Cortisol: Know Your Facts!
Last week, we discussed the fight-flight-freeze syndrome – why it exists, and how trauma and stress can become stuck in the body. One hormone that starts this chain reaction is cortisol. Let’s talk a little more about cortisol, and how massage and Reiki can help you manage your cortisol levels.
Cortisol is released from your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys. Nearly every cell in your body contains a cortisol receptor. That means that cortisol can have an effect on nearly every one of your body’s functions. It helps regulate blood sugar and metabolism, it helps reduce inflammation, and it helps regulate the salt-water balance, among other functions. Frequently, we associate cortisol with negative connotations, but it’s there for a reason. Some cortisol is a very good thing!
The problem comes when we produce too much cortisol, and when we produce it all the time. This keeps us stuck in sympathetic mode – the nervous system function that kicks in when we’re experiencing an emergency. Over time, one can develop Cushing Syndrome, categorized by weight gain and high blood pressure.
According to a 2005 study led by Dr. Tiffany Field, massage has been proven both to lower cortisol and to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine, the “happy hormones.” So if you’re pretty sure you’ve been experiencing high levels of cortisone in your body, maybe it’s time to engage in some good self-care through massage and Reiki to bring yourself back into balance.
Be well, happy and whole!