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Please help me understand . . .

Nicole's Mom

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I know that cortisol has been discussed here and there but I am completely confused as to what it is. I'm learning about adrenaline - I think I'm getting that straight-at least (I think I am) that hypovolemia causes the body to spurt out adrenaline because I see Nicole all adrenaline-y lots of times and I know it's worse when she's most dehydrated. Now I'm trying to research licorice and I keep coming across references to cortisol but nothing ever defines what it is. I can't seem to put it into any context. It would help me a lot in my research if I could understand what cortisol is and what is its function in a normal body. Also is there any relationship between adrenaline and cortisol????

Thank you,


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Cortisol is a hormone released by the pituitary/adrenals

here's info from Medline/NIH:


Why the test is performed

Cortisol levels are often measured to evaluate the pituitary and adrenal function.

Normal Values

Normal values at 8 a.m.are 6 to 23 mcg/dl. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories.

Note: mcg/dl = micrograms per deciliter

What abnormal results mean

Greater than normal levels may indicate:

* Adrenal tumor

* Cushing's syndrome

* Ectopic ACTH-producing tumors

Lower than normal levels may indicate:

* Addison's disease

* Hypopituitarism

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

* Acute adrenal crisis

* Ectopic Cushing's syndrome

* Pituitary Cushing's (Cushing's disease)


Special considerations

Cortisol is a steroid hormone released from the adrenal cortex in response to ACTH. Normally, cortisol levels rise and fall during the day, repeating on a 24-hour cycle (diurnal variation). Highest levels are at about 6 to 8 a.m. and lowest levels are at about midnight.

Physical and emotional stress can increase serum cortisol, because a normal response to stress involves increased secretion of ACTH by the pituitary gland.

Update Date: 2/2/2004

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