857. High Cortisol and Concussion Symptoms


A new study on cortisol is showing how high cortisol can give you symptoms that resemble a concussion, like a brain injury. The study has shown that high levels of cortisol can cause dizziness as if you had a head injury.

Dr. Martin has talked previously about how stress can trigger a cortisol response. When you don't sleep, your cortisol goes up… and when your cortisol goes up, you don't sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that many are stuck in.

Join Dr. Martin as he talks about cortisol in today’s episode!


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Dr. Martin:  Well, good morning everyone. And welcome again to another live this morning. Hope you're having a great start to your day. I am. Yesterday we talked about cortisol, stress, the drip, drip, drip. I want to bring out another study and we probably won't spend all morning on it, but let me just tell you this new study came up. New study on cortisol. It can give you symptoms that resemble a concussion, like a brain injury. Interesting, isn't it? How cortisol, the stress, the tsunami. We talked about that yesterday, the tsunami, not that's coming, that's already hit our society. Stress is, at the root, certainly one of the roots of depression. And the reason I say that is because what cortisol does is creates anxiety and anxiety is often at the root of depression.

There are two sides of a coin. Isn't it interesting that this study says, "A lack of sleep, we know that, and cortisol, one of the main effects is it affects your sleep. It affects your immune system." We talked about that yesterday, and I might go into a little bit more detail about the immune system, because it really is important, okay? But here it is, "A lack of sleep and increased cortisol, increased cortisol, lack of sleep, lack of sleep, increases cortisol." You can't win for losing.

When you don't sleep, your cortisol goes up. When your cortisol goes up, you don't sleep, because cortisol is supposed to be part of your circadian rhythm. It goes in cycles according to the calendar, according to your watch. Your cortisol is supposed to higher in the morning because it's waking you up. Think of what cortisol is, okay? It's just getting you up. That's all right. That's normal. You have adrenal glands. We talked about where cortisol comes from. But when it gets into a constant drip, it's always drip, drip, drip, cortisol. Your body's not made for that. It has severe ramifications.

The immune system, it suppresses, and I maybe I'll get into that just a little bit in a minute. We talked about it yesterday. Your gut. Your gut doesn't work right with cortisol because it's a diversion. It takes away blood supply. Cortisol is going to the muscles. We wrote an email this morning. Do you get our emails? Get the teaching again on cortisol of what it does to your muscle. See temporarily, Ugh, blood to your muscles, because you're fighting or running. The fight or flight. You're going to punch me if I scare you or you're going to run, right?

But over a period of time, it destroys your muscles. Now this study is set because a lack of sleep and high cortisol, it can give you concussion symptoms, just like you had a head injury. We've gone into concussions in the past. I told you about my friend, Mike Webster who's in the NFL Hall of Fame. Same age, exactly as I am. And if you've never watched the movie concussion, why haven't you? I told you to watch it. Why did I tell you? Well, when you see that movie, you just think of that man. He was in my place and I was in his place and we became very good friends. In his NFL days, watched the movie with Will Smith. It's so good. I don't know why he didn't win the academy award for that, such a good movie.

And for you women who think it's about football, it's not about football. It's about concussions caused by football. But what a good story. It's true. Happened to my friend. The whole movie really is predicated on my friend, Mike Webster, got to watch it. Concussion symptoms. And I watched it. I saw him pre-brain injury and how he changed. Incredible. What a story. Okay. Promise me you'll watch it if you haven't.

Now here's what this study said. A lack of sleep and increased cortisol, symptoms that resemble a concussion, like a brain injury, symptoms include dizziness, let me stop right there on dizziness. This is like an epidemic today, dizziness, you can get vertigo and that can be a middle ear viral, sometimes a mechanical problem. But the idea is that a lot of times you get a brain injury or a head injury, you get dizziness. You can get dizziness from high levels of cortisol. You can get brain fog. These are what they're saying. Fatigue.

We talked about that. Exhaust in chronic fatigue syndrome. Drowsiness, pressure in the head, sensitivity to light, headaches. Incredible, right? All because of cortisol. So cortisol affects your sleep. It affects your brain because of sleep and the lack of it. You're not getting the recuperative sleep. Your self-cleaning oven of your brain is not functioning properly. You're not getting rid of debris in the brain. Inflammation in the brain, just like a head injury. Your gut is affected. Your heart is affected because of inflammation. I often said this too, that men often, can happen to women too, but it was more men. And this is I'm talking 25, 30 years ago I talked about this. That men often would get a heart attack and all of their lipids, their lipid profile in their blood work was normal.

Now, usually medicine looks at the wrong lipids. All they can look at is cholesterol, they're not looking at triglycerides. They don't look at HDL unless it gets flagged for them they don't even look at it. They don't see the connection, but the point is, what I was trying to say is stress over a period of time can be a major cause of heart attacks, acute heart attacks in the absence of any real changes in blood work, including, although you could get high blood pressure from stress. Somebody asked me that yesterday, "Can you get high blood pressure from stress?" Yeah, you could. For sure. It's not the only thing that does it, but it can do it.

So all I'm saying to you is this, stress is incredible. It's not meant to go on for a long period of time. You got to cut it off at the pass if you want to be healthy. And we live in a world, think about it. We live in a world it's 24-hour news cycles. What goes on in Texas last week affects us. If you lived a hundred years ago, you wouldn't even have known about it, right? I know there was newspapers around, but you know what I mean? Today we're so up to the minute in news and news cycles and it stresses us out and then you add the shutdowns and then the society and the fear that's in the world today.

Stress affects everything because what stress does over a period of time can really create an acute inflammatory response that can cause even a heart attack, acute heart attack. Well we saw the other day, didn't we? Going back to Texas where a guy in Texas, his wife was killed in that shooting. They said it that he died of a broken heart. It's almost like his heart collapsed, right? Like a broken heart. That's a real true story. Acute.

Apparently, he had no heart symptoms at all, but you see what stress does, acute stress? And so we talk about it a lot and isn't it interesting that a lot of times you can get dizziness, brain fog, fatigue, drowsiness, pressure in the head, headaches, from stress. Incredible, incredible.

What about the immune system? We often talk about how stress, over a period of time, will affect the T cell. You know what your T cells are? Your T cells are your Navy seals of your immune system. T cells fight viruses and bacteria. T cells. I've shown you pictures of that, right? Of T cells attacking a virus. Well, you don't see the virus so much, they're too small, but you see it. And I used to see it all the time in blood work.

Every physician in my opinion should have a microscope in this office. Look at blood, not to look at measurements so much. You do that in a lab. That's fine. I understand that. You know that I love labs. I don't dislike labs. Some people think, oh, "Dr. Martin, don't like the lab." I do like the lab. I just don't like medicine being hijacked by the lab.

All they rely on is the lab results. And you know how distracting, or, that can throw you off because physicians if you rely only on the lab, you're not listening to the patient. You're not getting their information like stress for example.

Now we've talked about the thyroid how many times?Lab work for the thyroid? You can show it to me, but I'd rather have your symptoms. And it's the same with cortisol. The test that they do in blood, in my opinion, is very unreliable. I used to like to look at cortisol in urine. I found that to be much more accurate.

People were surprised sometimes when I would tell them, "Look your cortisol is through the roof, it shouldn't be." And they at first were shocked and then they thought about it and they go, "Well, you know what? Yeah, I have been under stress." Your body is under stress. It will affect your brain. It will affect your immune system, T cells, and B cells. B cells, you know what B cells do? They produce antigens. And this is where a lot of autoimmune, and a lot of this happens right in your gut by the way, things that shouldn't bother you, bother you.

A lot of people tell me, "Well, why does this person have allergies? And the other person doesn't?" Eggs. Most people can eat eggs. And I highly recommend them, you know that. Eggs, meat, and cheese, but some people can't digest eggs. Why is that? Why do some people, "Doc, you're asking me to eat cheese? I don't digest it." I feel sorry for you, but it happens. Why is that? We're all different, one. But sometimes what happens? And allergies can come out of nowhere. In the gut too much cortisol. It changes the microbiome. It suppresses the B cell activity and T cell activity. And now you get things that your body should recognize and know what to do with and then all of a sudden it can't recognize it anymore. It sees it as a foreign invader. That's autoimmune guys. Allergies are autoimmune. It's your body overreacting to something that it shouldn't overreact to, but there are always reasons for it.

And cortisol is not always the cause of it, but it's a factor because it creates a diversion to your body. It can affect so many things. It affects the absorption of your nutrients in your food. And so, when you look at it, it's really important to get your cortisol down. Somebody asked me yesterday, "Well, what do you do?" That's a good question. I didn't even get at it. But I noticed it when I was scrolling down after the podcast. And I was looking at some of the questions people asked and one of them was, "Okay, what do I do about it?" One of the best things you can do is exercise. When you're exhausted, you don't feel like exercising. I understand that. But if you can even go for a walk, that will decrease your cortisol.

I remember seeing a study. Guys, this is 35 years ago, yeah. Okay. You know what it was. If you just put your running shoes... That was in those days. Now people wear running... I wear running shoes all the time. Go back 30 years let's say. When running shoes you wore to the gym, right?

Here was a study that came out, I'm not kidding you, I'm going to say early '90s, late '80s. I remember this. I talked about it on my radio show many times. And that is, just by putting your running shoes on you decrease your cortisol. But if you just go for a walk, you'll decrease your cortisol. Isn't that something? So I'm big on exercise. They're showing how effective vitamin E is. The true vitamin E how good it is for everything, right? If you had to bottle a vitamin, I like vitamin D. Those three in a row there, C, D, and E. Aren't they good?

Coffee. Vitamin C, vitamin D, vi derma, the sun. The sun actually lowers your cortisol. Now I haven't seen a study on coffee that is negative. Don't send me one I won't read it. I love coffee. Do they give you the new one? Coffee and liver disease. That's the new study. I talked to you about all-cause mortality yesterday in passing. But do you know that coffee lowers your risk of liver disease?

Coffee actually helps with cortisol. Some people have said, "Oh yeah, but if you have adrenal problems, you shouldn't drink coffee." Hey guys, I don't know where people get that stuff. Now, don't have too much caffeine, I agree with that, okay? I'm a sweet spot guy, I like about four cups of coffee a day, okay? I found over the years that is about the sweet spot for people, okay? And afternoon for me, I got to go for decaffeinated, when you get old, okay? Now vitamin C, coffee, really good for cortisol. Vitamin D vi derma, the sun get in the sun. It will lower your cortisol.

Isn't that incredible? Is there anything bad about the sun? The only thing bad about the sun is when you put sunscreen on. Don't get me going on that. And third vitamin E, exercise. Exercise. It's so good for you. The importance of exercise and cortisol, okay? So it's really important to take care of that, to lower your cortisol. We produce the cortisol formula. You're never going to find one as good as that in my opinion, patient-tested.

Like I said, everything I ever did in my office, I had to get results and I could show I could lower cortisol, before and after, testing. And again, the best test for cortisol is the urine test for cortisol that we used to do in our office all the time. Stress, man oh man it's important, isn't it? And what it does to you and how it affects the body it's incredible. Now, one of the reasons, okay, as we talked about it, good food too, because remember, I told you, I wrote that book, Serial Killers, Two Hormones That Want You Dead, right? And that was insulin and cortisol.

When you eat crappy carbs and sugars, you increase your insulin. It increases your cortisol. It stresses your body up. Your body doesn't like crappy fuel. It really doesn't. It'll take it if that's what you're going to give it. But people's cortisol goes up because the body, especially at the mitochondria, the battery packs that don't like bad fuel, it will create a cascade of problems, including elevated cortisol.

Elevated cortisol though, isn't it like how a vicious cycle works? Your cortisol is elevated. And guess what foods you want? We talked about it yesterday. Crappy foods. You get cravings because what cortisol does is elevate your blood sugar. Think about it. Your blood sugar's going to go up. Your body's trying to get that fuel because you're under stress. What goes up must come down. So what happens? And that's why a lot of people with adrenal issues, cortisol, they get low blood sugar.

Goes up, goes down, up and down and then they make the wrong choice. They take a fuel, like sugar, and it gives him a temporary fix. It's like cocaine. But what goes up must come down and then you get the yo-yo effect in blood sugar. That's what cortisol does. And then you get insulin resistance, because you're always, oops, up, down, up down your body craves sugars and the food industry has hooked millions and millions and millions of people. Somebody's asking, "Do I drink organic coffee?" Yes I do. But I'm not telling you what to drink. Just drink it. Coffee's good. Don't add sugar to it, or those artificial sweeteners? Don't ruin your coffee guys.

Okay, guess what tomorrow is? Question and answer Friday. We're looking forward to that, okay? We're looking forward to that. So it's not too late. Send your questions in. We'll try and get at all of them tomorrow, okay? If you didn't get today's email, we talked about cortisol again. Make sure you sign up at martinclinic.com for our emails. Share this folks with your friends and family. That's how Facebook it's algorithms, that's a big word, I don't even know what it means. It helps. You share it, Facebook shares it. And if they can't watch live or whatever, get them to tune into our podcast, they can download on their smartphone, The Doctor is In podcast. Okay guys, we love you dearly. We'll see 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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