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role of stress and cortisol in muscle and bone deterioration?

by 40 · June 11, 2012 at 06:11 AM

After years of a mystery illness that came on after prolonged severe stress I'm trying to find out about the role of cortisol in it and if there's anything I can do to improve where I'm up to now.

My illness included fatigue and severe muscle pain. Tests by a paelo style nutritionist showed I was breaking down muscle tissue like a person with autoimmune disease would. I also tested with low bone density. I followed the nutritionists instructions for a couple of years and my overall health and bone density has improved. I was told to eat meat and fat with every meal, supplement with protein shakes (because I was breaking down muscle and bone), supplement with multi-vits (no calcium).

I find mainstream doctors and specialists have struggled with the idea that good nutrition could help me but it has. My specialist tried to explain away my "statistically significant" bone density improvement and was alarmed that I hadn't been supplementing with calcium.

Anyway, I still get muscle pain but most of the time less severe. It is always bad first thing in the morning and tends to abate during the day if I do nothing to aggravate the muscles. Its always been worst early in the day and when I was very sick and in a lot of pain I had a lot of trouble getting sleepy at night and sleeping through the night. This makes me thing cortisol may play a part.

My questions are:

  1. Can I do something to regulate my cortisol levels?
  2. I still stress too easily and instead of stressing gradually I just elevate really quickly. Is there any way to slow my body's reaction to stress in the moment of the stress?

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3 Replies

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160 · June 10, 2012 at 01:57 PM

What kind of pain do you have? Are your muscles tight and once you get moving you feel fine?

Anyway if you are not going to get the tests, you might try "Cortisol Manager" by Integrative Therapeutics and high quality Magnesium supplement (both before bed). You could also take some Xiao Yao Wan, a safe and cheap Chinese Herbal formula basically for stress.

Get some sun during the day, take some walks daily, and try some light stretching (like gentle yoga or tai chi).

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4395 · June 10, 2012 at 02:32 AM

Have you tested your cortisol levels tested? Seems like that's the best place to start.
The four sample in a day saliva test is more comprehensive than a blood draw, although blood tests are good for first thing in the AM as well (most labs have two reference ranges for cortisol, ~ 8AM and then early afternoon).

Many people are low in the AM or at noon and high in the PM (opposite of what should occur) Bezwecken makes a product product called Isocort - a plant derived cortisol - and its very, very helpful for low cortisol levels. There are also supplements that help to lower PM levels when they are too high and messing with sleep.

Regarding the reactivity you describe, it may or may not have anything to do with cortisol levels... best to test first.

Good luck

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40 · June 11, 2012 at 06:11 AM

I've been continuing my research since posting my question. I suspect I may have adrenal fatigue and high cortisol but am cautious about it as well seeing as there are no recent tests to back that up. I've looked into treatments both to regulate cortisol and help reduce stress.

It seems interfering in any way with cortisol production could be dangerous without a doctors guidance as getting cortisol levels too low could be life threatening.

I'm wondering for thoughts on treatments that reduce stress. Surely they are safer and when stress is reduced cortisol would reduce naturally? Although I wonder if one is suffering from adrenal fatigue can your body rebalance cortisol and DHEA production once stress is lowered? I am curious about this topic as I know my body has retained a certain level of stress years after the stressors have been removed. I'm not sure how much faith to have in the body being able to recover even if conditions are right...

I know its a long shot looking for such specific answers here but the answers I've already received have given me some useful leads to follow up. All thoughts welcome. :)

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