Balance Hormones Naturally: The Relationship between Chronic Stress, High Cortisol, and Endocrine Balance


Chronic high cortisol levels cause a mound of problems in the body and health in general.  When it comes to endocrine balance, high cortisol levels almost always  cause chaos amidst the orchestra of hormonal balance.  High cortisol affects blood sugar levels, the thyroid, liver, adrenals, sex hormones, mood, metabolism, and so much more.  Regulating stress, and therefore cortisol, is necessary for the endocrine system, and individuals as a whole, to function optimally.

Many organs take a hit when cortisol is too high.

The Liver.

One organ that takes a hit when cortisol levels are high is the liver.  The liver is in charge of detoxing and getting rid of dead and extra hormones that are no longer needed in the body.  High cortisol levels decrease the effectiveness of the liver pathways that perform these functions.  This means that the liver cannot eliminate the unhelpful or dead hormones leading to excess and unwanted hormones floating in the body causing hormonal imbalances and even toxicity.

The Pancreas.

Another organ that takes a hit when cortisol levels are high is the pancreas.  When cortisol levels are high, the insulin receptors on cells do not respond as they should.  This forces the pancreas to secrete more insulin so that glucose can get into the cells as needed.  Secreting extra insulin, though, causes increased insulin levels which can lead to insulin resistance (IR) and even diabetes down the road if not corrected.  IR can also cause hormonal imbalances, poor mineral absorption, inflammation, and elevated blood pressure and cholesterol.

The Adrenal Glands.

Sex hormones are also greatly affected! When cortisol is high, the adrenals steal the pregnenolone that is supposed to be used for making adrenal and sex hormones and instead turns it into cortisol to protect the body putting it in a fight or flight survival response.  In other words, the adrenal glands see the stress as a major threat to life and puts aside reproduction, metabolism, and other functions making the production of cortisol priority. These pregnenolone precursors that would otherwise be converted to sex hormones or adrenal hormones are "stolen" for the purpose of producing cortisol for survival in its state of stress.  When sex and adrenal hormones are no longer being created, mood, energy, sleep, metabolism, and many more day-to-day feelings and functions are kissed goodbye – all to protect the body from chronic stress.

Our bodies are smart machines!  Everything it does is a way of trying to protect us... we need to help support it and allow it to balance hormones naturally!

Chronic stress (and therefore high cortisol) negatively affects the endocrine system.

In the end, chronic stress and high cortisol levels cause a downhill cascading affect on the endocrine system.  This stress affects many organs such as the liver, pancreas, adrenals, pituitary, thyroid, and can lead to a number of health problems including those that involve blood sugar regulation, metabolism, mood, vitamin, mineral, and EFA absorption, digestion, and much more.

It's vital that stress is managed so that cortisol won't be chronically elevated and that proper endocrine balance can be achieved.  Without proper endocrine balance, the body cannot be in a state of homeostasis (which is what we need!  Without being in a state of homeostasis, we will never truly be healthy).  So let's make a pact to help our bodies balance hormones naturally by getting rid of some of the stress and toxins we deal with on a day-to-day basis!  Are you in??

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