I often get parents frustrated that it seems their child is getting better in the morning and then worse at night, especially if they are suffering from a fever or cold/flu-like symptoms.  I want you to know this is completely normal and expected.  It’s the natural cycle of your immune system on a daily basis. It’s majorly influenced by the hormone cortisol.

Cortisol has a natural daily cycle of being at its peak in the morning and weaning as you get towards the evening.  Most associate cortisol with a stress hormone but it’s not, it’s a survival hormone.  In order to get you out of bed and out the door to kill something today, your adrenals dump cortisol into your system.

Those levels will diminish throughout the day to prep you to get tired, so that you can fall asleep, shift into recovery mode, and then wake up and do it all again tomorrow.  Just image how mundane and boring life is if you don’t have a purpose to get up out of bed to use that cortisol push.

What does this have to do with your immune system.  Since most associate cortisol as a stress hormone, let’s use that example.  If you’re out for the day trying to kill something to bring home to feed your family and you encounter a fire breathing dragon, cortisol will be dumped again.  What cortisol will do is temporarily shift you into an anti-inflammatory state.

This is intelligent so when you’re running away from the dragon, tweak your ankle, it doesn’t balloon up until you get to safety.  The body will sacrifice an injury for immediate escape.  When you hear inflammation, I want you to automatically associate it with your immune system.

If the dragon sneaks up on you again while you have a cold, your body will suppress the immune expression (inflammatory response) of coughing, sneezing, fever, etc in order for you to escape safely.

In real world terms, cortisol is higher in the morning naturally.  This means your immune expression will be lower in the morning.  As you journey through the day and cortisol starts to drop in its daily cycle, your immune expression (and inflammatory expression) is going to start to rise.  At some point in early to mid afternoon, your head will start to get stuffed again, you may have pressure in your head or behind your eyes, you start to fade in energy, the coughing gets worse, and the fever starts to rise again.

Functional Medicine

Before you panic about your remedy not working, just remember that there will be a natural cycle of immune expression.  You probably even notice this type of cycle with pain, skin issues, and concentration.  Inflammation expression is going to be a hallmark of all chronic illness.  Inflammation isn’t an isolated event.  Inflammation cannot happen without an immune response.  So be careful about using inflammation suppressors long term because you’re always suppressing the immune system at the same time.  Got questions?  You know how to find me.


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