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What Is Cortisol?

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone, made in the cortex of the adrenal glands and then released into the blood, transporting it all around the body. Almost every cell is ready to receive  cortisol, so cortisol can have lots of different actions depending on the cell it’s talking to. These effects include controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, influencing memory formation, controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure and helping development of the fetus. It’s a big deal. The OG. And it can save your life when it works correctly, or make you miserable when it’s off.


There is a connection between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands that forms the backbone of the body’s stress response system and are often referred to as the HPA-axis. The  hypothalamus and pituitary are considered master glands; they control all your hormone producing glands. The HPA-axis is THE Master of Mojo.

How is cortisol controlled?

Our blood levels of cortisol vary throughout the day, but tend to be higher in the morning when we wake up, and then fall throughout the day. This is called a diurnal rhythm. In people that work at night, this pattern is reversed, so the timing of cortisol release is clearly linked to daily activity patterns. 

Hold on to your saddle. This gets kind of multisyllabic complicated, but when cortisol levels in the blood are low, a group of cells in the hypothalamus releases corticotrophin-releasing hormone, which causes the pituitary gland to secrete another hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, into the bloodstream. High levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone are detected in the adrenal glands and stimulate the secretion of cortisol, causing blood levels of cortisol to rise. As the cortisol levels rise, the cortisol will signal the body to begin blocking the release of corticotrophin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus and adrenocorticotropic hormone from the pituitary. As a result, the adrenocorticotropic hormone levels start to drop, which then leads to a drop in cortisol levels. This is called a negative feedback loop, a reaction that causes a decrease in function. In this instance, a decrease in cortisol.


Cortisol Levels: What Do They Mean?

Levels of cortisol rise and fall naturally throughout the day.


Cortisol levels typically reach their lowest levels late at night — usually around midnight. From there, levels begin to rise. Cortisol reaches its highest level in the body early in the morning, peaking around 9am before declining throughout the day. 


The pattern can change or become altered if people work irregular shifts or sleep a lot during the day; diseases, including adrenal gland disorders, that affect the production or use of cortisol also can disrupt the normal pattern. Adrenal gland disorders may arise when it produces too much or too little cortisol. 

High levels of cortisol

Most people are battling high cortisol levels to some degree. In Cushing's syndrome, there’s too much cortisol production. Cushing’s is considered a rare disease but we are starting to realize there's such a large spectrum within the disease that we have what would be analogous to diabetes with prediabetes, we are seeing what is considered “preCushing's”.


A high circulating concentration of estrogen is the most common cause of high cortisol levels in women. 


When cortisol levels are too high for too long, it can cause a suppression of testosterone and hGH causing:

  • Weight gain (especially belly fat) 
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak immune system; kills immune cells 
  • Difficulty healing wounds
  • Thinning skin, easy bruising and flushed face
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Low libido
  • Infertility
  • Bone loss
  • Insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes
  • Impacts frontal cortex affecting thinking and mood
  • Interferes with testosterone production in men b/c it interrupts sleep, where it is nurtured 

So, high cortisol in the short term = Good – fight or flight mechanism is doing its thing. But in the long term, staying in a heightened cortisol state = Bad. Rebalance is about helping move out of this heightened state into balanced cortisol.

Balanced cortisol

At its core, cortisol balance comes through healthy lifestyle choices. 


Cortisol plays an important role in human nutrition. It regulates energy by selecting the right type and amount of carbohydrate, fat, or protein the body needs to meet the physiological demands placed on it. (https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml)

  • A refresher, or if you didn't know, cortisol:
  • Manages how your body uses carbs, fats, proteins
  • Keeps inflammation down
  • Regulates your blood pressure
  • Regulates blood sugar
  • Controls sleeping and waking cycles
  • Boosts energy so you can handle stress and then restore balance afterward
  • Big player in memory formulation.

It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. When balanced, cortisol enhances activeness, alertness, and relaxation, and reduces stress and nervousness.


What role does the Rebalance System™ play in cortisol?


It starts with sleep. Most people live with disrupted, less than optimal sleep. The body is not getting the proper flow of what it needs for optimal cortisol production. Rebalance quiets disruption and gets your flow back.


Sleep matters because it involves the fluctuation of and connection between melatonin and cortisol, two hormones directly related to stress and overall bodily health. Sleep can actually ratchet down cortisol levels and quiet the fight or flight branch of your nervous system.

Dream Catcher not only encourages sleep but nurtures healthy cortisol, testosterone and hGH production as you sleep. It also helps repair cells and transmitters disrupted throughout the day. Ultimately, blocking the negative effects of cortisol.


Then you can start your day with a healthy level of cortisol from a good night’s sleep. Paired with Energize in the morning and Relax in the evening, keeping cortisol balanced 24/7 is as easy as 1, 2, Z.