Significance of High Cortisol

High cortisol means you are stressed out. I’m going to be straight with you– something must be done about it!

Prolonged high cortisol eats your body up from the inside out like acid. It can lead to increases in infections due to a suppressed immune system, leaky gut with all its problems, bone thinning, weight gain, diabetes and memory loss. Your brain actually shrinks from the effects of prolonged high cortisol!

But what if you don’t FEEL stressed out? We all would agree that a life-threatening emergency is stressful. But did you know that high cortisol is also from:

  • Anger
  • A to-do list that is too long
  • Multi-tasking (you KNOW what I mean here–I get you!)
  • Monkey-mind (always thinking about what you have to do next…)

That’s right–your body cannot tell the difference between the stress of a true emergency and monkey-mind! Stress. Equals. High. Cortisol. PERIOD.

Ways to Lower Cortisol

Well, I think the most important thing is to acknowledge out loud that it’s a problem. Quit ignoring it. No more thinking that stress reduction or self-care is a luxury. It is life saving!

Here’s some practical suggestions:

  • Practice gratitude. Start a gratitude journal. Every morning take 5 minutes to write down 3 things you are grateful for.
  • Read a passage from a book that helps you focus on simplicity and beauty.
  • Practice focused mindfulness (aka meditation). There are many sources available online. Some are free and others charge a nominal fee for access to guided meditations.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Walk barefoot outside.
  • Sing or hum–this activates the vagus nerve, which is the “calm down” nerve that controls the opposite part of the nervous system.
  • Practice rhythmic breathing; deep breath over 4 seconds, hold for 3-4 seconds and exhale slowly over 4 seconds. Do that 5 times and you just spent a minute on stress reduction!

So now you know what you may have suspected… you are super stressed out. You now have a choice– do something about it or continue to ignore it and face long-term health problems.

Nutrient Considerations if You have High Cortisol

The following micronutrients are needed in extra doses in times of stress:

  • B-Vitamins – they work in concert. A good B-Complex is crucial.
  • Vitamin C – did you know the highest concentration of Vitamin C in your body is in your adrenal glands?
  • Magnesium – this is calming, and when you have high cortisol, calming is a good idea. It’s pretty hard to take too much, because your body usually needs it that bad!
  • Vitamin D is important for EVERY hormone to work right, and the adrenal hormones are no exception… You really should get your levels checked (25-OHD) in order to know how much you should take.

There are also herbal preparations that are called adaptogenic herbs. These are helpful during times of high stress/ high cortisol. Some people think they dampen the cortisol response, but I believe they work by protecting the brain from the damaging effects of prolonged high cortisol… Remember I mentioned that prolonged high cortisol eats you up like acid from the inside out? It can cause the brain to start shrinking, and that’s when things get really bad.

The adaptogenic herbs include:

  • Rhodiola–all around my favorite for adrenal support
  • Ashwagandha–except avoid if you have autoimmunity
  • Holy Basil–especially helpful if you also have gut problems (IBS) and/or insomnia
  • Eleuthero–scientific name for ginseng
  • Cordyceps–good for adrenals AND kidneys

A great blend of adaptogenic herbs is Renew Cortichill.

Other nutrients for adrenal support:

  • L-Theanine – improves ability to make GABA, a calming neurotransmitter
  • Taurine – also used in the synthesis of GABA

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