How Cortisol Affects Our Other Hormones
Were going to be focusing on three of our most important hormones: testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Be sure to check out the many benefits of each in some of our other blogs or head over to our hormone replacement therapy page.
Lets look at how cortisol directly affects these other three vital hormones in our bodies, in response when our stress levels are on the rise.
When stress causes cortisol to increase:
- Progesterone leading to anxiety, depression, hair loss, dry skin, heavy periods, PMS, weight gain, vaginal dryness and thyroid dysfunction .
- Testosteronecausing irritability, fatigue, sleep disturbances, menstrual irregularities, loss of motivation and interest, impotence and loss of libido.
- Estrogenincreases: resulting in estrogen dominance, PMS, fibroids, decreased thyroid function, weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and blood clots
So you can see, these hormones are necessary to our overall health and vitality. Cortisol can disrupt the balance of these hormones, harming us from the inside out.
When cortisol levels rise, we see: immune suppression , insomnia and sleep disturbances, irritability, anxiety, lower thyroid function, sugar cravings, increase cholesterol and higher blood pressure.
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Stress Hair Loss And The Cortisol Connection
As we deal with a global pandemic, our way of life has shifted dramatically and stress levels are at an all-time high. The disruption of our routines and the uncertainty of whats to come is undoubtedly stressful, and for some, spiked stress levels can disrupt the hairs natural growth cycle, which may lead to excessive shedding and hair loss.
Hair loss can be caused by an imbalance in hormone levels. Cortisol is one of the hormones often identified with hair loss. Understanding how hormones and hair loss are connected and how to regulate the effects can help lead to healthier hair.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, one of the glucocorticoids made in the cortex of the adrenal glands which is released into the blood and transported throughout the body. Most cells contains receptors for cortisol which can have many different actions depending on which sort of cells it acts upon. These effects include controlling the bodys blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, influencing memory formation, controlling salt and water balance, regulating blood pressure, and helping fetal development during pregnancy. All of these functions make cortisol a crucial hormone to protect overall health and wellbeing.
How Hormones and Hair Loss are Connected Through Stress
There are three types of hair loss which can all be associated with high stress levels:
Testing for Stress-Related Hair Loss
The Effect Of Adrenal Fatigue To Hair Growth
Hair loss can be a devastating disease for both men and women. The hair molds the shape of our face to make us more attractive. It protects the skull from heat and cold temperatures. The main function of the hair in the body is for thermoregulation.
Hair growth is regulated by specific hormones. These are the same hormones that gave us our secondary sexual characteristics like the formation of the Adam apple in males and the breast and body curvature in females. These hormones are called the Androgenic hormones.
Androgenic hormones are produced in the Adrenal glands and regulated by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands or what is now known collectively as the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis. The HPG axis is an important part of the neuroendocrine system of the body because each of the glands regulates the function of another. This regulatory mechanism is known as the feedback mechanisms. So just imagine how the destruction of this system which is known as Adrenal fatigue, affects the body and how it causes hair loss.
The two main hormones that are linked to hair loss are the Testosterone and Dehydroepiandrosterone . Testosterone comes from DHEA. First, Cholesterol, which is the precursor of Gonadal and steroid hormones is acted upon by certain enzymes to become Pregninolone, then further acted upon to become DHEA.
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Checking For Adrenal Health
In order to figure out the health of your adrenal glands a simple blood, urine, or saliva test such as the Adrenal Stress Index can be carried out through your professional. Cortisol levels can be inspected by blood in the morning or throughout the day by a saliva test. DHEA, and Epinephrine, are some other indicators of adrenal function. The details supplied by testing can help to determine the most appropriate type of treatment.
Recovering From Adrenal Fatigue
Even though hair density does decrease with age, telogen effluvium can speed up the process. While many cases of this particular do clear up on their own, adrenal fatigue-related hair loss wont necessarily resolve itself without your intervention.
The good news is that you can reverse telogen effluvium and support overall hair health if you adjust a few lifestyle factors.
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Distinction From Addisons Disease
Adrenal fatigue is closely related to, but not to be confused with, Addisons Disease, a disorder characterized by insufficient cortisol production due either to a pathology directly affecting the adrenals or a disruption of signaling between the brain and the adrenals. While symptoms of Addisons Disease are similar to adrenal fatigue, the primary difference is that adrenal fatigue is considered a possible result of the overuse of otherwise healthy adrenal glands due to stress.
The adrenals are necessary to have gluconeogenesis to take place in the liver, as well as the glycogen storage where it stimulates the production of blood glucose, says Dr. Wilson. So, most of the major symptoms of either adrenal fatigue or Addisons Disease are a result of either a lack of cortisol or a lack of blood glucose and the many effects that it has systematically throughout the body.
He theorizes, Unlike Addisons, adrenal fatigue doesnt have a pathological origin, with the exception of the overuse of antibiotics which may partially shut down the use of the adrenal glands. So, you do get different symptoms with versus adrenal fatigue, because youre talking about the difference between a body that cant secrete cortisol versus a body that isnt secreting sufficient cortisol.
It All Started With A Hair Loss In 2010
By 2010, after two years of dietary and lifestyle changes which I talk about here, my thyroid started doing much better. By better I mean: my TPO antibodies dropped, I was no longer fatigued, had no more heart palpitation and these terrifying anxiety attacks. My mood improved, I felt like being social and kind to people again. I say again, as this was not the case when I lived in Shanghai, China when my health was at its worse.
But, now my hair started falling out a symptom I did not experience earlier. So it felt like managing my thyroid was a moving goal and a rather mysterious one as all lab work proved to be OK. An integrated doctor in Seattle told me that I was the healthiest person he had seen in a long time. That was not helpful, to say the least.
I then moved to NYC and one of the first things I tasked myself with was to find a good physician who was willing to run the tests I request and who understood the peripheral body systems that can impact the thyroid and my hair loss.
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Can You See Yourself In This You Eat Well You Exercise You Dont Drink Diet Coke
So many of you write to me and say Im eating so well, I exercise, I try not to be stressed and Im still not 100%. What is going on?
And this is what I mean by my own health and healing being a journey. Its not about the thyroid anymore, at least not for me. My thyroid numbers are and were perfect . It often can be about the peripheral body systems that are impacting you, too.
You know what I love about it? Every crisis makes me dive deep into understanding what is going on and WHY is it happening.
Of course, the next step for anybody with a Type A personality is to dive into action. Yup, thats me. Embrace it and battle it. Head on.
So I did.
Digestion / Bowel Movements / Urination
Frequent Urination. Do fluids seem to pass straight through you? Very high urinary urgency is a classic adrenal fatigue symptom
Usually constipation, especially in early stages.
Sometimes diarrhea, especially in later stages.
Light beige bowel movements
Frequent urination, and soon after drinking fluids
Irritable bowel syndrome
Bloating, , cramps, lots of gas
Eye Floaters .
Blurred Vision, or trouble focusing
Flashes of Light with eyes closed .
Dark Circles under eyes
Double vision .
Burning in Eyes
– Extreme fatigue .- Constant anxiety .- Restless sleep .- Ringing in my ears.- Pain in my upper back and neck that comes and goes.- Weak legs and sore feet that make it hard to stand for long periods.- Dizziness .- Nausea making it difficult to eat.- Low blood sugar if I don’t eat every 2 hours.- Low sex drive.- Sensitive to bright lights and loud sounds.- Shortness of breath and rapid heart rate.- Cloudy thinking making it hard to concentrate.- I feel better than I do all day between 6-9 p.m.
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Adrenal Glands Stress Hormones And Hair Loss
The adrenal glands are a very important piece of the human endocrine system. Located just above the kidneys, the adrenal glands are responsible for the production of several hormones that are designed to help mammals, like human beings, thrive in a world that is naturally plagued with mental, physical, and emotional challenges.
Stress management is key, however. Failure to properly manage stress may inhibit the long-term ability of the adrenal glands to produce a natural balance of hormones. This adrenal gland dysfunction may trigger a variety of serious side effects, including fatigue, weight loss, dizziness, nausea, and hair loss.
This Is How To Recover From Adrenal Fatigue
Recovering from adrenal fatigue depends upon you. It means changing your lifestyle, changing your relationships with other people, and taking good care of yourself. I tell my patients to treat yourself just like you would a newborn babywith a lot of loving care and attention. When you are tired, go to sleep. When you are hungry be sure you have plenty of healthful, nourishing food. When you are stressed by someones demands, learn to say no, at least temporarily. In this way, you will slowly learn to take the stress off your adrenal glands and allow them to heal.
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Treatment For Adrenal Fatigue
These are the other treatment options which you must do to prevent and fight adrenal fatigue:
Basically, managing stressful situations is the best treatment of adrenal fatigue because this is the main cause of this condition. Here are the healthy tips on how youre going to deal with stress and release your tension:
- Take time to pause and relax within the day by getting some fresh air and making some stretches.
- Have time to exercise or to have some yoga sessions.
- Consider meditating for a few minutes or more to find peace of mind and calmness within.
- Fast food
- Fried food
Also, timing is important in regulating your blood sugar, and it also supports the good health of your adrenal glands. With this, it helps if you eat your breakfast and eat at regular meal times and do not make skipping breakfast as your practice. In addition, these are the recommended diet practices that can help you counteract adrenal fatigue:
- Always include fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Have a low intake of fatty foods.
- Do not take too much of sugary foods.
- Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.
- Stay hydrated.
Generally, a balanced and healthy diet is recommended to ensure that your overall health can stand the stressful situation that you are into. Your proper diet will protect you from having adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal Fatigue And Hair Loss
- 8 min read
We all have adrenal glands in our body, and they are extremely important because they’re responsible for the production of essential hormones. For example, the glands produce the sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen.
Adrenal fatigue, medically known as adrenal insufficiency, is when the adrenal glands aren’t producing enough of one or more of these essential hormones.
The condition can lead to various symptoms, and which ones you will experience depend on what hormone is being affected.
However, the main symptoms include fatigue, nervousness, body ache, light-headedness, and body hair loss.
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, then you must go to a doctor. They can carry out blood tests to analyze the level of adrenal hormones in your blood, with abnormally low levels indicating that you have adrenal fatigue.
The cause of adrenal fatigue is thought to be chronic stress. It’s where your body is in ‘fight or flight mode’ for extended periods due to excess stress, leading to very high levels of the hormone cortisol.
The adrenal glands can’t keep up with this and the hormone demand that it brings, reducing the hormones it produces.
Adrenal fatigue isn’t a pleasant thing for anyone to go through, and people particularly get worried about the common symptom of hair loss that comes with it.
The hair loss is caused by the adrenal glands not producing enough testosterone and DHEA hormones due to abnormally high cortisol levels.
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Why Are Your Adrenals Important
Your adrenals signal the fight or flight response, which is your bodys response to stress. Fight or flight causes the adrenals to release cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenals for use in the regulation of blood pressure. In response to stress, the adrenals release greater amounts of cortisol.
Theyre pretty darn important to overall health and unfortunately we dont realize that our lifestyle choices and habits can have a detrimental impact on our adrenals. When we dont nourish and protect our adrenals, it can lead to a slew of health issues, negatively impact thyroid hormone production and slow the metabolism.
What Is Adrenal Insufficiency
Unlike adrenal fatigue, this is a recognized disease that can be diagnosed. There are two forms of this condition, and both are caused by damage or problems with your adrenal glands that result in them not making enough of the hormone cortisol.
Symptoms of both forms include chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, weight loss, and stomach pain. You might also have nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, diarrhea, depression, or darkening of the skin.
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