The cortisol conversation with your body


heart and stethoscope cortisol thyroid


In tandem with my coaching, I run a practice that treats long-term pain and chronic health problems. These two offerings may, on the surface, seem quite different but in fact they’re very complementary to each other.


People seek coaching for a variety of reasons, it’s usually when they come to a crossroads in their life be it in their career, health, relationships or when reaching milestones – a big birthday is the classic milestone. They’re all stressful situations and long term stress will ultimately be reflected physically in our body.


The connection of our emotional and psychological well being to our physical well being and vice versa, is now a subject for scientific research under the name psychoneuroimmunology or PNI and stress and its physical effects is one of the key areas being studied.


In my work I always ask the question “Why, why did this develop, why did your body decide to create these symptoms, why is your body reacting in this way and on a biochemical level, is this why your hormones are out of balance?”


A treatment that looks at only one aspect of a person is unlikely to suit everyone and a one-size-fits all approach rarely fits anyone. This is why my experience has been across multiple disciplines and therapies, looking at various aspects of a client’s life.


Case in point, I have a patient who has been struggling with a variety of symptoms including low energy but she wakes in the night unable to get back to sleep for many hours. She has a low thyroid [low free T4 and free T3] and off-the-chart cortisol levels in the morning.


Cortisol is best known for its involvement in the “fight-or-flight” response and I’ve been working at a biochemical level to bring her cortisol levels down and support her thyroid function.


Cortisol is produced in your adrenal glands which sit above each kidney. In Chinese medicine each organ is associated with an organ and kidneys are associated with fear, so there’s an ‘energetic’ connection of your kidneys supporting your adrenals. When people are in adrenal exhaustion, it’s important to consider what’s going on for the kidneys.


In a similar way, your thyroid corresponds to your throat chakra. The word chakra translates to wheel and there are 7 main wheels of energy in the body; it represents your ability to communicate and speak your truth.


I wanted to explore the underlying reason why my patient was waking up every night for at least a couple of hours and why her cortisol reached such high levels first thing in the morning. Cortisol is supposed to rise from when you go to sleep to when you wake up but not to the very high levels that were shown in her lab test.


There’s a fine balance between your thyroid and adrenals and how they work together; with this in mind one of the questions I asked was “if you knew what you might be worrying about at night, what might it be?”


After a long, long pause, she ‘knew’.


It’s the unspoken things she doesn’t say to her husband during the day. She never thinks about them during the day because she’s ‘trained’ herself not to think or speak about them… but of course her body was giving her a message, very physical and very present, every night.


It was such a beautiful, amazing moment when she got the insight. Her energy changed, she felt lighter and brighter.


If I’d been just a coach or just a chronic pain specialist I wonder if this patient would have had this break-through, because here’s how I see it; we’re not just our mind or just our body or just a kidney problem or just a behaviour – we are all of these things together. Surely that means that in order to really heal, we need to look at all aspects of ourselves.


So for anyone experiencing health challenges, I would encourage you to dive deep for the insights that your body might be trying to tell you.

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