Magnetic nanoparticles can increase cortisol production

Magnetic nanoparticles can increase cortisol production

Hormones have a strong influence on so much of our lives, including how we think, feel, behave and sleep.

Hormones out of balance, however, can really wreak havoc on your health. They can cause medical and mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, infertility, obesity and more. But restoring a working balance can be challenging.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have developed a method for increasing production of specific hormones without relying on medications. Their technique uses nanoparticles, magnetic particles that are too small even to be seen with a regular microscope.

So far, the scientists have tested the method by injecting them into the adrenal glands, which sit atop the kidneys, where they produce adrenaline, cortisol and other biochemicals.

The next step is to expose the glands to a weak magnetic field. This causes the nanoparticles to heat up a few degrees. The hormone production process ramps up, and the glands start secreting more cortisol and a chemical called noradrenaline. Much like adrenaline, noradrenaline helps the body respond during exercise or stressful times.

With the magnetism and the nanoparticles, scientists can then coax the adrenal glands to produce more of the healthy hormones without relying on medication or other measures.

No therapies have yet been developed around the technique. But researchers are using the method to study hormone imbalances in animal models, and it may someday lead to new treatments in humans.

Who knew infinitesimal particles could have such a big impact?

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