Estrogen Hormone Replacement And Your Cortisol Levels
So, what does estrogen hormone replacement have to do with the stress hormone? Well, studies suggest that estrogen replacement therapy may help counteract the effects of cortisol. During menopause, your estrogen levels start to decline. This may also allow cortisol levels to rise and trigger stress responses. Add that in with all the other changes happening during menopause and you have a recipe for high levels of stress.
However, recent studies show that women on hormone replacement treatments may have lower levels of cortisol and may react differently to stress. Researchers set out to determine whether estrogen has a protective quality against stress when it comes to working memory. To increase stress, researchers had some women keep their hands in a bowl of cold water for a period of time. Others put their hands in a bowl of warm water. The cold water is meant to trigger a physical stress response. Then, the women were given a test for short-term working memory.
Eat A Nutritious Diet
Nutrition can influence cortisol for better or for worse.
While all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, being mindful of the foods you eat may alleviate symptoms of stress and help you better manage your cortisol levels.
Regular high added-sugar intake may result in elevated cortisol levels. Interestingly, a high sugar diet may also suppress cortisol release during stressful events, making it more difficult for your body to handle stressful situations (
For better gut and mental health, opt for a nutrient-dense diet full of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and foods high in prebiotics and probiotics.
Are There Herbs Or Supplements To Reduce Cortisol
The supplement aisle at the natural foods store is hardly a one-way ticket to a stress-free life. But some items may help keep cortisol levels in a healthy range, Dr. Lin says. Research suggests these herbs and natural supplements might lower stress, anxiety and/or cortisol levels:
While some herbs might help lower cortisol levels naturally, you dont want to swallow everything in sight, Dr. Lin says. Teas like lemon balm and chamomile are quite safe. But if youre thinking about trying herbs in supplement form, talk to a trained provider first.
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How To Reduce Cortisol Naturally
Dr. Lin stresses that a big-picture approach is key to maintaining healthy cortisol levels and feeling less stressed. These go-to strategies are good for the body and the mind.
Exercise benefits health from head to toe. So its no surprise that it helps with stress relief, too, possibly by reducing cortisol levels. Studies show, for instance, that exercise can bring down cortisol levels in the elderly and in people with major depressive disorder.
Almost nothing beats a good nights sleep. When youre not sleeping well, you tend to be more anxious, irritable and stressed, Dr. Lin says. Like exercise, sleep is important for health in all sorts of ways including managing stress and keeping cortisol in check.
Sleep deprivation may increase cortisol levels. The increased cortisol can impair memory, contribute to weight gain and even accelerate the aging process. In other words: Dont skimp on shut-eye.
Spending time in the great outdoors is a great way to lower cortisol and calm your brain. The practice of forest bathing essentially, hanging out in the woods and breathing the forest air can reduce cortisol levels and lower stress.
When it comes to de-stressing, cortisol is just one piece of the puzzle, Dr. Lin adds. No one food or pill can deliver you to blissful calm. But healthy choices can set your body up for low-stress success.
Here Are 10 Ways To Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally:
1. Get regular, quality sleep
Quality sleep is essential for good health and proper cortisol levels. While it may seem odd, its necessary to create a regular sleep schedule and stick to it, even on the weekends. Most people need anywhere from 6 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night.
2. Exercise regularly
It can be hard to prioritize regular exercise, but the benefits far outweigh the amount of time it takes to make it happen. Exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can help reduce stress and lower cortisol levels. For others, vigorous exercise a few times a week is all thats needed.
Whats most important is starting off whatever exercise regimen you choose slowly to allow the body to adjust. Stamina and lower cortisol and stress levels will definitely improve over time.
3. Maintain a clean and healthy diet
Maintaining a healthy diet of lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits is an excellent way to reduce cortisol. These are foods that help the body sustain exercise and recover from workouts.
Avoiding sugar and sweets also keeps the body from going through spikes in blood sugar, which can affect stress and mood.
Many of the same foods that boost serotonin also lower cortisol levels with the same effect of minimizing stress and anxiety.
4. Avoid or limit alcohol
The other problem with alcohol is that it can be habit forming, meaning people may begin to rely on it as a way to relieve stress, when in actuality it will end up having the opposite effect.
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Focus On What Your Gut Is Feeling
As they say, your gut feeling is never wrong! Keeping a check on how your gut is feeling might help you point out hormonal imbalances. Signs like leaky gut, indigestion, and other stomach-related issues can be signs of reduced probiotic bacteria. Eating healthy and consulting your doctor for a better diet plan is the way to go.
Best Supplements To Reduce Cortisol
These supplements are proven to reduce cortisol, a stress hormone that, in excess, is often the cause of physical and mental health problems.
Cortisol is your primary stress hormone.
Its useful during emergencies, but chronic stress can create an outpouring of cortisol all day long and thats a problem.
Excess cortisol leads to a host of physical health problems and puts you at greater risk for anxiety, depression, memory loss, and cognitive decline.
The majority of research on cortisol and supplements that affect it has been carried out on animals.
And a surprising number of clinical trials measure how various substances affect the cortisol level of athletes in extreme circumstances, such as running an ultramarathon.
If you think that that kind of research isnt applicable to the average person, youd be right.
Lets take a look at the best cortisol supplements those shown to reduce cortisol in average humans under ordinary circumstances.
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How Cortisol Functions In The Body
While many people are concerned with lowering the amount of cortisol in their body, the truth is that a healthy balance of this hormone is necessary for optimal healthand can actually be lifesaving in the right circumstances. Thats because cortisols main job is to help fuel your bodys fight or flight response. When you encounter a dangerous situation, your adrenal glands release cortisol into the bloodstream. Your blood pressure rises, enabling your fight or flight response and prepping your body for immediate action. Your blood sugar also increases to provide immediately available fuel for your muscles. After the threat passes, your cortisol levels go back to normal and homeostasis returns.
The trouble comes when constant stress causes our cortisol levels to remain elevated above a natural baseline. This can cause a variety of symptoms that can be quite uncomfortable and compromise your quality of life.
Alteration Of Acth And Cortisol Levels After Estradiol Valerate Treatment In A Male Subject With Gender Dysphoria: A Case Report
- 1Department of General Internal Medicine 1, Kawasaki Medical School, Okayama, Japan
- 2Department of Diabetes, Metabolism and Endocrinology, Kawasaki Medical School, Kurashiki, Japan
Background: The number of subjects with gender dysphoria has been increasing. In general, male-to-female transsexual subjects are treated with estradiol valerate therapy. In this report, we showed the time course of ACTH and cortisol levels after estradiol valerate injection in a male subject with gender dysphoria. It seemed that alteration of estradiol levels influenced ACTH and cortisol levels via some pathway.
Case presentation: A 31-year-old man with estradiol valerate therapy for gender dysphoria was referred due to an elevation of serum cortisol levels. She started hormone therapy at 26 years old. Her laboratory analyses showed an elevation of plasma ACTH and cortisol levels. There were no remarkable changes in the adrenal gland and pituitary gland. Her estradiol levels were elevated 7 days after estradiol valerate injection, but they were not detected 18 days after such treatment. Interestingly, plasma ACTH and serum cortisol levels were moderately decreased 7 days after estradiol valerate injection, but both were markedly elevated 18 days after such treatment.
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Does Cortisol Increase During Periods
The level of cortisol usually increases during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Cortisol might not increase during periods, but an increase in cortisol could result in anovulation and longer cycles.
Make Sleep A Priority
Going to bed and waking up at around the same time every day in addition to logging eight hours of sleep is key to reducing stress. “This will regulate the cycle of melatonin and cortisol that is so important for health,” says Moday. These expert tips can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night, and here are our favorite sleep supplements.
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Hrt And Cortisol Levels
Hormone replacement therapy can help reduce your perimenopause symptoms and help you feel less stressed. Most of us are walking around with higher than normal levels of cortisol, and this built-up stress can further deplete the already decreasing levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that normally occur during menopause. High cortisol levels dont just make you feel stressed out or cause symptoms like fatigue, it can have major impacts on your health, and can be a vicious cycle.
HRT has been shown in recent studies to counteract the effects of excess cortisol. 7 During menopause, when estrogen levels start to decline cortisol levels rise and trigger stress responses. Studies show how critical cortisol levels are in sleep-wake patterns, eating, physical activity, and basically how a person adapts to challenges in life. 4 When women are on HRT they have lower levels of cortisol and may react more calmly to stress during and after menopause. 8
Factors Regulating Production And Secretion Of Cortisol
Cortisol secretion is controlled by circadian rhythm, the negative external stimuli and feedback regulation, as confirmed by studies conducted by Bornstein et al. .
Under the influence of circadian and stress factors, hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone and vasopressin . Arising hormones stimulate the anterior pituitary gland to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone . ACTH affects expression of StAR protein which transports cholesterol across the mitochondrial membrane and allows the process of cortisol formation in the adrenal cortex .
Transport of cortisol takes place in biologically inactive conjunctions with transcortin and albumin . In target cells, it affects the transcription of DNA. In conducted studies, it was found that cortisol can also influence functioning of body, using non-genomic mechanisms .
The bodys response to cortisol depends on its concentration and the concentration of the receptor that is affected by the state of development, timing of cell cycle and endocrine disorders .
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How To Naturally Decrease Estrogen Levels
Responsible for developing and maintaining female characteristics, estrogen is one of the two main female sex hormones. Nutrition, weight, caffeine intake, and stress may play a role in altering estrogen levels, however, its important to remember that a persons hormonal health is unique to their health history and a number of other variables play a role in overall health. Therefore if you are seeking out natural ways to decrease high estrogen levels, some of the outlined methods here may be more or less effective than others.
Some lifestyle changes that can help lower estrogen levels include:
- Ditch the caffeine
Hormone Therapy Can Help Treat Cortisol Imbalance
Cortisol imbalance is becoming a more prevalent diagnosis as more and more people struggle to balance busy professional, family, and social lives. Our lives show no signs of slowing downand until were able to manage stress in a healthy way, we will continue to struggle with this significant hormone imbalance on a grand scale. If youve tried the steps explored above without seeing a significant change in your symptoms, it may be time to seek help from a qualified expert in hormone health.
The practitioners at BodyLogicMD are certified experts in integrative medicine and are focused on helping patients like you achieve optimal wellness through a combination of nutrition, lifestyle changes, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. When you partner with a BodyLogicMD practitioner, they perform a complete assessment to understand your symptoms, analyze your cortisol levels, and craft a treatment plan thats fully customized to your unique situation. Whether your cortisol levels are high or low, they can give you the treatment support you need to take back control of your wellbeing.
If youre struggling to figure out how to balance cortisol levels on your own, its time to consider a professional option. Theres no need to suffer with hormone imbalance. With modern holistic treatment, you can regain the health and vitality you once enjoyed, free from the symptoms of chronic stress.
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When To Lower Your Cortisol Load
While you donât want to lower your cortisol load altogether, you definitely want to avoid high levels of this stress hormone later in the day, especially as your bedtime draws near.
Unfortunately, everyday factors like sleep loss, chronic stress, and circadian misalignment incite HPA hyperactivity. In this scenario, cortisol continues to circulate in your system even after a stressor has passed. This spells trouble for your nighttime sleep as you:
- Wake up more frequently in the middle of the night,
- Have less restorative deep sleep, and,
- Cut short your total sleep duration
Lo and behold, youâve now accrued sleep debt, the amount of sleep youâve missed out on in the past 14 days relative to your sleep need.
You can blame your shoddy sleep patterns on the corticotropin-releasing hormone . Itâs a precursor to cortisol secretion that represses melatonin production. For the uninitiated, melatonin is a sleepiness-promoting hormone naturally created in your body when you’re in the dark. Think of it as the key that unlocks the gateway to sleep.
Unfortunately, excessive amounts of the stress hormone delay melatonin synthesis, so youâre more likely to stay up past your bedtime. And we all know what that entails: Late-night activities like phone-scrolling and Netflix-binging, all of which expose you to bright artificial light, further suspending the manufacturing of melatonin within your body.
How Can You Relieve Stress Naturally
For starters, eating a balanced diet with healthy fats, staying well hydrated by drinking water, limiting caffeine intake, getting regular exercise, and practicing yoga and meditation are good practices for a healthy lifestyle, which can help relieve stress naturally. Sleep also plays an important role aiming for 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep every night is essential to alleviate stress. Certain supplements can also help to lower cortisol levels and reduce stress.
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High Cortisol Levels Vs Cushings Disease Vs Cushings Syndrome: Whats The Difference
When the pituitary or adrenal glands produce abnormally high levels of cortisol for a duration of time, a doctor may diagnose a serious, chronic disorder called Cushings disease.
Cushings disease is usually caused by tumors on the adrenal or pituitary glands and often causes symptoms like rapid weight gain, a swollen face, fatigue, and water retention/swelling around the abdomen and upper back. It impacts women between the ages of 25 to 40 most often, although people of any age and gender can develop this condition.
Diagnosable Cushings disease caused by an overactive adrenal gland is considered much rarer than just having generally high cortisol levels. In other words, you have a much greater chance of experiencing high cortisol at certain times due to increased stress in your life than you do of ever being diagnosed with Cushings disease. While people experience at least somewhat high levels of cortisol at one time or another during very stressful episodes , rates of Cushings disease diagnoses are still very low compared to other hormonal/endocrine conditions like thyroid disorders or diabetes, for example.
Low Cortisol Levels: Addisons Disease and Adrenal Fatigue
How To Normalize Cortisol Levels
HRT – HRT is available as an oral tablet, a topical lotion or patch, or vaginal cream and can counteract the effects of excess cortisol.
Healthy Sleep – Keep your sleeping and waking time the same each day, try to get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted rest, and limit electronics use before bedtime.
Exercise – Regardless of which kind of exercise you choose, exercising throughout menopause reduces stress and helps improve cortisol levels.
Diet – Focus on a diet that doesnt cause spikes in your blood sugar. Spikes in sugar can cause cortisol spikes too.
Relaxation – Relaxation practices can reduce cortisol and stress levels. Try deep breathing exercises and meditation.
Cut Back On – You dont have to completely get rid of them, but reducing alcohol and caffeine can significantly reduce cortisol levels.
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