As we age, the levels of most of our hormones tend to decline. However, this is not the case for cortisol.
Cortisol is our body's stress hormone which is predominately released from the adrenal glands. When we become stressed, whether that be emotional, physical or any one of the many stressors including hunger, exposure to colds, aches and pains, toxicity, medication, stimulants - to name a few, our blood cortisol, measured in n/Mols, increases.
Several studies have indicated that cortisol concentrations have been found to increase after midlife, which could be the answer to much of the degradation we call the 'ageing process.
Chronically elevated cortisol in older adults is linked to increased risk of chronic disease and mortality. Superficially higher cortisol readings over a prolonged period also start to damage the skin and the hair.
Thankfully, there is much we can do, which include;
- meditation and relaxation techniques
- green drinks
- Omega-3 intake
- Magnesium baths
- Vitamin C and Vitamin B12
- Various blends of ginseng
- Improve blood sugar management
- Regulation of insulin levels
However, a recent discovery can directly impact and mitigate prolonged high cortisol's effect on the skin and hair. In a recent study, 72% of participants who took a Lychee-Green tea extract had a noticeable decrease in fine lines and reported hair growth and thickness improvements.
What Is Cortisol
As with all hormones in our body, we need this one as much as the rest. The only problem is that we have become imbalanced with excessive amounts of cortisol in our bodies in the current day world. The balance of cortisol can be disrupted very quickly. The consequences can include becoming stressed and wired in which we struggle to switch off, or progressively we tend to move into becoming stressed and tired in which we struggle to wake; we have little energy throughout the day. We may become so tired that we force the body to work by using caffeine or other stimulants.
Cortisol is our body's natural pain killer as its released from the adrenal gland along with a varying blend of epinephrine and norepinephrine. The consequences of having excess amounts are linked to an inability to lose body fat which is why here at GSquared, we always want to test the cortisol balance with our members and clients. In addition, biomarkers such as blood pressure, blood lipids, and heart rate can all be affected for the worse and suppressed immunity and increased catabolism - the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Enzymes that control cortisol activity can be found in the skin; with higher cortisol, a key enzyme known as 11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase -1 (11 - beta-HS1) increases which triggers more activation of the cortisol to create damage to the skin cells. The elevated cortisol, therefore, contributes to thinning skin and a decreased ability to make new skin cells and inhibit collagen synthesis.
The same applies to hair. The chronic stress within the body will eventually trigger increased cortisol secretion. These elevated levels of cortisol reduce synthesis and accelerate the breakdown of hyaluronic acid and proteoglycans in the scalp by about 40%. This deters the normal activity of hair follicles and can lead to hair loss.
If you're taking any supplements or using anti-ageing creams without first working to reduce your blood cortisol reading, you may not be getting the impact you're hoping for.
Incorporating Lychee-Green tea extract (powder or capsule form) in your diet, taking 100mg twice per day, could reduce the fine lines, wrinkles, thinning hair and even revere the process.
In one particular study participants noticed the following changes after three months supplementing of Lychee-Green tea extract;
- 73% had a decrease in fine lines
- 18% had a decrease in deep wrinkles
- participants consistently had a lighter and brighter complexion, including fading freckles and age spots and less skin redness.
- 54% also had a decreased in C-Reactive Protein readings, a marker of inflammation.
It almost sounds like the next big thing in skin and hair health…
Kitadate K AK, Homma K. Effect of lychee fruit extract (Oligonol) on peripheral circulation, a pilot study. Nat med J.6(7)
Shin Y-O, Lee J-B, Min Y-K, et al. Effect of oligopoly intake on cortisol and cytokines, and body temperature after leg immersion in to hot water. Food science and Biotechnology. 2011;20(3):659-63
Terao M, Katayama I. Local cortisol / corticosterone activation in skin physiology and pathology. J Dermatol Sci. 2016 Oct;84(1):11-6
Yiallouris A, Tsioutis C, Agapidaki E, et al. Adrenal aging and its implications on stress responsiveness in humans. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019; 10:54