Cortisol and its effects on your health

Cortisol and its effects on your health

Everybody feels stressed at different times, in different ways over different things in their lives. Stress is the state of mind where you feel irritated, frustrated, anxious, or nervous about things, situations, or work that don’t turn out as you want. Being stressed out makes you low, and sometimes also gives you headaches, body pain, etc. As your body feels more stress, it activates a safety measure by producing a hormone that can control your stress. And that hormone is cortisol. It’s also called the ‘stress hormone’.  

Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone. 

Where is it produced? 

It is produced by adrenal glands, which are small triangled-shaped glands that are found on the top of your kidneys.  

What does it do? 

In our body, most of the tissues have glucocorticoid receptors, and because of this, cortisol affects every organ in our body, which includes: 

  • Nervous system 
  • Immune system 
  • Respiratory system 
  • Cardiovascular system 
  • Reproductive system 
  • Musculoskeletal system.  

It has these functions:  

  1. Control your body’s stress response: When you are stressed, your body releases this hormone which works with adrenaline to put your body on ‘alert’. And in addition, cortisol releases glucose from your liver for rapid energy production.  
  2. Helps in metabolism: Cortisol helps to control fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism to produce energy for your body.  
  3. Suppress inflammation: It helps to boost the immune system to control inflammation. But high levels of cortisol in your blood for a long time can lead to a weaker immune system. 
  4. Helps in controlling blood pressure: The role of cortisol in regulating blood pressure is still unclear, but if your cortisol levels are high or low it also makes the blood pressure go high to low.  
  5. Helps in controlling blood sugar levels: Cortisol works with insulin hormone to balance sugar levels in the bloodstream. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels to store glucose, and insulin lowers sugar levels.  
  6. Regulate your wake-sleep cycle: Cortisol levels make you fall asleep and wake you up, depending on the increased or decreased concentrations in your blood. Its levels drop in the evening to make you fall asleep and increased levels wake you up in the morning.   

Maintaining optimal cortisol levels is important for good health.  If you have consistently high cortisol levels, it has a negative impact on your health.  

Disease caused by high cortisol levels 

High levels of cortisol are seen in Cushing’s syndrome. Its symptoms include: 

  • Weight gain (specifically around your abdomen) 
  • Pink or purple stretch marks on thighs, breasts, and arms 
  •  fragile skin  
  • Slow healing of cuts 
  • Acne 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Decreased sex drive 
  • Headaches 
  • Skin darkening 
  • Excessive hair growth 
  • Cushing’s syndrome can lead to many serious diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, bone loss, etc.  

How can you balance your cortisol levels? 

Although medication and surgery are the best ways to control the high level of cortisol (Cushing’s syndrome) you can take some natural measures too: 

  • Get a sound sleep: If you don’t make a habit of taking good quality sleep every night, it can lead to chronic sleep issues like insomnia, sleep apnea, etc. which lead to high cortisol levels.  
  • Exercise daily:  Exercises not only help to keep you fit but also improve your sleep quality and reduce stress, which can lower the levels of cortisol. 
  • Learn stress reduction techniques: If you can identify the pattern of your stress, you can learn different techniques to cope with your stress like yoga, meditation, light exercises, etc. which can help control cortisol levels. 
  • Practice deep breathing exercises: By performing deep breathing exercises, you stimulate your nervous system and calm yourself, which helps to lower cortisol levels.  
  • Enjoy and laugh more: Laughing helps to release the endorphins in your body which suppress cortisol. Taking part in activities that make you happy helps to lower cortisol levels.  

At Doral Health & Wellness our team of endocrinologists excels in diagnosing and treating endocrine imbalances, diseases, and rare endocrine cancers, enabling patients to lead a healthy life. 

Have questions or need a second opinion? At Doral Health and Wellness, we have doctors that can help you manage your condition. For more information, you can visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11212, or call us on 1-347-384-5690. You can also visit our website at or contact us at if you have any queries. 

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