Cortisol Booster, Anyone?
If you or anyone you know is having fibromyalgia, the chances are that you are low on your cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands; it regulates various bodily processes including metabolism, blood pressure, salt and water balance, and immune response.
A study in York University has suggested that the regular practice of yoga contributes to healthy levels of cortisol in women with fibromyalgia. The principal author of the study, Kathryn Curtis describes that the women with fibromyalgia produce less cortisol during stress than healthy people. This lower-than-average cortisol levels in women cause chronic pain,
fatigue, and stress sensitivity.
But the good news is you can control cortisol levels by practicing yoga. She explains that the participants’ saliva revealed elevated levels of total cortisol after a regular yoga program, which balances the “hyothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA),” and in turn help regulate cortisol secretion. With the increase in cortisol levels, the women reported less pain and significant psychological benefits. They felt more empowered and less helpless.
Source: Kathryn Curtis, Anna Osadchuk, Joel Katz. An eight-week yoga intervention is associated with improvements in pain, psychological functioning and mindfulness, and changes in cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia. Journal of Pain Research, 2011; : 189 DOI: 10.2147/JPR.S22761