Tips and supplements which decrease cortisol, can also help lower the risk of heart disease. Cortisol is a hormone which has an effect on virtually every organ in our body, including the heart muscle.
Although it can impair our immune system, break down muscle tissue, cause hormonal imbalance, raise blood pressure, lead to osteoporosis, accelerate aging and decline in brain function, we still need some of it.
Cortisol is like a bad guy which helps keep good guys on their toes. It is essential for flight or fight response and healthy inflammation reaction. The problem comes when cortisol stays elevated for prolonged amount of time such as in cases of chronic stress.
SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES OF ELEVATED CORTISOL
Some of the symptoms of high cortisol are purple colored stretch marks, depression, anxiety, small red dots on your skin or petechia, fat gain in the face, neck, midsection and upper back. To overcome it, you have to find out the cause of high cortisol.
Most often, condition is caused by prolonged stress which puts hormonal system, especially adrenal glands into overdrive leading to cortisol overload. It can be triggered by financial problems, certain diseases such as Cushing's syndrome and stressful working or living environment.
The best natural approach includes revitalizing endocrine glands, avoiding stimulants, boosting DHEA production since it has the ability to lower cortisol and relaxation methods.
This kind of tree way approach helped me decrease cortisol because of which my heart function improved as well as my immune function and energy levels.
Adaptogens are in my opinion the best natural remedies for decreasing cortisol. They improve function of endocrine system as well as your resistance to stress. Two of them are the best for lowering cortisol, which includes Rhodiola and Ashwagandha.
However, others, such as Ginseng, Maca, Eleuthero, Astragalus, Schisandra and Suma can also help by revitalizing adrenal glands and increasing the production of DHEA, an anti-stress hormone.
Relora which is made from combination of two herbs is suposed to lower cortisol by 30 percent. I have tried it and in my opinion, it is ineffective.
I didn't feel or experienced anything, good or bad but many people have good things to say about it. However, it may work but only way to prove its effectivness, is by measuring cortisol levels in the blood, before, during and after taking Relora.
Theanine is an amino acid found in Green tea which can pass the blood-brain barrier. It may increase the production of GABA and dopamine because of which it can relax central nervous system and decrease cortisol.
I have tried several products which contained either green tea or theanine but I didn't experinced any significant benefits from it, regarding stress reduction. However, maybe it will work for you.
Relaxing herbs such as Kava-Kava, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, St.John's Wort and Valerian do work. Taking them at night, before bed with food, helped me fall a sleep, easier.
However, their effect fades with time because of which you have to increase the dose, in order to get the same effect. They aren't permanent solution but only a quick fix for a short period of time.
Phosphatidylserine or PS is phospholipid found in brain cells and in soy. PS supplements may boost concentrations of this phospholipid in the brain thereby increasing sensitivity of cortisol receptors in the brain.
This improves hormonal feedback loop in the hypothalamus which helps decrease cortisol levels in the blood. I have tried several brands with mixed results.
Some didn't do anything, while others provoked obvious mental reaction, in a good way. However, I noticed this only after increasing my intake of phosphatidylserine above 500 mg which makes it not the most cost-effective cortisol lowering supplement, out there.
Anti-estrogens worked great for me. Estradiol is one of three estrogens which can increase cortisol and SHBG, while reducing total and free testosterone, a hormone with strong anti-catabolic properties.
So, by lowering estradiol, you also decrease cortisol. I noticed huge improvement in my mood, mental well-being and even weight loss, while taking them. In combination with adaptogens, they are the most effective cortisol lowering supplements, in my opinion.
Caffeine is one of the most powerful stimulants on the world and as any stimulant, it increases the production of stress hormones which includes adrenaline and cortisol. Since I am very sensitive to stimulants, I have noticed that when I drink too much coffee, I get restless and jittery.
The point is, if you are under a lot of stress, don't rely on coffee because you will make things only worse. In this case or if you are very sensitive to stimulants such as myself, lower the intake of caffeine or stay away from it completely, whichever works for you.
DAILY ROUTINE TIPS FOR DECREASING CORTISOL
Sleep is the best and cheapest way to relieve stress. During sleep, the body, that is, the endocrine glands produce hormones which help repair the damage caused by daytime stress. The most mind puzzling fact is that in the morning after we wake up, cortisol levels are at their highest. However, its just how our hormonal system works.
Exercise can also help decrease cortisol but the key is in duration and type of exercise. If your cortisol is elevated, then you should avoid long, slow-paced exercises. When I began working out, I started jogging but since I worked out too long and too often, I started to experience side effects.
I was tired all the time, my body was always sore and I severely weakened my immune system because of which I was sick 5 times in a span of 6 months. I did some tests which showed that my cortisol is too high, while my ACTH was dangerously elevated.
However, with enough rest, good diet, some supplements and by working out smart, I managed to get my cortisol and ACTH levels within normal values.
For instance, sprinting won't elevate your cortisol levels in the long run. It will actually increase production of anti-aging hormones such as HGH, DHEA, Progesterone and Testosterone which will help repair the damage caused by corticosteroids.
Music is one of the simplest and most effective ways for alleviating stress. However, this may also depend on your taste in music. Some people prefer rock, while others like opera or pop.
The point is, whichever type of music makes you feel good and encourages release of endorphins, is the right one for you.
Other relaxation methods such as meditation, massage, sexual intercourse, deep breathing, socialization and laughter can all help you decrease cortisol and improve mood. Maybe you don't like everyone of these methods but at least one of them should suit your character.
Besides these tips and cortisol supplements, people looking how to lower cortisol should also take care of their diet. Sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals as well as good carbs, proteins and fats is important for healthy hormonal function and cortisol control.
Some research studies suggest that insufficient intake of complex carbs, B vitamins and healthy fats, such as omega 3's are directly correlated with higher cortisol levels.
Lowering fat percentage has also shown to decrease cortisol, maybe due to lower estradiol levels. However, most scientists agree with the fact that high cortisol and stress levels are associated with the increased risk of heart disease. I strongly agree with this fact since I experienced it first hand.
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