Cortisol is a hormone released during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress. Cortisol prepares the body for physical danger by releasing glucose into the bloodstream, improving the brain’s use of glucose, and increasing the availability of tissue-repairing substances. Severe cases of prolonged high cortisol, such as in major depression, can cause neurotoxicity and brain damage. The condition, known as hyper-cortisolemia, can destroy cells in the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebellum.
Identify Cortisol Triggers
The first step in reducing cortisol is identifying the particular stressors in your life that are triggering the release of cortisol so that you can eliminate them. Among some common triggers are lack of adequate sleep, over exercising, and dieting. The best way to combat this is to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and sleep 6 to 8 hours a day.
Stress Reducing Supplements Shown to Lower Cortisol
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle cells and it preserves muscle by reducing cortisol levels. In addition, it offers other properties such as an increase in muscle cell volume, increased protein synthesis, enhanced immune function, and increased glycogen replenishment after a workout. Take 5 grams 3 times daily, including before and after working out.
It has been reported that vitamin C exerts a subtle cortisol reducing effect on the human body. Vitamin C is water soluble so there is little risk in taking large doses. Take 1 gram (1000 mg), 3 times a day, preferably with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The body’s hormonal stress response causes an outpouring of magnesium from cells into the blood. The higher the stress level, the greater the magnesium loss. The lower your magnesium level is initially, the more reactive you will be to stress, which causes greater loss of magnesium from cells. Soaking in a bath of Epsom salts may help. The best dietary supplements are the acid salts of magnesium like magnesium chloride, citrate, gluconate or glycinate.
An amino acid derivative commonly found almost exclusively in green tea, theanine is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and induce relaxation without causing drowsiness. Theanine has psychoactive properties and has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress.
B vitamins have been shown to directly affect neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Evidence suggests that B-vitamins are important in the balance and metabolism of neuro-toxic chemicals that have been linked to anxiety and depression related conditions. B vitamins maintains the adrenal glands and get used up during the “fight or flight” response and when converting food into energy for the body.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3′s have a calming effect on the central nervous system and have been proven effective at reducing cortisol levels. Researchers in France investigated the effects of fish oil, which contains the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, on mental stress in men and found that fish oil significantly reduces cortisol levels after undergoing a mental stress test that measured blood levels of epinephrine and cortisol.
PS is a cortisol blocker that drives nutrients into and remove toxins from your cells. It may be useful in preventing short-term memory loss, age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.