Updated: Feb 8
DHEA Also called dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA is like the party planner for our previously mentioned cocktail party. Without DHEA, cortisol would be allowed to wreak havoc without restraint since DHEA is your body’s main "anti-cortisol" hormone. But DHEA also does some other very important things:
> Serves as the chief precursor to sex hormones, particularly post menopause
> Directly binds to receptors in the brain that promote pain relief and relaxation.
Prevents plaque formation (‘hardening’) of the heart arteries
• Improves insulin sensitivity
• Promotes sense of well being
• Protects the brain
• Maintains tissue strength and repair
• Promotes bone growth
• Enhances immune function in those suffering from autoimmune
• diseases (particularly rheumatoid arthritis)
But, don’t let your excitement over DHEA cause you to go out and buy a big bottle. Even though it is available as an over the counter supplement, its ability to turn into other hormones and lower cortisol warrants extreme caution and medical supervision with its use.
PREGNENOLONE Pregnenolone is the main conduit between cholesterol and all of the steroid hormones. Like DHEA, it is an anti-inflammatory and also antagonizes the effects of cortisol… A party patrol officer if you will. It has also been shown to be of some benefit in maintaining memory as well.
INSULIN This pancreatic hormone is in charge of regulating the metabolism of carbohydrates (sugars) and fat. It is the hormone responsible for telling your cells to use the fuel (food) you consume for energy. Without insulin, your cells would be in a state of starvation because insulin would not be around to tell them to take up glucose. In the face of chronically elevated cortisol, elevations in blood sugar occur not only because of increased glucose production but also because cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. Consequently, high cortisol states have been associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes
GROWTH HORMONE Growth hormone is another anabolic (growth and repair) hormone produced by the pituitary gland. The highest level of production is during the first hour after we fall asleep. Most adults think growth hormone deficiency means they should be short, but actually, growth hormone serves many important functions in adults including maintenance of muscle, lean body mass, bones, mood, and general health symptoms of growth hormone deficiency include:
•Worsening insulin resistance
Similar to insulin, cortisol and growth hormone cannot both be the center of attention at the party. This makes sense since when cortisol is around in excessive amounts, growth hormones levels fall - who cares about growth and repair when you are in survival mode, right?
THYROID HORMONE Thyroid hormone action revs up your system. It’s instrumental in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, telling your cells what to do with each type of energy form. Thyroid hormones are also very important in the proper growth and development of cells, long bone development, and neuron (nerve cell) development in the brain. Thyroid hormone ranks second in command after our party VIP, cortisol.
The list of symptoms of low thyroid would fill five pages, but some of the more common ones are:
•Loss of the outer one-third of the eyebrows
•Hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails
•Difficulty losing weight/weight retention
•Joint and muscle pain
•Slow heart rate
•Menstrual problems and difficulty conceiving
You can imagine what might happen at our party if thyroid decides to take on cortisol. Again, there can’t be two VIPs at the party—in other words, if a system is already "revved up" because our VIP, cortisol, is too high, your body will do what it can to prevent spontaneous combustion by inactivating thyroid hormone functions at multiple levels.
Cortisol would block the hormones TRH (thyroid releasing hormone) and TSH (thyroid stimulation hormone), it would prevent thyroid hormone conversion in the tissues, and it would render your tissues insensitive to the actions of thyroid hormone.
Conversely, if a patient with low cortisol is placed on thyroid hormone, their symptoms may be made much worse. Why? Because like growth hormone, DHEA, insulin, and pregnenolone, thyroid hormone also antagonizes the effects of cortisol. Think about it this way: since thyroid hormone revs up your system, if cortisol is low, your system cannot be revved up. It would be like trying to enter NASCAR with an empty gas tank.
MELATONIN Known as "the hormone of darkness," melatonin is released by the pineal gland in the brain. Its primary actions are to help regulate our sleep-wake cycles/circadian rhythms and to serve as a potent anti-oxidant. It can affect reproduction and sex drive by decreasing the levels of the pituitary hormones (FSH and LH) necessary for the production of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Its effects on the immune system are opposite those of cortisol. It has been extensively studied and has been shown to have numerous therapeutic implications.
Melatonin has also been shown to reduce cortisol production by inhibiting ACTH, the pituitary hormone that tells your adrenal glands to make cortisol.
From the book by Dr. Lena Edwards,MD - Adrenalogic
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