How to Reduce cortisol

What is Cortisol

Cortisol in a nutshell, is one of our body's responses to stress. It is a hormone that is released by the adrenal glands during stressful times.

While this served humanity long ago (fight or flight), today we are under constant stress. It should be noted our stress comes from many sources throughout the day, stressors are not just emotional issues. Just a few sources of stress that can lead to cortisol release:

  • Job-related
  • Children and Teens
  • Rush Hour Traffic
  • Bills
  • Unemployment
  • Politics
  • Nasty Neighbors
  • Family Problems
  • Illness
  • Death
  • Marital and Relationship Difficulties
  • Long Lines at the Bank, the Grocer... When You're In a Hurry
  • You get the idea - we live with constant stress

So, the flood gates to cortisol production remain open, so to speak. This creates a chain reaction in our body. Cortisol is responsible for:

  1. Increasing Blood Sugar
  2. Suppressing Immune System
  3. Metabolism of Fat, Carbs and Proteins
  4. Restore * Homeostasis after Stress

* What is Homeostasis? Homeostasis, simply put, is the ideal balance of your internal body systems in that all systems within your body are working appropriately.

Stress = Cortisol Production = Excess Glucose Production which is converted to fat

So now, our body has this fat that isn't burned off, so it is stored, like having the extra freezer in the garage for food storage, our body does exactly the same thing, only the 'garage' is your body.

Your thyroid is also affected by cortisol, as they work synergistically together. Cortisol helps the thyroid work efficiently - but it requires the right balance of cortisol for optimal thyroid function.

In addition, over production of cortisol will lead to

  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Binge Eating
  • Sugar and Salt Cravings
  • Tired and Sluggish Feeling

So the cycle goes until you're too tired to do much of anything, and all this extra fat keeps getting stored, mostly in the abdominal area, which is the hardest to take off.

How to Lower Cortisol Levels

In order to lower cortisol production and the resulting fat, adrenal fatigue and thyroid imbalance we must address several things at once. If you don't address the source of the excessive cortisol production, you will not have lasting healthy results.

  • Support Adrenals
  • Support Thyroid
  • Reduce Stress and support your body in how it reacts to stress


The following are recommendations for lowering cortisol:

Reduce day-to-day stress

A big factor here is how you react to all the little things that stress us out during the day. It's important to learn to 'not sweat the small stuff'. If you're stuck in traffic, so be it, nothing will change that short of finding an alternative route.

DON'T TAKE THINGS PERSONAL: If you're mother-in-law treats you like dirt, don't take it personal. If your boss is an _ _ _ - that's his problem - he's the _ _ _ - not you. (While he's behaving poorly, sing a little song (in your head so you don't get fired) You're an _ _ _ and I'm not, You're an _ _ _ and I'm not...

Yes, I know, easier said than done, but you can learn to retrain your reactions to such things.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH: heck, take several. Close your eyes and visualize something that makes you smile and then smile. Smile a lot actually. Especially smile at the nasty boss or mother-in-law.

LAUGH MORE: Watch a comedy, listen to comedy in your car if driving stresses you out. Me personally, I sing, really loudly, when I'm driving. And I've been told I'm completely tone deaf - but I don't care. Singing reduces stress for me. Try it.

DANCE: My husband hates to dance, I love to. I dance in the shower sometimes. Okay, it's more like just like shaking my hips, but it's fun. And it doesn't matter what I look like, I'm in there alone anyway, singing and shaking while shampooing.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE: Lose the 'life-sucking emotional vampires' that call themselves friends. If you don't have a good group of solid, supportive, fun friends, go get some. I distance myself from people who whine and complain about everything every time I see them. It's normal to need some uplifting support now and again - but if I feel drained every time I see a person, I have to ask myself if the 'friendship' is worth it.

GROW: Emotionally, intellectually, artistically, spiritually... Feed your mind and your spirit with things that uplift you and provide a sense of accomplishment.

WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK: Or sing, I can't whistle to save my life. I sing. I play broadway musicals and sing during housework. It's like pressing the de-stress button for me.

BREAK OUT IN SONG: CAUTION: you may want to limit the random 'breaking out in song' for appropriate times, the middle of the grocery store might make you seem a bit off.

DE-STRESS PHRASE: Come up with a word or phrase to help remind you when you're getting stressed to slow down: Take some breaths, visualize or Here's a few ideas: I'm a happy person, I'm so calm, I'm so peaceful, I'm so... Once you have your phrase, sit alone with your eyes closed, visualize something wonderful and funny and uplifting while you repeat this phrase. Allow yourself to feel the joy and laughter that you visualize. Do this for several minutes. Now whenever you need to bring stress down a notch, say to yourself this phrase, recall the happy feeling you felt during your visualization and allow yourself to feel that way again. (Now, you may be thinking I've gone off the deep end here, but it really does work, if you embrace it - and what the heck, you have absoutely nothing to lose - except stress)

Get a massage

Take a shower

Go to the beach or someplace that makes you feel content and peaceful

Okay, you're getting the idea here. There's a million ways to de-stress. Use them all at different and appropriate times. Don't stress over how to de-stress - just do it.

USE SUPPLEMENTS:

Based on scientific research, The following clinically proven supplements-herbs are recommended. I've listed the necessary dosages too:

  1. Ashwagandha root extract: 450 mg
  2. Holy Basil: 375 mg
  3. L-Theanine: 200 mg
  4. Passion Flower Extract: 200 mg
  5. Bacopin® (Bacopa monniera Leaf): 150 mg
  6. Rhodiola rosea Root Extract: 150 mg
  7. Eleuthero Root (Eleutherococcus senticosus) Extract: 100 mg

If you want to know more details on how these herbs-supplements work and why, again, all based on clinical studies, click here - YOU CAN ALSO BUY A PRODUCT HERE THAT CONTAINS ALL OF THE ABOVE INGREDIENTS.

ADDRESS DIET: Make changes to your diet. Following a low-glycemic diet is best for your health and your waistline. Improper diet can also cause mood swings, hmmm, more stress.

ADDRESS PHYSICAL FITNESS: Create a plan to start moving. If you are limited due to illness, start small. If you are confined to a wheelchair, can you move your arms? Do it. If you are in chronic pain, can you swim for 5 minutes a day? Exercise is critical to health and well being. There are too many issues surrounding it to start here, but the important thing is you just start, even if it's one-five minutes a day and you build slowly. Being physically fit helps you deal with stress better.

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    Research and Supporting Evidence

    Published Research Studies on Cortisol Lowering Supplements.

    Archana, R., et al. Antistressor effect of Withania somnifera. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 64(1): 91-93, 1999.

    Bhattacharya, S., et al. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 75(3): 547-555, 2003.

    Davydov, M. and Krikorian, A. Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim. (Araliaceae) as an adaptogen: a closer look. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 72: 345-393, 2000.

    Dhuley, J. Effect of ashwagandha on lipid peroxidation in stress-induced animals. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 60(2): 173-178, 1998.

    Dhuley, J. Adaptogenic and cardioprotective action of ashwagandha in rats and frogs. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 70(1): 57-63, 2000.

    Head, K. and Kelly, G. Nutrients and botanicals for treatment of stress: adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety, and restless sleep. Alternative Medicine Review. 14(2): 114-140, 2009.

    Gaffney, B., et al. Panax ginseng and Eleutherococcus senticosus may exaggerate an already existing biphasic response to stress via inhibition of enzymes which limit the binding of stress hormones to their receptors. Medical Hypotheses. 56(5): 567-572, 2001.

    Kelly, G. Nutritional and botanical interventions to assist with the adaptation to stress. Alt Med Review 4: 249-265, 1999.

    Muruganandam A., et al. Effect of poly herbal formulation, EuMil, on chronic stress-induced homeostatic perturbations in rats. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 40:1151-1160, 2002.

    Rai, D. Adaptogenic effect of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi). Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 75(4): 823-830, 2003.

    Singh, S. and Majumdar, D. Evaluation of the gastric antiulcer activity of fixed oil of Ocimum sanctum (Holy Basil). Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 65: 13-19, 1999.

    Spasov, A. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine 7(2): 85-89, 2000.

    Muruganandam A., et al. Effect of poly herbal formulation, EuMil, on chronic stress-induced homeostatic perturbations in rats. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 40: 1151-1160, 2002.

    Head, K. and Kelly, G. Nutrients and botanicals for treatment of stress: adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety, and restless sleep. Alternative Medicine Review. 14(2): 114-140, 2009.

    Ito, K., et al. Effects of L-theanine on the release of alpha brain waves in human volunteers. Nippon Nogeikagaku Kaishi. 72: 153-157, 1998.

    L-theanine Monograph. Alternative Medicine Review. 10(2): 136-138, 2005.

    Yokogoshi, H. Effect of theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, on brain monoamines and striatal dopamine release in conscious rats. Neurochemical Research. 23(5): 667-673, 1998.

    Akhondzadeh, S., et al. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 26(5): 363-367, 2001.

    Archana, R., et al. Antistressor effect of Withania somnifera. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 64(1): 91-93, 1999.

    Bhattacharya, S., et al. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine. 7(6): 463-469, 2000.

    Dhawan, K., et al. Anti-anxiety studies on extracts of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus. Journal of Ethnopharmacology.. 78(2-3): 165-170, 2001.

    Dhuley, J. Adaptogenic and cardioprotective action of ashwagandha in rats and frogs. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 70(1): 57-63, 2000.

    Head, K. and Kelly, G. Nutrients and botanicals for treatment of stress: adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety, and restless sleep. Alternative Medicine Review. 14(2): 114-140, 2009.

    Kobayashi, K., et al. Effects of L-theanine on the release of alpha-brain waves in human volunteers. Journal of the Agricultural Chemical Society of Japan. 72(2): 153-157, 1998.

    Muruganandam A., et al. Effect of poly herbal formulation, EuMil, on chronic stress-induced homeostatic perturbations in rats. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 40: 1151-1160, 2002.

    Sairam K., et al. Antidepressant activity of standardized extract of Bacopa monniera in experimental models of depression in rats. Phytomedicine. 9(3): 207-211, 2002.

    Dufresne, C. and Farnworth, E. A review of latest research findings on the health promotion properties of tea. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 12(7): 404-421, 2001.

    Ito, K., et al. Effects of L-theanine on the release of alpha brain waves in human volunteers. Nippon Nogeikagaku Kaishi. 72: 153-157, 1998.

    Lu, K., et al. The acute effects of L-theanine in comparison with alprazolam on anticipatory anxiety in humans. Human Psychopharmacology. 19(7): 457-465, 2004.

    Bacopa monniera. Monograph. Alternative Medicine Review. 9: 79-85, 2004.

    L-theanine Monograph. Alternative Medicine Review. 10(2): 136-138, 2005.

    Spasov, A. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine 7(2): 85-89, 2000.

    Gohil KJ, Patel JA. A review on Bacopa monniera: Current research and future prospects. International Journal of Green Pharmacy. 4(1):1-9, 2010.

    Kar, A., et al. Relative efficacy of three medicinal plant extracts in the alteration of thyroid hormone concentrations in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 81(2): 281-285, 2002.

    Khanum, F., et al. Rhodiola rosea: a versatile adaptogen. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 4:55-62, 2005.

    Panda, S. and Kar, A. Changes in thyroid hormone concentration after administration of ashwagandha root extract to adult male mice. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 50(9): 1065-1068, 1998.

    Panda, S. and Kar, A. Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea in the regulation of circulating thyroid hormone concentrations in female mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 67(2): 233-239, 1999.

    Panda, S. and Kar, A. combined effects of ashwagandha, guggulu and bauhinia extracts in the regulation of thyroid function and on lipid peroxidation in mice. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 6(3): 141-143, 2000.

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