A normal functioning adrenal gland produces a whole array of hormones but of particular interest is cortisol. The adrenal gland of a healthy person produces about 20mg of cortisol each day which can increase 10 fold during periods of stress. Cortisol is responsible for maintaining normal blood sugar levels, it immobilises fat and protein stores for more energy, it is a anti-inflammatory, controls and modifies most blood cells that participate in immune and/or inflammatory reactions, effects blood vessels and therefore blood pressure, and electrolyte levels in the heart tissue, heart beat, as well as influencing the central nervous system controlling mood and behavior.
During stage 1 adrenal exhaustion cortisol levels increase in response to stress and declining levels of DHEA. During this stage elevated cortisol levels can increase obesity, cholesterol, blood pressure, alters brain chemistry which causes depression and anxiety, alters thyroid metabolism causing reverse T3 dominance, causes insulin resistance and osteoporosis, to name a few. Therefore it is important to take action and help reduce excessive levels. Due to the inverse relationship between DHEA and cortisol by supplmenting DHEA at this stage cortisol usally returns to normal of its own accord. In resistant cases where this does not occur extra supplementation with either 120mg of Beta Sitosterol with B vitamins or by using 600mg of phosphatidyl serine have been reported to reduce excessive cortisol levels.
In cases where stage 1 is left untreated the adrenal exhaustion progesses into stage 2 and stage 3 where the extra supply of cortisol eventually runs out leaving depleted DHEA and cortisol levels resulting with chronic fatigue type symptoms. During this later stage adrenal exhaustion diminished cortisol levels results in inadequate control of its many and various functions (mentioned above) thus maintaining normal physiological function becoming nearly impossible and worsens fatigue like symptoms. It is in these cases where the patient can greatly benefit from a low dose cortisol supplement in combination with DHEA.
Unfortunately for many late stage adrenal exhaustion suffers cortisol is almost always ignored by doctors due to its undeserving bad reputation.
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