How the adrenal glands, which produce the stress hormone cortisol, function in people with fibromyalgia
One researcher is calling for doctors to use cortisol treatments for fibromyalgia. Recent studies looked at how the adrenal glands, which produce the stress hormone cortisol, function in people with fibromyalgia. They found that adrenal function is abnormal, and that the abnormality is tied to hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction. The adrenal, hypothalamic and pituitary glands make up what’s called the HPA axis, which is a complex set of interactions that help control your reaction to stress and regulate a lot of bodily functions, including temperature, digestion, immune system and energy. It’s also linked to anxiety disorder, depression and irritable bowel syndrome. The study also showed that treating this dysfunction with cortisol, a hormone, can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life for people with fibromyalgia.
Cortisol and Fibromyalgia
Some researchers believe that fibromyalgia is associated with heart rate variability, HRV, which is an autonomic nervous system (ANS) problem. Loss of normal HRV indicates sympathetic nervous system involvement.
Dr. Roland Staud suggests that “ANS dysfunction as assessed by HRV analysis may serve as a useful biomarker.” Other researchers believe evaluation of HRV during sleep could be a biomarker for fibromyalgia. And yet, other researchers theorize that since the sympathetic nervous system is stuck in overdrive (affecting pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia), drugs that suppress adrenal hormone secretion would decrease pain.
Cortisol wears many hats, check out some of its bigger responsibilities for our symptoms:
>Minimizing inflammation. Keep things like Alzheimer’s, arthritis and diabetes at bay.
>Keeping us alert. Literally to survive, imagine surviving in the wilderness when you hear, “Run! It’s a Bear!” Fight or flight?
>Fighting off fatigue. So you can stay awake through a boring movie.
>Maintaining a healthy metabolism. For energy and to feel good overall
>Balancing blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Avoid blurred vision, heart attack, and stroke – not up in here!
>Preventing brain fog. So you remember you left your kid at Target. Whoops!
>Assisting with cognitive processes. Like learning to tie your shoes and hard wiring memories.
>Helping to develop the fetus during pregnancy. For you know, continuing the human race and stuff.
Taking Control with Meditation
These studies are promising and shed light on the windup phenomenon of fibromyalgia, but it could take years before we have the answers we need. In the meantime, there are things we can do to help ourselves, like meditation. Meditation is free, and minimal effort can yield great rewards.
What Meditation Does
For those of us with fibromyalgia, meditation is a power tool. It gives us a sense of control, which is also important for our mental and emotional well-being. Regardless of the type of meditation, the goal is always the same – to relax our mind and body so healing can take place. Think of it as fuel for the negative feedback loop that allows our body to return to balance.
My co-author, Jeff Miller, PhD, says meditation should be simple and something we enjoy doing every day. It should not be limited by thinking inside the box; rather, quite the contrary. What one-person feels is right for them may not be the same for someone else.
Dr. Deepak Chopra, teacher and world-renowned expert in the field of mind-body healing, decodes five different types of meditation. They are:
Primordial Sound Meditation
Vibrational chants of Om or Aum.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
A form of meditation that allows us to acknowledge our pain, without judging it
A state of focus that the body and mind are connected
A silent technique for instilling inner peace and tranquility without effort or manipulation, allowing our surface thoughts to settle into a deeper sense of rest
A wide range and variety of meditation practices that “guides the body through the use of breath, mantra, mudra (hand position), and focus.”
Possible Side Effects of Cortisol Treatment
Also, it’s important to remember that long-term hormone use carries a wealth of possible side effects, including:
>psychological problems, including depression
>adrenal suppression and crisis
>high blood pressure
Consult your doctor
As always, it is of the utmost importance for any fibromyalgia patient to consult his or her doctor before beginning any new treatment regimen. Because cortisol treatment does require a prescription, you will have to talk to your doctor in order to begin this treatment. Your doctor will help you to weigh all of the pros and cons of this cortisol treatment based upon your personal symptoms and overall health condition.
List of little things we can do to keep your cortisol and fibromyalgia symptoms in check.
For me, the number one factor that determines all things fibromyalgia is planning. Just as we learn to think ahead about pain management by taking vitamins, getting shots and scheduling acupuncture appointments, and how creating a plan to manage our cortisol and fibromyalgia will save us from further pain, frustration and developing additional chronic conditions. Reading the list is step one, setting up reminders or adding them into your calendar is step two.
Bathe in the sunshine.
Treat yourself to a ten-minute daydream, Sit by a window or escape outside.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening.
How about at least most of the time? Especially if you’re already stressed
Enya is still putting out the tunes, guys. Play it all day or take a break and get lost in it. At a nice low volume, of course
Grab your heating pad and a timer. Even just five minutes a day can keep major stress away.
Once a week or once a month, for body and mind relief, I swear by those magic needles!
Nothing too intense for me, I work with light weights and a slow pace.
Eat clean. The more you do it the better you’ll feel. Your body will thank you for not having to work so hard.
Your body has a natural rhythm, just like Enya. Listen to it… Just like Enya.
Consistent sleep schedule
Slow down. Build extra time into your schedule so you have flexibility when things don’t go as planned… so like, always.