Steroids are the artificial versions of hormones that are naturally produced in our bodies. Steroids are designed in such a way that they act like these hormones so that they can reduce any inflammation in the body. Now, these steroids, also known as corticosteroids, are synthetic versions of cortisol hormone. The cortisol hormone carries various physiological functions in our body such as reducing inflammation, stress response, immune response, electrolyte regulation, etc.
How does cortisol act in our body?
Cortisol is also known as a stress hormone that is activated in our bodies when we are in a stressful situation. It means that when we are stuck in a difficult situation and our minds experience extreme fear, then it activates a fight or flight response in our body. This fight and flight response helps our body to escape from a physically or mentally stressful situation. Suppose we are sitting in a room and it suddenly catches fire; then our first response is to escape from the room. Even the weakest or handicapped person’s first instinct is to escape from that room. This is an effect of cortisol activated by our kidneys. The stress situation activates our adrenal glands that further secrete adrenalin hormones which activate the fight or flight response in our body. The external steroids act like the cortisol produced by adrenal glands present in our kidneys.
Steroids uses in our body
Corticosteroids greatly helps in reducing inflammation. It means it helps in reducing pain, swelling, and burning sensations in the body. Among many other diseases, steroids are generally recommended for inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and even cancer patients to reduce pain and inflammation.
Apart from that, steroids are also given in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, other joint pains such as back pain and difficulty in walking, etc as it reduces pain and swelling in the inflamed area. Steroid hormones are also recommended for transplant patients as they help in preventing organ rejection.
Producing cortisol naturally
We can balance our hormones naturally through the means of yogic practices such as pranayama and meditation. These practices stabilize our mental levels and help our bodies to come out of a fight or flight response, caused by extreme stress. When we are stable at the physical and mental level, our body produces various hormones naturally which helps in different functions. For long term mental stability, the practice of meditation is key. However, not every person practices meditation regularly. So when these kinds of ailments such as arthritis and cancer arise in our body, the patient has to take steroids to reduce pain and swelling. These steroids make our kidneys hyperactive, apart from numerous other side effects.
Practicing meditation regularly for 15 or 30 minutes helps in lowering pain and inflammation in our bodies naturally; and also balances natural cortisol levels in our bodies.
Side effects of corticosteroids
Generally, steroids are given in the form of tablets, inhalers, or injections. Oral steroids affect your whole body instead of a particular area.
Some significant steroid side effects are:
- Fluid retention can cause swelling in your feet
- Mood swings, confusion, or delirium
- It can cause functional dyspepsia, which is a case of chronic indigestion without any actual cause.
Hence, unless really needed in a life-threatening way, it is better to avoid steroids as much as you can.
How meditation lowers the need for corticosteroids?
The main function of the adrenal gland or cortisol is to prepare our body to face any stressful situation. If we are living in a chronic stress situation then our body keeps producing cortisol continuously. This prolonged condition can cause cortisol resistance in our body, i.e. even though the body has enough cortisol released but it becomes ineffective over time because of overproduction. Intense stress over-activates the immune system, leading to the imbalance between inflammation and anti-inflammation. This means an invitation to all diseases where chronic inflammation becomes a root cause. This is exactly the reason why steroids magically save your life from some of the more serious type of problems.
The practice of meditation helps in reducing stress levels, thereby controlling the root cause of a number of serious illnesses. When we practice meditation, our body comes into a natural restful state and our mind becomes calm. Meditation strengthens our mind, which further neutralizes fear, and hence fight or flight response. Hence, It is also effective in reducing pain and inflammation in our bodies.
Practicing meditation has some impeccable benefits for our mind and body. Through the means of regular meditation, we can naturally balance all our hormones, not just cortisol and live a healthy, heartful life full of happiness.