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How to lower cortisol levels

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  • How to lower cortisol levels

    I have had high cortisol levels off and on (mostly on) for the past five or so years. Lots of stress in my life that has somewhat calmed down, but it's always something, you know? This past year I had two major joint surgerys (ACL and shoulder) and since then my levels are through the roof. I've done some googling and come across some ways to lower cortisol, but I'm wondering if anyone here has any additional ideas. The ones I've come across are:

    1. Get rid of caffeine. I'm weaning myself as we speak down to ONE cup of water-process decaf every day (down from about 32 oz. high octane - I have to chew my coffee - every day) so I'm getting there. Once I'm off of caffeinated coffee completely, I will try switching to decaf green tea or some herbal tea.

    2. Get enough sleep. I'm working on this. I have also had insomnia ALL my life (as in I remember being incapable of sleep as far back as when I was in elementary school) which I'm "treating" with a) bedtime routine (going to bed at the same time every day, winding down, no caffeine after 11am, etc.) b) melatonin and c) Ambien once in a blue moon when I have four or five days in a row of three or fewer hours of sleep (I only take it when absolutely *desperate* for sleep and it seems to "cut" the cycle and I'm able to sleep better after that.) The melatonin helps most nights so literally Ambien is maybe once or twice a month.

    3. Exercise. I'm following PF, starting back down at the basic movements as my shoulder is still not 100%. My question here is that I've been doing HIIT for my sprints a couple of days a week. I am wondering if I should drop this part of my routine altogether until my cortisol levels get under control and just do more low-level cardio (i.e. long walks, etc.) instead?

    4. B vitamin supplements. I stopped taking these a few weeks ago when my last bottle ran out thinking that I was probably getting plenty of B from my food now that I am eating more meat. But, I wonder if I'm just so depleted that I need to take it until those cortisol levels come down.

    5. Manage stress... LOLOL... I try, but apparently, I'm not so good at it all the time I do practice mindfulness meditation (but I could be more consistent with it, honestly) and I do suffer from severe anxiety sometimes. I'm working with a therapist to find coping strategies, but it just takes time.

    6. Keep blood sugar stable. LOL again... I'm eating VERY close to "perfectly" primal right now to heal my body and feel better. But my last blood work had my fasting BG over 100 (which kerfuffled me)...I'm hoping that was an anomaly.

    I've also recently cut out dairy (not nearly as challenging as I expected that to be!)

    Anything else I can do???

    Thank you!!!!


  • #2
    I'm working on the same thing myself. I know that when I was really bad, my doc did recommend elimianting all exercise except for things like yoga and walking... just for a little while. Then when I did add it back in, I had to not "push myself" at all, just slowly increase when I felt I could.

    Have you tried valerian for sleep as well? I have sleep issues (can fall asleep, but then staying asleep is the hard part), and valerian has been helping. The doc said it would take a month or two to really start "working", but I noticed an improvement right away. Downside is Valerian smells, and tastes, like dirty gym socks. So hold your nose and wash it down quick!

    Since I started using that with my melatonin my sleep quality has been a lot better...

    I would also recommend adding some type of meditation. I'm still working on this, but what I've been doing in the meantime is just taking a couple of minutes here and there during the day to sit quietly (in a quiet place if I can), breathe slowly and deeply (full breaths), and I like to do visualization. I've been doing two different variations... one is my "happy place", which is on a beach, in a hammock, blue water and waves washing the shore, gentle breeze blowing. That sort of thing. My other variation is using visualization to "picture" my body healing itself. I sometimes will picture my adrenal glands being soothed and working seemlessly, not overworked. things like that... I only do it for 3-4 minutes each time, but I feel much calmer afterward.

    I, myself, also take an adrenal support tablet, Adreset from metagenics. It just has a mix of herbal adrenal support...

    Hope some of this helps!!
    sigpic "Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


    • #3
      This might be a really silly question, but how can you tell your cortisol levels are high? Is there a specific way to test for it, or are you basing this off of how you feel?


      • #4
        Pee in a cup and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. If it tastes sweet the next day it means your cortisol is high.

        Important notes: I am not a doctor, I have no idea how to actually measure cortisol, and I just want to see you do this for my own entertainment.


        • #5
          Yoga, meditation, deep breathing. Some sort of light jogging or walking done outdoors, group activities like latin dancing, ball room dancing, capoeira ( lot of high energy, human interaction etc ). Try including magnesium malate ( once post workout and once in the night before retiring to bed) besides optizinc ( before sleeping ). Cillakat's supplement journal is dabomb..refer to it for furthur guidance. Adhering to a strict primal diet helps too.

          I would also recommend the following..

          Besides this passion flower, damiana can help too.
          Last edited by Nocturnalhorse; 10-28-2010, 11:45 AM.


          • #6
            I have cortisol issues and at least some measure of adrenal fatigue. My doctor started me on an adrenal supplement made of dessicated bovine adrenals. He also started me on Seriphos. I take 2 capsules at bed time and it has done wonders for my sleep, even during a recent period of very high stress.


            • #7
              @Rivvin - even if you were a doctor, that is one test I would have to decline...I do not care about my my cortisol levels nearly enough....
              I was just being lazy and did not feel like googling the method for testing cortisol!!


              • #8
                Yeah.... Sleep and laughter.

                Sleep and laughter are easily the most effective ways to fix cortisol levels, at-least with people I've dealt with.

                Next, realistic thinking:

                I do advocate a lot of positive thinking, but not to the point of delusion. Just never make a situation worse than it is and always find a solution. If there's a negative, there has to be a positive.

                Next, exercise.

                I like 3 times a week for high stress individuals. Exercise may add aditional stress, but it also teaches the body to react to cortisol in a more manageable way, and adds some good hormones (not that cortisol isn't good) to the mix like testosterone (which comes from pregnenalone just like cortisol)...

                Sunlight. Enough said.

                As far as supplements go:

                Celtic sea salt. Works amazing when added to water.

                Potassium/magnesium/Vitamin D (the sun is better, but do what you can)/adrenal support formula/sustained release Vitamin C/B vitamins... .

                Friends. No joke friends alone (because of laughter) could normalize cortisol.

                People might get on me because of that, but you can't argue with results.

                Diet... Try adding re-feeds in. It'll give your body a break from the constant cortisol/adrenaline stream.

                I'm not a doctor, I just like to kick cortisol's a$$ in my off-time when it gets out of line.
                In Pursuit of Healthiness, Only to Achieve Happiness!:


                • #9
                  By the way, when I say laughter above, I mean make it a point to watch or listen to something funny everyday. Just like you would shower everyday.
                  In Pursuit of Healthiness, Only to Achieve Happiness!:


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by EGYnutrition View Post
                    By the way, when I say laughter above, I mean make it a point to watch or listen to something funny everyday. Just like you would shower everyday.
                    Get a puppy, that'll make you laugh (or at the very least, smile) every day!!!

                    I'm glad to read your post EGY... I must have super duper low cortisol levels cause I am currently sleeping well, laughing, not stressed, and am a pollyanna positive thinker from way back! Add to that vit d supplementing and now going into summer and I'd be surprised if I had any cortisol in my body! Yay for me!


                    • #11
                      Controversial: Fat blunts do the trick.

                      Potential downside: Munchies.

                      Vicious cycle: munchies lead to fat gain which leads to higher cortisol.

                      Solution: Don't smoke to begin with.

                      (this post is entirely facetious)
                      I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.


                      • #12
                        Sex helps a lot.
                        My journal
                        7/5/11 -Size 14;
                        1/10/12 -Size 4


                        • #13
                          laughing during sex works too.

                          Laughter and purposefully developing a more positive attitude... definitely agree.
                          sigpic "Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


                          • #14
                            Yoga, breathing exercises, play, sleep.


                            • #15
                              Oh and death lowers cortisol as well. Until then I think worrying about your cortisol increases your cortisol.