Low Cortisol vs. High Cortisol

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia and ME & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' started by nerdieduckie, Sep 21, 2006.

  1. nerdieduckie

    nerdieduckie New Member

    Alrighty, from what I've read on here so far, it seems that when one has cfs/fm, then one has low cortisol. I have high cortisol. o_O Is this just another case where I have to do everything the difficult and strange way?

    Very confused...
    Jen
  2. laura81655

    laura81655 New Member

    Gosh, I don't know either? Mine was low so I hope you get some answers!
    Laura
  3. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    It's not true that when one has CFS/FM one necessarily has low cortisol. Mine was high too (and some others I've read about on this board).

    The important thing is that you know it's high so there's something you can do about it. By the way, did you have a saliva test done or other testing to show this?

    When I found out mine was high, I was told to take Seriphos (phosphorylated serine) to help lower it. The Seriphos helped me almost immediately. I started sleeping better and felt calmer and less edgy. I found it was best to take it in the morning in divided doses on an empty stomach. I later read that this was the best way to take it due to the way cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day and night. We had to play around wtih the dose - I started wtih 8 capsules a day and after almost 3 years am down to 1 a day.

    Here's an article about Seriphos:

    Seriphos - phosphorylated serine

    Proprietary Blend: Phosphoserine and Ethanolamine 1,000 mg

    Other ingredients: Gelatin.

    This form of phosphatidyl serine is less expensive and more efficient in converting the stress hormone cortisol than regular PS. Phosphorylated Serine is a pure product and not derived from animal tissue. The serine is from vegetable sources and the phosphate is from a pure phosphate donor compound.

    Regular PS acts as a precursor molecule and is not the active form of the nutrient. In the tissue, regular PS is linked to glyceroland, the appropriate fatty acids specific to each tissue, and is not linked to the fatty acids provided in PS. In short, fatty acids can oxidize in regular PS.

    Seriphos, Phosphorylated Serine, is less expensive and does not oxidize. Absorption does not depend upon enzyme availability in the gastro-intestinal tract of the user as does PS.

    Seriphos, like PS, stimulates neuronal plasticity, acting as a compensatory adaptive mechanism to cell deterioration, and is capable of preventing or delaying the age-dependent decline of neurotransmitter function.

    Chronic stress, physical and mental, can desensitize the hypothalmic-Pituitary-Axis and elevate cortisol. Seriphos can help optimize the stress response, and repair the damage wrought by catabolic stress hormones. PS, when consumed in food provides only 20% of active phosphorylated serine. Each 100 mg of PS only yields 20mg of activated serine following consumption. The bulk of the weight is derived from two fatty acids, acting as a precursor molecule and is not the active form of the nutrient. Seriphos is more stable, economic, and a more active molecule than PS.

    Seriphos can improve memory and sleep. Clinical studies show an improvement on both computerized and standard neuropsychological performance tests.

    Suggested usage:

    Like all macro minerals, it is best absorbed when taken before meals or before bedtime at least 15 minutes before eating. For stress, take one capsule at least 15 minutes before eating.

    NOTE: Seriphos works with the pineal gland. Take two in the morning and two at lunch time before meals for better sleep at nighttime. This mimics the cortisol "curve".


    Mary
  4. nerdieduckie

    nerdieduckie New Member

    My doctor did a bunch of labwork, the most I'd ever had done, and that's how he found out. He put me on metformin for it because I was rapidly nearing becoming a diabetic because of it, and also he put me on theanine serene to manage the stress levels. My cortisol was at 516, lol.

    Good to know I'm not the only one with high levels then.


    EEP!
    I just googled adrenal fatigue as you suggested, and...that sounds exactly like me O_O [This Message was Edited on 09/21/2006]
  5. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Jen - Metformin is a drug to manage diabetes. It has nothing to do with lowering cortisol levels. When you say your levels were 512, I think you're talking about blood sugar levels, not cortisol. They're two very different things.

    It doesn't sound like you had your cortisol levels tested. You should look at your lab work carefully and see exactly what was done.

    Mary
  6. nerdieduckie

    nerdieduckie New Member

    The levels were for cortisol, my blood sugar was a little elevated but not much to worry about. The doctor said the reason he put me on metformin was because my high cortisol levels were triggering insulin resistance, which I already had from PCOS anyway. He said that by lowering the insulin resistance, that would help lower the cortisol, because the insulin was making internal stress or something like that.
    *shrug*
    My mum probably understood better than me :p
    [This Message was Edited on 09/21/2006]
  7. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    I was wrong. The number just seemed so high. I looked at your profile and you are so young, much too young to have deal with all this. Although there's never really a good age, but it should be older than you are.

    Anyways, for your info I'm attaching a couple of articles about Seriphos (phosphorylated serine) and high cortisol. You might want to run them by your mom, and if she agrees, maybe your doctor. Seriphos works very well to lower cortisol, and it helps a lot with anxiety caused by high cortisol levels. It also helps with sleep. It's not a prescription drug. There are no bad side effects when taking the correct dose. It is important to take it in the morning because of the cortisol "curve".

    The articles are sort of long, but not too technical, and here they are:

    Here is an article by a Dr. Joseph Debe about high cortisol, DHEA and fitness. I wasn’t too interested in the fitness info as I can’t exercise due to CFIDS, but the information re high cortisol is very good. One important thing a doctor told me a few years ago, and which Dr. Debe states, is that having high cortisol levels makes the body catabolic – basically, if you have high cortisol levels, your body starts breaking down its own tissues for energy, which is not a good thing. He doesn’t mention, however, one of the most important things for me and that is that high cortisol levels at night cause insomnia.

    Following this article I’ll attach another article re Seriphos, or phosphorylated serine, a supplement Dr. Debe mentions which reduces cortisol levels. The Seriphos article does mention sleep. I started taking Seriphos two years ago after my levels tested high, and it was invaluable in helping me to start sleeping better.

    Mary

    MAKING YOUR HORMONES WORK FOR YOU IN ACHIEVING YOUR FITNESS GOALS
    By Dr. Joseph A. Debé
    Exercising regularly and making healthful dietary choices takes discipline and dedication. Some people do it for their appearance - they want to build muscle and/or lose bodyfat. Others are motivated to improve their health and vitality. And then there are the competitive athletes. No matter what your fitness goals are, one of the main determinants of whether you will reach them is your hormonal status.

    Although many hormones have an influence, two of the most important are cortisol and DHEA. These are the long-lasting stress hormones secreted by the adrenal glands. Cortisol has a general catabolic effect on the body. Catabolism refers to the breakdown of complex living tissue into simpler components, some of which are used as metabolic fuel. DHEA has largely opposite effects of cortisol, being an anabolic hormone. Anabolism is the process whereby food is converted into living tissue. Anabolism and catabolism are both essential processes. In order to achieve your fitness goals, cortisol and DHEA must be produced in the proper balance. Chronic stress results in imbalance, with increased cortisol and decreased DHEA production. This causes the body to shift into a catabolic state.

    It is critically important to understand that mental-emotional strain is only one of many different things the body perceives as stress. Two of cortisol's main functions are to raise blood sugar levels and to reduce inflammation. Thus, cortisol levels increase in response to drops in blood sugar and the presence of inflammation. Other types of stress include: chronic pain, chronic illness, chronic/severe allergies, trauma/injury, temperature extremes, surgery, toxic exposure, chronic or severe infections, late hours/insufficient sleep, light cycle disruption (as in working night shifts), and excessive exercise. That's right. Excessive exercise results in elevated cortisol to DHEA ratios. Over enthusiasm about exercise can easily produce cortisol-DHEA imbalance. In addition to overtraining, the three most common stressors to be concerned about are mental-emotional stress, dysglycemia (blood sugar fluctuation), and inflammation.

    How exactly does an elevated cortisol to DHEA ratio interfere with fitness goals? One way is by producing cellular amino acid deprivation. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are responsible for most of the cellular structure, and for enzymes which catalyze biochemical reactions. Under the influence of stress, (a high cortisol to DHEA ratio), protein synthesis slows and protein breakdown accelerates. The end result is reduced muscle mass. Proteins from the heart, bones and gastrointestinal mucosa (lining) are also targeted for breakdown. The amino acids released by the catabolism of these proteins are oxidized to produce carbon skeletons to be used for making glucose. Importantly, aging proceeds by this very process of cell protein degradation. Stress also results in the replacement of insulin-sensitive, slow oxidative type I muscle fibers by fast glycolytic type II-B muscle fibers, which impairs muscular endurance.

    Elevated cortisol levels also interfere with energy production by decreasing glucose utilization. High cortisol to DHEA ratios result in fat deposition, especially around the midsection. It is possible to sometimes build muscle under stress (high cortisol : DHEA), but at the expense of the internal organs. What happens is that resistance exercise (weight training) makes the skeletal muscles the organ of demand so that protein is "stolen" from the internal organs to be used by the muscles. Bodybuilders in this condition have been found to have up to thirty percent shrinkage of the liver and catabolism of other organs, as their muscles grew. Obviously, this is detrimental to health. For those concerned about their appearance, stress strikes another blow. Elevated cortisol levels reduce skin regeneration and lead to accelerated wrinkling. The protein breakdown that occurs under stress can also accelerate osteoarthritis and bone loss, and prolong healing of injuries. Other conditions which people hope to prevent or improve by a healthy lifestyle are actually promoted by elevated cortisol to DHEA ratios. These include hypertension, ischemic heart disease depression and various cancers

    Elevated cortisol: DHEA further impedes fitness goals by altering the levels and activities of other hormones. Thyroid stimulating hormone and triiodothyronine levels are reduced and reverse triiodothyronine levels increase. In other words, thyroid activity is diminished. This results in a slowing of the metabolic rate. Bodyfat becomes easier to store, more difficult to lose. Stress lowers levels of growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor I, all of which are muscle-building, fat-burning hormones. Stress increases levels of estrogen released from the ovaries and also increases conversion by fat cells of DHEA, androstenedione and testosterone to estrogen. The more bodyfat a person has, the more these hormones get converted to estrogen. Estrogen stimulates fat deposition, particularly around the thighs and hips. Stress is feminizing in men and women. Stress produces insulin insensitivity with subsequent elevation in insulin levels. This produces increased hunger with craving for carbohydrates. Elevated insulin levels increase fat cell proliferation and fat deposition. To sum it up, under stress, muscle is replaced by fat.

    So, how does one know if they have elevated cortisol: DHEA? The best way to measure these hormones is with the Adrenal Stress Index™. This is a simple test the person performs at home. Four saliva samples are collected over the course of one day by rolling cotton swabs under the tongue and then placing them into test tubes. The kit is then mailed to the laboratory and the hormones are measured from the saliva. The testing laboratory furnishes the test kit, with all supplies needed.

    Test results are sent to the ordering doctor within about two week’s time. Analysis of the test results, in combination with evaluation of the individual's lifestyle, leads to therapies to help restore any hormonal imbalance. Scientifically proven techniques for mental-emotional stress reduction can be used. Dietary and nutritional supplement recommendations to balance blood sugar levels are often needed. Women trying to lose weight often eat too much carbohydrate. Bodybuilders often eat too much protein. Both of these situations can result in elevated cortisol to DHEA ratios, as can simply not eating enough. Sources of inflammation must be sought out and dealt with appropriately to lower cortisol output. Thorough understanding of the individual's lifestyle can identify other sources of stress.

    A nutritional supplement called phosphorylated serine is often useful in lowering elevated cortisol levels. It appears to work at the level of the brain and pituitary gland. DHEA supplementation is usually called for when levels are found to be low. In some cases, sublingual administration is preferred; in other cases, micronized capsule form is best. In cases of sex hormone related problems such as prostate or breast cancer, DHEA should not be supplemented before performing an additional test called a DHEA challenge test. This test measures the increase in testosterone and estrogen levels after supplementing DHEA for just a week. For those individuals who convert a lot of DHEA to testosterone or estrogen and have certain health conditions, DHEA can be dangerous. 7-keto DHEA is a supplement that apparently is not converted to sex hormones within the body and so can be used safely, although it will not provide all the benefits of DHEA.
    An additional therapy to help lower cortisol levels is aerobic exercise. However, as was previously mentioned, excessive exercise can stress the body. There is a way to help determine if a given duration and intensity of exercise is stressing or de-stressing the body. Another test of cortisol levels is performed in relation to exercise. A saliva sample is taken five minutes before beginning exercise, five minutes after, one and three hours after finishing the exercise session. It is acceptable for cortisol levels to rise immediately after exercise. However, they should decrease by one hour after exercise. Three hours after exercise, cortisol levels should be equal to or lower than starting values. If they are, then the level of exercise is beneficial. If they are not, then this level of exercise is a stress to the body and is sabotaging fitness goals and undermining health. In this case, the type, intensity, and/or duration of exercise need to be adjusted. This test is particularly well suited for women who cannot lose weight even though they exercise aerobically and - inappropriately - eat a high carbohydrate diet and avoid weight training.


    ARTICLE 2:

    Seriphos - phosphorylated serine

    Proprietary Blend: Phosphoserine and Ethanolamine 1,000 mg

    Other ingredients: Gelatin.

    This form of phosphatidyl serine is less expensive and more efficient in converting the stress hormone cortisol than regular PS. Phosphorylated Serine is a pure product and not derived from animal tissue. The serine is from vegetable sources and the phosphate is from a pure phosphate donor compound.

    Regular PS acts as a precursor molecule and is not the active form of the nutrient. In the tissue, regular PS is linked to glyceroland, the appropriate fatty acids specific to each tissue, and is not linked to the fatty acids provided in PS. In short, fatty acids can oxidize in regular PS.

    Seriphos, Phosphorylated Serine, is less expensive and does not oxidize. Absorption does not depend upon enzyme availability in the gastro-intestinal tract of the user as does PS.

    Seriphos, like PS, stimulates neuronal plasticity, acting as a compensatory adaptive mechanism to cell deterioration, and is capable of preventing or delaying the age-dependent decline of neurotransmitter function.

    Chronic stress, physical and mental, can desensitize the hypothalmic-Pituitary-Axis and elevate cortisol. Seriphos can help optimize the stress response, and repair the damage wrought by catabolic stress hormones. PS, when consumed in food provides only 20% of active phosphorylated serine. Each 100 mg of PS only yields 20mg of activated serine following consumption. The bulk of the weight is derived from two fatty acids, acting as a precursor molecule and is not the active form of the nutrient. Seriphos is more stable, economic, and a more active molecule than PS.

    Seriphos can improve memory and sleep. Clinical studies show an improvement on both computerized and standard neuropsychological performance tests.

    Suggested usage:

    Like all macro minerals, it is best absorbed when taken before meals or before bedtime at least 15 minutes before eating. For stress, take one capsule at least 15 minutes before eating.

    NOTE: Seriphos works with the pineal gland. Take two in the morning and two at lunch time before meals for better sleep at nighttime. This mimics the cortisol "curve".

  8. nerdieduckie

    nerdieduckie New Member

    Thanks for the articles, Mary.
    All I could say while reading the first one was EEK! I knew it was bad but I didn't know it could be THAT bad :-\
    Very informative. I'll have to talk to my doctor about the supplement (I see him on the 26th) but I need to change something because so far I haven't noticed much difference in my anxiety.

    Unfortunately I have the rare distinction of having the highest cortisol and reverse T3 levels he's seen in all his years of practice. He's not a pediatric doctor either ;)
  9. razorqueen

    razorqueen Member

    I went to that website, and it sound alot like me. I will be getting the saliva test done soon, and look forward to find out the results and what we will do to improve my adrenal fatigue I am sure I have!

    Raz
  10. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Keep us posted how it goes with you.

    Take care --

    Mary
  11. monicaz49

    monicaz49 New Member

    MINE IS VERY HIGH ALL DAY AND NIGHT. DOCTORS DONT GIVE A RATS ASS. IT GIVES ME INSOMNIA I THINK ALSO ANXIETY.
    I AM DEALING W/ ALOT (FATIGUE/ACHY/CANDIDA/HIGH CORTISOL(ADRENALS)/HYPOGLYCEMIA) IM AT THE POINT I DONT KNOW WHAT CAUSES WHAT ANYMORE! :(
    GOOD LUCK.
  12. nerdieduckie

    nerdieduckie New Member

    So high cortisol can cause insomnia?
    That would explain quite a bit then. I'm usually a night owl, but not to the point where it disrupts my life.
  13. TXFMmom

    TXFMmom New Member

    They just discovered that my cortisol, despite weight gain, is indeed low, as in cortisol exhaustion, or adrenal exhaustion level, and my mono titer was so high one would have to have a very bad case of it for it to be that high, I had never, ever tested positive for it, and wasn't infectious, but the titer meant that I was undergoing the same stress.

    Then, I had sinus infections, had a pain management injection, they scratched me, caused a staph infection, then I had mycoplasmic pneumonia and bronchitis.

    That was when they tested for the lymphocytes and they were all way, way too low and I just started IV IG therapy.
  14. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I used to have an article on this, but I can't find it offhand. I think this is its point, though.

    Cortisol is a hormone that allows you to deal with stress better.

    If you're under a high level of stress, your adrenals will pump out more cortisol to compensate. Your cortisol levels will thus be high.

    If you're under a very high level of stress for a very long period of time (especially if you're already ill with something like CFS), your adrenals will konk out and not be able to produce the cortisol you need. Your levels will thus be low.

    This theory seems like it would suggest that those of us who are less actively sick might have higher cortisol levels, whereas those of us who are extremely ill (at a particular moment) might have very low cortisol levels. I wonder if that's the case....it seems like it would be easy enough to measure. Even comments on this board from people who have had measurements done might help.

    My cortisol levels (taken a couple of times) when i was moderately ill (about a 50 on that 100-point scale) were normal.