The Power of Cortisol and the Effect it Has on the Body

Cortisol is a really important hormone, and it does a lot to regulate how our body works. Cortisol is a common hormone to be secreted when we’re under stress. When we encounter stressful situations, whether it be a car accident or a diagnosis of a horrible disease or something, our body is overcome. All of a sudden, we feel that tingling come on. That’s the big push of adrenaline and then cortisol is the other hormone that is secreted.

Cortisol does some very interesting things in the body. When our body secretes cortisol, the first thing it does is, it stops insulin from doing its job. So, when we’re under stress, our body’s primary energy source is sugar, and it keeps the sugar in the bloodstream. When there’s plenty of sugar around, that’s what’s available for the brain to run the body and make decisions. It’s also the energy source that our muscles like to use. So, if I’m in a stressful situation, I need to run away or fight, basically that adrenaline will give me the energy and the cortisol will allow that sugar to be there, so I have that energy source available at any time when I’m under stress.

The problem comes when we’re constantly under stress and we just think about stressful situations, our body is constantly secreting cortisol. The second action of cortisol is to actually shut off the immune system. Because the immune system is very metabolically expensive, meaning it takes a lot of energy to run, when you’re in fight or flight and your body’s thinking that it needs to run away or defend itself or use its energy for protection and survival, it’s not going to dedicate any energy to healing and restoration. That happens when the body is at rest. So, if we’re constantly stressed and we’re thinking about these stressful situations, wherever the mind goes, the body goes, and your body will start to crank out cortisol and cortisol will not let your body heal, and it keeps the sugar in the bloodstream. If you’re a diabetic or someone in constant stress, that’s going to magnify those things.

It is very important to manage our stress potentially before it happens. But when it does happen, the physical manifestations can be helped. Because when you’re under stress and your muscles are tight and pulling, and the body’s all irritated and fired up, a chiropractor can alleviate some of that pressure. A chiropractor can realign the vertebrae, and get your body balanced with the parasympathetic and sympathetic, because the parasympathetic is the opposite.

When we’re in parasympathetic, that’s when the body’s healing, our cortisol levels are low, and our adrenaline levels are low, and we’re more relaxed. And when we’re at rest, that’s when the body heals and regenerates. I think that explains how cortisol has those negative effects in our body, but it’s such an important part of our survival.

Photo Credit: oksun70/

Dr. Gregg D. Rubinstein, D.C., is a midtown Manhattan chiropractor with over 20 years of experience providing customized chiropractic treatment services to a wide range of clients in the Midtown Manhattan/West New York City area. Dr. Gregg Rubinstein and 57th Street Chiropractic can be reached at (917) 534-6484 and is located at 119 West 57th St. in New York, NY. 

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