Glucocorticoids are natural hormones, made and secreted by your adrenal glands, its cortex specifically. There are three types of glucocorticoids hormones: cortisol, corticosterone and cortisone. They are in the class of chemical substances known as steroids.
The most abundant glucocorticoids naturally produced by your adrenals is cortisol, also known as the primary stress hormone. And this hormonal group have some sort of regulatory effect on virtually every organ in your body.
- appetite stimulus
- helps respond to stress
- regulates protein, carbohydrate, fat metabolism
- maintain blood pressure, cardiovascular function
Of medical significance, glucocorticoids, also referred to as corticosteroids, have the beneficial health properties as an anti inflammatory and immunosuppressant via suppression of numerous immune system functions. Accordingly, glucocorticoids synthesized hormones are an extensively used steroid treatment for:
- adrenal insufficiency
- transplanted organ rejection prevention
- autoimmune disorders ~ rheumatoid arthritis
- inflammatory conditions~ arthritis, dermatitis
Examples of these “made in the laboratory” anti inflammatory immunosuppressants treatment drugs are hydrocortisone, prednisone and dexamethasone.
Addison’s disease and Cushing’s disease are two health conditions caused by deficiency or excess of natural glucocorticoid. A problem with your adrenal cortex causes a reduced secretion of cortisol hormone resulting in Addison’s disease, aka primary adrenal insufficiency.
Couple health conditions that can cause your adrenal cortex to reduce production are:
- autoimmune disease
- cancer cells spread to adrenal glands
- chronic infection ~ primarily fungal, AIDS associated infections
And removal of your adrenal glands takes out your source of this natural anti inflammatory hormone.
A couple of symptoms of glucocorticoid deficiency are:
Cushing’s syndrome is a hormonal disorder caused by an excess of glucocorticoids. Health problems caused by too much of these immunosuppressant steroids are:
- skin thinning
- poor wound healing
- infection susceptibility
Long term use of alcohol can induce excessive secretion of glucocorticoids as well.