Natural cortisol is a stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands of the body. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels and blood pressure, suppresses the immune system, and aids in metabolism. The synthetic form of natural cortisol is often referred to as hydrocortisone. Cortisol and hydrocortisone are steroid hormones that can be used to treat illnesses such as arthritis, skin disorders, and adrenal disorders. Cortisol blockers, used to suppress the effects of natural cortisol, are popularly sold over the counter and marketed to consumers as weight loss or body building supplements.
The adrenal glands are small, triangular shaped endocrine glands located at the top of each kidney. These glands are responsible for producing adrenaline, sex hormones, and the corticosteroids such as cortisol. Like all other biological functions, the adrenal glands can suffer from disorders that keep them from functioning properly. When the glands produce too much of the hormone cortisol, it creates a condition known as Cushing's disease. A lack of sufficient natural cortisol production causes Addison's disease.
The medical community recognizes cortisol and hydrocortisone as effective treatments for many common illnesses and disorders. Hydrocortisone cream is a popular over-the-counter topical ointment used for skin rashes, irritation, and itching. Cortisol supplementation in oral form is prescribed for many reasons, including asthma and arthritis treatment, severe allergy relief, and therapy for other disorders of the body involving the skin, kidneys, eyes, and more. Oral hydrocortisone is also used as a cancer treatment under certain circumstances.
Cortisol blockers are popularly marketed and sold at natural food and vitamin stores. These supplements promote the reduction of natural cortisol. Increased cortisol levels in the body lead to a breakdown of protein or muscle mass. Weightlifters and bodybuilders find this to be undesirable and often utilize these cortisone reducers to suppress the natural effects of the stress hormone. In addition, cortisol interacts with the body's metabolism and can cause increased appetite in an attempt to restock fat reserves. Because of this biological stress response, natural cortisol blockers are also marketed as diet or weight loss pills.
Although there are many cortisol regulators and hydrocortisone creams and suppositories available over the counter, it is best to consult a physician regarding their usage. Overuse or unregulated use of hydrocortisone topicals can cause undesirable side effects such as thinning of the skin, increased facial hair and menstrual problems. Cortisol blockers and reducers are not always recommended by doctors, and it is best to consult a medical professional before beginning any type of weight loss, bodybuilding, or supplementation routine.