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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Anxiety Elevates Cortisol Levels

 by teridreshner


During moments of anxiety, cortisol is released in our bodies whenever we face tense and anxious situations. The adrenal glands in our bodies secrete a type of "fight-or-flight" hormones called cortisol, together with adrenaline.

These stress hormones turbo-charge us to deal with the immediate emergency that we are facing. We feel energized, powered up, with clarity of mind to make instant important decisions.

In some rare life-threatening cases, some people have even been reported to do miraculous stunts, like in a case where a mother was able to lift a lorry to save her baby!

However, in our daily lives, most probably our emergency would be to finish that bulk of reporting in a deadline that is tomorrow morning!

It is normal for us to have sporadic release of cortisol, as this hormone is essential to support our daily functions. But if cortisol is released too often, it can take its toll on our health. Over a prolonged duration of anxiety, the brain chemicals become conditioned, giving rise to anxiety attacks, which is a sensation that there is perpetually something wrong, which intensifies over time and could lead other other symptoms such as rapid heart beat, sweaty palms and difficulty in breathing.

In our high-stress culture, our body's response to stress is activated so frequently, that it is not given a chance to return to normal. There are many factors that can trigger the release of cortisol in the body, such as frequent exercise or lack of sleep. Elevated cortisol levels are the result of the too frequent release of cortisol in the body.

Prolonged high levels of cortisol can lead to heart disease and damage our liver. Other negative effects might include higher blood pressure, higher levels of "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL), impaired cognitive performance, blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia, suppressed thyroid function, decreased bone density, decrease in muscle tissue, weak immune system, slow wound healing, and even increased abdominal fat, also known as belly fat!

Cortisol suppresses another important, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), the "youth" hormone which is used by the body to produce corticosterone and the male and female sex hormones testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. DHEA is the hormones that helps our body to prevent and fight cancer. With DHEA suppressed, the body is susceptible.

No wonder cortisol is known as the "stress hormone" and is sometimes referred to as the "death hormone". Cortisol creates chronic to severe inflammation that eventually causes premature aging and leads to an earlier death.

So, if you find yourself having these symptoms, the most obvious one being the accumulation of fat around the abdomen, ask yourself, if you are suffering from stress and anxiety. You need to calm yourself down after every stressful situation and allow your body to relax, so that the cortisol levels can return to its normal healthy levels.

You can manage your cortisol levels with a few simple lifestyle changes and nutritional nourishment for your adrenals and some special herbs known asadaptogens, which are harmless plants with no side effects. These herbs help the human body to adapt to stress and increase resistance to disease.

Among them are holy basil, ashwagandha, shatavari, dong quai, schizandra, gynostemma, astragalus and rhodiola.

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