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.
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.
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
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation 
- Positive social encounters 
- Laughing/being happy 
- Spending time in nature 
- Diaphragmatic breathing 
- Meditation [6, 7]
- Yoga [8, 9]
- Being physically active – Lowers cortisol in the longer term .
- Regular dancing 
- Massage therapy 
- Music therapy 
- EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
- Napping after sleep loss 
- Glucose restriction/fasting (Be careful) 
- Chewing – Lowers CRH 
Foods to Lower Your Stress Response
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salmon and other fatty (High Omega 3) fish 
- Turmeric 
- Green tea/L-Theanine 
- Dark Chocolate 
Supplements to Lower Your Stress Response
Some of these are in animal studies.
- Fish Oil/DHA [3, 19]
- Rhodiola/Salidroside 
- Magnesium [21, 22, 23, 21]
- Zinc 
- Selenium 
- Probiotics 
- Black Cumin Seed Oil 
- Lysine 
- Vitamin C 
- St John’s Wort 
- Oxytocin 
- Phosphatidylserine 
- Aromatherapy (orange essential oil) 
- Schisandra – Lowers cortisol .
- Holy Basil/Tulsi – (in rats) 
- Tribulus – Lowers CRH and cortisol .
- Ginseng – Blocks ACTH . Especially for chronic stress .
- Cordyceps – Reduces stress markers (in rats) .
- Ginkgo – Especially for acute stress .
- Apigenin – (in cellular models) [36, 37]
GABA Promoting Supplements That Lower Your Stress Response
GABA Promoting Supplements include:
- Butyrate 
- Ketogenic diets – In ketosis, less glutamate is metabolized and more is made into GABA . Contradictory .
- Honokiol (from Magnolia) 
- Theanine 
- Hops 
- Chinese Skullcap 
- Kava 
- Valerian 
- Taurine (high dosage) 
- Ashwagandha (weak) 
- Bacopa (weak) 
Hormones That Lower Your Stress Response
Devices to Lower Your Stress Response
- PEMF – depends on the device used 
- tDCS (Transcranial direct current stimulation) 
- TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) – CRH production and release [51, 52]
- Electroacupuncture – Decreased CRH in a rat model of IBS .
Irregular Cortisol Levels?
LabTestAnalyzer helps you make sense of your lab results. It informs you which labs are not in the optimal range and gives you guidance about how to get them to optimal. It also allows you to track your labs over time. No need to do thousands of hours of research on what to make of your lab tests.
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