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EP154 The One About High Cortisol, Fatigue, Anxiety, And Insomnia

Transcript Of Today's Episode

Dr. Martin Jr.: 00:22 Hello I'm Doctor Martin Jr.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 00:23 And I'm Doctor Martin Sr.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 00:24 And this is "The Doctor Is In" podcast and this is episode 154. And today we want to talk about a few really interesting studies that have come out. One is titled, "Anxiety -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 00:35 Is the New Depression"

Dr. Martin Jr.: 00:37 ... Is The New Depression."

Dr. Martin Sr.: 00:38 Yeah. Anxiety has officially taken over depression in terms of the number one problem in psychiatric medicine today. It's taken over depression. And they're saying this, it's kind of fascinating, a couple of things. Statistically 18% of the population over 18 in the United States and half of the college-aged students suffer from anxiety. Estimated 40 million people in the USA. Always translate to Canada too, the same percentage of population. Estimated at 40% of the Americans have anxiety. Anxiety is taken over from depression.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 01:22 And by the way, I've always said this that you never get depression without anxiety. Anxiety always ... If you don't cut it off, you don't fix it, will eventually lead you into depression. So fascinating study.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 01:37 Yeah, it is. And you know that's true because everybody knows a lot of people who have anxiety. And a lot of people have anxiety and they don't share that with people, right?

Dr. Martin Sr.: 01:47 And you can't see anxiety.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 01:49 No, it's not like ... And that's the thing that could be frustrating for people because if you go out and you blow your knee out playing a sport and then you got it braced up and you got crutches and everybody can look at that person and say, "Oh, look it. They're having a hard time going up the stairs. Look it, oh what happened to their knee? Anxiety, you don't wear anything on you that kind of gives away that you're anxious so a lot of people have anxiety and you would never even know it. Or they struggle with anxiety, wouldn't even know it.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 02:16 But I mean it's so true 'cause you can ... You do know a lot of people that are suffering from anxiety and as you mentioned, these kids coming up today are really anxious. And you and I have talked on previous podcasts on why we think that is. Everything from social media, all these kind of things. I think a lot of people are addicted to their smartphones. Whenever you have an addiction it creates an anxiety as well. So I think there's a lot of factors that are in there.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 02:39 But you and I want to talk about one of the main causes of anxiety which is high cortisol. That's what we want to talk about today because we feel that from a clinical standpoint but then also from a nutritional standpoint that it is rarely talked about in terms of causing issues.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 02:56 So we want to talk about high cortisol. And really, high cortisol, like I said, it causes a lot of anxiety in people. It also causes ... We always say this. From what we see in our clinic it's the number one cause of insomnia in anybody over the age of 40 pretty much. We would say even younger than that but just to kind of be safe that way, high cortisol is the huge reason why people can't sleep or they can't fall asleep or they can't stay asleep or why they wake up exhausted in the morning and we'll talk more about that as well. And then you read an interesting study on men who aren't sleeping properly so they're getting less than five hours of sleep at night.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 03:37 Yeah, well listen. It says a man who sleeps less than five hours a night in their 50's are five times more likely to have a heart attack in their 70's. And of course I've always said this, that women, cortisol hits them much differently than it does a man. Not that ... Of course we have adrenal glands just like women have, right? Cortisol is secreted from those adrenal, on top of kidneys, those little chestnut shaped glands, okay? That we are so focused in on testing that in our office. It's part of our biomarker kit. It's something that we look at.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 04:12 But, when a man has cortisol, okay? If you don't sleep, your cortisol goes up. If your cortisol goes up, you don't sleep. So you know what I mean? It's like a viscous cycle. So look at what this study is saying. It's so significant. Because you know what? Again, I don't want to go down too much of a rabbit trail but I just want to talk a little bit about the experiences of a lot of physicians and they're always baffled by this because men will present themselves with a heart attack and their blood work is ... Everything's good. Their cholesterol is good. Their triglycerides are not bad. You know what I mean? They have no markers for a heart attack and sometimes they get the widow maker. Like I mean it's really bad. But then they look at it and they go, "Wow." Everything was good. Wasn't the cholesterol or whatever.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 05:05 And you know you said this, I think ... I don't know if it was on our last podcast or whatever, but cortisol is an accelerator. It's sort of like ... If we used the example of a fire, it's an accelerant. They use ... how does the fire Marshall know that that fire was set on purpose? Well because he found that an accelerant was used and this is what cortisol does.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 05:27 Yeah cortisol will take inflammation and make it worse.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 05:30 It will drive it. It will inflame. And then that is very, very dangerous for the heart. For women it usually hits them in a much different place. It hits them in terms of anxiety and secondly, fatigue.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 05:46 And what's interesting is that when you start to have cortisol problems in women, it sets the stage through a whole bunch of different biochemical processes of causing estrogen issues which can then set them up for stuff like breast cancer, uterine cancer, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. I mean it's all tied in. And that's something that we talk a lot about in our metabolic storm program. I mean it's all tied in.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 06:11 But you and I, years ago, we wrote a book called "Serial Killers." It's been quite a while now and the tagline for the book was, "Two hormones that want you dead." And of course the two hormones that we talked about years ago were insulin and cortisol. And it's so much more true today. Now if we were to rewrite the book it would be, "Two Hormones That Really, Really Want You Dead." Right? It would be like -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 06:34 I like that.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 06:34 ... 2.0.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 06:36 We meant it. Yeah, like 2.0.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 06:38 But it's -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 06:39 We really meant it this time.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 06:40 ... It's amazing. Like it's just now as ... Especially as the research coming out and it's not a coincidence that we're seeing a lot more anxiety and we're seeing a lot more effects of cortisol. And as you've mentioned, what's kind of interesting how cortisol ... Let's just talk a little bit about the biochemistry of cortisol. And I know a lot of people when they hear biochemistry they just kind of like -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 07:03 They go to sleep.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 07:04 Yeah. Somebody right now is driving and they're gonna fall asleep. But no we'll keep it as short and interesting as possible.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 07:10 As you mentioned, you have these adrenal glands. They're sitting on top of your kidneys. They're not big at all.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 07:16 Chestnuts.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 07:16 They're the size of a chestnut, right? So they're not that big. You have two of them. And what happens is, so imagine if you're scared for some reason. Like if you're walking ... We use this analogy a lot but it's interesting. If you're walking down the street at night time and it's ... There's never any lighting anymore on the street lights, right? So you're walking down and there's somebody walking on the sidewalk behind you and they're walking quicker. So they're gonna catch up to you. Well the average person gets nervous a little bit.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 07:45 So what happens is, is their brain, their hypothalamus will tell their pituitary to ... Shakes it up, says, "All right. Better get the adrenals going." So the pituitary signals to the adrenals, "All right. Get to work. Start doing your job." So your adrenals will do a couple things but they'll make something called adrenaline, which most people understand what adrenaline.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 08:06 But it'll also make cortisol. And the purpose of those two things is to get your body into a state that is referred to as the fight or flight state, right?

Dr. Martin Sr.: 08:18 Yeah. People can figure that out.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 08:19 Yeah. You go back and forth in a day between rest and digest -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 08:23 You gonna punch me or run?

Dr. Martin Jr.: 08:23 Yeah. Punch or run. So when you go into that state of fight or flight, you need a lot of things to happen. You need a ton of energy, in case you have to run or fight. So a big job of cortisol, in fact one of the main functions of cortisol is to bring up your blood sugar levels to give you the energy your body thinks it needs at that time.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 08:44 It also increases your heart rate to start pumping blood throughout your body so that your toes and everything have enough blood to run or fight, right? It also starts to increase your breathing. Your breathing gets more shallow. It starts to kind ... Everything, your brain gets more focused. It gets more alert, at first. And then the opposite happens the longer it's going on.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 09:05 But these are things that are supposed to be very good for you. It's stuff that keeps you alive. It's your ... a lot of that is important. So that's what cortisol does. So your body makes cortisol in a response to stress. And a whole bunch of different stresses can stimulate that, right? Your body doesn't necessarily always know the difference between an emotional stress or a physical stress but it sets off this chain reaction. That's the basic role that cortisol has. However, cortisol naturally follows what we call a ... It's a cyclical hormone and it's tied to your circadian rhythm. Meaning, it has a definite pattern in when you make it and when you don't make it throughout the day. And it's tied to the 24 hour cycle, right? It's interesting.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 09:51 As in the side, this is just, I've made a note so I don't forget where we are because we like to go on these little sides. But you know one of the questions that people like to talk about or speculate on is if we found another planet, in another solar system that wasn't ... I'm talking Star Wars type things, could we live on those planets, right? And the thing is is that any endocrinologist will tell you that we couldn't. We would be so diseased and so sick so fast because our hormones are tied to the rising and the descending of the sun, right? We're in a 24 hour. Our hormones are released in a cyclical pattern. We would be so diseased so quickly. And one of the interesting areas in medicine now is the affect of what they call delayed circadian rhythm or delayed, right? So what's happening is that people are using blue lights at night time. iPads and iPhones and it's delaying ... It's a phase delay and it's causing a shift in when these hormones. They think they should be coming out but there's still some blue light. It's messing with our brains a little bit and it's causing all these sicknesses and they're looking at -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 10:55 Yeah, yeah. And they're modern stuff, right? When you think of it.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 10:57 They are absolutely are, right? So it is interesting. So cortisol is a circadian rhythm. Now normally, a person that's healthy. Normally what happens is is in the middle of the night, as it gets closer to morning, your cortisol levels start to elevate. They're getting higher. And that's 'cause your body's getting you ready to get up. So it's raising your blood sugar levels. It's bringing your pulse rate up. It's doing all these things to get you ready for the day. And then let's just say about 8 o'clock your cortisol levels are nice and high, your energy's good, your brain's waking up. Everything's going according to plan.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 11:34 And then as the day goes on, it kind of decreases naturally, right? Cortisol kind of goes away. And then by the time you go to bed, cortisol levels are the lowest. Your heart rate's lowering and everything like that's happening and you're getting ready go to bed. Your brain's shutting off and all these things and then you go to sleep. And then the process repeats over and over again.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 11:56 And it's interesting because you look at the relationship even to human growth hormone and cortisol secretion. It's really fascinating stuff. But anyways, so that's what's happening. That's normal.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 12:07 However, one of the things that's happening now is you and I in our clinic, and we've identified really two different types of elevated cortisol problems that we see. The cause is the same, however the presentation may vary slightly. But there's really two different patterns that we see and let's just talk about that real quickly.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 12:27 One of the common patterns that we see in people based on a whole bunch of factors is what we call a reverse curse or type 1 high cortisol. So rather than their cortisol levels being high first thing in the morning, they're actually very low and they can't get going in the day. They're tired in the morning. And then what happens is the cortisol levels, because it's a reverse curve, as the day goes on their cortisol levels start to shoot up through the roof. And the towards the end of the day, guess what? They can't sleep, right? They can't sleep, they can't fall asleep, they can't stay asleep. They wake up they're exhausted.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 13:02 Even though they're exhausted, yeah.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 13:04 So that's one and we'll talk about cortisol, other cortisol symptoms in a second but that's one pattern. And then of course what we call type 2, high cortisol is that it's just high all the time. It may go up and down a little bit but even the lowest point for them is way higher than it ever should be. So they wake up with high cortisol. They got high cortisol midday, and they got higher cortisol at nighttime. They're just high all the time. And really that person there's health is in trouble because they are absolutely loaded with inflammation. They either have high blood sugar levels or they definitely have high insulin levels.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 13:43 Yeah. And they can cause hypoglycaemia too, right?

Dr. Martin Jr.: 13:45 Absolutely, 'cause the craving's strong.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 13:46 'Cause the blood goes up. What goes up, must come down in terms of blood sugar, right? So that insulin just drives that sugar way down. Then they crave. They crave sugars. You know they go by Laura Secords and they wanna do a swan dive, right? They just crave and they go, "Doc, I gotta have it. I gotta have that quick fix because I feel so terrible and it gives me a little jump, right?" And even salt. They want salt. Their adrenals are craving salt. They can have a bag of chips and they'd rather have that than have a meal. They just have a bag of chips.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 14:22 So yeah. Those are the type of things that are just such common symptoms. And there's a reason for it. Because like you say, the cortisol is driving that insulin through the roof. It's job is to elevate blood sugar and then it's sinking it like the Titanic, right?

Dr. Martin Jr.: 14:40 Now, what also happens a lot of times in which you see as well is ... I mean their brains are exhausted because you can imagine it's just like it won't shut off. And then it becomes foggy and then they're not as alert and they're not as focused and they don't have that drive. But also, just looking at that and understanding that you can see why it's a major cause of insomnia and also as we started talking at the beginning of this episode, how it's a major cause of anxiety because their body is always in that fight or flight mode and they don't even know it.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 15:16 Yeah, they're anxious.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 15:16 They're anxious.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 15:20 They're wound up.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 15:22 So imagine everything inside of them is anxious. They're wound up. They don't even know why they can't settle down.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 15:23 It's like a vibration inside the body. They often refer to it as that, right? So sometimes they think they're even having a heart attack, you know? Their chest is pounding and yet there's no real reason. They can't think of anything that why am I feeling like that, right?

Dr. Martin Jr.: 15:41 And I also found this fascinating. You had mentioned it as we were just talking this episode you had mentioned another clinical sign and you know makes sense, but I found it interesting. You were talking about chronic unexplained pain.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 15:55 Yeah. Often diagnosed really as fibromyalgia, right? So when a doctor gives you a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it's because he doesn't know what's causing your pain, right? Like they do have all the tests known to man. You don't have rheumatoid arthritis. You don't have this, you don't have that. So therefore, by the process of elimination, now we're giving you a diagnosis of fibro, right? And here's some painkillers and go home and live with it. 'Cause they don't know what to do with it.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 16:22 But what does that mean, unexplained pain, right? Again, if you think of how your body is just wound up and you're in that fight or flight mode. The muscles are tight and your body's getting ... You know it never really heals itself 'cause the body is ... I always say, cortisol's like a diversion, right? Because it's getting your body to divert to ... It's not worried about digestion. It's not worried about pain. You know?

Dr. Martin Jr.: 16:52 Yeah, you're right. I mean it's like a lot of times they often have digestive issues as well. It makes sense.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 16:58 Nausea, they might have cravings and yet they lose their appetite because they've got such nausea. And then they don't feel good and a lot of times they've got IBS symptoms and they have cramping and all that and they just, "Oh, you know anything I eat makes me worse."

Dr. Martin Sr.: 17:16 But again, it's a diversion. Blood gets diverted. When you're fight or flight, you're not thinking of digesting food and relaxing or whatever. Your body never seems to get into that state with high levels of cortisol.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 17:29 And so as you mentioned, some of the most common symptoms. We already talked about anxiety as a very real symptom of somebody with elevated cortisol. We talked about insomnia. Fatigue is a big one, especially that type 2. They're exhausted, right? Their energy just doesn't ... it's non-existent. They're tired all the time. They're not sleeping well. And if they do fall asleep they're not getting a restful sleep. Their brain isn't going through those stages of sleep properly. They're not going through that REM properly.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 17:59 And we get a lot of people messaging us as well in our Martin Clinic Club and they'll be talking about or emails and they'll be talking about crazy dreams and all that. That's because they're not going through these cycles properly.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 18:11 And so those are some of them. And then you know it's amazing as well, right? Some people will experience hair loss. Another thing that cortisol will show for some people is that they get really dizzy when they stand up, right? It really affects that. Of course, low libido.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 18:27 Belly fat.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 18:27 Belly fat's another big one, right? And from an airplane view, 'cause it doesn't necessarily cause a symptom right now but high cortisol is one of the main causes of leaky gut syndrome in the average person, right? Because cortisol just absolutely destroys the inner lining of the intestinal wall in a sense. It just creates that inflammation. It just destroys it and it leads from there a whole bunch of different problems. Which is why in our book, " Serial Killers" and then our other book, "Are You Built For Cancer?" We talk about how these are like precursors that can lead down the road to some really serious, serious issues, right?

Dr. Martin Jr.: 19:10 And here's the thing. We're almost out of time. Here's the thing. You can absolutely bring cortisol levels back down again and put them back into a normal pattern and you do this every day in the clinic and we see this all the time, right? I mean it's a combination of eating, again ... We talk a lot about low carb but there's ... You have to bring down the insulin because insulin and cortisol are just kind of always fighting each other. And then in our clinic we use cortisol control. It's just a phenomenal supplement that we use that we built specifically for this purpose. So we use that in the clinic as well.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 19:45 Yeah. It's tailor made. It's tailor made for this. And again, it's an epidemic. If you understand that, folks if you're listening today, if you don't know anybody, you might be listening going, "Hey, that's me. You're talking about me." Or you can name maybe two or three people in your head that are going through all those symptoms or a variety of those same symptoms I'm telling you. Cortisol control is unbelievable how it works. The results we get on a day-to-day basis with that. I always was frustrated. You go back and you think. I wrote a book in chronic fatigue syndrome -

Dr. Martin Jr.: 20:21 And I remember a chart that you had in there. I mean when did you write that book? How old is that book?

Dr. Martin Sr.: 20:26 30 ...

Dr. Martin Jr.: 20:27 Yeah it's been a long time.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 20:28 Yeah, it's almost 30 years ago.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 20:29 You were using the word chronic fatigue syndrome before really most people. You had to explain to people what you were talking about, what you meant like chronic fatigue. People just didn't understand it back then.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 20:39 But they never saw the connection to the adrenal glands.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 20:41 Yeah and that's what I was getting at. I remember a chart in that book where you kind of have it linking back to adrenal fatigue or adrenal. And now, 30 years later with all the research and all the stuff that we see. I mean it's just amazing that you were bang on back then. You'd figured it out back then. But it's just it was amazing to see that.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 21:03 But I do remember that chart in the book. It was a pretty good or pretty neat chart that really explained what was going on. So again, we covered a lot of information but make no mistake, high cortisol is one of the most common issues that is destroying women's hormones. It's killing the health of men as well. It really is a big, big problem today.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 21:26 So anyways we hope we gave you enough information there that just to kind of reassure you in a sense that there is stuff you can do for it as well. But so we want to thank you for listening to this episode. If you have any questions you can email us at info@martinclinic.com. You can jump on our website. Again, we have some really exiting stuff coming from our website. We've taken your consciousness and we've uploaded it into a series of -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 21:52 How'd you do that without my permission?

Dr. Martin Jr.: 21:55 Yeah. So we're really excited about some of the stuff that we're doing on our website that's gonna be coming out in a bit. But if you're not a newsletter subscriber go to our website, sign up. We talk about a lot of these things in there. We also have a Facebook group. It's a private Facebook group.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 22:08 Hey, you don't even talk about the two new products that we're coming out. We're really excited.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 22:11 Yeah, we have ... and that's another thing as well. We have two new products that we're coming out with. One of them -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 22:16 I'm really excited about both of them.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 22:16 ... Yeah one of the complaints that we would hear from people a lot of times, it's like, "Hey, now that you fixed my hormones, can you help my husband?" Or, "Can you help my boyfriend?"

Dr. Martin Sr.: 22:26 And they don't want to come in the clinic.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 22:27 Yeah, guys -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 22:28 Men are men.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 22:29 No.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 22:29 I had a guy in yesterday. He had me laughing 'cause I said, "Why are you here?" He said, "You see this girl beside me, she dragged me in here." That's a typical male, it's unbelievable.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 22:39 Well yeah, it's funny because when I was treating sports injuries, if somebody came in with a really bad elbow and I would always say, if a guy came in with a bad elbow I'd always ask him, "Hey, how long has this been going on for?" "Oh it's been going on for eight months." And I mean they have a hard time moving their arm. They can't even grip their hammer, right? It's affecting their work and it's been affecting their work for a long time. And then I'd say, "Well what finally brought you in here today to see me 'cause it's been going on for a long time?" They'd say, "Well I had a hard time drinking a beer last night." They couldn't drink. So guys it takes a lot to get them in, right? Let alone he couldn't handle a hammer, but that didn't matter. And that, I would see that all the time.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 23:19 So you're right. Men typically, if they come and see us it's usually 'cause they have to. They typically are told or their wife made the appointment for them. That's usually how it is. I mean we know that. We don't take those kinds of things personally. But one of the things we saw and we'll talk about this in an upcoming podcast as well, is that low testosterone levels is a major issue.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 23:43 Big time today.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 23:44 Yeah. Testosterone levels overall across the board have dropped by half in the last 40 years. So think about that for a second. There are people today, I mean their testosterone levels are half of what they used to be. And so it's a real epidemic. And one of the other things that is a misconception as well is that as we age our testosterone levels are naturally gonna go down. Well it turns out that's not true. Research has shown that if it goes down it's because of lifestyle factors or other things that are causing.

Dr. Martin Sr.: 24:13 Your estrogen's going through the roof.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 24:14 That's right. There are other factors that are lowering testosterone. So we wanted to -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 24:19 Including cortisol, by the way.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 24:20 Including cortisol. So we wanted to be able to help these men so we put together a men's health formula that will naturally do a bunch of stuff for them to help them feel better. So we have that coming out.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 24:32 And then I'm also super excited about one that we've been working on for quite a while which is a neurotropic which is -

Dr. Martin Sr.: 24:39 Brain, brain, brain.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 24:40 Yeah. Which is brain. So it's interesting. If you look at Silicon Valley and all these places they've been using these things to kind of help their brains be sharper and more alert and better, and they're called neurotropics. And they'll use a whole bunch of different things for that. So what we did is we're coming out with a neurotropic specifically for an aging brain which will help protect memories but also focus and alertness. And so I'm super excited about that one as well. And it's really designed to help age-proof our brain in a sense. So that's what that's coming out. So I'm really excited about those two products and we'll be talking more about those as time comes as well.

Dr. Martin Jr.: 25:17 So again we want to thank you for listening and have a great day.