Cortisol Decoded – Ben Greenfield Podcast Feat: DR. Craig Coniver

Cortisol Decoded – Ben Greenfield Podcast Feat: DR. Craig Coniver

Cortisol Decoded: The Myths & Truths About A Hormone Crucial To Your Health & Survival.

Affiliate Disclosure

what is cortisol

Let’s face it: cortisol gets a bad rap these days.

“I have high cortisol.”

“I have low cortisol.”

“My cortisol it out-of-whack.”

You’ve no doubt heard this all before or said it yourself. So in an effort to decode cortisol once and for all, I decided to feature a wildly popular previous guest of mine—the guy who personally helps me and my wife manage our own hormones and has helped countless listeners of mine with their own anti-aging and natural hormone management protocols.

His name is Dr. Craig Koniver.

Dr. Koniver was a guest on the episode “How To Get Your Own Vitamin and NAD IVs, The Truth About Umbilical Stem Cells, Peptide Injections & Much More With Dr. Craig Koniver.

He has been practicing performance medicine for over 18 years and is the founder of Koniver Wellness in Charleston, South Carolina. Not satisfied with the disease-based model of modern medicine, Dr. Koniver seeks to help his clients optimize their health and performance through time-tested, nutrient and science-driven protocols that are the cutting-edge of medicine. He is the founder and creator of the patent-pending FastVitaminIV® as well as re-engineering the NAD+ IV protocols, now called Brain Refuel™.

Dr. Koniver’s client list includes Navy SEALs, NFL players, PGA golfers, Hall of Fame NHL players, world-class professional athletes, Fortune 100 Executives, and well-known celebrities and TV personalities. In addition, Dr. Koniver offers a comprehensive training program of the Koniver Wellness Model to physician practices across the country.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

-What is cortisol? 5:32

  • Hormone secreted by adrenal glands
  • Not enough attention is given to cortisol in the medical field
  • “Stress hormone” — fight or flight response
    • It is secreted in response to any real or perceived threat or stressor
  • We’re hard-wired to have high cortisol in the am, and low in the evening
  • Rhythm vs. volume is key
  • Acute hormone; ex. being chased by a lion
    • Turns off pain recognition
    • Anti-inflammatory
  • Catabolic hormone — wear and tear
  • We’ve changed cortisol from an acute to a chronic hormone
  • Key takeaway: try to find meaningful ways to live w/ the sun’s rhythm
  • Lowest levels are at around 10 pm; allows anabolic hormones testosterone, growth hormone, and melatonin to elevate
  • Most critical hours of sleep are 10 pm – 2 am
    • It takes melatonin 12 hours to reset
    • Later (or no) sun exposure means melatonin levels peak later, leading to loss of sleep quality

-How cortisol is secreted…13:37

  • Perceived stressors (most often subtle in modern times)
  • Primitive part of the mid-brain, above the spinal cord
  • Reticular Activating System (RAS) triggers release of cortisol
  • Signal sent to locus ceruleus (one of the most connected parts of the brain)
  • Signal sent to hypothalamus, to pituitary, then to adrenal glands
  • Norepinephrine and cortisol are “partners in crime”; released along w/ cortisol
  • Pituitary responsible for all signaling molecules
  • We stop releasing cortisol, and have surplus of norepinephrine
  • We release an average of 35 g of cortisol per day
  • Irregular sleep patterns (night shift workers) lead to chronic health problems later in life

-How cortisol imbalances affect our lives…20:12

  • Our brains cannot differentiate between perceived and real stressors
  • Visualizing a success (or a failure) will trigger cortisol secretion
  • “I can’t wait to wear that outfit” is much more effective than “I’m way too big…”
  • RAS helps distinguish background and foreground in our world
  • Buy a red truck, all of a sudden you see a bunch of red trucks on the roads
  • What you put your attention is what you’re going to get in your life
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-How cortisol gets disrupted…25:40

  • Humans are “super-adaptors”; we can tolerate stressors over a long period of time
  • Modern tech can disconnect us from the sun, circadian rhythm, and cortisol flow
    • We release cortisol at night when we look at TV, phones, etc. at night
  • We tolerate stressors for years and decades, but it eventually catches up with us
    • It will eventually blunt the anabolic hormones (testosterone, growth hormone, melatonin)
  • We lose sleep quality, take longer to heal injuries, workouts are more challenging, etc.
  • Gold standard to test adrenal function: salivary cortisol test
    • Salivary is far less stressful than a blood draw (hence more accurate results)
  • We rely on stimulants such as coffee and prescription drugs, rather than address the issue of disrupted cortisol flow

-Why cortisol is such a hot topic in modern society…37:40

  • Acute stressor triggers cortisol
  • Over time, cortisol has become a chronic hormone, rather than an acute hormone
    • We’ll never be chased by a lion in the jungle
    • We trigger cortisol response w/ everyday stressors
    • Chipping away at cortisol release over time
    • We can’t keep up w/ cortisol demands; lose cortisol reserve
  • Major stressor (loss of job, death in the family, etc.) causes a breakdown when cortisol levels have been chronically disrupted
    • Cancer, autoimmune disease, etc. occur with this breakdown
    • Many fear cancer, other serious illnesses
    • Best way to prevent disease: take care of cortisol levels
  • Be aware of indicators of low cortisol levels: poor sleep, longer than usual recovery times, etc.

-The key element regarding cortisol missed by conventional medicine practice…43:13

  • Adrenal fatigue and insufficiency doesn’t exist in conventional medicine
  • Two extremes in conventional medicine: Cushing’s disease, and Addison’s disease
    • Cushings: too much cortisol secretion
    • Addisons: not enough cortisol is produced
    • There’s a gray area; it’s not simply black and white
  • As cortisol levels are disrupted, norepinephrine levels increase
    • Increased heart rate
    • Increased blood pressure
    • This feels like anxiety
    • Consider visiting a doctor knowledgeable in this as you may have lost control of the cortisol buffer
  • Study in the Netherlands on men over 50 who ran marathons vs. men who didn’t run marathons
    • Men who ran marathons suffered more heart attacks (due to overtraining)
    • Positive exercise can still be a stressor, releasing cortisol
  • Recovery is key to being an elite athlete

-How cortisol interacts with other hormones in the body…49:30

  • Hormones are like kids w/ differing personalities
    • Cortisol is the neighborhood bully
    • High insulin levels and cortisol lead to weight gain (cut carbs in the morning)
  • Abnormal cortisol modulation affects thyroid levels deleteriously
    • Be aware of your adrenal status if you’re on thyroid hormone replacement
  • An imbalance of cortisol and testosterone inhibits muscle production
  • Growth hormone depletion leads to brain fog, weight gain, etc.

-How to effectively modulate cortisol…56:52

  • Tests:
  • Adrenal glands are like a factory producing hormones: cortisol is the goal, but we need to make the other hormones
    • Cortisol imbalances lead to depletion of other hormones
  • Pregnenolone is made from cholesterol; low cholesterol levels affects cortisol production
  • Number 1 risk factor for cancer for men is low testosterone; cortisol will help optimize health
  • Having a cortisol reserve enables us to handle and tolerate stress, thus preventing cancer, autoimmune disease
  • Behaviors to normalize cortisol levels (deliberate contemplative exercise)
    • Meditation, prayer, reading
    • Activate parasympathetic system, turn off sympathetic system
    • Meditation is not the only means of managing stress
  • Adaptogenic herbs:
  • Critical nutrients:
  • Peptides: (use code: BEN2020 at check-out to get a 15% off of products and phone consult)
    • Hexarelin
    • Epithalon
    • Ipamorelin
    • GHRP 6 and GHRP 2
  • Intranasal and intravenous stem cells
  • Hydrocortisone replacement (don’t surpass 35 mg per day)
  • Phosphatidylserine (100-300 mg)
  • Ashwagandha (use at bedtime – 300 – 3000mg)
  • Glycine (great for the liver, 1000-5000 mg at bedtime)
  • CBD (bedtime)

-Closing thoughts…1:14:42

  • Good correlation between HRV and cortisol; collect morning and evening times
  • Cortisol helps be your best cognitively
  • If you’re feeling tired, stressed and anxious, check your cortisol levels

-And much more…

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

Koniver Wellness ( use code: BEN2020 at check-out to get a 15% off of products and phone consult)

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