Wednesday, December 31, 2014 0 comments

Happy New Year!

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Just a few more hours until we are ringing in the New Year on the west coast. This will be my first west coast new year and I have chosen to ring it in mildly, playing cards with friends. Tomorrow, should I wake in time, I plan to hike the Golden Gate Bridge with about 300 others, I thought it sounded like a cool way to celebrate the first day of another year. It is also approx an 8 mile hike to the mid point and back and I, like many, am trying to get more healthy this year.

I have been reading a new book this week, Life in Half a Second, by Matthew Michalewicz. There really could not be a more perfect book to end the year and begin anew, as we all plan for the year ahead, resolve to change our lives and get healthy, spend more time with family, see the world, work more, work less, whatever your resolutions are.

Matt talks about the way most of us plan to do things tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. But, what would you do right now if you had only one year to live? Why are you putting it off? It is true, we wait until we are financially stable, we wait until our kids are born, or grown or out of the house or whatever the case may be. But the truth is we never know if tomorrow will come, let alone next month, next year, next decade..... Why do we constantly put off the things that mean the most to us? Why do we put our dreams aside until something else happens?

The summary of this book has been the subject of one of my other blogs which talked about aligning our lives with our goals. Maybe we should spend more time doing the things that will help us achieve the goals we want to accomplish.

For example, if one of your resolutions is to spend more time with family, first off, you need to be more specific. Do you want to have dinner with family three times per week or do you want to have a day-outing once per month? What specifically does that goal look like? I have long been a proponent of using business planning ideas to achieve personal goals and Matt goes about it in a similar manner. You need to make SMART goals Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Reachable-Timely. So, be specific about your goals and then, start breaking that up into smaller tasks that will get you there.

Skeptics often say that resolutions are too often broken soon after the new year is under way, but what if we really set reasonable goals, with a specific plan to get there, visualize what that goal looks like, meditate on that goal frequently and take steps towards that goal regularly. I think we could all be a little more successful in our resolve to change our lives if we look at them more like business and have regular meetings with ourselves (prayer, meditation, journaling) to see how we are measuring up with our plan. This has proven a successful strategy for business and successful individuals the world over. Does that TV show you are watching align with your goal? How about this blog, as much as I wouldn't want to lose you as a reader, does reading this somehow propel you on your way towards financial independence, travelling the world, losing weight, spending more time with family or whatever your goal is? Of course the goals I just listed are not specific enough to be SMART goals, but you get the idea of where I am going with it.

As we turn out the lights on 2014 and look ahead to 2015 with bright eyes and big hopes, don't just say you want to get healthy this year, say I will lose 50 pounds this year. Then break it into smaller steps like, I will eat a high fat and protein and low carb diet this month and I will do high intensity interval training once per week this month. The take the next step, make your menu plan and your grocery list for this week, set yourself up for success, put exercise on your calender, make time for yourself. If you are a priority in your own life, consider taking stock in what you are doing to make yourself a priority. If financial independence is your priority this year, does spending $3,00 a day on a latte propel you in that direction?

Matt tells a good story in his book about time and money. I think I will use the example with my kids. My son works a part time job for minimum wage and easily blows his entire paycheck in the blink of an eye. Using Matt's idea, that PS4 he just had to have, as soon as he could... would not just equate to $350, but a 40 hour work week. He will have to spend 40 hours of his life unloading trucks and helping obnoxious customers to get that PS4. Now when he looks at it this way, he really sees the value of a dollar. Understanding that he is trying to save for a car, college and his own pad, maybe that PS4 isn't so enticing anymore. Maybe it is, only he can decide.

So, as I write my last post for the year and head out to ring in the new year with friends and family, I intend to contemplate, at least for a little while what my goals really are and what would I do if this were my last year? What would you do if tomorrow were the first day of your last year? Does the year look different when you think of it that way? Just food for thought...

Happy New Year everyone!

Conquering Cortisol

In my latest blog post, I talked about the harmful effects that chronic stress can have on the body. Cortisol is known to be one of the hormones that can build up in the body, causing long term damage to vital functions.

I have been researching natural ways to reduce the negative effects that cortisol can have on my body, knowing that I am chronically stressed, between work, being a single parent and my type-A personality, among other things, I live in a chronic state of stress. After researching the impact that state can have and knowing that it is likely one of the contributing factors to several of my health problems including migraines, IBS, weight gain, insomnia and high blood pressure, and potentially, my depression, I have decided it is time to crack the code on my cortisol production.

First of all, reducing stress is the number one way to reduce cortisol production. As I said in my last post, cortisol is an important hormone for many of our body's processes. However, since it is a stress hormone whose primary function in the stress response is to reduce the function of several processes that are not required for the immediate threat requiring the fight or flight response. (Remember this can be real or perceived)

Now, I have known for some time, cortisol is part of the stress response, but until I researched it, I did not really realize what its primary function was, and how a chronic state of stress can cause long term issues. I mean, theoretically, I knew that cortisol build-up could cause problems, I guess I didn't realize how many problems, or more importantly, how many of my own health issues could be caused by or at a minimum made worse by my chronic state of stress.

The good news is my research has uncovered a ton of ways to reduce cortisol production and the negative effects that a chronic state of stress can have on my body.  Some of the ideas are as easily implemented, others, not so much.

Eliminate Caffeine
As you know, if you have been reading my blog, I am a Mt Dew Addict. However, studies show that eliminating caffeine is the quickest way to reduce cortisol production. Just 200 mg of caffeine (1 cup of coffee) increases cortisol by 30% in one hour and it can remain elevated for up to 18 hours after. How long do you think cortisol can stay elevated when you drink a 6 pack of Mt Dew every day... Ouch! Not only does caffeine raise cortisol levels, but it can also significantly reduce night-time secretion of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that tends to reduce cortisol production at night. Remember that cortisol is supposed to be very low at night when melatonin is high.  Melatonin production is increased by a photochemical mediated pathway that converts serotonin to melatonin in the pineal gland after 4 hours of complete darkness. 

Sleep Deeper and Longer
This brings me to the next way to reduce cortisol levels as not getting enough sleep, particularly quality sleep will have tremendous impact on stress levels and overall health. One study showed that one night of missed or interrupted sleep was enough to give a healthy person the blood sugar levels of a diabetic or pre-diabetic. Other studies have shown that getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night can impact driving ability and cognitive function the next day.  I know I am a bear when I don’t get enough sleep, and everyday tasks become more challenging for me. This puts additional stress on the body and subsequently increases cortisol levels, which ironically cause more sleep issues. It is a nasty little cycle. Sleep and the stress response is a topic I will look at more closely as I try to start healing my own body. Go to bed each night at the same time, wake up at the same time, and get out in the sunshine. This creates a good circadian rhythm, which optimizes your hormone balance naturally.

Exercise Regularly
Building muscle mass increases the output of serotonin and dopamine, those feel-good neurotransmitters that help to regulate the stress response.  It is important to note that too much exercise can have the exact opposite effect and put your body into the stress cycle and increase cortisol as a result. Adaptive exercises like yoga, pilates, Qi-Gong that use the body weight for strength and flexibility are better for your relaxation response and should be incorporated into any exercise regimen.
Also of note, is that your body needs enough time to recover after exercise. Not ensuring enough recovery time between workouts will, you guessed it, activate your stress response and increase cortisol production. You will also see the most benefit from your exercise when you give your body enough time to heal, muscle gains and cardiovascular strength actually happen during the recovery cycle, not the workout, yet many of us spend more time working out then recovering, minimalizing the benefits of the very exercise we intend to make us healthier.

Keep your blood sugar stable And Eliminate Gluten
Diets rich in complex carbohydrates keep cortisol levels lower than low carbohydrate diets. Dietary starches and sugars increase the blood sugar level, which in turn decreases gluconeogenesis and reduces cortisol production. By maintaining stable blood sugar and insulin levels, your body will secrete less cortisol when you’re stressed. I will post separately about the dietary changes we can make to emphasize this response. Gluten found in many grains and foods processed with these grains can lead to inflammation within the digestive tract, which leads to the release of cortisol. Read more about kicking the sugar addiction here and here and dietary changes to help keep your blood sugar stable and deal with stress here

We already talked about sleep and exercise recovery time, which both lead to relaxation. Obviously, since cortisol is part of the body’s natural stress response, relaxation is an important part in regulating our body’s ecosystem, if you will. In fact, relaxation is so important to this natural process, I will cover many different ways to relax in a separate post.

Try a little aromatherapy or massage

Certain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are key to the body’s natural processes. Excess production of cortisol dampens the absorption of some of these key nutrients. While dietary changes are to be considered your first mechanism for increasing these key nutrients, sometimes, you just need to supplement your diet to get enough. Certain diets can also be hard on the body’s echo system, if you aren’t getting enough of these dietary nutrients, say in a low carb or a vegetarian diet, it may be important to supplement. Look for another post soon on specific supplements recommended for improving the relaxation response and maintaining healthy levels rather than excess cortisol.
Read more about supplements for stress

Herbal Adaptogens
In addition to dietary supplements, herbal adaptogens are known herbs which help you adapt to stress and help eliminate the long term negative effects it can have on your body. Many cultures have used herbal remedies for centuries. Read more about herbal supplements for stress here

Stay Hydrated
Dehydration puts the body into a stressed state and raises cortisol levels. Keeping yourself                          hydrated with plenty of water will reduce dehydration-induced stress. “Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels,” says Amanda Carlson, RD, director of performance nutrition at Athletes’ Performance, a trainer of world-class athletes. Stress can cause dehydration, and dehydration can cause stress. It’s a vicious cycle. You can break it by building more water consumption into your day. “Stress can result in many of the same responses as dehydration -- increased heart rate, nausea, fatigue, headache -- so if you can remain hydrated you can reduce the magnitude of the physiological responses we have to stress,” says Trent Nessler, PT, DPT, MPT, managing director of Baptist Sports Medicine in Nashville.
Studies have shown that practicing grounding is one of the most effective ways to restore natural hormonal rhythms during sleep, resynchronizing cortisol to its innate diurnal patterns. Earthing, or grounding, is the practice of reconnecting with the earth’s healing energy by allowing bare skin to come into direct contact with the earth's surface. This can be done by walking barefoot outside on the dirt or sand, swimming in lakes or in the ocean, or by the use of specifically designed earthing which bring earth’s energy into the home using a grounded electrical system or grounding rod.

Sit Up Straight and Breathe
If grounding sounds a little far-fetched for you, something as simple as sitting up straight and taking deep breaths can have a profound impact on our mood, our stress and of course our stress response. Due to our desk-sitting habits and stress-driven culture, many of us have actually altered the musculature of our natural posture and have become rapid, shallow, chest breathers. This breath habit compromises oxygen flow, weakens the abdominals, causes adrenal strain, compresses organs, creates lower back pain, and stimulates adrenaline-cortisol release. Learning how to breathe properly can neutralize this effect and turn off the stress cycle. A Harvard study led by Cuddy et al  found out that if you switch from low-power (arms crossed, hunched, closed up, nervous etc.) posture, into a high-power (opened up, tall, relaxed, confident etc.) posture, your hormones will act accordingly to your new posture. Two minutes spent in an “upright, confident posture” decreased cortisol by 25%. Taking a deep breath has been also been shown to lower cortisol levels. Deep breathing can also cause a temporary drop in blood pressure, another effect of our stress-driven culture.

Kick the Alcohol
While many of us reach to alcohol for relaxation, it actually raises cortisol levels.

Dim The Lights
I have already discussed the importance melatonin production plays in our sleep cycle and in turn, our stress response. Since melatonin is secreted naturally in the body, when it is exposed to the dark, keeping lights on all the time can have a negative effect on your sleep and your stress control.  When your eyes are exposed to lights your pineal gland (a tiny endocrine organ in your brain) will not secrete the melatonin you need for a good night's sleep. Furthermore, studies have shown that the blue light emitted from our electronic devices can also impede melatonin production. So turn off that computer, TV and phone and turn your lights down. It may just help you catch some much needed ZZZs and help you kick the stress response to bed at the same time. Remember, it’s a viscous little cycle as stress keeps us from sleeping and not sleeping stresses the body. Try turning off those electronics in the evening and see if it makes a difference in your sleep and or your sleep quality.

Sadly, there are so many things in modern society  we are destroying our own bodies. The good news is, there are ways to reduce your stress response, by reducing your cortisol levels , we  can start seeing multiple benefits for your brain, your waistline, your skin and your immune system!

Are you with me? Who is ready to kick some cortisol? What are you willing to try first? Stay tuned for more posts about conquering cortisol.

For a deeper exploration of the role of cortisol and the consequences of long-term elevation of stress hormones in the body, read The Cortisol Connection by Shawn Talbott, Ph.D. and The Metabolic Plan by Stephen Cherniske, M.S

Read more about stress and the negative impact it has on your body and other ways to improve your reaction to stress and lessen its impact on your health:

Stress is killing me
How to Eat the stress away
Supplementing your Stress Response

Decompressing Ancient Medicine
Tuesday, December 30, 2014 0 comments

Engineering the Perfect Night's Sleep

I have read many articles on sleep hygiene in search for the illusive good night's rest. Note that I said, I have read them, not tried them all... But that is about to change. Now, in my mid- to-early forties, I have decided that my sleep is very important to me. Currently working as a health care data analyst, a bad night of tossing and turning can really take it's toll on my ability to perform my job. Staring at a computer all day is tough enough, but crunching numbers, writing computer code and staring at endless reports, debugging code and trouble shooting are all very difficult tasks to do when you are foggy from a restless night. I first told you about my sleeplessness here. Where I decided to start using an app to track my sleep and then try different things to see what impact they may or may not have on my sleep and sleep quality.

I am a reader, an endless seeker of knowledge and learning. Many times, I read something just so I know the answers I seek, because I don't like not knowing something. One of the many books I have read over the years was the Four Hour Body, by Tim Ferris.

Without going into a thorough analysis of his book, or his methods, for this post, I am primarily interested in what he has to say about sleep.

His recommendations include:

Taking 200 micrograms (mcg) of huperzine-A 30 minutes before bed: to :increase total REM sleep
Don’t drink more than two glasses of wine within four hours of sleep: Drinking more than two glasses of wine within four hours of sleep decreases your deep sleep. This is not news to me, we have known for some time that alcohol reduces the amount of quality sleep we get, even if it does make it easier to fall asleep. I am not a drinker in the first place, so this is an easy one for me.
Taking 15+ drops of California Poppy extract: to increase deep wave sleep up to 20%
Eat two tablespoons of organic almond butter on celery sticks before bed: to avoid nighttime low blood sugar. This one is something easy to live with and not so experimental, what could be bad about adding some almond butter and celery do my diet? However, I am looking for something a little bit more promising than a full belly at bedtime to help me sleep, I will save this one for later too.
One to two tablespoons of flaxseed oil (120-240 calories) also to avoid nighttime blood sugar dips. This one is going to add healthy Omega 3 to my diet and help keep my blood sugar steady throughout the night, but, again, I am looking for something just a little bit more drastic. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I want some sleep! This is another one I can save for later, when I am fine tuning my glorious new sleep habit when I find it.

  • Do a single session of Tim’s Pre-Hab Testing from the “Pre-Hab” chapter in the Four Hour Body. Following is a quick breakdown of the four exercises and recommendations:
  • Chop down to left knee x 6-12 reps
  • lift up to the right knee 6-12 reps
  • 5 TGU one side (16-kg kettlebell)
  • 5 TGU one side (24-kg kettlebell)
  • 5 reps single side
  • 10 reps

Huperzine A is a moss. It is reproduces through spores. It has been used in Chinese folk medicine for many years to relax the muscles, improve blood circulation and for the treatment of rheumatism, bruises, swelling and even schizophrenia. Numerous clinical trials have been conducted for its efficacy in treatments of alzheimer's disease. There is no real evidence to support its use, however, its potential for alzheimers and other central nervous system disorders has been studied. While I AM searching for a decent night of sleep on a continual basis, I don't feel that I need to do anything so drastic just yet.... I think I will try some other less dramatic, or at least less questionable things to improve my sleep/sleep quality.

California poppy has been used for many years by native Americans for toothache and colic. It is supposed to reduce tension and give a sense of calm. It acts as a sedative and is considered less addictive than the opium poppy. Once again, there is insufficient evidence to support its use for anxiety,insomnia, aches, bedwetting, diseases of the bladder and liver, and other conditions.California poppy appears to be safe for most people when taken appropriately by mouth for three months or less. There isn't enough information to know if California poppy is safe for long-term use. While I feel a little more comfortable with this than the Huperzine A, I think I will still pass on it for now, there are still many things I can do before taking an experimental approach. 

What is next Tim Ferris? Give me something to help me sleep already!

Getting to Sleep: In addition to the sleep optimization ideas above, Tim also recommends the following sleep hygiene thoughts:
Sleep Temperature: Ah, this is one of my things. Tim Recommends starting at 65 degrees and moving your thermostat between 65 degrees as your low point and never going above 70. If you can’t control ambient temperature use socks of different thicknesses to tweak heat loss. Too bad, I already know about this one, nothing new for me, I like my room at a cool 65 degrees. Next!
Eat a large  Fat and Protein Dominated meal within 3 hours of bed time: Tim says that consumed within 3 hours of getting to sleep at least 800 milligrams of cholesterol (four or more large whole eggs) and 40 grams of protein.  Tim recommends eating two 3/4 of a pound rib eye steaks 3 hours before bed. This sounds a bit excessive to me! I am not trying to get fat, I am trying to sleep. While I do know that if I try to sleep when I am hungry, I am going to have a long night, and maybe some protein and fat before bed is a good thing to keep your belly quiet when you are trying to sleep, I am not ready to eat an entire cow and chicken before I go to bed. I think I would rather stick with the celery and almond butter...
Use of light cues: Tim recommends using light therapy in the morning.Used as a replacement for coffee first thing in the morning. 15 minutes pointing about 30 degrees off center angle, light therapy can make you more awake and aware. I have used a "happy lamp" before, but I am not convinced it will help me sleep, nor keep me awake after a sleepless night.
Incorporate Iso-Lateral resistance training (one arm or one leg):
1. Chop and Lift:
image thumb2 How to get 8 Hours of sleep in just Four Hours!
2. Turkish Get Up:
image thumb3 How to get 8 Hours of sleep in just Four Hours!
3. Cross-Body One Arm Single Leg Deadlift
image thumb4 How to get 8 Hours of sleep in just Four Hours!
4. Full Range Squat
image thumb5 How to get 8 Hours of sleep in just Four Hours!

Easy enough to accomplish for sure, and I am looking to lose 50 pounds this year, but once again, this is not the life altering or sleep altering thing I am looking for. Can't hurt to add it to my bedtime routine, if I had one. I will take a look at this in the future, to fine tune my sleep once I find it. 

Take a cold bath one hour prior to bed: Um...... NO, need I say I more? I like to take a nice hot bath before I go to bed, it relaxes me, it gets the knots out of my muscles from sitting at a desk all day, the lavender epsom salts seem to sooth my mind and my body, there is no way I am taking an ice bath instead!
Use an Ultrasonic Humidifier: This seems logical, cool air, decongesting mist, I don't really think this one is life altering either.
Use a Nightwave Pulse Light, (a slow-pulsing light the size of a cigarette pack), According to their website:NightWave silently guides you in a pre-sleep relaxation session in the privacy of your own bedroom. It’s like having your own personal sleep coach.
NightWave projects a soft light into your darkened bedroom. The “luminance” of the light slowly rises and falls. You lie with eyes open and synchronize your breathing with the wave of soft light as its movement becomes slower and slower. After a short time, NightWave shuts off and you roll over and fall asleep. And unlike sound machines, the soft light does not disturb others. 
Hmm, that sounds easy enough. I have seen an app in Google Play that reportedly does the same thing, maybe I will give this one a try. 

F.lux ( According to their website, Computer screens, tablets and mobile phones emit full spectrum light around the clock, it is well documented that blue light at the wrong time of day can keep you awake later and interfere with your quality of sleep. (Actually, now that I think about it, my sleep problems probably started around the same year I got the internet..)f.lux tries to help this by removing blue and green light to help you wind down in the evenings.
The Zeo Personal Sleep Coach ( Brad Feld’s favorite sleep device. The Zeo uses a headband that measures electrical patterns generated in the brain and can wake you at a point of elevated brain activity. It was the only recording device that offered usable data and that consistently reduced grogginess.
I think this is interesting, I am very interested in bio feedback, which is what this kind of reminds me of. A little on the expensive side as a first measure. I am going to wait it out on this one, there truly has to be something that I can do that is a little more accessible and will work.
So, there we have it, Tim Ferris's four hour body recommendations for sleep. 
As I sit here writing this, its already past 11pm, my best bedtime is at 10. My screen is kind of an orange color, the color the F.lux has made it, it certainly feels easier on my eyes, guess we will see how it does at helping me sleep, or at least at not making my sleep worse. 

To Read more about Tim Ferris' The Four Hour Body Plan



Stress is killing me... Literally

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Stress is the body's reaction to harmful situations -- whether they’re real or perceived. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as "fight-or-flight,” or the stress response. During stress response, your heart begins to race, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressurerises and your senses sharpen. Your Body is ready to react, to “fight” or “fly” away from whatever is threatening it.
Behind the scenes, your body releases a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones rouse the body to action and provide additional Strength, Speed, Stamina, quicker reaction time are and sharpen your focus.
Stress means different things to different people. What causes stress in one person may be of little concern to another. Some people are better able to handle stress than others. And, not all stress is bad. In small doses, stress can motivate you accomplish tasks and prevent you from getting hurt. For example, stress is what gets you to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting the car in front of you. That's a good thing.
For some of us, stress has become so common that it is a way of life. Our bodies are designed to handle small doses of stress We are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without ill consequences.(1). However,
All of us deal with stress differently, our bodies handle stress in different ways. However, some of the symptoms of stress are:
Stress Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive Symptoms
Emotional Symptoms
Memory Problems

Concentration Problems
Irritability / Short Temper
Poor Judgment
Feeling Overwhelmed/Losing Control
Loneliness / Isolation
Racing Thoughts
Constant Worry
Difficulty relaxing
Physical Symptoms
Behavioral Symptoms
Aches and Pains and muscle tension

Diarrhea / Constipation/Nausea
Changes in appetite (eating more or less)
Chest Pain / Rapid heartbeat/ Rapid breathing
Sleeping too much/Too Little
Sex problems (libido, ED, Impotence)
Isolation/Avoiding others and activities
Frequent Colds
Procrastination/Neglecting Responsibilities
clenched jaw/grinding teeth
Drug Abuse (Alcohol, cigarettes, Drugs)
Dry Mouth, Difficulty Swallowing
Nervous habits (nail biting, smoking, fidgeting, pacing)
Cold or Sweaty Hands and Feet
Low Energy

A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about.
The signs and symptoms of stress overload can be almost anything. Stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways, and everyone experiences stress differently. Not only can overwhelming stress lead to serious mental and physical health problems, it can also take a toll on your relationships at home, work, and school. Ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems.

Potential long-term effects of chronic stress
·       Pain of any kind
·       Heart disease/Heart Attacks
·       Digestive problems (Gerd,Colitis,IBS)
·       Sleep problems
·       High Blood pressure
·       Menstrual Problems
·       Hair Loss
·       Depression /Anxiety
·       Weight problems/Eating Disorders/Obesity
·       Autoimmune diseases
·       Skin conditions (eczema, Acne, psoriasis)
·       Stroke
·       Sexual Issues (Low Libido, ED, Premature Ejaculation)

Stress is a part of life. What matters most is how you handle it. The best thing you can do to prevent stress overload and the health consequences that come with it is to recognize when you are stressed and take care of yourself. It easily creeps up on you and begins to feel normal. Unchecked  chronic stress is undeniably damaging, you have more control over your stress levels than you might think. Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that only compound the problem. You might drink too much to unwind at the end of a stressful day, fill up on comfort food, zone out in front of the TV or computer for hours, use pills to relax, or relieve stress by lashing out at other people. However, there are many healthier ways to cope with stress and its symptoms.

As a potential bio hacker, I am interested in the hormones released by the body in times of stress. If I look at the list of long term effects of chronic stress, I can see several of my chronic health problems on the list. I have also long suspected adrenal burnout.  Let’s take a look at these three hormones a little more in depth.

1.    Adrenaline (also called epinephrine) is the fight or flight hormone, it is produced by the adrenal glands. It is responsible, when combined with norepinephrine for the increased heart-rate, quickened breathing, sweating and tense muscles that enable you to jump to action. It helps you focus and fight or flee as needed, to protect yourself from danger.
2.    Similar to Adrenaline, Norepinephrine is released by the adrenal glands and the brain. It also helps you become more aware, awake and focused. It is almost like a backup system to epinephrine (adrenaline), to ensure your body has a mechanism of fight or flight in times of emergency, even when your adrenal glands may not be functioning properly.
3.    Finally, Cortisol is a steroid hormone, also produced in the adrenal glands. Unlike Adrenaline and norepinephrine, cortisol release is more gradual as it requires the release of CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone) from the brain which activates pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which finally activates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol helps the body optimize itself, increasing certain functions while decreasing others that are not critical in the moment (like digestion, growth functions, sex functions, immunity etc) Cortisol regulates glucose metabolism, blood pressure, insulin release, immune functions and the inflammatory response.

Now, once the perceived threat has subsided, things in our body return to normal. UNLESS, we choose to ruminate on a stressful situation or something we perceive as stressful. If you re-read what cortisol does…. It suppresses certain functions that are not critical at the moment for fight or flight. So, if our heads are constantly stressed, we are going to CREATE our own digestive issues, immunity issues etc.
Cortisol constantly being released in our system is to blame. If we are constantly under stress, perceived or real, we are suppressing all functions that are not required to either fight or flee. Do you see the connection here? Look at the list of potential side effects and health problems associated with chronic stress, we do not need digestion, sleep, skin and hair production, sex and a host of other functions in order to fight or flee, so the long term release of cortisol, constantly overriding these functions is bound to have long term, life altering impacts, like those mentioned above.
Aside from the three hormones I just mentioned, Estrogen and Testosterone have a function in the stress response as well as the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.
I have long suspected adrenal fatigue as a large part of my health issues. For the next few days, I will be exploring these stress hormones and natural ways to reduce them.

Read about regulating cortisol here



Read more about stress and the negative impact it has on your body and other ways to improve your reaction to stress and lessen its impact on your health:

Conquering Cortisol
How to Eat the stress away
Supplementing your Stress Response

Decompressing Ancient Medicine


This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog may contain affiliate links, from which I may receive compensation, should you choose to purchase affiliated products. I do not endorse any products that I have not tried myself.I believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. All views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. If you have any further questions regarding this blog, please feel free to contact me. Read more at