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Cortisol - The Stress Hormone

Ways to Lower Your Cortisol Stress Hormones

Stress Kills! Well, long-term stress that is. There is a big difference in our bodies’ response to short-term versus long-term stress. Our body reacts initially the same to both by releasing Cortisol, which is the major stress hormone, along with adrenaline. This helps us increase our heart rate and blood pressure, releases sugar into the blood for energy and slows metabolism. This can be beneficial if we are reacting to short-term stressors like running from a tiger or getting the kids out the door to school on time. However, if our stress load remains high or we don’t have the tools to relax and let our body recover, we create a toxic environment for the cells in our body.

  • Cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates:

  • “Fight or Flight” hormone

  • Helpful burst of hormone helps us survive

  • Chronic elevation is harmful to us

  • Glucose metabolism

  • Blood pressure regulation

  • Immune response

  • Inflammation response

  • Cortisol is produced in the Adrenal glands

  • Stimulated by the pituitary and hypothalamus

  • Levels are highest around 7AM and lowest at night

  • Causes of Elevated Cortisol

  • Long-term Stress

  • Depression and addiction

  • Drugs and alcohol

  • Overtraining

  • Malnourishment and nutritional deficiencies and obesity

  • Elevated estrogen levels and birth control

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Kidney and liver disease

  • Inflammatory states and infection

  • Signs of excess cortisol include:

  • Weight gain around the middle

  • Mood swings and anxiety

  • Fatigue and poor sleep

  • Increased thirst and urination

  • Changes in libido and irregular periods

  • Muscle pains and bone mineral loss

  • Acne and puffy face

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Increase risk of infections

Elevated cortisol has been linked with metabolic syndrome, weight gain, poor sleep, emotional problems, muscle and joint pain, elevated blood pressure, and increased risk for infections, auto-immune diseases and vascular disease including heart attack and stroke. With the passing of time, our adrenal glands, the source of cortisol, can fatigue or burn out.

Adrenal fatigue and burnout can lead to serious problems. When we cannot rise to the occasion with an appropriate response to stress this causes us to be susceptible to many diseases and may lead to fibromyalgia, thyroid issues, digestion problems, chronic fatigue syndrome and other illnesses. If you are feeling “burnt out” with lack of energy, decreased sexuality, depression and somatic complaints, you may be suffering with this commonly undiagnosed and untreated condition!

How can you be tested for this? Your Navigator can help you figure where you and your adrenal glands stand with a good history and some lab tests. Initial screening can be done with a morning blood draw, but sometimes a saliva test done throughout the day will give a much better picture of your adrenal glands ability to respond to the routine of your everyday life stressors.

What can be done if your adrenal glands are not functioning properly? The most important thing is to address the underlying issue! This can be related to stress, infections, injury, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal problems, etc. Sometimes we need to support the adrenals with vitamins and nutrients so that they can recover from stress and avoid depletion. Sometimes we need to cool down the adrenal glands and use herbal therapy and stress reduction to this end. Let your Navigator guide you based on your goals and desired course to regain a healthy balance of adrenal function.

Here are some of the things that we can discuss at Navigator Medical Consultancy to restore your most important adrenal gland to health and guide you to a life filled with vigor.

  • Meditation - can reduce cortisol levels by 20% over time

  • Mindfulness

  • Prayer

  • Breathing practices

  • Gratitude expression

  • Relaxation techniques

  • Prescription for nature therapy

  • Get up slowly in the morning

  • Sun salutations in the morning with positive affirmations

  • Get a massage!

  • Acupuncture


  • Essential oils

  • Heart rate variability training

  • Progressive muscle relaxation

  • Exercise!

  • Regular exercise 3-5 days a week

  • Mild to moderate activity

  • Your body produces more dopamine and endorphins

  • Reduce stress and cortisol levels

  • Reduce body fat

  • Belly fat high in cortisol receptors

  • Yoga

  • Journaling

  • Keeping track of what is good and not so good

  • Create healthy habits

  • Understand your triggers

  • Substitute healthy for unhealthy

  • Focus on the feeling of reward that you get

  • Sleep improvement

  • 7-9 hours are necessary

  • Less than that can increase cortisol by 50%

  • Take a nap

  • Refer to my sleep blog for more information

  • Nocturnal rituals

  • Healthy habits

  • Supplements

  • Nutritional support

  • Graze more!

  • Eating 5 smaller meals a day is much healthier

  • Use an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

  • High in antioxidants, fiber and essential nutrients

  • Avoid processed foods and trans fats

  • Reduce high glycemic index foods

  • Avoid simple sugars

  • Avoid white flours

  • Plenty of vegetables

  • Spinach

  • Beans and barley

  • Microgreens and baby greens

  • Plenty of fruits

  • Citrus

  • Healthy nuts and seeds

  • Flax seeds

  • walnuts

  • Dark Chocolate!

  • Mushrooms in the diet

  • Reishi, shiitake, maitake

  • Supplements

  • Vitamins

  • Broad spectrum vitamins

  • B Complex vitamins

  • Folic acid

  • B5 (pantothenic acid) to make CoQA

  • Vitamin C

  • Omega 3 fatty acids

  • Minerals

  • Magnesium

  • Calcium

  • Zinc

  • Phosphatidylserine

  • GABA

  • Herbal therapy – adaptogens help to balance and restore the body

  • Ashwaganda

  • Valerian root

  • Panax Ginseng – most potent for this

  • Holy Basil

  • Astragalus root

  • Rhodiola – suppresses cortisol

  • Licorice root – use with care as it can increase cortisol

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