Cortisol’s Effects and How to Reduce it Naturally
Cortisol is perhaps one of the least known hormones in your body, but it plays an important role. Cortisol is a stress hormone, similar to adrenaline and norepinephrine. These hormones are part of your body’s fight-or-flight response.
In these fight-or-flight scenarios, norepinephrine acts to increase the force of skeletal muscle contraction and the rate and strength your heart's contractions; adrenaline acts to dilate your body’s air passages to provide your muscles, heart, lungs, and major organs with more oxygen as well as decrease pain sensitivity.
However, cortisol is not only released in fight-or-flight responses.
Because cortisol is a naturally produced hormone, your body will produce a small amount even when you are not under stress because cortisol plays a role in blood sugar control, metabolism control, inflammation, and memory formulation . It is healthy to have a normal amount of cortisol; however, having any level of elevated cortisol, which can be caused by stress, you could experience very unhealthy and physiologically damaging consequences.
In addition to stress, caffeine consumption can lead to increased levels of cortisol    .
High Cortisol Consequences
Cushing syndrome is a condition caused by high cortisol levels and is a result of tumors on the pituitary or adrenal glands that make another hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). In return, ACTH causes healthy adrenal gland tissue to produce more cortisol . Individuals with Cushing syndrome may experience a flushed face, high blood pressure, changes in the skin as well as rapid weight gain in the face, abdomen, and chest . It has also been noted that osteoporosis and mood swings are factors associated with Cushing disease .
Even in cases without Cushing disease, high cortisol levels can affect a woman’s libido and menstrual cycle . In individuals under a lot of stress, cortisol has also been linked to increased appetite and food intake, and since cortisol favors central fat deposition, high levels of cortisol have been claimed to contribute to the current epidemic of obesity .
Other symptoms of having too much cortisol include the following: acne, thinning skin, easy bruising, slowed healing, muscle weakness, severe fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and headaches .
This one sentence effectively sums up the general, severe effects of excess cortisol:
“Long-term exposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can wreak havoc on almost all of your body’s processes, increasing your risk of many health issues, from heart disease and obesity to anxiety and depression” .
How Do I know If I Have High Cortisol Levels?
If you think you have high cortisol levels, you can get tests performed by your doctor. These tests include urine and blood tests as well as cortisol saliva tests.
Healthmasters’ Cortisol Buster
Healthmasters’ Cortisol Buster has been shown to support healthy cortisol levels, and as a result, Healthmasters’ Cortisol Buster can also help you healthfully deal with stress, assist in a night of restorative and restful sleep, promote mental clarity, and assist in occasional fatigue. In this section, I am going to review the main ingredients in Healthmasters’ Cortisol Buster and its positive roles that are supported by scientific studies.
Relora is a proprietary blend of Magnolia and Phellodendron extracts and has been shown to have a positive effect on anxiety, stress, and sleep.
In 2006, researchers performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, and Relora was found to aid individuals with stress-related eating because of Relora’s effects in reducing cortisol levels .
In another double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial performed in 2008, researchers concluded Relora helped to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety in premenopausal women .
In a newer, placebo-controlled, 2013 study, researchers made two groups: a placebo group and a Relora group. After four weeks of supplementation, the researchers compared the two groups and found the Relora group had better mood parameters including lowered overall stress, tension, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion with higher levels of overall mood and vigor . The researchers concluded Relora helped to reduce cortisol exposure and perceived stress while improving mood and lowering fatigue. The researchers stated Relora could be an effective, natural approach to “modulating the detrimental health effects of chronic stress in moderately stress adults” .
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [WS]) is an ancient herb which has been shown to have stress-fighting and cognition-enhancing properties.
In a 2014 study, researchers examined five, separate studies to determine ashwagandha’s effects on anxiety. The researchers noted, “All five studies concluded that WS intervention resulted in greater score improvements (significantly in most cases) than placebo in outcomes on anxiety or stress scales” .
In another 2014 study, researchers found WS can improve psychomotor performance, the coordination of sensory processes and motor functions, and could be valuable for individuals who have diseases associated with cognitive impairment .
In 2013, researchers performed a placebo-controlled study examining WS’ effect on individuals with cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder patients. They found WS improved working memory, reaction time, and social cognition measures without any notable side-effects .
In a 2008 study entitled “A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study,” researchers found WS reduced biochemical reactions caused by stress and benefited individuals suffering from the effects of stress and anxiety without any adverse effects .
Suntheanine is a pure form of L-theanine that is created through a patented process and has been shown to have anti-stress effects.
In a 2008 study using rat subjects, researchers concluded, “that theanine-fed rats showed improved recognition, and that theanine affected learning and memory” .
In a 2007 study, researchers found L-theanine to reduce psychological and physiological stress responses. The researchers found L-theanine supplementation reduced the physiological stress responses of heart rate and s-IgA . The researchers concluded the study stating, “our results suggested that l-Theanine was effective for reducing the stress responses elicited by the mental arithmetic task. These results suggest that l-Theanine exerts anti-stress effects during an acute stress challenge” .
A 2008 study found L-theanine had a positive effect on mental arousal by increasing alpha-band activity in the brain, which, in turn, achieved a relaxed but alert mental state in individuals .
In one final study, researchers investigated the link between L-theanine and memory and found L-theanine to reduce oxidative damage in the brain and noted L-theanine may be useful in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease .
My goal in this article was to educate you on the effects of cortisol. Normal levels of cortisol are acceptable because cortisol is naturally produced by the body and does have some beneficial roles. However, in today’s environment, many people have increased stress levels, which can lead to increased cortisol levels, and elevated cortisol levels can cause many adverse health effects.
If you are interested in Healthmasters’ Cortisol Buster and have any questions about the product, please feel free to call our office at 800.726.1834.