How Do Adaptogens Impact Cortisol
Your body releases a hormone called cortisol when faced with stress. Elevated cortisol levels over long periods of time can negatively impact every physiological system in your body, including your thyroid and adrenal glands.
Excess cortisol is released during the FoF response to raise blood sugar and increase the bodys energy levels in order to manage perceived threats.
Although cortisol can be beneficial in the short term, long-term stress leads to a consistent flow of cortisol in the body which can lead to dysfunction.
Research shows that adaptogens have the capability to regulate cortisol levels within the body. This is achieved through working with the HPA axis, specifically the adrenal gland, where cortisol is released.
Adaptogens are able to regulate key molecules that mediate the stress response, which creates a state of balance in your body.
This supports the bodys resistance and adaptability to higher/consistent levels of stress and prevents the downstream effect of cortisol release.
With a moderated stress response, additional important biological processes normalize.
It should be noted that reducing chronic stress levels is a many-layered process, however, utilizing adaptogenic herbs can be an impactful approach to naturally lowering cortisol levels
Fight Back Against Stress And Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally
You have to take action and fight back against stress for your mental, emotional, and physical health to be optimized. You deal with stressful situations every day. Therefore, you must supplement against those situations after your diet and lifestyle have been dialed in. This means you must eat a nutritional diet and consider lifestyle changes to minimize the stress you face. At the same time, you need to support your bodys ability to cope with the stress you currently face.
But supplements are the most important tactical tool we have for reducing stress and supporting your body. Phosphaditylserine, Gingko biloba leaf extract, choline bitartrate, ashwagandha and L-theanine are all terrific options. If you’re wondering how to get all the stress-lowering supplements in one unique formula — rather than buying each one individually — then we recommend looking into our natural supplement, Cortigon.
Cortigon is our all-natural stress-fighting formula developed by co-founder and Duke neuroscience grad Christopher Walker. It came as a result of his decade of research experience in the fields of neuroscience, mens health and human endocrinology. Cortigon will help your body maintain a healthy cortisol balance. As well, it lowers stress and gives you mental clarity. Check out Cortigon here.
Laugh As Much As You Can
Whoever said that laughter is the best medicine was right at least where cortisol and stress levels are concerned. Laughter has been shown to help release endorphins and has been linked to positive things such as an overall better mood, reduced stress and perceived pain, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system.
A study published in 2009 by the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, revealed that laughter can not only decrease cortisol levels, but it lowers stress and increases total oxidative status . Even if you do not feel like laughing, force yourself to since science has shown that even forced laughter may lower stress leading to lowered cortisol levels .
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How To Lower Cortisol For Less Stress And A Healthier Lifestyle
We often think of stress as a key contributor to developing disease, but that isnt the most accurate term to describe the mechanism behind whats actually happening in the body.
Instead, we should turn our attention to our cortisol, the stress-adapting hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is released in response to threatening situations when the bodys survival mechanisms kick in. In acute stress situations, cortisol can help you run faster or fight off an attacker, heightening your senses and putting you on alert. When the danger has passed, cortisol levels drop, allowing you to rest.
But modern life, where stressors are constant and surround us in many different forms, has made many of us overproduce cortisol. This overproduction results in fatigue, brain fog, mood issues, hormonal dysregulation, and eventually adrenal burn out.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your bodys cortisol production and restore balance to the stress response.
- High cortisol levels result from physical and emotional stress on the body and can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, irritability, weight gain, inflammation, and more.
- Practices for lowering cortisol include stress identification and reduction, eating a whole foods diet, prioritizing minerals, supplementing when needed, etc.
- With dedication to diet and stress management, regulating cortisol is absolutely possible.
What Happens When Cortisol Is High
Over the last 20 years, studies have increasingly revealed that moderate to high cortisol levels may lead to an array of health issues, such as :
- Chronic disease. Long-term increased cortisol may increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases.
- Weight gain. Cortisol may increase appetite and signal the body to shift metabolism to store fat.
- Lack of energy/difficulty sleeping. It can interfere with sleep hormones which may impact sleep quality and length.
- Difficulty concentrating. Also referred to as brain fog, some people report trouble focusing and lack of mental clarity.
- Impaired immune system. Increased cortisol can hamper the immune system, making it more difficult to fight infections.
- Cushings syndrome. In rare cases, very high cortisol levels can lead to Cushings syndrome, a rare but serious disease.
Elevated cortisol levels can be caused from many underlying issues such as overactivity or cancer of the pituitary or adrenal glands, chronic stress, and medication side effects .
Further, existing chronic disease may lead to higher cortisol levels, causing a chicken or the egg type of scenario .
Therefore, its best to work with a qualified health professional to establish the root cause of your health issues. Along with this, you may want to introduce some effective lifestyle habits that may help you better manage your cortisol levels. Here are some recommendations:
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Working With Your Physician
How To Measure Changes In Stress
No matter the source of the stress, the physiological response of the body is broadly the same. We produce a variety of stress hormones, chemical messengers that instruct the body to react. Adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are examples of stress hormones.
Cortisol is one of the main players in this stress response. Levels of this hormone increase in times of stress, but its also produced as a healthy and normal part of the bodys 24 hour cycle.
Cortisol is at its lowest overnight and starts to rise prior to awakening with a peak as we wake up in the morning. Its this peak of cortisol that wakes us up and provides us with the energy to cope with the day ahead. This is called the cortisol awakening response .
In someone who is not particularly stressed, CAR rises sharply in the morning and quickly tails off, dropping consistently during the day, falling to low levels towards bedtime and dipping still lower during the night.
If we suffer from chronic stress it can interfere with this healthy pattern. In someone who is chronically stressed, the peak of CAR is lower , levels of cortisol can remain higher during the day and do not fall to a healthy low level during the night.
In the long term this hormone imbalance can have a negative impact on your health.
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The Natural Timeline Of Cortisol Production
Before we get into the fine print of how to lower cortisol levels, we first have to know where this stress hormone is manufactured in your body. In which case, look toward the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis . The HPA axis is a complex biological system encompassing the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands .
Cortisol follows its own circadian rhythm, scientifically known as the cortisol rhythm. When your cortisol rhythm is properly functioning, your bodyâs cortisol production timeline looks like this:
- In the early morning hours, your body temperature increases ever so slightly . This minute change is enough to ramp up your bodyâs levels of cortisol, activating the cortisol awakening response . For that same reason, cortisol is also colloquially known as the alertness-promoting hormone.
- After jolting you into wakefulness in the early morning, your bodyâs release of cortisol surges for 30-45 minutes before gradually quieting down as the day wears on.
- Cortisol concentration then reaches its low point around midnight. Two to three hours after youâve fallen asleep, your body resumes cortisol production until its peak in the early morning, when the cycle repeats itself.
In essence, a healthy cortisol rhythm surges in the early morning before ebbing once itâs past the late morning hours.
Get A Good Nights Sleep
Although insomnia can be a symptom of high cortisol, it can also cause high cortisol. That is why its important to set aside enough time to rest each night. Seven to nine hours is the recommended amount of time to sleep in order for a body to function at its best. However, its also important to get good quality sleep. In order to make it easier to fall asleep and reduce the chance of waking up in the middle of the night, limit exposure to sunlight and avoid technology for at least an hour before getting into bed. Naps are also an excellent way to get a boost of energy throughout the day while also preventing high cortisol levels.
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Is There Medication To Lower Cortisol Levels
If you are experiencing high cortisol levels over a period of time, its important to speak with your doctor as this may be a sign of Cushings syndrome, also known as hypercortisolism. Signs and symptoms of this include weight gain, easy bruising, or weak muscles.
Treatment of Cushings syndrome depends on the underlying cause of the increased cortisol levels but it can include cortisol-reducing medications.
Related article:What Does High Cortisol Feel Like? Common Signs and Symptoms
If you are curious about your cortisol levels, you can find out more through a simple test. This can be done with your doctor or from home with LetsGetChecked.
LetsGetCheckeds at-home Cortisol Test can measure adrenal performance or stress with online results available within 2-5 days and access to our medical experts every step of the way.
You should consider taking the test if:
- You constantly feel run down
- You are body-building competitively
- You are presenting with symptoms of Cushing syndrome
- You have Cushing syndrome
- You are presenting with symptoms of Addison’s disease
- You have Addison’s disease
Choline Bitartrate To Reduce Cortisol
Choline bitartrate is found in many foods, such as eggs, meat and dairy. The human body also produces a small amount. Even though choline is easily accessible through food, a large majority of the population is deficient in it. Choline is great for improving memory and focus, but it’s also great for reducing cortisol levels and anxiety.
There was a study done that tested humans with lower amounts of choline in their body during and after surgery. Those people had a greater chance of elevating cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone, prolactin and -endorphin concentrations. Studies have also shown that choline can reduce immune inflammation and suppress oxidative stress in patients with asthma. To make sure you aren’t deficient in it, take choline as a precautionary measure. The more deficient you are in choline, the more likely you have elevated cortisol levels in stressful situations.
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Natural Ways To Lower Cortisol Levels
There are several things that you can do to lower your stress levels, reduce the effects of stress on the body, and improve your overall health and well-being. Here are some common ways to help rebalance your cortisol and promote good health.
- Sleep â When you sleep, how much sleep you get, and the quality of your sleep all impact your cortisol levels. We recommend keeping a consistent sleep schedule, creating an environment for uninterrupted sleep , turning off electronics an hour before bedtime, and avoiding caffeine in the evening can help you get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, which will help decrease your cortisol.
Ways To Reduce Cortisol
We all hear about how we need to prioritize self-care, but what does that mean? The best way to engage in self-care is to select activities that we commit to as part of our daily/weekly routines that will help lower stress levels both acutely and long-term.
Here are 8 self-care activities that can be incorporated into even the busiest of lives to reduce cortisol:
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How To Reduce Stress Hormones
Medically reviewed on January 7, 2022. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Hormones are amazing. They can do wonderful things for the human bodyâlike help give us children, help us grow, and even save us from dangerous situations. That said, hormones can also cause problems when left unchecked if hormone imbalances occur. Having an improper balance of certain hormones can lead to mental and physical health issues, and stress hormones are a common culprit of both.
In this article, weâll be discussing what stress hormones are and how they can be reduced for a happier, healthier, and more relaxed life. Understanding stress hormones and getting a cortisol test to measure the cortisol level in the blood can help you with steadying cortisol levels, lowering cortisol levels when needed, and helping to implement stress management.
Quick Ways To Reduce Stress
Taking care of your long-term mental and physical health is an important part of stress management. However, there isnt always time to take a nap, hike a fourteener, or read a novel. Thus, here are 25 ways to reduce stress in five minutes or less. From eating chocolate to meditating, there is a quick stress-relieving tactic for everyone.
1. BreatheSlow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Try pranayama breathing, a yogic method that involves breathing through one nostril at a time to relieve anxiety. The technique is supposed to work the same way as acupuncture, balancing the mind and body.
2. Listen to Music No matter what the song, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. If youre in a public place, just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.
3. Take a Quick Walk When youre feeling overwhelmed or having trouble concentrating, go for a quick stroll around the block. Youll get the benefits of alone time, physical activity, and a few minutes to gather your thoughts.
4. Find the Sun If its a sunny day, head outside for an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression, and can even cheer up otherwise healthy people.
8. Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball You can get an impromptu, relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.
12. Be Alone
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How To Lower Cortisol Levels Fast Naturally
If you have been experiencing any of the above high cortisol symptoms and are wondering how to lower cortisol levels fast, then one of the first things that you will have to do is to make positive changes to your lifestyle. Since the world was struck by the pandemic in 2020, a lot of things have changed and more people have reported feeling extra stressed, extra weight gain, mental health issues and more.
In fact, according to the Americans Psychological Association, nearly 1 in 4 adults has reported drinking more alcohol to cope with their stress during the coronavirus pandemic. The article goes on to further point out that three in four adults have reported experiencing high stress levels . These alarming findings were localized in the United States so one can only imagine how the rest of the world has been fairing.
If you too have been feeling like your stress levels are getting out of hand and are worried about what these extra stress hormones might be doing to your body, here are some simple tips on how to lower cortisol levels by making changes to your lifestyle.