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Adrenal Function & Cortisol Imbalances [ Video ]

Adrenal Function & Cortisol Imbalances [ Video ]

Hi everyone, Dr. Olivia Joseph here. As promised, I told you I would be back talking about adrenal function and cortisol imbalances to follow up on my previous thyroid and Hashimoto’s talk that I did for all of you. Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback and I really, truly enjoy responding to your comments, reading your questions. It makes me realize where you’re coming from as the patient. It makes me realize your frustrations in having normal test results but knowing deep down inside that something isn’t normal. I also want to validate all the research and reading that you’re doing out there getting this information and what I want to do is bring all that information together for you.

Adrenal and Thyroid Glands Regulate all Hormones

Today we are going to talk about one of my favorite topics and I’m so excited because I’m ten minutes from teaching a live workshop on this locally here in O’Fallon, Missouri, which is where my practice The Wellness Connection is located. What I’m speaking about tonight, is an advanced thyroid workshop but really it’s an advanced hormone workshop because your adrenal gland functions with your thyroid and regulates all of your sex hormones. I’m going to sum up the adrenal or cortisol section.

Overproduction of Cortisol

One thing many of you know is when you have a cortisol imbalance, oftentimes you have belly fat. What causes that belly fat? What causes that belly fat isn’t cortisol, it’s the overproduction of cortisol. You see, cortisol is not a bad hormone, cortisol regulates sex hormones and we’re going to talk about that in just a minute. But cortisol is a sexy hormone. It gives you energy, helps you deal with stress, regulates your blood sugar, regulates your blood pressure. But when you’re overproducing cortisol because you’re being bombarded daily by stress, physical, chemical or emotional, you start to overproduce cortisol.

At first you feel like superman or superwoman. You’re in that fight or flight mode, you can accomplish anything. But then you start to feel tired but wired. As you’re walking around dragging, feeling burnt out, “Gosh, I’m just so exhausted but when I lay down at night my mind is racing. I can’t slow down my thoughts. I can’t stop my thoughts. I can’t fall asleep. I can’t stay asleep. I’m so anxious. I’m so irritable.” Or, “My hands are shaky. I feel like I have low blood sugar type symptoms.” Because cortisol affects blood sugar levels, it also affects blood pressure, not in a good way.

Stages of Adrenal Dysfunction and Quality of Life

Oftentimes when I see cortisol imbalances I actually see low blood pressure and low blood pressure is not a good thing because when your heart rate is running low you tend to be dizzy, light-headed. You feel like you’re hypoglycemic but when you get your blood sugar checked it’s “normal”. This is a big problem and it really affects the rest of your hormone system. It affects weight loss and it affects your quality of life.

When I say stress, let me show you what this looks like. This is a handout that I give to my patients about the adrenal gland and adrenal function. What I’m going to show you right there are the different stages of adrenal dysfunction. In Stage One, which is rarely where I see somebody … Let’s be honest, we usually seek out help naturally as our last resort, not as our first resort, we just kind of want to tough it out and hope it goes away. But really, cortisol starts to affect other systems of your body so you don’t want to wait too long.

Cortisol is Essential in Regulating Hormones

First you see the overproduction of cortisol. Most commonly when I test a patient they have Stage Two adrenal dysfunction, which is when cortisol levels are low when they should be highest, which is during the day, and high when they should be lowest. Here’s the problem: I teach doctors, I do a two-hour training just on the adrenal thyroid and the sex hormone system. What I break down for them is this graph. This big complex biochemical pathway is estrogen metabolism, specifically nutritional influences on estrogen metabolism. I’m not going to go through something this complex with you, most doctors don’t even get it when I teach it to them, but I break it down to this beautiful graph. You see here?

Essentially what that graph is showing you is cortisol regulates pregnenolone and DHEA. Pregnenolone and DHEA are what we call androgenic hormones, meaning they work with the adrenal gland. Cortisol works with DHEA and pregnenolone. DHEA and pregnenolone break down to your sex hormones. DHEA converts to estrogen and testosterone in men and in women and pregnenolone converts to progesterone. I see sex hormone imbalances in my practice all day every day. I see so many saliva tests on a daily basis it’s absolutely crazy, along with thyroid testing because these hormones go hand-in-hand and that’s what I’m talking about at tonight’s workshop.

Identify Where Your Hormone Imbalances Are Coming From

But what you need to understand is sex hormonal imbalances came from somewhere. Where did they come from? We cannot blame puberty, being female, a male, a period, pregnancy or menopause because those are natural physiologic functions. I had a 65-year-old patient in my practice today back-to-back with a 34-year-old female and the 65-year-old female had higher estrogen and higher testosterone levels than my 34-year-old patient, so we cannot blame this on age. Hormonal imbalances can happen at any age.

You have to realize when you’re dealing with polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, endometriosis, heavy bleeding, abnormal periods, being anovulatory, these are hormonal imbalances and they don’t correct themselves, right? If you wait until you hit menopause, you went into menopause with a hormonal imbalance and menopause is just going to make it worse. What I need you to understand is that the adrenal gland is influenced by stress, physical, chemical and emotional. It’s affected by toxins, by infections in the gut and by unstable blood sugar. So many things influence cortisol.

The Role Inflammation Plays in Hormone Imbalances

Inflammation influences cortisol because cortisol is a stress hormone and when you have inflammation in your body you’re going to have a cortisol response to it. This belly fat is yellow fat and yellow fat is inflammatory fat, so it’s a catch-22. When you have belly fat you have yellow fat and you have inflammation, but you can’t get rid of belly fat with high levels of inflammation and a cortisol imbalance.

The answer is not work harder, cut your calories more, spend more time at the gym. That is infuriating! The answer is see what your cortisol levels are doing because if you have Stage One you treat it differently than Stage Two, you treat it differently than Stage Three. Between Stage Two and Stage Three, usually you see some significant hormonal imbalances that have taken place as a result of adrenal dysfunction, so it still comes back to the adrenal gland.

Here’s the other thing: You may have seen, I showed this flyer, Stress and Thyroid Dysfunction, and it literally shows you how the hypothalamus pituitary gland regulates the adrenals in the thyroid. But this right here at the bottom, cortisol inhibits the absorption of thyroid hormone. You can have stress on the thyroid but still have normal thyroid testing. So what’s stressing the thyroid? The adrenal gland.

Advanced Hormone Testing

I do a lot of advanced thyroid testing in my practice. I check eight thyroid hormones when I run a thyroid test and nine out of ten times thyroid problems aren’t thyroid problems. Nine out of ten times they’re a cortisol problem stressing the thyroid. I test for food sensitivities, infections in the gut,  toxicity levels and inflammatory markers. I check for vitamin deficiencies like D, iron, B12 and folate. These things are obvious in a functional medicine practice because all of these things work together to keep your body and your hormone system functioning properly.

Here’s another pretty picture that I give to my patients showing intestinal permeability and how different infections and stressors, such as cortisol imbalance, influence the health and the integrity of your gut. This is not something that we can take lightly. This is something that I teach the general public, but this is also something that I teach physicians to implement into their practices.

With the right testing, with the right functional testing you really can get to the root cause because when you have all the pieces of the puzzle you know how to help the patient. Thyroid problems aren’t always thyroid problems and honestly for me, more often than not they stem or they come from some type of cortisol imbalance or adrenal dysfunction. We’ve got to look at cortisol levels with sex hormones, with thyroid hormones, with food sensitivities, with toxicity levels, with nutrient deficiencies because this whole beautiful system, it’s not complex, it’s meant to work together and that is how mother nature made it to be.

Thyroid Function and Nodules

I see somebody here posting that, “I’m told my thyroid is fine but I still have nodules and an enlarged thyroid.” I’m telling you, your thyroid is not fine if you have nodules and your thyroid is enlarged. You probably have thyroiditis but you don’t have thyroid disease. That’s where if you have normal TSH or even normal T4 and normal TSH, that is not a full thyroid panel. If you have an enlarged thyroid and thyroid nodules, I hope to God you’ve been tested for Hashimoto’s and if that came back normal, God bless, that’s wonderful news. Let’s really get to the root cause;  test for other autoimmune diseases, look at food sensitivities and look at toxicity. Let’s look at the dysfunction of your gut. But let’s take a close look at your cortisol levels and your sex hormone levels because they work directly with your thyroid.

My team, my staff, was nice enough to scan these awesome pictures in, front and back. I will upload them as photos in the comments. I may not get that done for you today but I promise I will have that uploaded within the next 48 hours so you can see these beautiful flyers that I share with my patients.

Again, please post your comments, please put your questions in, I’m more than happy to answer them. It’s been so fun working with you and the feedback I have gotten from you guys is just overwhelming. This is so fun for me and it’s a topic I’m truly passionate about. I talk about hormones, thyroid, adrenal, all day every day. Detoxification, gut health, but talking about the adrenal gland and cortisol is hands down my favorite topic because it’s up here at the root of it all.



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