What is Cortisol?
When you are feeling stressed out, your body releases a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone, and is released by the adrenal glands in response to stressful situations.
Cortisol plays a key role in regulating the body’s sleep cycles, controlling blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and managing how the body uses nutrients.
However, elevated cortisol levels over a long period of time can be a bad thing. When cortisol levels rise, you may experience the “fight or flight” response. Experiencing this day in and day out can be exhausting. High cortisol levels can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, “brain fog”, and a myriad of other negative health problems.
How to Lower Cortisol Levels
The first step in lowering cortisol levels should be to reduce stress. Learn to recognize what is causing these high stress levels, and work to manage your stress and decrease anxious feelings.
This can be done through exercise, meditation, sleeping well, and maintaining a healthy diet. By learning to cope with stressful thoughts and situations, you will have more control over your cortisol levels.
In addition to reducing stress, there are many supplements that have been proven to reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation and well-being.
Top Scientifically Proven Supplements to Lower Cortisol Levels
Rhodiloa rosea, also known as Golden Root, is in a class of healing plants known as ‘adaptogens’. Adaptogens improve the health of your adrenal system, while managing hormonal responses to stress.
Rhodiola rosea typically grows in extremely inhospitable areas such as mountains and deserts. In order to survive in these barren landscapes, Rhodiloa rosea developed physical compounds that are resistant to environmental stress. So by consuming it, we are able to benefit in the same way.
Rhodiola rosea enduces a calming effect, reducing cortisol while balancing the endocrine system. While reducing the constant overflow of cortisol, rhodiola also helps to heal the endocrine system (responsible for the communication and release of cortisol) long-term. Rhodiola has high levels of a phytochemical called Salidroside, which relieves anxiety, maintains a healthy cortisol production, and can even combat aging.
Recommended Rhodiola Rosea Supplement: Rhodiola Rosea Value Size 120 Count by Gaia Herbs
Ashwagandha is a legendary medicinal herb, and has been used for over 3,000 years in Indian Ayurveda medicine. Ashwagandha literally means “Smell of Horse”, which is a reference to the root’s horsey smell, and the traditional Indian belief that consuming the herb will give you the virility and strength of a horse.
Ashwagandha has been proven in multiple studies to reduce cortisol levels. For example, in one study of adults with chronic stress, those that supplemented with ashwagandha saw their cortisol levels drop by an average of 30%. Ashwagandha can reduce the immunosuppressive effect of stress and significantly reduce cortisol concentrations.
Among decreasing cortisol levels, it can also relieve stress, improve concentration, and increase energy levels.
Recommended Ashwagandha Supplement: Ashwagandha Extra Strength by Physician’s Choice
L-theanine is an amino acid that is commonly found in black and green tea leaves. L-theanine promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and improves the quality of sleep. Pairing l-theanine with your morning coffee can also offset jitters and the dreaded mid-day ‘crash’.
L-theanine lowers cortisol and reduces anxiety by block blocking excitatory stimuli at glutamate receptors in the brain. This prevents over activity in the brain and enduces a relaxing and calming mood. L-theanine also stimulates the production of a relaxing neurotransmitter known as GABA. This study demonstrated that L-theanine significantly lowered stress response and cortisol levels compared to the placebo group that took no L-theanine.
L-theanine provides a calming, stress reducing state without inducing drowsiness which is a common side effect of prescription drugs.
Recommended L-Theanine Supplement: Nutricost L-Theanine 200mg Capsules
Gingko biloba is a tree native to China, and it’s extract has been used for thousands of years. A heavily researched supplement, Gingko Biloba contains powerful anti-oxidants, along with reducing anxiety and depression.
One study was able to show a reduction in the rise of blood pressure and cortisol release by healthy participants using Ginkgo Biloba extract. The study also concluded that, “The standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) was found not only to improve memory and aging associated cognitive deficits but also to exert beneficial effects on mood.”
So, when you are faced with a stressful situation, supplementing with Gingko Biloba can help manage your blood pressure, while limiting the release of cortisol.
Recommended Gingko Biloba Supplement: Nature’s Bounty Gingko Biloba
You should be consuming B-vitamins daily, whether it be through your diet or supplements. B-vitamins are vital to good health and have a multitude of benefits.
A B complex supplement typically supplies the 8 main B-vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2(riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin). Each of these vitamins brings their own benefits to the table, but you can expect the following benefits from taking a B complex supplement: reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, improved mood, lower cortisol levels, gene regulation, and improved cognitive function.
“Recent evidence suggests that dietary intake of vitamins, in particular the B-vitamins including B6, B9 and B12 may have a number of positive effects on mood and stress. Given the effects of stress on a range of biological mechanisms including the endocrine system, it could be reasonably expected that multivitamin supplementation may also affect markers of these mechanisms such as diurnal cortisol secretion.”
In addition to lower and maintaining healthy cortisol levels, B complex vitamins also come with a myriad of healthy benefits.
Recommended Vitamin B-Complex Supplement: Divine Bounty Super B-Complex Vitamins 90 Count, High Potency
Choline is an important nutrient considered to be part of the B-complex group of vitamins. While it may not be as popular as the rockstars of the B-complex group such as vitamin B6 or B12, new studies are beginning to show that choline increases brain function, body strength, and increases your bodies ability to deal with stress.
Choline deficiency is relatively common, and lower levels of choline have been correlated to high levels of cortisol. By adding a choline supplement to your arsenal, you will be able to get the benefit of increased brain function, while increasing your resilience to stress – leading to lower cortisol levels.
Recommended Choline Bitartrate Product: Nested Naturals Choline Bitartrate 550mg 90 Capsules