Corticosteroids

January 7, 2016

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that help to suppress the immune system. These drugs are effective in treating many ailments, particularly autoimmune diseases, and have been used effectively for many years. Corticosteroids (cortisol, corticosterone, cortisone, and aldosterone) are produced naturally in the body by the Cortex, which is the outer portion of the adrenal gland, and can be broken down into two categories:

  1. Glucocorticoids: These act to suppress the immune system and lessen inflammation, while also assisting in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins
  2. Mineralocorticoids: These regulate the balance of salt and water in the body

Synthetic corticosteroids mimic the actions of naturally occurring corticosteroids and are often used as a replacement in people with dysfunctional adrenal glands which are unable to produce adequate amounts of the chemicals. Systemic corticosteroids refer to corticosteroids given orally, or via injection, and distributed throughout the body. These do not include corticosteroids used in the eyes, ears, nose, on the skin, or that are inhaled. Examples of synthetic corticosteroids:

  • Betamethasone
  • Budesonide
  • Cortisone
  • Hydrocortisone