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I just got my Androcheck results back. I had the lab test my free Testosterone, DHEA, Cortisol, and Estradial levels. I had a feeling my testosterone levels might be sub-par, but they are actually very good. DHEA and Estradiol levels are just about exactly where I want them too.

My test results did turn up one surprise. My cortisol levels are very low. Anything less than 5.0 ng/ml free cortizol is considered deficient, with optimal levels being between 5.0-15.0 ng/ml. My reading was only 2.7 ng/ml.

I read a little about cortisol, and discovered that it is more common for people to suffer from elevated (greater than 15.0 ng/ml) cortisol levels than from low cortisol levels. Neither condition is good, however.

From the little I’ve read so far, it seems like the most common effect of low cortisol levels is fatigue, and that it’s been discovered that most people with Cronic Fatigue Syndrome are deficient in cortisol. My energy levels have been sub-par for a long time despite being otherwise healthy and in good shape, so perhaps I am onto something here.

Is anyone here an expert on cortisol, or know any natural methods of boosting cortisol production?

Cortisol: The “Stress Hormone”

This critical hormone is released in response to stress.

The hormone cortisol, which is released in the body during stressed or agitated states, has gained widespread attention as the so-called “stress hormone.” But this hormone is more than a simple marker of stress levels- it is necessary for the functioning of almost every part of the body. Excesses or deficiencies of this crucial hormone are also lead to various physical symptoms and disease states.


Cortisol is a steroid hormone made in the adrenal glands, which are small glands adjacent to the kidneys. Among its important functions in the body include roles in the regulation of blood pressure and cardiovascular function as well as regulation of the body’s use of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Cortisol secretion increases in response to any stress in the body, whether physical (such as illness, trauma, surgery, or temperature extremes) or psychological. When cortisol is secreted, it causes a breakdown of muscle protein, leading to release of amino acids (the “building blocks” of protein) into the bloodstream. These amino acids are then used by the liver to synthesize glucose for energy, in a process called gluconeogenesis. This process raises the blood sugar level so the brain will have more glucose for energy. At the same time the other tissues of the body decrease their use of glucose as fuel. Cortisol also leads to the release of so-called fatty acids, an energy source from fat cells, for use by the muscles. Taken together, these energy-directing processes prepare the individual to deal with stressors and insure that the brain receives adequate energy sources.

The body possesses an elaborate feedback system for controlling cortisol secretion and regulating the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream. The pituitary gland, a small gland at the base of the brain, makes and secretes a hormone known as adrenocorticotrophin, or ACTH. Secretion of ACTH signals the adrenal glands to increase cortisol production and secretion. The pituitary, in turn, receives signals from the hypothalamus of the brain in the form of the hormone CRH, or corticotropin-releasing hormone, which signals the pituitary to release ACTH. Almost immediately after a stressful event, the levels of the regulatory hormones ACTH and CRH increase, causing an immediate rise in cortisol levels. When cortisol is present in adequate (or excess) amounts, a negative feedback system operates on the pituitary gland and hypothalamus which alerts these areas to reduce the output of ACTH and CRH, respectively, in order to reduce cortisol secretion when adequate levels are present.

Measurement of Cortisol levels

The body’s level of cortisol in the bloodstream displays what is known as a diurnal variation- that is, normal concentrations of cortisol vary throughout a 24-hour period. Cortisol levels in normal individuals are highest in the early morning at around 6-8 am and are lowest around midnight.

Normal levels of cortisol in the bloodstream range from 6-23 mcg/dl (micrograms per deciliter).

In addition to early morning, cortisol levels may be somewhat higher after meals. While the most common test is measurement of the cortisol level in the blood, some doctors measure cortisol through a saliva sample, as salivary cortisol levels have been shown to be an index of blood cortisol levels. Sometimes by-products of cortisol metabolism are also measured, such as 17-hydroxycorticosteroids, which are inactive products of cortisol breakdown in the liver. In some cases measurement of urinary cortisol levels is of value. For this test, urine is collected over a 24-hour period and analyzed.

Normal 24-hour urinary cortisol levels range from 10-100 micrograms/ 24 hours.

Certain drugs can lead to increased cortisol levels. Examples include the diuretic spironolactone and estrogen hormone therapy. Low cortisol levels can be due to drug therapy with androgens or the anti-seizure medication phenytoin. Highly-trained athletes can have higher-than-average cortisol levels, and women in the last trimester of pregnancy also generally have elevated cortisol levels. Recent research has even shown that drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day can elevate cortisol levels. Likely due to the increased physical and psychological stresses associated with these conditions, persons suffering from depression, anxiety, panic disorder, malnutrition and alcohol abuse also often have elevated cortisol values. Rare tumors of the adrenal glands or pituitary gland can also lead to abnormally high levels of cortisol.

“You see, I don’t want to do good things, I want to do great things.” ~Alexander Joseph Luthor

I know Lewd Ferrigno personally.

Addison’s Disease

Primary problems with the adrenal glands or with the pituitary gland can lead to a condition known as Addison’s Disease, in which the adrenal glands fail to produce adequate amounts of cortisol. This condition occurs in persons of all ages and affects approximately one in 100,000 people per year. Symptoms are fatigue, low blood pressure, weight loss, weakness, loss of appetite, moodiness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The production of other hormones by the adrenal is also often affected, with reduced levels of the hormone aldosterone, which is important for body salt and water balance, often accompanying the reduction in cortisol. This condition can be treated by the administration of synthetic steroid hormone preparations.

“You see, I don’t want to do good things, I want to do great things.” ~Alexander Joseph Luthor

I know Lewd Ferrigno personally.

Re: SSRI’s, 5-HT supplement shown to increase cortisol
Posted by Doomed on July 10, 2002, at 0:00:57

In reply to SSRI’s, 5-HT supplement shown to increase cortisol, posted by Shawn. T. on July 9, 2002, at 18:09:15

I really don’t understand all of that technical jargon. I thought cortisol was good because it helped regulate a stress respone thereby protecting the body and bad because it meant there was a stress response? There are treatments for Addison’s disease (low cortisol) and Cushing’s syndrome (high cortisol) and I haven’t heard of these being beneficial for anxiety and depression not caused by the disorders themselves. Maybe you were referring to just helping with drug side effects? Since drug companies are working on CRF antagonists further upstream of the cortisol they must think that the this intial response may be responsible for some of the misery anyway.

>The fish oil DHEA has been shown to lower cortisol levels by the way (the last link)

I think you’ve confused docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] found in fish oil with dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA] a natural hormone produced by the adrenal glands. DHEA is inexpensive and can be purchased without a prescription just like fish oil.

“You see, I don’t want to do good things, I want to do great things.” ~Alexander Joseph Luthor

I know Lewd Ferrigno personally.

All listings for cortisol on Thunder’s Place.


Seratonin Basics and Links

A Definition of Serotonin: Basics

Pronunciation: `seru’townin

Serotonin: a.k.a 5-HT (abreviation); 5-hydroxytryptamine; enteramine; thrombocytin; thrombotonin; vasostatin.
Definition: Serotonin is an indolamine neurotransmitter.

Structure: 3-(2-aminoethyl)-5-indolamine; C10H12N2O

Serotonin is a(n) indolamine monamine neurotransmitter

Serotonin is involved in:
depression and other affective disorders
migraine headache
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
panic and other anxiety disorders
gastrointestinal function

Synthesis / Termination
Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan which is first hydroxylated to 5-hydroxytryptophan by the rate-limiting enzyme tryptophan-5-hydroxylase. The intermediate is then decarboxylated by the nonspecific aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase to serotonin.
The action of serotonin in the synapse is terminated by diffusion and reuptake at selecteive sites
Most serotonin is degraded by monoamine oxidase through oxidative demamination. Some of the resultant motabolite may oxidized further by a non-specific aldehyde dehydrogenase. The metabolites are then excreted in the urine.
tryptophan - increasing dietary intake of tryptophan can increase serotonin concentrations.
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) - increases action of serotonin by increasing synaptic concentration.

tricyclic anti-depressants non-selectively block monoamine reuptake sites and increases action of serotonin by increasing synaptic concentration.

reserpine - causes depletion from vesicles

Some nice technical and not so technical links for the subject.

Serotonin for Dummies

Serotonin is the brain’s “happy” neurotransmitter. It controls our pain threshold, our sleep patterns, our mental alertness, our desire for fatty foods, and our sense of well being. Low levels of serotonin can cause a disturbance of sleep, increased anxiety and irritability. It can cause loss of libido, lower the amount of pain we can tolerate, cause us to eat more fat, and make us feel generally lousy. Low serotonin levels are the classic and most obvious symptom of Depression

“You see, I don’t want to do good things, I want to do great things.” ~Alexander Joseph Luthor

I know Lewd Ferrigno personally.

“Cortisol levels in normal individuals are highest in the early morning at around 6-8 am and are lowest around midnight.” Supposedly men have more heart attacks in the early morning when it appears Cortisol levels are higher. Maybe Cortisol is the key to this phenomenon.


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