Okay, here is an average office visit. “Barbara, I have no energy. My sex drive is gone. I can’t remember where I put my keys half of the time. I am gaining weight even though I don’t eat very much. My digestion is a mess and I think I am losing my mind. How can this happen, I am only 35 years old!”
Now, you may think that all of these symptoms are unrelated and that they might need to see a team of specialists. For me, I just see symptoms of something called the Pregnenolone Steal.
Although it sounds technical, it is nothing more than how our bodies compensate for stress. Normally, our bodies use cholesterol to generate a hormone called Pregnenolone. It’s our “mother” hormone and allows us to generate cortisol needed to respond to stress, make our sex hormones, and control mineral corticoids to keep our blood pressure nice and steady.
Now, if you were in a life and death situation, would you want to stop and have sex or would you do everything you could to run away to save yourself? That is exactly how the body responds. Normally, stress is very short lived. The body releases a little adrenaline to shutdown unimportant processes like digestion and procreation, dilates the eyes so we can see clearly, and sends oxygen to the lungs and energy to the muscles so we can run away. Need to run longer than a few seconds? No worries, the body generates cortisol to release stored sugar.
But what if the stress is long lasting? Our bodies don’t differentiate between spiritual, emotional, or physical stress. Maybe you have vitamin/nutrient deficiency or blood sugar swings. Possibly, an underlying infection? Whatever. The body is stressed and continues to make cortisol. Now if you are using all of your cholesterol/pregnenolone for cortisol, what’s left for hormones or control of sodium levels? Nothing, hence the name. Cortisol steals the Pregnenolone needed for these vital processes.
So that why all the symptoms…
See how it all begins to make sense? Very simply put, if the body is constantly releasing sugar, wouldn’t you expect to weight gain? And since it is more sugar than the body can handle, it probably will be conveniently stored as fat around your waistline. And if we run out of sugar? No worries, we can strip our gut, collagen and muscles to make more. Not thinking clearly? The brain doesn’t like high cortisol levels which can affect our short term memory and reasoning powers. Low sex drive, where are the hormones? Loss of mineral corticoids, hello high blood pressure. And remember, your digestion and nutrient assimilation are on hold.
What more can I expect?
High cortisol levels may lead to insulin resistance, high cholesterol, inflammation of brain tissue, suppression of the immune system, altered thyroid and pituitary function, insomnia, detoxification overload, and unfortunately more.
How do I know if my body is “stealing” from me?
Signs and symptoms combined with a good blood chemistry can tell a lot about the current state of your body and affected systems. Urinary hormone testing can provide definitive information on the state of your adrenals and sex hormones if need be.
Don’t scare me, what can I do?
First, the thing you have most control over is your diet. Remember, it is the medicine you take 3 times per day. Eat to control blood sugar swings to keep cortisol levels low. Find out if you are consuming inflammatory foods. Look for nutrient deficiencies. Determine if you have any underlying infections or if body systems like your thyroid/gut are not up to par.
Finally, try to control emotional and spiritual stress by whatever means work for you, be it surrounding yourself with people that speak to your soul, meditation, exercise, doing whatever it is that you love to do, or just laughing loud and often.