Natural Ways To Lower Cortisol Levels
There are several things that you can do to lower your stress levels, reduce the effects of stress on the body, and improve your overall health and well-being. Here are some common ways to help rebalance your cortisol and promote good health.
- Sleep When you sleep, how much sleep you get, and the quality of your sleep all impact your cortisol levels. We recommend keeping a consistent sleep schedule, creating an environment for uninterrupted sleep , turning off electronics an hour before bedtime, and avoiding caffeine in the evening can help you get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, which will help decrease your cortisol.
Treatment For Cushing’s Syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome usually gets better with treatment, although it might take a long time to recover completely.
Treatment depends on what’s causing it.
If it’s caused by taking steroids:
- your steroid dose will be gradually reduced or stopped
If it’s caused by a tumour, treatment may include:
- surgery to remove the tumour
- radiotherapy to destroy the tumour
- medicines to reduce the effect of cortisol on your body
Speak to your doctor about the benefits and risks of the different treatment options.
Treatment Goal: Bring Cortisol Back To Normal
When treating Cushing’s disease, surgery is the recommended first choice of treatment to bring cortisol levels back to normal. This is a specific surgery to remove the pituitary gland tumor. However, if you are unable to have surgery or choose not to, there are medications to help lower cortisol levels.
If you have already had surgery but your symptoms are returning, or if your symptoms never improved in the first place, read abouttreatment options for recurring or persistent Cushing’s disease.
You’ve made it through a long diagnosis journey. Now you need to decide with your healthcare team what treatment is best for you. Understanding each option can help with this decision. The sooner you start treatment, the better chance you have to improve your quality of life.
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Released To Handle Stress Cortisol Is An Important Hormone But When Levels Get Too High It Can Be Tough On Your Body
by Health Writer
Got stress? Who doesnt these daysand its no surprise that an overabundance of stress, particularly when its chronically elevated, can on your body and emotions. Still, some stress isnt necessarily a bad thing: Elevated levels of anxiety trigger the release of hormones related to the stress response, and one of those hormones, called cortisol, plays an important role in daily functioning, helping us awake refreshed, be more focused, and maintain energy throughout the day.
The key? Regulating those cortisol levels. Because when cortisol is too high, and especially if it feels stuck in that position as it can with Cushing’s disease or Cushing’s syndrome, there can be some serious and negative health effects as a result.
Treatment Of Cushings Disease
Microsurgical resection of an ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma is the optimum treatment for Cushings disease with cure rates of 80-90 percent if a tumor is found. Surgery is most often done through a transnasal transsphenoidal approach, which will not leave a visible scar. This type of surgery may be performed, per the surgeons preference, using either a minimally invasive operating microscope or with the use of an endoscope. Partial removal of the pituitary gland may be used in patients without clearly identifiable adenomas.
In patients to whom a remission is not obtained after surgery, the use of various medications that can inhibit cortisol production may be used, such as:
These agents are not as effective as surgery and are considered a secondline course of treatment. In some patients who are particularly resistant to all forms of therapy, removal of the adrenal glands bilaterally may be considered.
Post-surgery, with successful tumor removal, the production of ACTH drops below normal. This decrease is natural and temporary, and patients are prescribed a synthetic form of cortisol such as hydrocortisone or prednisone to compensate this change. Most patients can discontinue replacement therapy within six to 12 months, but others may require the use of oral steroids for several years to, possibly, their lifetime. Patients who need adrenal surgery may also require steroid replacement therapy.
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Engage In Social Activities And Have Some Fun
Any healthy relationship or hobby leads to feelings of happiness and thus a reduction in stress levels. This, in turn, affects your cortisol levels as well.
Being with people allows you to talk, share jokes, and laugh. Laughing helps promote the release of endorphins. It also helps to suppress cortisol production.
Hobbies also count as social activities and stress-relievers. The simple act of gardening, for example, gives you the chance to not just interact with your neighbors but decreases your stress levels as well. Taking an art class, doing martial arts, or starting a collection are also ways to get out and connect with others as well.
Adopting a dog or cat could also help reduce cortisol levels. Petting them and looking after them is an enjoyable experience and gives you something to care for.
Radiation Therapy For Tumors
If your healthcare provider is unable, for whatever reason, to remove a tumor on your pituitary gland, they may suggest radiation therapy. This therapy takes place over six weeks. They could also suggest stereotactic radiosurgery. Here, you receive one dose of radiation using a three-dimensional coordinates system to minimize radiation exposure to surrounding tissue.
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It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
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Weve all felt that surge of energy as we confront something threatening or startling. A barely avoided car accident. A call that your child has been hurt. The pressure to meet a deadline.
As your body perceives stress, your adrenal glands make and release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. Often called the stress hormone, cortisol causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. Its your natural flight or fight response that has kept humans alive for thousands of years.
Normal levels of cortisol also are released when you wake up in the morning or exercise. These levels can help regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and even strengthen your heart muscle. In small doses, the hormone can heighten memory, increase your immune system and lower sensitivity to pain.
If your body experiences chronic stress, you may begin to feel unpleasant and even dangerous effects, such as:
- Muscle pain or tension in the head, neck, jaw, or back
Conditions Treated With Corticosteroids
A number of common conditions respond well when treated with corticosteroids including:
- skin disorders such as psoriasis and dermatitis
- inflammatory diseases such as asthma, ulcerative colitis, lupus and some forms of arthritis
- cancer particularly cancers related to the immune system, such as leukaemia and lymphoma
- organ transplant corticosteroids are used to inhibit the body’s immune response so that a transplanted organ is not rejected
- Addison’s disease an autoimmune disorder that stops the adrenal glands from making sufficient hormones, including cortisol.
Cortisone is used to manage rather than treat Addison’s disease by replacing the cortisol naturally produced by the body. This may also occur in the management of pituitary disease. The dose required is much lower than the other examples above.
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Reduce Alcohol And Caffeine Use
While many adults use alcohol to wind down at the end of a long day or in social situations, alcohol has been found to significantly increase cortisol levels in both men and women, particularly those who drink heavily. Caffeine does the same, creating a temporary but dramatic increase in blood pressure and related symptoms of anxiety. If youre struggling with cortisol imbalance, steer clear of these substances and give your body the chance to recalibrate on its own.
High Cortisol Levels Takeaway
High cortisol levels may have a debilitating effect on your health. But by taking steps to reduce your cortisol levels, you may promote adrenal health and reduce many of these issues or even reverse them.
If you suffer from high cortisol, here are a few things you can do to help alleviate the situation.
- Ask your healthcare provider about doing tests to determine the root cause.
- Consider making dietary changes, reducing stress, and doing some low-level or moderate exercise.
- Explore the use of natural supplements with your healthcare provider.
If you would like to know more about or need assistance with high cortisol levels, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free* no-obligation phone consultation at +1 571-1234 where we will privately discuss your symptoms and options. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by .
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If Symptoms Are The Same Why Does It Matter
It is important to know the exact cause of your high cortisol levels so your doctor can treat it properly. There are two categories of Cushing’s syndrome, ACTH-dependent and ACTH-independent. Cushing’s disease falls under the ACTH-dependent category of Cushing’s syndrome, since the tumor on the pituitary gland causes it to release too much ACTH.
Cushing’s syndrome can also be due to causes outside of the body, such as taking steroid medicines for a long period of time.
How To Lower Your Cortisol And Improve Your High Cortisol Symptoms
There are three levels to improving the health of your cortisol levels.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Cushing’s Syndrome
The following are the most common symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Upper body obesity
- Increased fat around neck or a fatty hump between the shoulders
- Thinning arms and legs
- Stretch marks on abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms, and breasts
- Bone and muscle weakness
- Excess facial and body hair growth in women
- Irregular or stopped menstrual cycles in women
- Reduced sex drive and fertility in men
The symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
How Does It Happen
The body system that controls hormone production is the endocrine system.
Within this system, the glands work together and produce different types of hormones.
The hormones that one gland produces can directly affect the hormone production of other glands.
These glands include the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, pancreas, ovaries, and testicles.
The adrenal glands are just above the kidneys. They produce cortisol, along with other hormones. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, and it is the major natural glucocorticoid in humans.
Cortisol helps to regulate how the body turns proteins, carbohydrates, and fat from food into energy.
It also helps to control blood pressure and blood glucose levels and to maintain cardiovascular function. It can suppress the immune system, and it affects how the body responds to stress.
When cortisol levels are persistently high, Cushings syndrome can result.
Genetic factors may play a role in some cases, but Cushings syndrome and Cushings disease do not appear to run in families.
There are two types of Cushings syndrome.
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In Cushing’s Disease The Cortisol Pathway Is Disrupted By A Pituitary Gland Tumor
This causes too much ACTH to be released, which in turn leads to a constant release of cortisol by the adrenal glands. It is this high level of cortisol in your blood that causes the symptoms of Cushing’s disease.
The pituitary gland releases ACTH when signaled by the brain.
ACTH tells the adrenal glands on the kidneys to make cortisol. Normally, your body can sense when there is enough cortisol in the blood, and ACTH production stops. This feedback keeps the cortisol levels normal.
Cortisol levels remain high in Cushing’s disease. This is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland causing the release of too much ACTH. This ACTH tells the adrenal glands to keep making cortisol. It is these high levels of cortisol that cause the symptoms of Cushing’s disease.
Understand Your Cortisol Levels With Home Testing
You can easily check your cortisol levels from the convenience of home with our Sleep & Stress Test kit. This test will tell you how your cortisol levels change over a 24-hour period, which can help you understand if youâre experiencing chronic stress and what parts of the day are especially stress-inducing for you. The test also measures melatonin, the âsleep hormone,â so you can get a better picture of your overall sleep-wake cycle.
If you do have chronically elevated cortisol levels, you can easily share your cortisol test results with your healthcare provider through our secure, online platformâso you can then learn what next steps they recommend for you.
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Moderate Exercise To Lower Cortisol
Enjoying regular exercise can help to reduce your cortisol levels because it helps to cope with stress better.
The Journal of Endocrinological Investigation reported that moderate, low-intensity exercise has a positive effect on cortisol levels. However, intensive exercise increases cortisol secretion in the body.
Interestingly, sweating after exercise can cause high concentrations of cortisol in the body and these concentrations are detected in hair. Doctors can test hair samples for cortisol to help diagnose conditions related to chronic stress.
Ashwagandha: An Incredible Natural Cortisol Regulator
Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used in the traditional Indian Ayurvedic medical practice for thousands of years. Also known as Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry, the name ashwagandha literally translates to smell of horse, due to the plants distinctive aroma.
This medicinal herb is classified in Western medicine as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are compounds that help an organism adapt to stress, normalizing the physiological imbalances that stress triggers in the body. Ashwagandha is a particularly effective and safe adaptogen that reduces stress-induced damage and doesnt have negative side-effects nor withdrawal symptoms.
Scientists at the Department of Neuropsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry at Asha Hospital in India conducted a study, the title of which effectively communicates the subject and high-quality methodology of the research: A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults.12
After 60 days, the same assessments were performed. Here are the results, as published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine:
These are remarkably clear and definitive results that only build on both a long history of Ashwagandha use, and other scientific research confirming the stress-reducing, cortisol-lowering benefits of Ashwagandha extracts.
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What Happens During A Cortisol Test
A cortisol test often uses a sample of blood drawn at a lab. But the test may also be done on urine or saliva collected at home. Normally, cortisol levels vary during the day, so your provider may order more than one type of test to get more information about your cortisol levels.
For a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
Blood samples are usually taken twice during the day–once in the morning when cortisol levels are at their highest, and again around 4 p.m., when levels are much lower.
For a cortisol urine test, your provider may ask you to collect all your urine during a 24-hour period. This is called a “24-hour urine sample test.” For this test, you’ll be given a special container and instructions for how to collect and store your urine sample. Your provider will tell you what time to start. The test usually includes the following steps:
In certain cases, a urine test for cortisol may be done on one sample of urine collected in the morning.
A cortisol saliva test is usually done at home with a kit to collect a saliva sample. Your provider will tell you what time to collect your sample. It’s often done at night before you go to bed when cortisol levels are normally lower.