Biochemistry Of Stress: Cortisol
HSPs may have naturally high levels of stress and cortisol because of their sponge-like nervous systems. Understanding stress biochemistry and adrenal gland imbalance will help HSPs master stress relief and develop a strong stress management program.
To understand the biochemistry of stress, we need to first understand what parts of the body are involved.
Stress activates the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus is located just above the brain stem and acts as a control center for the body, linking the nervous system and the endocrine system (hormones) via the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus regulates the hormonal and circadian rhythms of the body, which is the body’s biological clock.
What does all of this mean? Candace Pert, Ph.D. in her book, Molecules of Emotion explains how the brain and central nervous system used to be thought of as an electrical system. However, with research into the endocrine system and cell structure, scientists have come to see the body as much more chemically based.
Therefore, intelligence is no longer viewed as a top down system from the brain to a passive body waiting for instructions from on high. Instead, all cells of the body are now seen as intelligent and communicating with one another, even if they may have specific functions.
The Link Between Cortisol and Stress
When you are experiencing stress, your hypothalamus sends a hormone called Corticol Releasing Factor (CRF) to the adrenals which then release adrenaline to prime the body for action. This is commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response. At the same time CRF goes to the pituitary gland which produces ACTH a hormone that tells the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol speeds up the metabolism and with the other neurochemicals, puts the body into high alert and overdrive.
The link between cortisol and stress is very strong. Cortisol also increases sugar in the body because when in a dangerous situation, the body needs more energy. Cortisol helps in stressful situations by supplying that boost of energy. It is the body’s internal candy bar. Cortisol will also activate the immune system, improve memory, reduce sensations of period of stress. In essence cortisone helps maintain the body during under an alert status.
“…quantum healing is the ability of one mode of consciousness (the mind) to spontaneously correct the mistakes in another mode of consciousness (the body). It is a self enclosed process. If pressed for a shorter definition, I would say simply that quantum healing makes peace.”
Deepak Chopra, Quantum Healing, p. 241.
When cortisol and adrenal gland imbalances are present in the body over an extended period of time, major problems can develop. Blood sugar imbalances and increased body fat, loss of muscle and bone density and higher blood pressure are some of the negative effects.
Cortisol and Depression
Cortisol and stress are linked and are linked with depression as well. People who are depressed can have exceptionally high levels of cortisol in their bodies.