1230. Stress Hormone Havoc: The Cortisol Crisis

Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response. Unfortunately for many people in today's society, they’re constantly in the fight or flight mode. Cortisol doesn’t shut off and it has major negative effects on their health.

High levels of cortisol can disrupt sleep, elevate blood sugar, cause hormone imbalances, contribute to leaky gut, affect mood, and lead to brain fog and pain.

Dr. Martin teaches about the effects of cortisol and how to address it… all in today’s episode!



Announcer:  You're listening to The Doctor Is In Podcast, brought to you by MartinClinic.com. During the episode, the doctors share a lot of information. As awesome as the info may be, it is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. It's strictly for informational purposes.

Dr. Martin:  Well, good morning everyone, and welcome again to another live here this morning. Hope you're having a great start to your day. And have you had your coffee? Okay, let's get going. Now, I want to talk, and I mentioned this yesterday because I'm going to talk about cortisol. Cortisol is, you know how I do this. What is cortisol? That's cortisol. Cortisol is the fight or flight. You've got two modes. You've got two modes in your body, click and you're into the rest and digest. And the other one, it's parasympathetic, fight or flight. Okay? Really you have two modes, rest and digest, fight or flight.

Now those are two normal modes. You know what the problem is in our society today? And I noticed this, am I going to say 20 years ago, maybe even a little longer than that? Well, I got to go back even longer than that because I first noticed it in my practice days of a syndrome that we call chronic fatigue. Now, I'll get into that in a few minutes. I'll talk about a little bit of history there. But the world has changed. We have changed modes. What do I mean? While we have gone from rest and digest to being on fight or flight almost all the time. Look, you got two modes. You got two gears in your body and that's normal. But the fight or flight is on almost all the time. That's what I noticed in my practice days. The fight or flight was never turned off. You literally could measure it by cortisol. Fight or flight, cortisol.

And so I want to talk to you about what that does in your body. Now, again, a lot of this is repetition. I just don't know how many podcasts and how many articles I've written on this subject. Books. I wrote a book years ago, Two Hormones That Want You Dead, insulin and cortisol. You know what guys? I was light years ahead of time talking about these things. I was light years ahead of talking about insulin resistance. And the reason I talked about that all the time is because I used to be in practice measuring the response of insulin. Insulin is a food hormone. Cortisol is a stress hormone. You have two modes, rest and digest and fight and flight. And again, it's normal to have fight and flight if someone scares you. You know what I mean? That's normal. Your body has a protective mechanism. You're going to run or you're going to fight back, the fight or flight.

And the world changed because now we're into fight or flight, so much of our day compared to what would be normal. So let's talk about the effects of cortisol, high levels of cortisol. And you know what guys? Let me just say this because some people are going to ask. I know, I know, I know. Even before we start, because some people will say, well, doc, I have low levels of cortisol. But you really got to balance, and that was because you were in high drive, super drive of cortisol for too long. Then it exhausted the adrenals. And that's why I wrote a book. I'm talking about well over 30 years ago on chronic fatigue syndrome, the modern woman's curse. Can you imagine writing that book back in the late eighties? The Modern Woman's Curse, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Okay, so let's talk. What does cortisol do? Okay, and by the way, when you're looking at cortisol, cortisol follows, or at least it should, a circadian rhythm. It's got a clock on it. Your cortisol is elevated in the morning, normal. It's waking you up. It's getting you ready. It's elevating your blood sugar. That's why I don't like people taking their blood sugar first thing in the morning. I don't like it because you have the dawn effect. Cortisol elevates blood sugar. Think about it, takes blood sugar up. So it follows their circadian rhythm when it's normal because it should be high in the morning and then it comes, starts coming down, and by the time you hit supper and then pass it's down. As your body gets ready to go into rest and digest, cortisol goes down.

But what if it doesn't? What if it doesn't? Well, okay, so the first thing that it affects the low hanging fruit, I like to call it, is sleep. 70 to 80% of the population have trouble sleeping. Do you think we were ever, ever, ever in trouble like that when it comes to sleeping in our history of mankind? Nope. Nope. There's always been stress, but it's on steroids today and people can't sleep because they can't get into that mode of rest and digest. Think about it. They can't flip the switch and they can't sleep. It is a epidemic big time today. And of course when you can't sleep, there's a lot of things that don't happen. We talked about it yesterday. What happens when you don't sleep or what doesn't happen? You don't have autophagy of the brain.

Your brain is headquarters. It has so much energy. It takes 25% of all your food. The brain has got a lot of mitochondria, it's got a lot of battery packs. You need a lot of energy in your brain. But what happens, cortisol has a major effect on them. And so the brain can't stop. And then what did we learn yesterday? We talked about this many a time, not just yesterday, but your brain has its own glymphatic system. Not lymphatics, but glymphatic, glial cells and they drain the garbage out of the brain. And one of the big issues in Alzheimer's and dementia is the brain is not detoxifying and it only happens when you sleep. You've got to get into the five stages of sleep. And in particular in that REM sleep rapid eye movement, that area of your sleep is what really turns the crank of your glymphatics. So what do we have today? Cortisol, big, big problem when it comes to sleep.

And when you don't sleep, your cortisol goes up, your cortisol goes up, you don't sleep, you can't get into the mode of rest and digest, okay? And millions upon millions and millions of people struggle with that. It ain't no fun under the sun. Oh, by the way, the sun helps. The sun helps sleep. The sun helps everything. Okay? So isn't that important? Number one, low hanging fruit is sleep. Number two, we talked about it a second ago. We talked about what does it cortisol do? It elevates blood sugar. Even in the absence of eating cortisol elevates blood sugar. That demands what response comes? Someone tell me what response comes from elevated blood sugar.

I'm waiting for my beautiful audience, the smartest people in the universe. What happens Gertie, you guys? Unbelievable. I'm not surprised. Okay? I'm not surprised that you guys know this. Yeah, well, Georgie, you got it on its own. Cortisol will elevate blood sugar, which means the response is your pancreas has to secrete what insulin. You guys know that the smartest audience in the universe, you guys, I love that you're thinking. I love the fact that you're students learning. Okay? So cortisol on its own, and I brought you studies in the past, cortisol on its own can elevate insulin resistance on its own in the absence of food. Okay? That's a problem. So you have elevated blood sugar insulin response too long, you've got insulin resistance.

And then guess what? When you're stressed, okay? This is a fact. When you're stressed, when your cortisol is on all the time, you don't get into rest and digest properly. You know what happens? Your insulin obviously with that fluctuation of blood sugar comes eating. You're eating and you want to eat the wrong foods. When you're stressed, you reach for junk. You want a quick fix. Guys, when I saw this the most is when I saw chronic fatigue syndrome and I wrote books about it, and I think I was the first guy, as far as I know, I was the first guy that identified high levels of cortisol to be the root cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. One of the root causes was adrenal gland exhaustion.

Even today you have CFS, chronic fatigue syndrome and they talk about what happens in the brain. They call it ME, myalgic encephalitis. I dunno, it's a long name and the brain does get swollen. I have no doubt about that. But what causes that? Okay, what causes? The original thing is high cortisol and it affects the sleep. That's a big factor in chronic fatigue syndrome. You have a sleep disorder, even though you are exhausted, you don't get into those sleep things, okay? You don't get into the five stages of sleep. That affects the brain too. Anywho, let's get back. Okay, so we talked about metabolism. Its job is to elevate blood sugar to get you ready for the fight or flight, but if it doesn't get turned off, you get insulin resistance. The other thing that happens, cortisol robs progesterone, okay? Cortisol, listen to what I'm going to say. Cortisol robs progesterone.

Ladies, listen up. Linda's listen. Cortisol robs progesterone. What happens when you rob progesterone? Estrogen takes over. You get estrogen dominance. Not good. You get horror-mones and guys, ladies and guys, it can happen to you, but not as frequently, but with progesterone. By the way, men have a little bit a teeny weenie. Wasn't that yellow dot bikini? I'm always singing in my head. Okay, now ladies, listen. When you get into horror-mones, you're out of whack and doctors are scratching their head, they can't figure you out. I used to tell women, don't donate your body to science. You'll confuse them. If you came to see me in my practice days, you'd better have a good sense of humor. You better have a good sense of humor.

Let me say this, okay? horror-mones. One of the biggest factors is cortisol robbing progesterone, creating estrogen dominance. Too much of a woman, men too. And you know what estrogen dominance does? Slows your thyroid to a crawl. Cortisol robs progesterone creates estrogen dominance. And estrogen dominance slows the thyroid to a crawl and your metabolism is all messed up. Women over the years have screamed at me, cried in my office. Why? And they weren't happy puppies. Why did no one ever tell me this? Because I don't know nothing about horror-mones. That's why I was a woman's doctor more than men. Men are from another planet. It's not that I didn't see tens of thousands of men, I did, but women, I had a reputation. You want to find out what's wrong? Go see Dr. Martin. I was a horrormone guy.

Oh, Dr. Martin, my thyroid. My doctor said, my thyroid is just hunky dory. I said, well, I'm sorry, but your doctor is wrong. Why? Because he's only relying on blood work. And he's not even doing he or she doctor. They're not looking at the bottom line. They're not testing your cortisol. They wouldn't know an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone if it slapped them in the face. They don't know the effect of that on the thyroid. And the thyroid slows to a crawl. And therefore I go to the gym and I don't lose weight. That's a woman. They got other factors. They don't get into the rest and digest. Their cortisol's too high. It slows the thyroid. You see how the mechanism works? That's how it works. That's how it works, my friend.

And so you think cortisol's not important. Why is it that almost nobody's talking about it? Even today, we're in 2023, for heaven's sakes. I feel sorry for people. I do. I do. I feel sorry for people. They've been misdiagnosed. Yeah, you got anxiety. Okay, I agree. But what do you do about it? You just don't put a bandaid on it. And that's what happens. They put a bandaid on it and here's some meds. I'll knock you out or I'll put you into la la land. But it's not fixing the problem. It's not even getting close to the problem. So guys, cortisol has a major effect. It doesn't only elevate your blood sugar. Cortisol elevates your blood pressure. You have no idea how many people, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds that had elevated blood pressure, cause they never get into the rest and digest. Their blood pressure goes up.

And then they eat junk because their blood sugars are fluctuating all the time and they're hungry and they eat the wrong foods and they get the wrong fuel. And then of course, the kidneys. What do the kidneys do in the presence of sugar? You know how many women I knew that wanted to do swan dives when they got around Laura Secord's, the chocolate shop? Seriously, Laura Secord. It's because of your cortisol. Cortisol elevates your blood sugar and what goes up must come down. And when you elevate your blood sugar, you elevate your blood pressure and that stresses the kidneys. The kidneys hold on to salt. They hold on to it, they hold on to sodium, and then your blood pressure goes up. It isn't salt. It's not the salt you are eating, it's what's happening when you're eating sugar or crappy carbs that are sugar in five seconds. You see the merry-go-round they're on? It's crazy. Or is that a Ferris wheel? This is Ferris wheel. This is a merry-Go-round.

Guys, if you don't understand the mechanism, okay? If you don't understand the mechanism, how that body operates, how your hormones, remember cortisol is a hormone. Two hormones that want you dead. Don't you think that was a good name to give a book? It became a big, big bestseller, by the way. Two Hormones That Want You Dead, cortisol and insulin, the food hormone. But they're very much connected. Very much connected. So we talked about sleep, we talked about the metabolism. We talked about horror-mones. We talked about horror-mones, what it does to the thyroid, what it does to estrogen dominance because of the robbing of progesterone. It also can cause leaky gut. Number four, leaky gut. You're not getting into rest and digest, okay?

When everything is copacetic with your digestive tract. But when you're like this, okay, what's happening? Your gut, it goes on too long and it creates an inflammatory response and it affects the gut. It affects the little lining in the gut, okay? The little epithelial cells, and you start getting holes in the gut, okay? And when you get holes in the gut, you have a border that's open, and bad guys can come in. Look, what planet are you on if you don't understand what's happening at the American southern border? It's on the news every day. Millions come in every year. I don't blame them. If I lived in Honduras or whatever, I try and get my butt into the United States too, okay? I don't blame those people. I mean it. I'm super sympathetic to them. But what they don't know at the southern border is who's coming in so you can have bad guys come in. True or false? True. True.

So that's what leaky gut is like. Leaky gut, usually your gut is so tightly knit. The only thing that can get through that border between your gut and your blood is micro sized food. Micro sized food, nutrients, water. Your blood should be pristine. The life of the flesh is in the blood. You get leaky gut. And what do you got? You got toxins in your blood that come in. And cortisol can be having a huge effect on that from yeast in your blood, parasites in your blood, bacteria that don't belong in your blood, leaky gut. And then you can get leaky everything else. You see the effect of cortisol. Okay? Do you see the effect of that? You think that's significant? It's very significant and we don't talk about it. And when I say we, I don't mean me and you. I'm talking about the world out there. I don't talk about it. Okay?

Now let me talk about another one. Your mood. Okay? You can easily get when you're like this all the time, okay? Think about it. I used to get patients, tell me. Doc, It's like I got a vibration there. I said, well, that's cortisol. It's almost like it hums. And that can really affect your mood. Now, there's a lot of things that happen. Cortisol affects your gut. Where is your feel good hormones, mostly? Not in the brain, not up here. 20% up here, 80% in your gut. Yeah. Okay. And that is a very important thing when it comes to mood. And that can make you hangry like hmm, it's crazy. And again, if you understand what's happening, it helps.

The other one is what happens up in the brain. We talked about it already, but this is, I want to look at brain fog. Nevermind sleep, brain fog, cognitive, memory. Cortisol has a major effect on that, okay? Cortisol has a major effect on that. Pain because think about it, all day long, instead of going into the rest and digest, you're like this. Pain gets aggravated, inflammation goes through the roof. And people, especially when I remember with chronic fatigue syndrome, doc, I have so much pain. I said, well, that's fibromyalgia. And fibromyalgia is the twin sister of CFS. People used to argue with me about that all the time.

I used to have debates with physicians on national radio and TV in the late eighties and early nineties. Dr. Martin, you're such a quack. There's no such thing as chronic fatigue and there's no connection between the adrenal glands and chronic fatigue. Boy, I used to hear it all. And fibromyalgia. That's in a woman's head. I heard that a thousand times. Well, I said, yeah, and no. Yes, it does affect their head. It affects their brain. That's why they have brain fog. It affects their muscles because cortisol gets them into the fight and flight and not into the rest and digest. It creates an inflammatory response. It can be everywhere and anywhere that pain and it travels and it ain't no fun under the sun, I used to say.

I will just finish with this. When I wrote my book, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, The Modern Woman's Curse. I probably did 500 interviews. I had a publicist at the time. I did at least three national CBC interviews in Canada and in the States I probably did a hundred different radio stations and TV stations as I traveled around to promote my book. Guys, I got a lot of press. I've been around a long time, and that led to me getting into the radio industry and even TV industry and being a radio host for over 20 years. It started with chronic fatigue syndrome, a big bestseller. I should redo it again. I actually did redo it. It was sort of an update. Energy Robbers. Man, oh man, I haven't even seen a copy of that book for a long time. Energy Robbers. Yeah, that's what it was called.

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Announcer:  You've reached the end of another Doctor Is In Podcast, with your hosts, Doctor Martin Junior and Senior. Be sure to catch our next episode and thanks for listening!

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