HPA Syndrome – Cortisol and DHEA – Regulating Health


Cortisol Image

HPA syndrome results from chronic stress —conversely, chronic stress promotes HPA syndrome—and creates an elevated cortisol-to-DHEA ratio from Pregnenolone Steal, the preferential hormone distribution when the body is under chronic stress. Ultimately, exhaustion of the HPA glands leads to a deficiency of cortisol, DHEA, and other hormones, severely compromising your ability to be healthy and recover from illness.

Cortisol: The primary stress hormone, produced in the HPA cortex.;
Dehydroepiandrosterone, a hormone that is produced by the HPA cortex and is a precursor to many hormones.;
Cortisol-to-DHEA Ratio: When cortisol and DHEA are in the correct ratio—determinable by lab testing—the negative effects of high cortisol/low DHEA are avoided.

The very symptoms and dysfunction caused by HPA insufficiency are in themselves sources of stress!

To understand the cause of HPA exhaustion, let’s consider potential sources and impacts of chronic stress. Chronic stress contributes to HPA exhaustion and can be either clinical (obvious) or subclinical (obscure). The following list of common symptoms and causes associated with HPA exhaustion includes both.

Common Sources and Symptoms Related to HPA Exhaustion

  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Bacterial infections
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Chemical toxicity
  • Craving for sweets
  • Depression
  • Difficulty building muscle
  • Digestive disorders
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Dry and thin skin
  • Electromagnetic radiation damage
  • Exhaustion
  • Excessive hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Food allergies
  • Fungal infections
  • General pain
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Heavy metal toxicity
  • Heavy mental fatigue
  • Heavy physical fatigue
  • Immune deficiency
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Indigestion
  • Inflammation
  • Inhalant allergies
  • Irritability
  • Joint pain
  • Liver disorders
  • Low body temperature
  • Low blood pressure
  • Mold toxicity
  • Mood swings
  • Pancreatic disorders
  • Parasitic infections
  • PMS
  • Poor memory
  • Sinus problems
  • Sleep disorders
  • Viral infections
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain in the hips and waist

The Many Roles of Cortisol and DHEA
The importance of healthy cortisol and DHEA levels to your well-being cannot be exaggerated. Too much cortisol can literally burn up the cells of the body; insufficient cortisol production can slow or stall critical processes. What is a healthy cortisol level? Simply put, a healthy level is an adequate amount required to optimally run all the bodily functions under its control. Cortisol and DHEA are produced in the HPA glands under the stimulation of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which is produced by the pituitary gland. The pituitary resides close to the brain, taking all of its cues from the brain’s powerhouse, the hypothalamus.

Your nervous system responds to stress by releasing ACTH to stimulate the production of cortisol and DHEA. Interestingly, this occurs regardless of the source of stress. Your body responds to stress in the same way, whether you’re being chased by a bear or harboring a parasitic infection in your small intestine. Despite the important function of ACTH, when stress becomes chronic in nature, ACTH is constantly released and, as a result, overstimulates and fatigues the HPA glands.

Think of it this way: ACTH acts on the HPAs like a jockey whipping a horse to make it run faster. If the jockey ignores the signs that the horse is fatigued and continues to whip the horse, the horse will keep running until it collapses in total exhaustion, if not death. Unfortunately, you can expect the same result if you have chronic stress that is out of control.

The influence upon your critical body processes is demonstrated in this chart of the physiological aspects of cortisol and DHEA.

Click to enlarge (PDF)

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