Alternative Names: Cortisol, Cortef™.
Hydrocortisone is a prescription drug. It is, however, the identical hormone to one of the naturally occurring compounds secreted by the adrenal gland cortex (outside layer) in response to stress or low blood sugar. The correct and safe use of low dose cortisol requires a doctor familiar with its administration.
The best published source of information is the book, The Safe Uses of Cortisol by William McJeffries, MD. This paper-back book is more expensive than expected, and harder than average to find. If you cannot find a doctor to work with you, it would be better to buy the book rather than give up on the idea of a hydrocortisone trial if it is strongly indicated.
Ulcerative colitis is both an autoimmune disorder and sensitive to stress. Using hydrocortisol to reduce inflammation followed by physiologic replacement doses when indicated is a reasonable supportive therapeutic strategy.
Physiologic replacement doses of oral cortisol can make a dramatic difference in cases of adrenal exhaustion. Because of side-effects induced by larger doses, many doctors are reluctant to use it and many patients are thus deprived of a valuable and needed therapy. Physiologic doses of cortisol (5-25mg per day) are safe. Lab testing can confirm the diagnosis of mild adrenocortical deficiency. A doctor experienced with cortisol use should be consulted; a typical prescription is 5mg four times per day, with an emphasis on early morning use if later doses keep you up at night, or if fewer doses are taken.