Cortisol and Its Role in Aging

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Interviewer: Doctor, start off by talking about what cortisol is and what
does it do in our body.

Dr. Bjodne Eskeland: Cortisol is a stress hormone, and as we age the body
produces more and more cortisol. And I feel, and also from the literature,
it accelerates the aging process. Not only the aging process, but even as
you get closer to death, it also increases a lot. A combination of age and
Cortisol level would say a lot about your health condition.

Interviewer: So, in a normal, healthy body, Cortisol rises and lowers
throughout the day; is that correct?

Dr. Eskeland: That's true. In previous study, we used to take the early
morning test, which would be a baseline.

Interviewer: And what is used for in our body? What is its purpose?

Dr. Eskeland: The purpose is, of course, if you need to run away, it helps
you move faster in a little way. But I'm thinking about the general level,
the regular level in a rested condition. If that is very high, it's not
valuable. I see people with high cortisol levels, they often are very
confused, it affects the memory.

Interviewer: Talk about what Cortisol; what are levels do as we age. Does
that change, our baseline level change, as we age?

Dr. Eskeland: I have also people at high ages with rather low levels, but
actually, I related very much to health condition of the individual.

Interviewer: Do we know it raises as we age?

Dr. Eskeland: No, not really. I don't have a good explanation for that.

Interviewer: What can that be the marker of? As Cortisol goes higher, what
can that be a marker of? Is that related to certain disease conditions?

Dr. Eskeland: Very often we see that if people have a cancer, if they have
dementia, Alzheimer's, or whatever diseases associated with aging, it
actually increases.

Interviewer: Doctor, can you talk about Cortisol and dementia? You
mentioned is a little bit, how are the two related? We hear a lot about
Alzheimer's disease. How does Cortisol factor into that?

Dr. Eskeland: From experience, and even from my own data, I see that people
with high Cortisol level, they have very much a problem with remembering
things. First of all, the short term memory, what you did yesterday or the
day before, this is gone. They probably remember better what has happened
when they were younger.

Interviewer: When we talk about dementia, if we're able to lower Cortisol,
can that help bring some of that memory back or at least slow the
progression of it?

Dr. Eskeland: I would think so. Some years ago, I did a study on 40
participants, it was extremely easy to get participants in the study, and
we actually had, when we looked at this, we used a test called California
Verbal Memory Test, and we actually increased that after eight weeks, from
about, I think the average was about 72 percent of the optimal memory, and
then we increased it by about 18-20 percent units.

Interviewer: We talked about Cortisol and how it increases with age. Are
there tests we can take to see where are our Cortisol levels are, and kind
of keep track of that as we age?

Dr. Eskeland: Any body fluid can be used actually. Saliva is very easy.
Everyone can easily do that, you know, with a swab and you produce saliva
and have it analyzed.

Interviewer: If Cortisol is increasing as we age, what are the benefits in
lowering that?

Dr. Eskeland: In general, I feel that people very often get the better
quality of sleep. They feel better, more energetic, and I think most of the
quality of life aspects increase.

Interviewer: The question is - How do we lower it then? What are ways we
can do that?

Dr. Eskeland: Yeah, actually, there could anything. We have worked with
some extract from fertilized chicken eggs that are good, and from the
literature there is also other projects that could reduce the Cortisol

Interviewer: You've mentioned that Cortisol level, if we lower that at
somebody who's close to death, it can really change the mood and the
feeling of that person. Can you explain that a little bit?

Dr. Eskeland: Absolutely.

Interviewer: Can you explain that? And what have you seen?

Dr. Eskeland: I've seen that people are very close to the death and they
feel much more optimistic and don't give up as easily. Actually, I think it
will delay the time of death for those person, if you could lower the
Cortisol. There has been taking tests on people, just after they died, even
for a couple of hours after their deaths, the Cortisol level rises.
Dr. Bjodne Eskeland discusses the role cortisol plays in our body and how its level changes as we age. He also discusses the role it may play in dementia and similar conditions and how it may improve peoples conditions who are close to death.

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