by – Cortisone Info
Above each individual’s kidney lies the small, pyramid-shaped adrenal gland.
The adrenal gland consists of two parts, each with a specific function. The central part is called the adrenal medulla (or medulla) and the outer portion is called the adrenal cortex (or cortex)
These two parts of the gland produce different hormones that are essential for life. The adrenal medulla produces mostly adrenaline and noradrenaline. The adrenal cortex secretes androgens (e.g. testosterone, DHEA), mineralocorticoids (e.g. aldosterone) and glucocorticoids.
The main glucocorticoid hormone secreted by the adrenal glands is called cortisol (or hydrocortisone). This hormone plays a crucial role in the regulation of major body functions (glycemic metabolism, immune system, inflammation). Given the importance of these functions in everyday life, cortisone is a vital product of the human body.
The anti-inflammatory properties of this natural hormone intrigued physicians upon its discovery as natural cortisone was found to be an effective way to treat certain inflammatory or allergic diseases. Doctors successfully synthesized drugs that imitated the effects of natural cortisol. Today, these “synthetic glucocorticoids” are prescribed as prednisone and prednisolone.
The general public and physicians commonly refer to these “synthetic glucocorticoids” as “steriods” or “cortisone”. Cortisone shots are injections usually containing mixture of corticosteroid medication along with local anaesthetic. It is generally used to help relieve pain and inflammation in a specific area or part of a body particularly bursa or joints.
Corticosteroids are steroidal anti-inflammatories as opposed to “classic” anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac or aspirin which are themselves non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Dr. Bob explains the differences between anabolic steroids that build muscle and anti-inflammatory cortisone steroids shots that reduce inflammation
What is Cortisone history?
The Role of the Adrenal Glands and Cortisone
Since the 1800’s scientists have studied the role of the adrenal glands. At that time, Englishman Thomas Addison discovered a fatal disease caused by lesions of these glands, underlining their importance to the human body. Addison’s Disease is a condition in which the patient suffers from insufficient production of hormones (cortisone) by the adrenal glands.
In 1896, William Osler found that one could treat this disease using extracts of adrenal glands from animals.
The Role of Corticosteroids
In 1933, a team of American chemists succeeded in isolating cortisol within extracts from the adrenal glands of animals. For the first time, a patient suffering from rheumatoid arthritis was treated with the cortisone issued from these animal’s glands. Soon after, the team observed a remarkable improvement in the patient’s health. Afterwards, several other patients were treated with similar results. Although patients were not cured, their symptoms mostly disappeared. At that time, certain people in the medical world already underlined the frequent side effects of this treatment. In 1950, despite these negative views, the doctors and chemists responsible for the discovery of cortisone received the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology.
During the 1950’s, the potential for corticosteroid therapy expanded. After its initial success in treating rheumatoid arthritis, cortisone was used to successfully treat a range of other diseases as well.