Cortisol: Are you getting your morning cup

Cortisol Equates To Your Body's Vitality

Cortisol is the body's cup of Joe    

Cortisol enjoys mornings    

Cortisol in moderation is healthy

A steroid, cortisol supports metabolic processes in times of need. It follows a pattern like our sleep pattern. When stabilized, it promotes healthy responses in our body.

"Like my grandfather, and other ranchers, cortisol loves mornings."

Cortisol is our innate alarm clock and responds well to day break. Before waking, it is secreted in response to energy needs. In fact, about 58% of daily cortisol needs are, ideally, secreted in the morning (1). Not well known in the conventional medical community, any deviation from the normal output at any time of day can indicate negative, health concerns. Upon waking we should feel energetic and ready to take on our day. Much like our morning coffee, cortisol offers a biological and psychological boost. However, if you are not feeling it and going for that extra shot of espresso during the day, then likely there is an underlying health issue which has consequences if gone unchecked.

We have two systems in our body that help govern "Get up and go" and "Relax and rejuvenate". These are known as the Sympathetic (SNS) and Parasympathetic (PSN) Nervous System; fight or flight and rest and digest, respectively. Cortisol is produced in response to SNS stimulation. Therefore, it is part of our biochemical ability to handle stressors and insults, offering physiological protection, and aiding in appropriate responses. As mentioned it elevates in the morning in response to our body's needs, raising blood sugar for energy. Signaling epinephrine for increased alertness. Also, helping in suppressing unneeded hormones like melatonin. In times of excess stress and insults cortisol is an anti-inflammatory and natural pain killer. Yes, cortisol can put a smile on your face. If you are reading and wondering where your smile is...don't worry read on.

Like my grandfather, and other ranchers, cortisol loves mornings. Output begins to decrease around noon, but keeps a relaxed level until sundown, and then it enjoys an early bedtime. It does not appreciate staying up past 10 p.m. Your body will pay for it if cortisol is asked to stay awake with you. The largest drop in cortisol happens by noon preferably. With an incremental drop from noon to about 5 p.m. As the sun sets cortisol goes from all-out effort at sunrise to chill-axing at night. This is if everything is ideal. That grandfather pattern during the day is crucial to our health. Remember, cortisol is an anti-inflammatory and natural pain killer. If there is a physical injury, this can keep cortisol elevated at times that it should be suppressed. Also, if you are feeling sluggish and fatigued throughout the day, this could be a result of hidden insult, raising cortisol. An insult says, "Hey SNS, you've been insulted, respond, get cortisol". When PSN tries to signal rest and digest, cortisol can be that annoying neighbor keeping you from relaxing and rejuvenating and inhibiting rebuilding. Cortisol, when balanced, has a diurnal pattern that follows our normal active and rest pattern (2). As mentioned above, any deviation from normal cortisol output, or suppression, can be a marker of a deeper health issue. Timed cortisol measurements throughout the day can help uncover how insulted or stressed your body is. In fact, relative elevations can provide clues to why there is the trip shot in the afternoon, why you are having sleep issues at night, or why that donut sounds amazing in late afternoon.

"Chronic cortisol production a problem".

You can see now that cortisol is a responder to stress. It's that friend that loves to help but doesn't know it's own passion. It isn't cortisol's fault, it was raised by an enabler. Our brain is not as smart as you think, no pun. The part of the brain that receives signals of stressors cannot ascertain the severity of the stress; to the brain, stress is stress. The stress can be perceived, emotional, chemical, physical, poor diet, over exercise, infections, alcohol, toxins, allergies, artificial foods, etc. The overseer of cortisol has no coping mechanisms. It just yells for cortisol anytime there is an insult. Now, think. Reflect. Pause... Dig deep and ask how healthy is your diet, how much are daily responsibilities affecting you, how many chemicals are you exposed to each day, are there persistent physical injuries, are there food sensitivities, chronic sleeplessness? The list can continue. The point? We are under countless insults and stressors a day. Our body does not file small ones away for later, it does not prioritize stressors, it just fights. We are inundated with stress and most of us suffer from chronic cortisol secretion.

"...cardiovascular mortality has been linked to hyper-cortisol levels..."

Chronic cortisol production is a problem. It suppresses key immune fighters like Secretory IgA, lowering our body's defense mechanisms greatly. It suppresses body building hormones like dehydroepiandrosterone, the most abundant steroid in the body and is critical for Estrogen and Testosterone synthesis. Linked to malnutrition by slowing down gastric emptying and digestion. Counteracts melatonin, disrupting sleep. And, sadly, when helping too much for too long causes system breakdown, down regulates our thyroid, liver, and other crucial organs. Cortisol dysregulation can be linked to chronic disease like cardiovascular disease, depression, digestive problems, infections, low thyroid, ADD/ADHD, diabetes, weight gain, even auto-immune disorders and migraines.

Cortisol dysregulation is a sure-fire indication that health is fading. In fact, cardiovascular mortality has been linked to hyper-cortisol levels causing damage to the cardiovascular system (3). Subclinical signs to look out for are: 1) worsening blood pressure, 2) persistent fatigue, 3) depression, 4) digestive issues, 5) inability to lose weight, 6) cravings, 7) lowered concentration, 8) headache, 9) hyperlipidemia; among a slew of others. Moreover, investigating the specific diurnal rhythm of cortisol can point to hidden insults like pathogen overgrowth, infections, environmental sensitivities, chemical or toxin exposure, as well as much ignored food sensitivities.

Cortisol testing is a fundamental approach used by qualified practitioners worldwide. A simple saliva test assesses one's metabolic stress response, determines future health risk, uncovers system dysfunctions, uncovers clues to other health issues, and helps direct a successful health protocol. Alchemy de Nova utilizes the most recent scientific approaches to cortisol testing. Included in an 8-hormone measurement are:

  • Cortisol x6; including Cortisol Awaking Response
  • DHEA-S (Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate)
  • Estradiol
  • Estriol
  • Estrone
  • Progesterone
  • Testosterone
  • Melatonin provides the utmost detailed investigation available, concise education of results, dedicated consulting, and effective protocols. is here for you.


  1. Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Reference Range; 2017

  2. Replication of Cortisol Rhythm: New advances in hydrocortisone replacement therapy. Chan S, Debono M: Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jun; 1(3): 129-38

  3. Urinary Cortisol: Six Year Risk of All Causes & Cardiovascular Mortality. Vogilzangs, et al., The Jour of Clin Endocrin & Met 2010; 95 (11): 4959-4964


Sean Merrick