Ep. 021 – Cortisol Testing

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Good morning and welcome to Episode 021 of the Train Your Brain Podcast with Dr. Michael Trayford. Every Monday we produce a 30-minute episode. Tuesday through Sunday we produce episodes with five-minute tips. Every episode of the Train Your Brain Podcast features a tip, so you can receive pointers 365 days a year that will help enhance the performance of your brain!

In Episode 021, Dr. Trayford takes the opportunity to teach us about cortisol testing. Cortisol is a hormone whose levels in our bodies correspond to the amount of stress we experience. In most states it is an option for you to test your own cortisol levels throughout the day. Listen to this episode to find out if you could benefit from monitoring and managing this hormone. Join us!

If you have any concerns regarding the information and applications discussed in this podcast, please consult your physician and a doctor who is experienced in functional neurology. Michael Trayford DC, DACNB is available for consultation by calling (828) 708-5274. Thanks for listening.

We have a new category to talk about today. You know we’ll talk about these overarching themes, breathing, sleep, stress, exercise, nutrition and the branches of those categories. So we’re introducing a new category today and that would be diagnostic testing.

These are things that should be looked at, in order to address underlying, metabolic or nutritional issues that will potentially help you build the best brain possible.

So for the first part of our diagnostic testing, we’re going to talk about Cortisol Testing. Are you familiar with cortisol?

Jason: No I’m not actually. I’ve heard the term but that’s all I’ve done.
Right. Cortisol is the one on the radar when people talk about stress and stress response. It’s the main stress hormone released when we have stress responses. So…

There are many other hormones that come into play when we’re dealing with stress. The thyroid is involved the adrenal glands which produces cortisol, is heavily involved. It also produces other hormones.

But Cortisol is the hormone that people think about or comes to mind when people think about the fight or flight response. These responses that are designed to save our lives, if a bear, lion or tiger was coming at us, we need to get away, your muscles contract and your blood goes to certain areas to help you get away from the predator or the danger in your environment.

So stress is a good thing. It really is, but it’s really become a little bit out of whack because our natural predators and things that are designed to come after us, just aren’t there anymore. So what happens now is that we get caught up in the little kind of itty-bitty stressors that pile up throughout the course of the day.

This might be work stressors, family stressors, financial stressors, and environmental stressors. All of these little things create challenges in our brain that causes us to have sustained production of the hormone cortisol. But it happens at much lower amounts than if you were being attacked by an animal or say a Mack truck is coming at you and you need to get out of the way that’s the big burst of cortisol that you need to save your life.

Little tiny drips and drabs of cortisol coming out all the time for these sustained stress responses can be quite damaging to the brain and body. And we can test that, through testing of saliva. Which is in many states this type of testing can be performed. There are a few states where for some reason or another it can’t.

Cortisol testing is a saliva tests, where you take samples throughout the course of the day and just for kind of a quick learning curve here.
When you wake up in the morning, you should have the highest levels of cortisol. Then they decrease, through the course of the day in normal situations.

So what happens it that you wake up and your brain needs to get your body ready for the day. So it produces a lot of cortisol to kind of get you amped up and ready for the day. Then as the day goes on these numbers continue to drop. So by the time you get to sleep at night your system isn’t so amped up.

Jason: Hmmmmm

That’s a perfect world scenario!

Now people have challenges with this where they’re producing spikes of cortisol, later in the when their brain should be ramping down. So that’s not a good thing. We can actually measure this.

Are people having the appropriate spikes in the morning? Are they having the appropriate calming down of those responses in the evening? We can measure any time throughout the day and then deliver nutritional intervention or stress management techniques to help people manage these responses much more efficiently.

Now with other tips, we’ll be talking about how to battle different spikes in cortisol throughout the day. But I just wanted to expose the listeners to the concept of cortisol testing and that these things can be measured, therefore they can be managed more importantly.

Jason: Hmmm…. Okay.

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