Problems with Low Cortisol

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 12/03/2023

Have you ever wondered why you're tired, edgy, or battling belly fat that won't budge? The culprit might be a hormone called cortisol. When cortisol levels are imbalanced, it can cause significant disruption to the body and mind.

Cortisol's main gig is to help us handle stress. What transpires when there's a deficiency of it? Think about running a car without oil—it ain’t work well for long!

In the following few paragraphs, we'll deeply dive into the problems linked with low cortisol levels—everything from increased inflammation and weakened immunity to memory issues and trouble regulating Vitamin D.

We’ll even discuss how medical interventions like cortisone can provide relief. The universe is about to get fascinating. Ready to dive deep into the fantastic world within us?

Let's explore how understanding our body better can guide us toward healthier choices. So, hold tight because we're embarking on an enlightening journey through your inner landscape.

Understanding Cortisol and Its Role in the Body

Cortisol, sometimes called the 'pressure hormone,' is essential to our physical systems. Produced by your adrenal glands, it helps manage how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

This hormone also regulates blood pressure and increases your body's glucose metabolism. It controls the sleep/wake cycle, too.

Here's where things get interesting: cortisol is crucial for maintaining an immune response after an illness or injury because it acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Think of it like this – imagine you're playing football and twist your ankle badly.

The swelling? That’s inflammation trying to protect that area, but it can cause more harm than good if left unchecked. This is where cortisol steps up its game. But what happens when levels are low? Stick around - we'll explore that next.

The Consequences of Low Cortisol Levels

Low cortisol levels can trigger a host of health issues. One surprising effect is increased belly fat. You might think it's about too many late-night snacks, but your cortisol could be the real culprit.

The Link Between Low Cortisol Levels and Inflammatory Conditions

Cortisol serves as a hormone in our bodies that helps to combat inflammation. When levels dip, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis can flare up. It's like having an internal fire extinguisher run out of foam.

Impact of Low Cortisol Levels on Immunity

Your immune system needs cortisol to keep functioning well. Studies show that low levels may make you more susceptible to sicknesses and autoimmune problems - like leaving your front door open with a welcome sign for germs.

Bone loss and high blood pressure are also linked with low cortisol levels, according to EndocrineWeb. It seems this underestimated hormone wears many hats in our bodies.

The Concept of Cortisol Resistance

Cortisol resistance is a tricky beast. Much like insulin resistance, it's when your body's cells won't listen to cortisol anymore.

Ever tried talking to a teenager with headphones on? That’s what we're dealing with here. Your body produces cortisol, but the cells don’t pick up on it.

This happens after long periods of stress or high cortisol levels in your system. The result? Low cortisol levels and all sorts of health problems that come along for the ride.

Medical Interventions for Low Cortisol Levels

When cortisol levels dip too low, it can bring many health issues. Medical treatments are available to help restore balance when cortisol levels drop too low.

Cortisone and prednisone often come into play in these situations. They're typically prescribed when dealing with skin rashes, allergies, itching, asthma, or arthritis - all conditions where inflammation is the primary concern.

The reason behind this? These drugs mimic the anti-inflammatory effects of cortisol. Cortisone effectively reduces inflammation and suppresses immune system activity.

Prednisone works similarly but has more potential side effects. Therefore, its use is usually reserved for severe cases or other failed treatments.

The Psychological Impact of Low Cortisol Levels

Low cortisol levels can significantly affect our psychological health. One central area it impacts is stress tolerance. Usually, cortisol helps us manage stressful situations by regulating the 'fight or flight' response.

But this natural coping mechanism gets thrown off balance with low cortisol levels. You might be more easily agitated and feel on edge in circumstances that wouldn't typically faze you.

Stress-related effects on the body can further exacerbate these feelings.

The Role of Cortisol in Memory Function

Cortisol also plays a vital role in memory function – particularly the consolidation of memories for long-term storage (McEwen & Sapolsky 1995). With insufficient amounts of this hormone, your ability to remember may suffer.

This isn’t just about forgetting where you left your keys; chronic low cortisol levels could lead to significant issues like impaired learning and recall capacity.

How Low Cortisol Levels Affect Vitamin D Regulation

You might be wondering how low cortisol levels impact vitamin D regulation. Well, the connection is more profound than you may think. It all comes down to hormonal balance and interplay.

Cortisol, often called our "stress hormone," regulates various body functions, including inflammation control and immune response. However, its reach extends further into controlling other hormones, such as Vitamin D.

A dip in cortisol can cause a ripple effect on your vitamin D levels. This is because when your cortisol level goes south, it disrupts the delicate balance of calcium metabolism, which depends heavily on sufficient vitamin D levels.

Research suggests that those with lower-than-normal cortisol are at risk for decreased ability to absorb and utilize this vital nutrient.

The result? An increased likelihood of developing conditions linked to low vitamin D, like bone loss or weakened immunity – quite a hefty price to pay.

Ketogenic food

Cortisol Level and Keto Diet

The keto diet, low in carbohydrates and high in fats, has been studied for its potential impact on cortisol levels. Some proponents suggest that the keto diet may help lower cortisol, the body's primary stress hormone.

When carbohydrate intake is drastically reduced, as in a ketogenic diet, the body enters a state of ketosis, primarily burning fat for fuel.

This shift in fuel source may lead to stabilized blood sugar levels and reduced insulin spikes, which could potentially help regulate cortisol release, as cortisol is closely connected to blood sugar fluctuations.

However, it's essential to note that more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between the keto diet and cortisol levels, and individuals considering this dietary approach should consult with a healthcare provider for personalized guidance on how to lower cortisol and its potential impact on their health.


Understanding cortisol's role in your body is a game-changer. This crucial hormone can cause many health problems when its levels drop too low.

Problems with low cortisol levels are wide-ranging, from increased belly fat and high blood pressure to bone loss and inflammatory conditions. Even memory issues could crop up!

Cortisol resistance might seem obscure, but it's genuine—and has severe implications for your overall well-being.

Thankfully, medical interventions exist that can help address these problems. And remember—your mental state plays a big part, too!

How you handle stress matters; awareness of this link is half the battle won. With knowledge comes power—the power to make healthier choices for yourself!

Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan