How High Cortisol Cause Psoriasis
Psoriasis sufferers are not the only who might benefit from reading this cortisol related article. Everybody who developed psoriasis or any other chronic health problem after a stressful period or event in his life might found following information very useful.
This article about cortisol and psoriasis will be a little bit difficult to understand completely so you may want to read it twice but I think it is worthy to understand the ideas and evidence presented here in the next lines. Therefore it is written somehow with repeating parts in order to make it easier for you to understand it.
In this article I want to explain to you why absolute high or low cortisol levels do not matter as much as you might think.
Because what really matters is how well or bad the cells respond to cortisol. You may have “low” cortisol on blood tests (or saliva tests if you want) and it may work much efficiently than “high” levels of cortisol in some other person.
The sensitivity of cells to cortisol is what really matters.
I think that unless a person has very low levels of cortisol (like in Addison’s disease) the numbers on the test results are a weak marker of the underlying problem of some chronic disease in any individual.
Psoriasis, Cortisol, Immune System and Autonomic Nervous System
- How do chronic inflammatory diseases start?
- Psoriasis, Autonomic Nervous System and Cortisol
- Is it possible to reverse chronic inflammatory diseases with high success and fast?
- Cortisol – is it bad when it is HIGH or LOW?
- Infections cause cortisol related problems
- Why probiotics do not work?
- Night sweats cause
- Yeast smelling sweat
- PTSD, hypoglycemia, inflammatory diseases, anxiety, panic attacks
I believe that most things you learned about cortisol, chronic inflammation and reversing the health issues are not so.
And I really do not know why so many people who write about the cortisol and inflammatory diseases do not do their homework and instead write incomplete or very general information in their articles.
Most articles are all about high cortisol levels, how it’s bad to have high cortisol levels and what to do to bring them down.
Sure, high cortisol is a big problem but why don’t you say also that many people who are in advanced stages of their diseases have low(er) cortisol levels or at least the body is not very responsive to it?
Would you recommend to lower the cortisol levels for them even more?
Many would disagree and say “yes, because the cortisol levels are high in chronic inflammatory diseases…”.
Well, as I said above, even if the cortisol levels were high in absolute numbers they may still be relatively low compared to something else – maybe the levels of proinflammatory cytokines? TNF-alpha, IL-1,…?
The proof of this is that people with chronic inflammatory diseases are often less prone to catch a cold.
But the research and practical medicine proved that having high levels of cortisol flowing through our bodies would be immunosuppressive.
So, why those affected by chronic inflammatory diseases and “reportedly” high cortisol levels do not catch every infection that goes around?
Sure, those who take methotrexate, ciclosporin or some immunosuppressive biologic drug are prone to serious infections but their immune systems are suppressed with those drugs not by cortisol produced by their own bodies.
The symptoms of excess cortisol
- stretch marks (striae)
- emotional instability
- bursts of anger
- weight gain
- joint pain
How do chronic inflammatory diseases start?
I would recommend you to read my previous post “Adrenal Fatigue Is Bacterial Infection” first. There you will find an explanation why is there so many people with “adrenal fatigue” and what causes it.
But if you want to continue reading this article I will tell you what causes “adrenal fatigue” – it is the endotoxins!
And it does not matter if those endotoxins come from the infected tooth (root canal) or small intestine (due to low bile flow and overall bad digestion).
Yes, the endotoxins which create the strong inflammatory response and mess up (increase) the cortisol production as well.
Bad diet, infections,…
In the beginning there is usually a long term combination of bad diet, nutritional deficiencies, drugs, vaccinations, emotional stress (relationships, job, financial issues), physical stress (sleep deprivation)…
These factors contribute to increase in cortisol production which allows the pathogens to slowly subvert the immune systems of our bodies.
As the infections progress they induce stronger and stronger immune response and inflammation.
And inflammation leads to symptoms of diseases (pain, swelling, redness…), oxidative stress, higher nutritional needs and thick blood (hypercoagulability) which is accompanied with most chronic inflammatory diseases (even though there may be some individuals with thin blood and chronic inflammation).
Inflammation is needed in order to resolve the problem and repair the tissues.
However, due to the fact that pathogens subverted the immune system already the result is usually just a *chronic inflammation* which does not address the real source of problem – usually intestinal infection.
But if the source of a problem is root canal tooth then it is almost impossible for the body to break the vicious circle of chronic inflammation.
I said “almost” impossible because there is a chance in theory (by using antioxidants and other supplements) but who would like to have a deadly rotting tooth stuck in his own jaw?
Once the chronic inflammation was initiated and you developed the symptoms (in case of psoriasis the first plaques appeared) the whole HPA axis, cortisol and Autonomic Nervous System are probably very dysregulated already.
Actually, the increased endotoxin levels in blood, increased cortisol, inflammation and Autonomic Nervous System dysfunction may be present for a long time (often up to a year) until the symptoms like psoriasis plaques appear.
After the prolonged period of leakage of endotoxins to the blood the body may become resistant to cortisol and/or HPA axis is dysregulated to the point that it does not produce enough cortisol – the body may produce less cortisol (“Adrenal Fatigue Is Bacterial Infection”) or the cortisol receptors are unresponsive to it.
This leads to inflammatory response. I am not saying an overactive inflammation because if a lot of endotoxins initiate that inflammation then it can’t be said that inflammatory response is inadequate or overactive.
This is how the body works – endotoxins cause the inflammation.
Then this inflammation leads to oxidative stress and oxidative stress drives more tissue damage and more inflammation.
So how to resolve this chronic inflammation?
- Supplementing the needed vitamins and minerals is the MOST important part. B-complex, lecithin (choline), magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese…
- Take care of endotoxins by supporting the bile flow.
- Kill the stubborn infections in the digestive tract and extraction of dead and heavily infected teeth (root canal teeth).
These infections may cause the Autonomic Nervous System dysfunction.
Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine leads to ammonia production which taxes the liver and poisons the nervous system including the brain!
Intestinal bacterial infections alter the function, production and degradation of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline and noradrenaline which are heavily involved in depression, anxiety, panic attacks, CFS, brain fog, inflammation, nervous and immune system dysfunction,…
That is all so to speak.
Psoriasis, cortisol and inflammation
Even though the most people think that high cortisol is bad they utterly omit the fact that after years of suffering with chronic inflammation and even specific diagnosis like psoriasis the chances they have high cortisol levels are poor.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition and cortisol is a strong anti-inflammatory hormone so having high cortisol levels in psoriasis (which is an inflammatory disease) is logically inexplainable.
Also we should take into the consideration the fact that having high cortisol levels does not necessarily mean the body reacts to it adequately. The receptors in the cells may be downregulated so much that even significantly higher levels of cortisol won’t cool the inflammation enough.
I believe that “cortisol resistance” explains a lot of problems with inflammation we face these days.
Generally it is not about the high cortisol. In most cases it is about the cortisol resistance (so the outcome is the same as in low cortisol) if it has something to do with cortisol.
Cortisol significantly modulates the inflammatory pathways thus affecting the symptoms of chronic inflammatory diseases. And it is not just the diseases we all know about to be explicitly inflammatory like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, Lupus,…
I think that anxiety, panic attacks, hypoglycemia, PTSD, CFS, depression…have a lot in common with cortisol resistance (low cortisol levels). That’s why individual people develop usually more of the inflammatory diagnoses throughout the years.
Hypoglycemia – adrenaline – cortisol connection
Hypoglycemia is present if there are low cortisol levels/cortisol resistance.
In hypoglycemia in turn the adrenaline is released and then cortisol which should take care of adrenaline when the danger (low blood sugar in this case) is over.
But if the body is unable to produce enough cortisol the problem never gets solved and our bodies are just spinning in one vicious circle.
In that circle the excessive amounts of adrenaline make the nervous system unresponsive to its effects and unresponsive nervous system can not balance the HPA axis and hormonal system which cortisol is a part of.
That is why I would focus on blood sugar balance.
Hypoglycemic diet is very important in my opinion because any significant drop in blood sugar makes your body pump the adrenaline into the blood which just makes the problem worse – adrenaline resistance – as mentioned above.
Those with anxiety probably know that drop in blood sugar levels usually worsens the anxiety.
But where did the chronic inflammation start?
The most common causes are these four:
- Bad diet
- Emotional stress
Is there anybody who got sick and wasn’t influenced before by any of those four mentioned above?
Bad diet and antibiotics
Bad diet and drugs (antibiotics) lead to fungal overgrowth, but this is still not generally the worst problem in my opinion.
Sure, the fungal overgrowth leads to chronic inflammation of the intestines and leaking the endotoxins into the blood. This may lead to chronic over-production of cortisol which is never a good thing because you actually starting to abuse this hormone even though it is produced in your own body.
Deficiencies make the body suffer even more because it is unable to perform the basic functions the way it was designed to.
Including the production of hormones and neurotransmitters like cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and all others.
You may want to read my previous post “Subclinical Vitamin Deficiencies and Neurotoxins” which may give you some hints about the common health issues linked to nutritional deficiencies.
The worst thing for health is the emotional stress. Both the chronic emotional stress and acute huge emotionally stressful situation are equally bad.
Both may induce anxiety, depression, PTSD, panic attacks, … which are all nervous system disorders.
But the same emotional stress may induce any chronic inflammatory disease via HPA axis, cortisol resistance, adrenaline resistance,…
In the next picture you may see how psychological (emotional) stress affects the intestinal immunity in rats and mice.
Both of these types of stress – chronic emotional stress as well as acute huge stressful situation – involve the excessive production of adrenaline and cortisol.
Excessive adrenaline production leads to dysfunctional nervous system – bad blood flow (like in Raynaud’s disease, and I believe that also in psoriasis plaques there is an impaired blood flow), anxiety, depression, panic attacks, insomnia, etc…
Excessive cortisol production leads to a profound immunosuppression which allows the (intestinal, root canal) bacteria, yeast and viruses to take over the control.
This is why you suddenly after a stressful period in life develop indigestion (gas, bloating, food sensitivities), rashes, shingles, CFS, anxiety, depression, psoriasis…
A lot of people report that weeks or months after their stressful experience developed night sweats and the sweat smelled like a yeast.
Do you think this is just a coincidence or the intestines are now full of yeasts due to immunosuppression caused by excessive cortisol production?
Moreover, the cells became “resistant” to the effects of cortisol because excessive cortisol production makes the body downregulate (decrease the number of) cortisol receptors.
In research it is a common practice to administer the cortisone acetate (cortisol alternative) to animals before inoculating them with Candida albicans in order to study the experimental candidiasis.
So, are those chronic “autoimmune” diseases induced by stress or something else?
I think that stress induces the production of strong immunosuppressive hormone – cortisol – which makes a way for the pathogens like fungi and latent viruses to spread and progressively deteriorate the health.
The intestinal endotoxins may cause low cortisol production as I suggested in my previous post “Adrenal Fatigue Is Bacterial Infection” published in 2015.
Then the body may end-up with “adrenal fatigue”, low cortisol and excessive chronic inflammation.
Intestinal Bacteria Increase the Cortisol Production
Adrenal fatigue is supposedly linked to cortisol levels imbalances and measuring the cortisol levels whether in blood or saliva as part of assessing the health status is very popular.
But what causes the cortisol release?
Heavy exercise, infections, trauma or emotional stress, sleep deprivation, calorie restriction, coffee and endotoxins of course.
People usually blame low cortisol levels to “fatigued” adrenals but the truth is that the HPA axis including the adrenals is just dysregulated not fatigued. HPA axis is just a series of biochemical reactions and chemistry can not be “fatigued”. Chemistry will work well if there is a balanced amounts of chemicals.
Our genes, nutrition and environment (epigenetics) are responsible for providing the right amounts of chemicals for HPA axis in order to run smoothly and as expected.
High cortisol caused by lipopolysaccharides
Activation of HPA axis by endotoxins is scientifically well documented. The study in 2005 found that endotoxins (LPS – lipopolysaccharides/parts of dead bacteria) cause dose dependent stimulation of cortisol secretion and prostaglandin E2 production by adrenocortical cells. The effects of endotoxins on cortisol release can by attenuated by specific COX-2 inhibitor.
So we’re back to inflammation as cause of cortisol release.
Just so you know – COX-2 inhibitors – is a class of drugs which are very popular today – NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Many of them are OTC drugs so people take them in huge amounts regularly even though they cause bleeding, stomach ulcers, heart attacks, strokes; joint, kidney and liver damage.
So endotoxins increase the cortisol production but what is the effects of cortisol (and other glucocorticoids) on subsequent inflammatory pathways?
Cortisol increases the immune reaction to endotoxins
In another study the researchers tested the effects of cortisol on subsequent delayed (1 day later) immune response to bacterial endotoxins. The 36 human volunteers were divided in 3 groups: controls received 6 hour intravenous infusion of saline solution, another group (Cort80) received the cortisol (as hydrocortison) at dose 6.3 mg/hour/70kg, and the last group (Cort160) received high-dose cortisol (as hydrocortison) at 12.6 mg/hour/70kg on day 1.
One day later the participants were intravenously injected the Escherichia coli endotoxin at 2 ng/kg and subsequently the plasma cytokine levels were measured.
In participants from the group received the cortisol at 6.3 mg/hour/kg the levels of (mostly pro-inflammatory) interleukin-6 were significantly increased compared to the control group and the levels of anti-inflammatory interleukin-10 were significantly suppressed.
The study mentions another data related to glucocorticoids and their pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects. The facts we can learn from this study is that the pretreatment with cortisol profoundly affects the subsequent immune reaction.
Even though glucocorticoids are considered as immunosuppressive in general, the data from this study proved that the effects of glucocorticoids rely on more factors. One is the duration between glucocorticoid pretreatment and introduction of inflammatory stimuli. Another is the dosage of the glucocorticoid.
Low cortisol or why probiotics may not work for dysbiosis?
Because when there is already an inflammation in the intestines then taking the probiotics is like putting them on a frying pan.
Another problem in my opinion is that so little bacteria like there is in a probiotic supplement is not enough to fight off the already settled various pathogenic strains of bacteria (E. Coli, Enterococcus, Streptococcus,…) and yeasts (Candida species).
And what I always mention is that SIBO is a problem on its own – no matter what bacteria there are. Small intestine is not designed to carry as much bacteria as there is in SIBO.
Even probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus species are bad when overgrown in the small intestine because they produce the lactic acid which in high amounts would damage the intestine.
It is all about the balance.
How to get better?
The most important part is to decrease the inflammation.
And what causes the inflammation in the most cases?
So resolving the infections by taking the antimicrobials is very important step in my opinion.
Then there are the additional supplements like galantamine, vitamin D3 and others which may significantly help with inflammation.
Galantamine is one wonder supplement or drug if you want since it is a molecule extracted from plants (usually Lycoris radiata).
I have mentioned galantamine in many of my blog posts but the most important are these four:
- “Galantamine May Cure Psoriasis”
- “Patent Application Published in 2006 Describes Effective Treatment for Many Chronic Diseases”
- “Nervous System Starts and Stops the Inflammation Not Only In Psoriasis”
- “How Ephedrine, Galantamine and Nicotine Treat Inflammation in Psoriasis”
Another strong anti-inflammatory supplement is vitamin D3 which modulates the inflammatory response.
Supplements for chronic inflammation
Essential Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
- B-complex (B-vitamin deficiency may cause significant inflammation)
- Lecithin (contains choline which is a precursor of acetylcholine)
- Artichoke or bile acids (increase the bile flow to decrease the amount of endotoxins leaking into the blood and inducing the inflammation)
Very Effective Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
- Vitamin D3 (this is like an OTC anti-inflammatory hormone, relatively safe)
- Galantamine (one of the most effective supplements out there!)
- Saccharomyces boulardii (probiotic yeast which naturally fights the pathogenic yeast and fungi living in our intestines)
- Colostrum (provides the immunoglobulins which greatly improve antimicrobial defense)
- Essential oils for infections (cassia, oregano, thyme, lemongrass, clove)
General Supplements to Enhance Immunity
Ask Questions in the comments
This was quite a long post so if you had any questions feel free to ask in the comments below.
1) Clancy CJ, Cheng S, Nguyen MH. Animal models of candidiasis. Methods Mol Biol. 2009;499:65-76.- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19152040
2) Jürgen Schulze, PD Dr. and Ulrich Sonnenborn, Dr. Yeasts in the Gut: From Commensals to Infectious Agents. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2009 Dec; 106(51-52): 837–842.
3) Rafael Campos-Rodríguez, Marycarmen Godínez-Victoria, Edgar Abarca-Rojano, Judith Pacheco-Yépez, Humberto Reyna-Garfias, Reyna Elizabeth Barbosa-Cabrera, Maria Elisa Drago-Serrano. Stress modulates intestinal secretory immunoglobulin A. Front Integr Neurosci. 2013; 7: 86.
4) Kvetnanský R, Pacák K, Fukuhara K, Viskupic E, Hiremagalur B, Nankova B, Goldstein DS, Sabban EL, Kopin IJ. Sympathoadrenal system in stress. Interaction with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical system. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1995 Dec 29;771:131-58.
5) Vakharia K1, Hinson JP. Lipopolysaccharide directly stimulates cortisol secretion by human adrenal cells by a cyclooxygenase-dependent mechanism. Endocrinology. 2005 Mar;146(3):1398-402.
6) Yeager MP, Rassias AJ, Pioli PA, Beach ML, Wardwell K, Collins JE, Lee HK, Guyre PM. Pretreatment with stress cortisol enhances the human systemic inflammatory response to bacterial endotoxin. Crit Care Med. 2009 Oct;37(10):2727-32.