic Acid, Homocysteine, B Vitamins, Intrinsic Factor Antibody, Parietal Cell Antibody, Reticulocyte Count, Blood Smear. It is a good idea to get tested when you have symptoms of anemia such as weakness, tiredness, pale skin and/or tingling or itching sensations, eye twitching, memory loss, altered mental status which are signs of neuropathy. It is useful to have a baseline status before supplementation so you can monitor treatment effectiveness when if you have vitamin B12 or folate deficiency. Ask about costs of testing.

Why is folic acid included?  It helps B12 get into the red blood cell.

Naturally occurring Folic Acid, known as folate,  is found in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, dry beans and peas, liver, and yeast. Vitamin B12 is found in foods from animals, such as red meat, fish, poultry, milk, yogurt, and eggs.  Dietary sources of B12 and folate also include fortified cereals, breads, and other grain products.

What else is new?

2) New naturopathic service – Ear lavage – for those with a lot of ear cerumen (wax)  a naturopathic protocol involves home treatments then an in-office ear wash. This will be assumed as part of the appointment fee, however please note we can do this! Some ear cerumen is healthy, but too much or a blockage can impact hearing and can be uncomfortable.

Also a reminder that these services are available to patients:
a) Laboratory analysis pay for service – many of the same lab tests requested by your family doctor may be ordered through Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND, just know you have to pay out of pocket. I cannot post a price list but can provide pricing on an individualized, as needed basis.

b) Urinalysis $3 -additional to appointment fee Naturopathic medicine has great choices for relieving chronic cystitis and acute or persistent urinary tract infections. We also are trained to know when to get the patient to their MD for antibiotics.

c) Strep Throat Swab – $7 fee additional to appointment fee. Rapid Strep Test – the same one your family doc will do, just added convenience of getting some great advice and prescription for natural medicine and antimicrobials, if it turns out you don’t need mainstream antibiotics.

From the heart and mind of your local naturopathic doctor, Dr. Laura M. Brown , ND