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?
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