Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stress, Part 2: The Cortisol Edition

Hey, everyone! Since it's the holidays I figured, why not stress you out more than you probably already are? This week we take a second look at stress, but more importantly, THE "stress hormone", Cortisol.

In an about.com article about stress and cortisol, Elizabeth Scott, M.S. tells us that cortisol is:

"Involved in the following functions:

·         Proper glucose metabolism

·         Regulation of blood pressure

·         Insulin release for blood sugar maintanence

·         Immune function

·         Inflammatory response

She also goes on to say that, "Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as:

· Impaired cognitive performance

· Suppressed thyroid function

· Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia

· Decreased bone density

· Decrease in muscle tissue

· Higher blood pressure

· Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences

· Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems! "

In an article about acupuncture and stress, Li Zheng, Ph.D., Lic. Acu. says:

"Acupuncture can reduce stress-induced increases of the blood cortisol level.[...] Cortisol and glucose levels will generally increase because of stress. This response can lead to suppressed immune function and therefore infection, high blood sugar levels, or other complications after surgery. Combining acupuncture with general anesthesia can inhibit this stress response so that the stress hormone cortisol is adjusted to precisely the right level: not too high to cause tissue damage and not too low to create chronic inflammation.

How can acupuncture increase cortisone level in one condition and reduce the same hormone in another? This happens because acupuncture can generally balance thyroid, adrenal gland, and other gland functions so that the levels of the different hormones are optimized. When inflammation continues, our bodies need more cortisol. Acupuncture stimulates the adrenal gland to produce more by enhancing its function instead of exhausting it as caffeine does. When our bodies produce too much cortisol to cope with stress, acupuncture reduces cortisol production by eliminating the stress factor and enhancing liver and kidney function to quickly discharge the extra stress hormones."

In this case, I think Cortisol is more dangerous than stress itself. When you have an excess of any kind of hormone in the body, it's usually NEVER a good thing. If you have been battling with chronic stress or any kind of stress at all, we highly encourage you to try acupuncture. We are sure you will experience positive benefits beyond what you are hoping for. And, mention our blog for a FREE stress treatment! You have nothing to lose (but your stress, of course) and everything to gain!

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Until next week,


P.S. Below are the links to the full articles I mentioned if you'd like to read more!

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