Category Archives: Cortisol

 

Hormone Checking in Minneapolis MN

 

Forgetfulness and cognitive decline are some of the most commonly reported symptoms of menopause. In fact, peri-menopausal women were 1.4 times as likely to report forgetfulness compared to pre-menopausal women in Minnesota, and this was independent of additional factors including reported stress. There are a number of mechanisms through which changes in hormones affect brain function and memory.
 

Estrogens have direct effects in the brain by increasing the number of synapses in the hippocampus, the region of the brain where transferring short term memories to long term memories is thought to occur. Estrogen and progesterone both help to protect the brain from exogenous and endogenous toxins including glutamate-induced excitotoxicity, and progesterone is a potent anti-inflammatory agent in the central nervous system, working to rebuild the blood-brain barrier, reduce edema and down-regulate the inflammatory cascade in the event of physical or ischemic trauma.
 

Another important mechanism through which hormones enhance memory is by increasing acetylcholine activity. Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter involved in learning and encoding new memories and its production is greatly decreased in conditions of compromised memory including Alzheimer’s disease. Estrogen increases the activity of the enzyme choline-acetyl transferase, which stimulates the synthesis of acetylcholine.
 

Maintaining optimal hormone levels throughout the menopausal transition can not only aide in the management of classically “menopausal symptoms” such as hot flashes and night sweats, but can prevent and treat memory loss and protect the brain from chemical and physical assault. As always, the correct balance of hormones is important, so it is important to test, not guess.

 

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Cortisol Levels and Allergies in Minnesota

 

Are you noticing increased fatigue, headaches, itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion? Allergies are one of the most common concerns in Minnesota and United States with hay fever being the 5th leading chronic disease in the country. According to recent statistics, this chronic disease is to blame for almost 4 million missed or lost work days yearly for a total of more than $7 million in lost productivity annually. Frequently thought of as an incurable disease by practitioners and patients alike, successful management of seasonal allergies is attainable and extends beyond antihistamine and decongestant use. One Stop Wellness Clinic in Edina, MN can help provide optimal adrenal function for regulating allergy symptoms this spring. The adrenal glands’ ability to maintain optimal cortisol output significantly influences the severity of allergy symptoms.

Histamine is the mediator governing inflammatory responses in the body from injury and the common cold to insect bites and seasonal allergies. Its actions on the H1 receptor result in hives, itching and allergic rhinitis. Cortisol production from the adrenal glands is a key factor in controlling the body’s histamine levels. Cortisol levels that are suboptimal or deficient, as seen in many patients with adrenal dysfunction, allergy symptoms tend to be more severe. In addition to decreasing mast cell degranulation and activation, cortisol inhibits histidine decarboxylase (the enzyme responsible for the histamine cascade) thus inhibiting production and accumulation of histamine in tissues. Given this, it comes as no surprise that histamine levels tend to be highest around 3 AM – hours after cortisol reaches its lowest diurnal level.

While physiologic dosing of hydrocortisone in individuals with established adrenal gland dysfunction can help alleviate allergy symptoms, adjunctive therapies are necessary to optimize the adrenal glands’ potential endogenous production of cortisol. Considerations include addressing lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress management, supplementing co-factors necessary for cortisol production (vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin E) and the use of adaptogenic herbs. Frequently used adaptogens include: Rhodiola rosea, Ashwaganda, Glycyrrhiza glabar, Panax ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Cordyceps sinensis and Ocinum sanctum.

In conclusion, it should be no surprise to find a relationship between seasonal allergy symptoms and suboptimal or insufficient diurnal cortisol levels. Accurate assessment of cortisol levels and adrenal dysfunction is easily done with One Stop Wellness Clinic’s salivary cortisol testing in Minneapolis.

 

 

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Chronic Stress in Minnesota and Hormone Health

 

Stress for Minnesotans, whether it’s perceived or not perceived, can be physical, mental, emotional and environmental in nature. There are often events and periods of time in life that can be identified as particularly stressful such as a car accident, death of a loved one or job loss. Stress is not only negative but can be associated with positive circumstances as well, such as a wedding or job promotion. In addition to these major life events, there are many factors that add to an individual’s stress load including: infections, allergies, depression, chronic disease, overworking, guilt, sleep deprivation, toxic exposures, blood sugar fluctuations, medications and more.
Hormones, including cortisol and DHEA from the adrenal glands, are an integral part of the physiological stress response. While the body’s intricate hormonal system is adept at handling isolated stressful events, Minneapolis’s busy world equipped with cell phones, fluorescent lights, traffic and more, presents a taxing environment of consistent stressors. This state of consistent stress increases the body’s demand for adrenal hormones and often results in hormonal dysregulation.

Pregnenolone Steal

Pregnenolone, the primary precursor hormone to all steroid hormones, including cortisol, DHEA, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone, is essential in the body’s guest to maintain adequate cortisol levels during times of chronic and consistent stress. While pregnenolone can be directed toward the production of any of these various hormones, increased demand for cortisol due to constant stress results in the shunting of pregnenolone down the pathway that favors cortisol production thus leaving less of this pro-hormone available to produce the other steroid hormones. The hormonal imbalance that ensues further contributes to the overall stress burden of the body, further compounding the existing picture of chronic stress.

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance refers to a state where there is a greater influence of estrogen than progesterone on tissues. There are many situations and conditions that can contribute to this imbalance including increases in estrogen production, exposure to exogenous estrogens, and decreased progesterone production. Because the body can convert progesterone to cortisol, increased stress (and a higher demand for cortisol) often results in decreased progesterone production, thereby exacerbating the imbalance between the estrogens and progesterone.

Stress = Adrenal Fatigue

Our endocrine system is designed to handle an acute stressful event and allows us to protect ourselves from danger or flee from it. The constant barrage of micro-stressful events such as traffic, social stresses, infectious agents, chemical exposures etc. often result in a chronically stimulated adrenal response. While most other animals rest and allow their systems to calm after a stressful encounter, we rarely give our bodies the actual break we need. Over time, with continued stimulation, the stress response becomes less sensitive and the signal to produce cortisol lessens, often to the point of very little cortisol output at all; this is called Adrenal fatigue or exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue can happen to some people after a single stressful event, while for others it occurs after an accumulation of smaller stressors. We are all different, and the length of time we can “keep up the pace” is variable, that is why it important to get your hormones tested and balanced at One Stop Wellness Center in Edina, MN.

 

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Why Hormone Saliva Testing is better than Blood and Urine for Minnesotans

 

When deciding how to assess hormone levels it is important to do testing instead of guessing, and it is important to have ongoing testing and monitoring like One Stop Wellness Clinic in Minnesota does. Urine testing cannot measure progesterone directly, instead it just the metabolites of progesterone so it is not a sufficiently accurate tool for direct measurement for assessing deficiencies and subsequent treatment.

In addition, once a patient is started on a prescription of topical hormones the adjusted hormone levels cannot be accurately assessed through urine or blood — only saliva. This is because blood and urine will not show bioavailable hormone levels. Saliva, on the other hand, does reflect changes in hormone levels shown when a patient is on a topical hormone replacement and it is a proven method for adjusting and monitoring therapy. This is why we at, One Stop Wellness Center, tests estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol only in saliva. The only hormone not testing in saliva is a thyroid panel which is tested with a blood sample. Lastly, providers in Minneapolis who decide to use urine or blood testing will often find that it takes a long time to get prescription rates correct and existing symptoms continue while new symptoms may appear.

 

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Food Cravings and Hormones in Minnesota

 

Hormones play an important role in maintaining blood sugar balance and restorative sleep patterns in minnesotans. The adrenal glands make cortisol, which impacts blood sugar levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism. The amount and daily pattern of cortisol production can influence how your body uses or stores fat. Cortisol is also important for controlling levels of inflammation throughout the body and immune function. The ideal cortisol pattern is elevated first thing in the morning, decreasing towards night time. Over time, continued stress disrupts the delicate balance of hormones, including how much and when cortisol is made and released.

Cortisol is commonly referred to as the “stress hormone”. Normally cortisol levels are highest 30 minutes after awakening and then taper down throughout the day. Cortisol is “designed” to help the body respond to a stressful event. When the event passes, cortisol levels drop. When your body is under constant stress your nervous system never receives the signal to relax. This causes the cortisol response to become altered, which can lead to other hormones going awry. Long busy days and short nights of sleep send messages to the body that it is in a state of stress. We may be civilized, but our bodies are still ruled by primitive survival drives. The body begins to store fat as a response to stress, so there are stores ready for a future event that threatens survival.

Over a period of time with constant stress, the adrenal glands produce less and less cortisol, yet the stress continues. Without enough cortisol the body needs to find energy from somewhere else. Our bodies crave sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants to counteract low cortisol levels and temporarily raise energy levels. If you crave sweet things regularly- you may want to check your hormones in the clinics located in Minneapolis and St. Paul areas.

Some signs that cortisol and other hormone levels are out of balance include: sugar cravings, difficulty sleeping, tired but wired, afternoon slump, headaches, and constantly stressed.

 

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Importance of the Hormone Cortisol and Testing in Minnesota

 

Your adrenal glands make cortisol, which impacts blood sugar levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism. The amount and daily pattern of cortisol production can influence how your body uses or stores fat. Cortisol is also important for controlling levels of inflammation throughout the body. The ideal cortisol pattern is elevated first thing in the morning, decreasing towards night time. Over time, continued stress disrupts the delicate balance of hormones, included how much and when cortisol is made and released.

Cortisol is commonly referred to as the “Stress Hormone”. It plays an important role in glucose metabolism, blood pressure regulation, insulin release, immune function and inflammatory response. Cortisol is designed to help the body respond to a stressful event. When the event passes, cortisol levels decrease. When your body is under constant stress, your nervous system never receives the signal to relax which can lead to other hormones going awry.

Long busy days and short nights of sleep send messages to the body that it is in a state of stress. We may be civilized, but our bodies are still ruled by primitive survival drives. The body begins to store fat as a response to the stress, so there are stores ready for a future event that threatens survival. Over a period of time with constant stress, the adrenal glands produce less and less cortisol. Without enough cortisol the body needs to find energy from somewhere else so our bodies crave sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants to counteract low cortisol levels and temporarily raise energy levels.

Some signs that cortisol and other hormone levels are out of balance might include: sugar cravings, difficulty sleeping, tired but wired, afternoon slump, headaches, or constantly stressed. However, proper hormone balancing can help the people in Minneapolis and St Paul lose weight, reduce moodiness, feeling more energetic, sleep better, and curb cravings. Come visit our One Stop Wellness Clinic in Edina, Minnesota and get your cortisol and other hormones balanced and tested today!

 

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