Respecting Cortisol and Why It Matters

Cortisol impacts every aspect of your life – the circadian rhythm, hormones, energy and it is produced from the adrenal gland. Cortisol is often underrated and is a fascinating story most people don’t really know all the details. Cortisol is really the master hormone and not enough doctors and other people managing health give cortisol the respect it deserves.

Let’s start with the adrenal glands. They are triangular-shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Most people know of cortisol as a stress hormone that is secreted with the fight-or-flight response, actual or perceived. This is an important concept to grasp: in response to any perceived stress, cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands. If you want a very good book about this topic, consider reading Robert Sapolsky, Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers.

Especially in these trying times of the COVID-19 situation where we isolating, practicing social distancing, and having to stay indoors, listen to daily news about deaths, hearing about how the virus is infecting and killing people, watching the stock markets crash, and the list goes on. These are all perceived stressors that raise your cortisol, and not in good ways.

Rising Sun

Humans are hardwired to a specific rhythm of cortisol. This means that all of us are wired to have high cortisol in the morning and low cortisol in the evening. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, so does cortisol. Escaping from this rhythm, as modern living has allowed us to do, has significant impact on this hardwiring. Due to the impacts of modern life, few of us have normal rhythms of cortisol secretion. Cortisol is much more about the rhythm of cortisol versus the volume of cortisol (unless that tiger has jumped out of the bush. A good example is the video of a Bengal tiger jumping out of the forest and chasing 2 people on a motorbike.

So, the important point here is if you think primitively, just like the sun, cortisol rises in the morning, and this is the time to get our important stuff done. By the end of the day, we settle down, go to sleep, just like the sun setting. If you remember anything from this article, make sure you wake up and experience the sunrise each day.

In modern times, we’ve altered normal adrenal gland physiology from a daily rhythm pattern of occasional acute cortisol release to a chronic secretion of cortisol and this has disconnected our sense of natural living with the sun. If you want to improve upon your health, performance, preventing disease, figure out meaningful ways to live with the sun’s rhythm. Wake up with the sun and go to bed with the sun. That is how our cortisol is hardwired within us.

Part 2 will cover why Cortisol is Life Saving..

If you have any questions, please email me

Doc Edwards