Supplements to Reduce Cortisol And Decrease Anxiety
Cortisol is the main stress hormone that your body produces. It helps our body tell our brain that we are in trouble, and is important when we are going through a situation where a reaction is necessary. Unfortunately, these days our body produces high cortisol levels, even when we are not in imminent danger.
A variety of stressors can cause cortisol levels to skyrocket, whether you are conscious of it or not.
Stress can come from different sources and can be caused by a wide variety of factors. In today’s lifestyle, not only are our lives stressful, but it seems that we have even normalized stress and take it as a “part of life.” This is especially true in the aspects of your career, finance, where stress is just normalized.
That being said, stress is not just factored by the environment we have or the situations we put ourselves in (i.e. overworking, getting into arguments, etc.) There’s also a hormonal side to stress – this hormone is called “cortisol.”
If we are to deal with stress, we must understand the hormone that plays around our stress – the hormone that mainly plays around our stress that is informally called the “stress hormone.”
If you are concerned about your cortisol levels, want to learn how to naturally lower cortisol levels, or want to learn more about cortisol balancing supplements, read on.
Everything You Need To Know About Cortisol - the Stress Hormone
Cortisol is a hormone that is mainly responsible for regulating our stress responses. Cortisol affects your mood, fear, and motivation when it senses danger and threat. This is to motivate you to act quickly and accordingly.
On a physiological level, cortisol does the following to our body:
- Manages how our body utilizes carbohydrates, protein, and fats
- Controls our sleep/wake cycle
- Boosts our energy levels so that we can manage the stressor properly
- Regulates our blood pressure
- Increases our blood sugar
- Keeps inflammation at bay
So, cortisol in itself is not bad. In fact, we need it when we are faced with a threat it equips us with the energy level, mood, and alertness that we will need to deal with the present danger. The problem only arises when our cortisol levels are still up when there’s no danger present.
If your cortisol levels are unnecessarily elevated, you may experience the following:
- Cognitive problems (e.g. problems with concentration and memory)
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Cardiovascular problems (heart disease, palpitations, etc.)
If you have elevated cortisol even when there’s no immediate threat, it makes your body and mind unnecessarily stressed out. This can trigger mental health issues, send our adrenal glands into overdrive, and send our other stress hormones into a tailspin. Therefore, we must learn how to lower our cortisol levels to lessen its stress effects.
Below, we are going to discuss some of the things that we can do and the supplements we can take to do just that.
Day-to-Day Symptoms of Elevated Cortisol Levels
When your body constantly undergoes stress, it can be detrimental to your health. When your cortisol surges frequently not only can it wear down your adrenal gland, but it can cause an automated stress response to situations where it is not needed.
Here are just some of the short-term symptoms that can come with elevated cortisol levels.
- Too much cortisol can give you headaches and it can make you feel irritated. You might even feel fatigued even if you had eight hours of sleep.
- You may notice that you gain weight fast. Cortisol can make you add on those extra inches around the waist and belly. It may also mess up your blood pressure and blood pressure level.
- It can also interrupt your normal sleeping patterns.
- High amounts of cortisol can result in digestive problems. It can cause diarrhea, constipation, and bloating
- You may have difficulty concentrating and retaining information. If you have a fast-acting cortisol response, it can cause brain fog.
- It is linked to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It can also lead to an increased heartbeat or a condition known as tachycardia.
Lowering cortisol levels is key to short-term and long-term health, let's go over how we can reduce cortisol naturally and some of the supplements you can use too.
5 Habits That Can Help Reduce Cortisol Levels
One way to lower our cortisol and stress levels is by simply making changes to our lifestyle. Here are some of the lifestyle changes and adjustments that you can do to lower your stress levels.
1) Getting Enough and Quality Sleep
One way to manage your cortisol levels is by simply prioritizing your sleep. Sleep issues such as insomnia and sleep apnea are associated with higher cortisol levels.
When we do not sleep properly, our hormones including cortisol are disturbed. This leads us to imbalances in the sleep/wake cycle, energy levels, and mood.
However, there are instances where one cannot control his/her sleep. One typical example of such is when someone works a night shift. While he cannot get the proper sleep at night, he can still optimize his sleep such as by sleeping at the same time of the day and limiting caffeine intake.
Sleep plays a crucial roll in pretty much all of our bodily functions, so getting high-quality sleep is key for good health, both in the short term and the long term.
2) Moderate Exercise
Regular exercise is a good way to reduce stress. However, if your main priority is to reduce your cortisol levels, you should aim to work out moderately, not intensely.
Exercise actually increases our cortisol levels to sustain the physical stress coming from the workout such as lifting heavyweights. The more intense your exercise is, the more your cortisol level will rise.
Studies show if you work out moderately, your cortisol will rise and fall short. Plus, you can both the physical and mental health benefits of exercise which make you feel overall good and, hence, less stressed.
3) Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a type of meditation where you intensely focus on your mind to the present – it’s like your mind is “being in the moment”. In this very aware state, your mind is calm, just observes what’s around it but it does not place judgment nor even interpretation to what it observes.
Mindfulness is very helpful in lowering our stress because it relaxes our minds. When we spend too much time making decisions, planning, solving problems, thinking too much, or even just thinking of random thoughts, it can drain our minds.
In turn, this causes us to be stressed – and we usually won’t even see it coming. By practicing mindfulness, we allow our minds to relax and “breathe” again.
4) Applying Breathing Techniques
We have mentioned allowing our minds to “breathe” again. Well, we can also apply that literally to our own breathing!
Breathing techniques such as deep breathing helps in reducing our stress because it stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system or the “rest and digest” system. In turn, this can help in lowering our cortisol levels.
And in a way, deep breathing can be a practice of mindfulness itself, allowing our body and mind to be calm and relax as we consciously note how we breathe.
5) Food That Works to Reduce Cortisol and Lower Stress Levels
The last suggestion might just be the most important when you are trying to lower cortisol levels and reduce your body's "fight or flight" reaction to stressful situations. Changing your diet to help support mental health is key to success when it comes to healthy cortisol levels.
Here are some of our favorite reducing stress foods:
- Dark chocolate
- Dried apricots
- Leafy green veggies
Each of these items includes different properties that help improve our body's release of cortisol and overall management of cortisol, chronic stress, and health. Food is truly medicine and these items significantly reduce stress hormones.
6 Supplements To Decrease Cortisol Levels
Aside from making lifestyle changes and adding in stress-reduction foods, there are supplements that you can take to help you in managing stress and in lowering your levels of cortisol. Here are the 6 supplements to reduce cortisol levels and help you better manage the stress hormone naturally:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Green tea
- Lemon balm
1) Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of fatty acids that can aid in reducing cortisol. A variety of research studies point to this fact, in one study, taking a fish oil supplement at 60mg per day together with docosahexaenoic acid had lowered the participants’ cortisol level as they work on a stressful task. Also, this is compared to those who only took a placebo.
Food can be your friend or foe. It can nourish your body but it can also do a lot of damage at the same time. You can get omega-3's from fatty fish such as salmon and tuna or you can also get it from fish oil supplements. Fish oil is a popular supplement, but when buying fish oil make sure you are buying from a trustworthy brand.
L-theanine is an amino acid that can be mostly found in teas such as black or green tea. L-theanine is mostly known for its calming and relaxing effects. For the most part, the amino acid is known to help induce a state of what is called “calm attentiveness” – and perhaps, one way it can do this is by reducing our cortisol levels.
This amino acid contains antistress properties. This compound may also help you focus better. That's why pouring yourself a cup of tea, instead of coffee is better if you are managing cortisol.
There is a variety of research that details how powerful this amino acid is in managing high cortisol and stress hormones. One study where participants were asked to take 200mg of L-theanine. Afterward, the participants reported that they felt less stressed.
3) Green Tea
Green tea is known for its ability to help us relax, mainly thanks to its l-theanine. But what separates this, in particular, is that it still includes caffeine. When caffeine and l-theanine work together, it can improve one’s mood, cognition, and alertness.
There’s a caveat, though: green tea only has 25mg per serving. If you want to get the best of l-theanine, you can take it in supplement form. But still, adding this to your diet or simply drinking it as you take some downtime is a great way to reduce cortisol, your stress response, and improve mental clarity.
If you are in need of lower cortisol levels, ashwagandha is a great option. This medicinal herb is widely known in the Ayurvedic medicinal tradition. Ashwagandha is known for its many health benefits such as improving one’s mood and promoting physical and mental strength.
Given that ashwagandha is used for improving one’s mood, it does play a role in improving one’s symptoms of mood problems such as chronic stress and anxiety. Aside from that, there are studies that show that ashwagandha can be effective in reducing cortisol levels and cortisol response, although more study is needed to confirm this conclusion.
In addition, this herb can also help you keep a healthy blood sugar level. So the cravings are controlled and that will help you maintain a healthy weight.
There are a variety of food supplements with Ashwagandha as the main ingredient. Be sure to buy from legit and trusted brands.
5) Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is an herb from the mint family. Lemon balm is mainly used for medicinal purposes. For instance, its leaves are directly used to make medicine.
The citrusy minty herb can also boost your mood and significantly reduces the negative effects of stress. Lemon balm is used to treat mood and mental health problems such as anxiety, sleep problems (insomnia), and stress. However, there is no good scientific evidence to back the claim for these uses yet.
Lemongrass is a grassy plant that is mainly used both as a medicinal herb and for cooking. Medicine-wise, lemongrass is used by healthcare providers to treat problems such as high blood pressure. But aside from that, lemongrass is also used in aromatherapy – lemongrass as an essential oil is used to relieve one from anxiety, stress, and possibly even depression.
Not only can this herb be used to treat anxiety and decrease cortisol levels, but it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help curb the negative effects of stress.
Reducing Cortisol Naturally - Should You Give It a Try?
If you're thinking about trying supplements to reduce cortisol, we hope this list helps you get started. Dealing with high levels of cortisol can put a strain on your mental health as well as your nervous system. Using vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can help lower cortisol levels dramatically.
Once you start to balance your cortisol levels naturally, you can also improve sleep, increase energy levels, and even get through a stressful situation with ease. Using foods, supplements, and lifestyle habits can help you achieve lower stress which inherently lowers increased cortisol.
Along with this list, with complete bias, we highly recommend giving our Anxiety blend a try. We use a variety of herbs like chamomile, valerian root, ashwagandha, lemon balm, lemongrass, oat straw, and peppermint to create a blend that is not only tasty but packed with powerful anti-stress herbs. If you want to hear from our customers instead, check out the reviews.
Here is one of our favorites from Peter M.:
"If you deal with anxiety, then this herbal blend is a great natural option. I've been using it for two straight months now and I feel 100% better. I used to have low-grade anxiety every single day, have never been good in stressful situations, and now it's pretty much gone. When Lindsay had shared her story with anxiety I didn't think herbs could actually do that much, but I have to agree, this one changed my life too. It's helped reduce stress, increase my health and wellbeing, and reduce cortisol."
It's possible to keep cortisol low friends! Pour a cup of tea, work on your breathing, and watch as your high cortisol levels balance out.