In this modern age, we are constantly under stress. This comes not only from career deadlines, family pressures, and financial obligations, but from anything that disrupts our body’s natural state of balance. Here are some tips to counteract the stresses that we face. Reducing stress levels is a key piece to improving your health although I must stress that it is just one piece, you can check out our book SelfHacked Secrets for a guide to improving your health and performance. Click here to receive the first chapter for free.

If you are struggling with chronic health issues – the way I used to – you probably have piles of lab tests that can potentially tell you a lot about your health. Cortisol may be one of them. However, doctors never had enough time to explain it properly. They will only notice it if the lab flags your test results as outside of normal. But what if all your results are coming back normal, yet you know you are feeling nowhere near healthy? They may even tell you there is nothing wrong with you, and that it’s all in your head – I’ve been there.

Lab Test Analyzer is the tool I wish I had when I was dealing with all my health issues. Instead of normal, it will tell you the optimal values for cortisol and many other lab tests. And if you are outside the optimal range, it will give you actionable tips and recommendations that will help you get there.

The Two Major Stress Response Systems

There are two major systems in the body that mediate the “stress response.”  Both originate from the hypothalamus.

One is called the Hypothalamus-Pituitary and Adrenal (HPA) axis.

These three glands release the following hormones: CRH (Hypothalamus)->ACTH (Pituitary)->Cortisol (Adrenal).

The other stress pathway is the sympathomedullary system, where signals are sent to the adrenals to release adrenaline and norepinephrine.

The HPA axis deals with longer term stressors, while the sympathomedullary system deals with more acute stressors.

Probably the best single measure of your stress response is your blood levels of cortisol.


Lifestyle Strategies to Lower Your Stress Response

  1. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (R)
  2. Positive social encounters (R)
  3. Laughing/being happy (R)
  4. Spending time in nature (R) 
  5. Diaphragmatic breathing (R)
  6. Meditation (R, R2)
  7. Yoga (RR2)
  8. Being physically active – Lowers cortisol in longer term (R).
  9. Regular dancing (R)
  10. Massage therapy (R)
  11. Music therapy (R)
  12. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) (R)
  13. Napping after sleep loss (R)
  14. Glucose restriction/fasting (Be careful) (R)
  15. Chewing – Lowers CRH (R).

Foods to Lower Your Stress Response


  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (R)
  2. Salmon and other fatty (High Omega 3) fish (R)
  3. Turmeric (R)
  4. Green tea/L-Theanine (R)
  5. Dark Chocolate (R) 

Monitoring Your Stress Response

Everyone is different and our bodies can be complex. If you want to decrease your cortisol levels, it’s best to analyze them with Lab Test Analyzer. This tool will compute, based on this and your other results, the best steps you can take that will bring you back to optimal.

Supplements to Lower Your Stress Response


Some of these are in animal studies.

  1. Curcumin (R)
  2. Fish Oil/DHA  (R, R2)
  3. Rhodiola/Salidroside (R)
  4. Magnesium (R, R2, R3R4)
  5. Zinc (R)
  6. Selenium (R)
  7. Probiotics  (R)
  8. Black Cumin Seed Oil (R)
  9. Lysine (R)
  10. Vitamin C (R)
  11. St John’s Wort (R)
  12. Oxytocin (R)
  13. Phosphatidylserine (R)
  14. Aromatherapy (orange essential oil) (R)
  15. Schisandra – Lowers cortisol (R).
  16. Holy Basil/Tulsi – (in rats) (R) 
  17. Tribulus – Lowers CRH and cortisol (R).
  18. Ginseng – Blocks ACTH (R). Especially for chronic stress (R).
  19. Cordyceps – Reduces stress markers (in rats) (R).
  20. Ginkgo – Especially for acute stress (R).
  21. Apigenin – (in cellular models) (R, R2)

GABA Promoting Supplements That Lower Your Stress Response


GABAergics inhibit the HPA axis. This includes GABAb (R, R2) or GABAa (RR2).

GABA Promoting Supplements include:

  1. Butyrate (R)
  2. Ketogenic diets (R) – In ketosis, less glutamate is metabolized and more is made into GABA (R). Contradictory (R).
  3. Honokiol (from Magnolia) (R)
  4. Theanine (R)
  5. Hops (R)
  6. Chinese Skullcap (R)
  7. Kava (R)
  8. Valerian (R)
  9. Taurine (high dosage) (R)
  10. Ashwagandha (weak) (R)
  11. Bacopa (weak) (R)

Hormones That Lower Your Stress Response


  1. Progesterone (R)
  2. GHRH (in men, but not women) (R)

Devices to Lower Your Stress Response

  1. PEMF  – depends on device used (R)
  2. tDCS (Transcranial direct current stimulation) (R)
  3. TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) – CRH production and release (R, R2)
  4. Electroacupuncture – Decreased CRH in a rat model of IBS (R).

Irregular Cortisol Levels?

If you have not yet tested your cortisol levels, I recommend that you ask your doctor to do it. If you already have your blood test results and you’re not sure what to make of them, you need to check out Lab Test Analyzer. It does all the heavy lifting for you. No need to do thousands of hours of research on what to make of your various blood tests.

People don’t realize that their blood test results contain a gold mine of information that’s waiting to be unearthed. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or the inclination to sift through dozens of research papers.

It’s super-simple, so that even if you don’t have any background in science, you will understand what your results mean and what you can do to get them in the optimal range.

Lab Test Analyzer gives you up-to-date scientific information about your lab results. In addition, you will get both lifestyle tips and natural solutions to help you optimize your health. You can also rely on our science-based Optimal Ranges to prevent potential health issues and maximize your overall well-being.

All of the content is backed by science and researched by a team of PhDs, professors, and scientists.

We’re all unique, so we deserve solutions that treat us that way.

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics


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