The Connection Between the Liver, Bile, and the Brain Adrenal (HPA) Axis

We generally associate the adrenals and their secretions with stress and sleep, as well as their impact on blood sugar regulation. Most don’t realize that there’s a powerful connection between the liver and adrenal function, as well.

Read on to discover how having a “sluggish” liver can disrupt this important function in our bodies.

The HPA Axis and Response to Environment

Ultimately, the brain processes what’s going on in our environment through a part known as the hypothalamus which activates the pituitary to send a signal down to the adrenal glads, which sit on top of the kidneys. Those then release the hormone cortisol to help us deal with the stress. Cortisol is generally known as the “stress hormone”, and understandably so. It’s definitely released in times of stress to help with our metabolism, as well as with the transcription of genes that help us release energy.

This important regulatory pathway is known as the HPA Axis (HPA stands for Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal).

Healthy bile flow

The HPA Axis and Circadian Rhythm

Corticosteroids  are also released in daily circadian rhythms. These regulate the balance of our immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular systems. Cortisol is involved in many complex physiological processes, depending on day/night cycles as well as fasting/feeding cycles.

Feedback loops—Enough is Enough

Cortisol works through negative feedback loops. Once enough cortisol is secreted, it becomes a signal to the brain, reducing any further production at the end of the circadian cycle, or at the end of the physiological stressor it was made to help us manage. As a result, abnormally increased cortisol production can disrupt our natural feedback loops, resulting in less (or altered) adrenal function over time. Read my full, new article at and learn more about the science of:
  • How poor bile flow can impact energy & hormonal balance
  • Signs and symptoms to look out for
  • Tests to complete
…as well as tips to support the liver and biliary system.