Cortisol is generally referred to as the “stress hormone” because of its connection to the stress response; however, cortisol is much more than just a steroid hormone released from the adrenal glands during stress. Release of cortisol is controlled by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal gland, a combination glands often referred to as the HPA axis.
What Does Cortisol Do?
Most bodily cells have cortisol receptors and it affects many different functions in the body. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure. In women, cortisol also supports the developing fetus during pregnancy. All of these functions make cortisol a crucial hormone to protect overall health and well-being.