856. Signs Your Cortisol Is Too High


Dr. Martin talks about your adrenal glands and gives 6 signs your adrenals may be off in today’s episode.

Your adrenals are two small organs located on top of your kidneys. They're really important because they release cortisol, your stress hormone. You want your adrenals to work, but you don't want them to work overtime all the time.

Cortisol continually being secreted becomes disruptive not only to your sleep, weight, or to your energy… but to your mental health. Dr. Martin explains how.


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 how are you? Once again, welcome to another live. I've just got to tell you about a new study about vitamin C. Coffee. All cause mortality goes down in a seven year study of coffee drinkers. All cause mortality. Well I'm telling you, when you combine vitamin C, coffee and vitamin D, you are going to live longer. Coffee and the sun. Isn't it wonderful to know that? Ah, I have to bring it in for all you naysayers about coffee. I'm telling you. And I've been consistent about coffee. As long as you have heard of me, and believe me way before that, I was espousing the benefits of coffee.

Now we're not talking about coffee this morning. We're going to talk about your adrenal gland. Signs that your adrenals are off. Now we wrote an email, make sure you get our emails. You can sign up at MartinClinic.com. If you're having trouble getting them let our staff know, okay? I want to talk about signs that your adrenals are up. Now remember, your adrenals… ad renal, on top of kidney, are very important. Little wee, and I mean wee, small organs. You've got two of them on top of your kidneys, and they're really important. And they rarely get any ink, because people don't understand them. I was listening to a doctor the other day and the only time they ever think of adrenals is if you have Addison's Disease, or Cushing's disease. And if you don't have that disease, they're not too concerned about it. But cortisol is really important. Your adrenals release cortisol, your stress hormone.

And this morning, what I want to do is talk about signs that your adrenals are off. It's really important. Let me just say this about what I saw in practice. I mean it. That in the last 10 or 15 years of my practice days, 10 or 15 years, cortisol was a bigger factor than any previous time in my practice before that, not that I didn't talk about it, because I often talked about the adrenal glands. You can see it in French. If I move, you see up in that top corner there on my left hand side. [foreign language 00:03:36] I wrote a book in French you know, on Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. You can see the other one in English. If you look over my right shoulder and in the corner there, you might not see it too well, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the Modern Woman's Curse.

So for those who are on a podcast, you can't see it, but I've written books about the adrenal gland. I think I was the first guy. If there was someone before me I never heard about it. But here's what I said. This is back in the '80s guys. Here's what I said. "We have a new phenomenon coming. It's called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." The Yuppy Flu, the Epstein Barr virus, this is what they were saying back in the day, and Fibromyalgia, which in my opinion is a symptom of chronic fatigue. And we saw massive amounts. It was incredible. It was like an epidemic. And I wrote a book about it. I wrote a couple of books about it. And what I said, and by the way, when I got my PhD, that's what I wrote about. That was my thesis. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, The Modern Woman's Curse. It was mostly women. There was an epidemic at the time. And what was happening. And I said, "Well, I'm a why guy. I want to know why this was happening." And my conclusion was, it's the adrenals. It's stress. It's a perfect storm.

Yeah, there might be a virus. They found the Epstein Barr virus in about 50%, so it wasn't 100%, 50%. And in medicine you have to understand when something new, like that came around and it seemed to be a real problem at the time, medicine, eh, they didn't take it very seriously, mainly because it was happening to women. And they said, "Ah, women. It's hormones, it's depression, it's in between their ears." I remember having, because after I wrote a book I had a publicist. I did a major tour of TV stations and radio interviews. One of them was on National Public Radio in the United States. And they didn't tell me ahead of time but when they interviewed me they also had a physician on who said I was crazier than two hoot owls.

And you know what I called them? I called them Dr. Dinosaur. You don't want to have a debate with me on that, because I had studied so much. I had seen so much of it. I had all this clinical data. And this guy, I don't know why they got him, but he was just a big skeptic. And he said, "Ah, it's all in their minds. It's just depression. They're not happy puppies," is really what he said. Physiologically, there was no reason for people to be unwell, according to him. I can't even remember the guy's name. He gave me a splitting headache. But it was a call in show. And after him and I went back and forth for several minutes, the phone calls came in. Boy, oh boy, did he ever get it from women. I was so happy. I didn't have to say another word. They were screaming at him.

I remind folks, you guys might not remember this. You remember Dr. Kevorkian out of Michigan? Remember? He went on TV, and this is the one that actually put him in jail. He passed away now I believe, but he went to jail because he assisted suicide right on national TV. Was it 60 Minutes, or something like that? A major show. And you know the last person that he did that with? They had chronic fatigue syndrome. Seriously. That's how unwell this woman was, and she didn't want to live anymore. But it comes from the adrenals. It's cortisol. Cortisol is meant to have a part-time job not a full-time job. Cortisol is a… Uhh… Think about it. The fight or flight mechanism. Your body is really intelligent. If someone is scaring you, it's dark, somebody's chasing you, well, you want your adrenal glands to secrete cortisol and adrenaline. You want your adrenals to work, but you don't want to work overtime all the time.

And this is a phenomenon of even back in the '80s when I said that, cortisol was the major factor in a perfect storm for these people to get very, very, very unwell. And today we have a variation, a little bit of it. We don't necessarily call it chronic fatigue, although it's a big, big factor. If you take our hormone course, I often tell people, listen, go online, go to the Martinclinic.com and take the hormonal test. And someone sent me an email yesterday and said, "I'm in a category five." By the definition it's a storm and everything gets messed up. And one of the things that's really involved in that, that stirs the pot, makes everything worse is cortisol, secreted over a long period of time. So I want to give you six. Six signs that your adrenals are off. One of them, and I mentioned this all the time, ladies, belly fat. Now we wrote a whole article, email, yesterday on what the adrenals do. That little gland. It's the size of a chestnut. Imagine it. And weighs the same as a grape.

Guys, you are talking about a very small little gland, the adrenal gland, but it packs a very powerful punch, Mighty Mouse, that little gland. And if your adrenals are off, in women especially, you're going to get belly fat. It's a hormonal thing with women. Men, we get a sugar belly. Kids get sugar bellies. Women, if they've got belly fat, it's usually because of cortisol. When you can't lose weight, and I tried and I tried and I tried, one of the biggest factors is cortisol. Cortisol will not allow you to lose weight, usually, because it messes up your thyroid. It won't allow the conversion of T4 to T3. Your thyroid needs T3. It needs that specific hormone to be just right. Boy, the thyroid is a finicky organ.

Look at your belly. Stress. The stress hormone. It lays down fat, especially around the belly. Oftentimes, this is a big factor, signs that your adrenals… That was amazing. Even back in the '80s, late '80s, early '90s, 90 something percent of the 500 people that we put in a study had digestive symptoms. Well, you can imagine, your body's not thinking of digesting when it's stressed. It's uptight. And digestion, cortisol is like a diversion. Your body's not so concerned about digestion so it can mess up digestion. It can be a big factor. No weight loss, belly fat, poor digestion. You've got to look at a lot of things, so I'm just giving you some things to think about. That may be your adrenals. I'll tell you one of them, guaranteed just about, is sleep.

It's amazing that your body, what it needs everything to go right for it to shut down and sleep. I mean, yeah. When you're just a kid, sleep, okay. Rarely. I mean, you ever hear of kids getting insomnia? I guess some of them do, but it's so rare, right? But you add life into the mix, and stress into that mix, and I'll tell you something, we're at 70%, at least of the population, just don't get enough sleep. They don't sleep. They might fall asleep, but stress wakes them up and their brain's up in the middle of the night. And you can't turn it off. And I wrote about that a long time ago in those books. Part of the symptoms of chronic fatigue, even though they were exhausted, they couldn't sleep. And they weren't getting into that four stages of sleep, and the REM sleep, the rapid eye movement.

And we all know what happens when you sleep. Your body regenerates. Your brain, the self cleaning oven. Well, that doesn't happen if your adrenals are off. High cortisol. And it really can mess you up. Messes up your sleep. Exhaustion, energy off. Tired of being tired because you can't think about this, okay? Just pretend you're uptight for 30 seconds. Just clench everything. Okay? That's what happens when cortisol is released. That'll exhaust you. It'll help you really, temporarily, to beat the pulp out of someone who's chasing you, or you're running away. But after a while, think about that. Your body's not made for that for a long period of time. And I tell you the world, guys, I'm telling you something, the world has changed. You know, I said it. I said this consistently, and I know you guys that have been listening, watching, you know I've said it. So I'm not being controversial this morning. But when we locked our society down, I said it didn't I? When we put a virus above everything else in the world, there's going to be unintended consequences.

If you put public health officials in charge, well, the virus has to leave the world. So whatever it takes. But what I was looking at was behind the scenes and looking at what that would do to children, what that would do to shut-ins, what that would do to our society, because I'm a holistic guy. I was thinking about, well, what are the unintended consequences of that? We've already got too much stress in the world. Now it's even worse. And guys, one thing you have to admit, I talked a lot about that. The amount of anxiety, the amount of depression, the amount of discouragement, and the amount of overdosing. People turning to drugs. And it's insanity. But at the end of the day that's what cortisol… See over a period of time, it really is disruptive. Not only to your sleep, not only to your weight, to your energy, to your mental health.

There's so much anxiety today. It's crazy. You see, in our office we used to measure it. Measure cortisol. Oh man. It was unreal. You know what another symptom is? Cravings. Cravings, because what happens, think about it. When you're, "Uhh," your body's doing that inside. It's demanding fuel. It's demanding fuel. And you crave. A lot of people, they don't realize that's hormonal. They'll crave sugar. Give me a quick fix. I need quick energy. I don't want to have to think about it. I just want to give me quick. And people don't realize it's actually the worst thing they can do. They're giving themselves a fix and they reach for the wrong food. They have anxiety. They're stressed. They're not sleeping well.

Their blood sugars. Think about it. Blood sugars are fluctuating. What goes up must come down. And I talked about that again, even back, about the fluctuations in blood sugar, in those early books. I wrote another one on, Energy Robbers and the Fatigue Cure. Guess what that was all about? People reaching for the wrong food. Energy robber was cortisol, and cortisol fluctuates your blood sugar, and when your blood sugar is low you're going to crave. If you make a wrong choice, they weren't reaching for protein. They're reaching for sugar. And sugar is just, whoop, up, and then boom, the crash.

And a lot of people, they get that hypoglycemia. They get hyper and then hypo. The blood sugar goes up the blood sugar comes crashing down. And a lot of people were eating six, seven times a day. And I used to try and get them to change their habits. Don't reach for sugar. Don't reach for a chocolate bar. I didn't even want them reaching for fruit. I talked about that a long, long time ago. Don't even reach for fruit. I'm not against it, but when you've got fluctuations of blood sugar like that, I said, "Don't reach for fruit. Reach for protein. Have a piece of cheese, have a protein smoothie with 35% cream, heavy, heavy cream. Protein, protein, protein, and fat. Not carbs, carbs burn too fast. There's where the fluctuations will come in. And then cortisol just makes it 10 times worse. Cravings. Hormonal fluctuation. I talked about that.

The thyroid gets thrown off. Estrogen takes over. Boy, we live in a crazy estrogen world. Estrogen, estrogen, estrogen. I tell women, listen ladies, Linda, listen, you don't need estrogen. You've got plenty of estrogen. Plenty of estrogen. Okay? Let me answer a question that I noticed this morning. I was just going over my notes and I... Hold on. Tammy. I didn't answer your question, Tammy. Let me answer it right now, because we're talking about estrogen. Sudden facial redness in her 40s. Hormonal acne. Flare up when stressed. When does this happen? When does my hormones fluctuate? When do I get a facial redness? When do I get messed up? Oh, when I'm stressed. Yes.

Cortisol can mess up your progesterone. Cortisol is made in the adrenals, right? But it needs progesterone. It'll rob it. So now what happens, remember ladies, always remember this. In women hormone is balance. It's a balancing act. I actually used to have this in my office. A woman on a tight rope. You ever seen a tight rope, and they got that pole? You ever watch? When I watched, what was it? The Wallenda Brothers or whatever, remember the guy going across Niagara Falls? I think the whole world watched that. I could hardly watch, because I've been to Niagara Falls. I said, "Are you kidding me?" But that's a woman, on a tight rope going over Niagara Falls with the pole, and their hormones get really messed up in cortisol.

Cortisol robs progesterone. When progesterone goes down estrogen goes up. We live in an estrogen crazy world to start off with. Nevermind when you've got all sorts of fluctuations. Every chemical looks like estrogen to your body. That's why I don't like putting estrogen into the body with the birth control pill, horses urine estrogen. Ooh. Cortisol. Isn't it a crazy hormone. You know what another one is? Another sign? Frequent infections are viruses. Yep. You know why? Because cortisol, again, is a diversion. Your body is thinking fight or flight. It's not thinking about fighting above it. The immune system is suppressed. Your body's not thinking of digesting. It's not thinking of fighting infection. It messes up your T cells, and your immune system doesn't work as well.

And even in those days when I was writing about chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia, and they were always sick, and very sickly, imagine being exhausted all the time, plus you're getting sick all the time. Talk about discouragement. Cortisol. I wrote a book a few years, I guess it's got to be about 10 years ago. You know time flies, right? Serial killers. Not with a C cereal, although that will kill you. Serial killers with an S. Two hormones that want you dead, right? Insulin, food, cortisol, stress. If you don't put them to bed, it'll kill you. Big, big factors in chronic disease. And almost daily I talked to you about the association of insulin and insulin resistance as being one of the root causes of all chronic disease.

People don't die of infection. They die of inflammation caused by high circulating insulin and then pouring gasoline on that fire is cortisol. So you get a perfect storm. You're eating wrong. Add cortisol to the mix, because you're stressed, and that's a bad combo. I wrote about that a long time ago. A terrible combination. Remember, it's about 10 years ago when people, "What are you talking about? Why is stress so bad? You're meant for some stress." Yeah, not that much. So guys, remember that. Digestive symptoms, fatigue, sleep, weight gain, especially around the middle, hormonal disruption, especially the thyroid, and the ovaries in women. Too much estrogen, not enough progesterone. An imbalance. Category five storm a lot of times.

You get all the symptoms. Cravings. You see Laura Secord's and you want to do a swan dive. You want that chocolate. I used to have an expression in the office, and like a policeman, empty your purse. I want to see what you've got in there. It was amazing. When I had people that were really stressed, and I didn't get them to empty the purse. But I said, "If you empty your purse, how many candies you got in there? Let me see your purse." And they're like, "Who is this?" Can you imagine a guy like me confronting you in my office? The women they go, "Who is this guy?" "Empty your purse. I just want to see how many candies you had in there. How many chocolates." "Oh, okay."

Okay guys, we love you dearly. You know that. You know that don't you? Yeah, you know it. Okay, Friday's question and answer, so get your questions in. They took me all week to answer all of them. Okay guys, we love you dearly. If you're not getting those emails, make sure you sign up for those emails at MartinClinic.com. Okay? We talk to you soon.

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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