0.5 Cortisol Level - Is that even possible?!

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 18, 2011 at 7:05 PM

Just got off the phone with my Dad who's in the hospital having some tests run. He's had a looong history of cardiovascular disease and diabetes with a heart attack and major surgery about 6 months ago. Coming out of his surgery he had an abdominal wound that wouldn't heal (still hasn't) and a complete loss of appetite. He dropped from 190 pre-op to about 150. He's back up to 180.

His doctor just told him that his cortisol level was 0.5! First of all...what does that even mean? What are the physiological consequences of having virtually no cortisol in your system? Secondly...how do you recover from that? Can that kind of deficit be corrected through diet or is this a case where medicine needs to step in?


on November 18, 2011
at 10:40 PM

When was the cortisol test taken? If in the afternoon or evening it wouldn't be unusual. If the reading was first thing in the morning it is a sign that his hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis may not be functioning correctly. Given the illness and surgery it may be subsequent to those, or it may be a sign of an endocrine condition that should be addressed (first step, 8AM ACTH test)

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on November 18, 2011
at 08:41 PM

Diet alone is not gonna do it. At the very least, he'll have to take large amounts of Vitamin C, B5, and a few others. Adaptogens may be of some help, but with levels that low, he'll likely need to take bioidentical cortisone replacement therapy. The help of a good doctor will likely be necessary. Again, let me recommend Dr. James Wilson's book Adrenal Fatigue. It's a truly exceptional resource.

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