Home Hormones What is Cortisol, what does it do and how does the treatment work.

What is Cortisol, what does it do and how does the treatment work.

Posted by admin in Hormones Category. Reviewed and Updated: 20 December, 2017

You’ve probably heard about cortisol hormone, which is also called “stress hormone”. Below we’ll give you the most important information about cortisol, its functions, and high cortisol treatment.

Cortisol definition and its functions in the body


What is cortisol? Cortisol is a hormone (like HGH, testosterone, estrogen, LH, and others) contained in the blood. It is called stress hormone for the reason that it begins to be produced by the body during nervous experiences. If you put the body to physical stress, that is, overtrain in the gym, hormone cortisol also increases.

According to Wiki cortisol definition, cortisol is a regulator of carbohydrate metabolism of the body, and also takes part in the development of stress reactions. Cortisol is characterized by a daily rhythm of secretion: the minimum concentration is noted in the evening, and the maximum one is observed in the morning hours.

The main goal of cortisol is conservation of energy by any means, even by destroying the muscle tissue. Yes, it is the destruction and burning of muscles that allows the hormone to saturate blood with glucose (the main source of energy in the body) in the shortest possible time. It isn’t important for the hormone where this energy will be directed – to fight with the cause of stress or for running away from it (the so-called fight-or-flight response), the main thing is to get more energy.

That’s why cortisol is bad for bodybuilding athletes – a hormone can burn a beautiful and definite muscle tissue, accumulated and developed by long months through exhausting exercises, carbohydrate restrictions and diets.

How does cortisol work in the body?

As soon as the central nervous system of a person receives a signal that the body is in danger, there is a sharp mobilization of the latter’s forces. The adrenal glands begin to actively produce cortisol to perform a protective function. What does cortisol do?
It, in turn, provokes an increase in blood pressure and an increase in blood glucose.

The increase in cortisol in the body does not have a beneficial effect on muscle tissues. The high level of the hormone cortisol is directed at the destruction of the human muscles. Why is this happening to the body? Here is a simplified list of processes:

  • A person experiences emotional stress (nervous shock) or physical stress (excess training in the gym).
  • Within a few seconds, the brain receives an impulse that indicates danger.
  • Cortisol increases significantly, its levels depend on the level of danger.

Elevated cortisol in the body leads to the launch of a mechanism of muscle destruction. Why this is happening? Muscles consist of the simplest components, namely amino acids that can be used as a source of energy.

Since the central nervous system received a signal of danger, an electrical impulse to the cardiovascular system begins to flow from it. As a result, blood pressure increases. And at this moment, the hormone cortisol enters the blood along with the glucose that formed after the breakdown of the muscle tissue. This mixture of cortisol, glucose and amino acids helps the brain to cope with the shock. Physicians call this state adrenaline shock. This is the answer to how does cortisol work.

What does cortisol do after training?

Hard training or competition is a stress for the body. Exercises raise the pulse and body temperature, increase sweating. They cause an exciting effect on the nervous and endocrine systems, increase the secretion of cortisol adrenaline and norepinephrine. The harder the training, the longer the exciting effect will last. Any training increases the level of cortisol, and in this, there is nothing wrong: it increases the positive adaptation of the body to weights. If the load is too heavy, and the level of cortisol does not have time to fall, it can cause insomnia. Anabolic steroids, such as Stanozolol, Anavar and Deca Durabolin, may level the activity of cortisol in the body, thereby increasing muscle growth.

Cortisol treatment – indications and possible side effects

If cortisol is elevated:

  • The body is in a state of stress, sometimes without a reason;
  • There is increased irritability;
  • There is a metabolic disorder;
  • Thyroid gland is exhausted. As a consequence, elevated cortisol may affect the level of other vital hormones. For example, prolactin begins to decrease;
  • The protein mass of a person is destroyed. Accordingly, the muscles become more susceptible to any pain. There is a feeling of fatigue and weakness, even after minor physical exertion. For example, a person can feel shortness of breath, weakness, pain in the joints after climbing a long ladder;
  • Insomnia begins to exhaust human biorhythm.

Another symptom of elevated cortisol is an absolutely uncontrolled intake of food. If a person does not eliminate the cause (increased hormone) in time, it can cause obesity and problems associated with digestion, such as gastritis, pancreatitis, heartburn, peptic ulcer.

Shaky hands, prolonged depression, apathy, a feeling of total depression, moral exhaustion and a propensity for mental disorders are symptoms of an urgent need to check the level of the hormone cortisol and conduct appropriate treatment.

In the case of a chronic increase in cortisol, a disease that is called Cushing’s syndrome develops. This syndrome is caused by either excessive cortisol-like medication such as prednisone (or high doses of anastrozole) or a tumor that either produces or results in the production of excessive cortisol by the adrenal glands.

If the level cortisol in the blood is increased, then it is necessary to take decisive actions. High cortisol treatment is the most correct way out of the situation. As a rule, in case of elevated cortisol, physicians initially prescribe medication, radiation therapy or surgery (it depends on the cause). But you can try other proven methods because the causes of increased cortisol are nervous stresses and physical exhaustion.

If you drink more than one cup of coffee a day, periodically quench your thirst with carbonated water and save yourself from drowsiness with energy drinks, you can have an excess of cortisol in the blood. In turn, a person who sleeps 7-8 hours per day is less prone to stress.

If you still cannot adjust to a positive way, calm down and begin to enjoy life, then at least change your diet, because your emotions provoke a constant production of cortisol and as a consequence – the destruction of muscles that need to be restored. And as you know, protein is the building element of muscle tissue. Treatment of Cushing’s syndrome should be accompanied by the consumption of a large amount of cottage cheese, eggs, dairy products.

Vitamin-mineral complexes also contribute to the effective treatment and prevention of excessive production of the hormone cortisol. If you feel at least one of the above symptoms, start taking vitamins (after consulting a doctor).

What is cortisol drug – key information

According to medical data, some medications decrease cortisol synthesis in the adrenal glands or decrease ACTH production in the pituitary gland. Medicaments to control the excess synthesis of cortisol by the adrenal gland include ketoconazole, mitotane and metyrapone. The newest medicament for the disease is Signifor, and it acts by reduction of ACTH synthesis by a pituitary tumor. This medicament is administered as an injection 2 times daily.

If you’re treated with corticosteroids, a change in medicament or dose may be necessary. Do not attempt to change the dose yourself. You can do this after doctor’s consultation. Don’t use testosterone supplements or similar meds without doctor’s consultation.