Protect Yourself: Rebalance Cortisol

calm Jul 23, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, head there first.  

Take the Sting out of Cortisol

Do you long for a stress-free life? Do you wish that your stress hormones would go away and not come back? Actually, you wouldn’t want either of these, any more than you would want a life without pain.

No one wants to be in pain all the time, but to be unable to feel pain at all creates a nightmare of its own. Likewise, if you were unable to mount a stress response, if your body suddenly became unable to produce the stress hormones, your physiology would collapse.

Stress is not the problem. It is unremitting stress and a constantly elevated level of cortisol that create the problems and the consequences can be severe.

The effects of constantly elevated cortisol may include:5

  • Weight gain.
  • Insulin resistance or even type 2 diabetes.
  • Elevated blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  • Memory problems, dementia, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Immune system problems which may impair your body’s ability to fend off diseases of all types, including autoimmune disorders and even cancers.

How to Balance Cortisol with Diet and Supplements

The ultimate answer to this risk is to bring stress and the stress hormones back into a normal, healthy range. Of course, highly stressful situations will still arrive uninvited. And if you've been overly stressed for months or years, it may take a long time to bring the stress response back into line. Meanwhile, it's crucial to protect yourself with the Resilient Diet.  

The following supplements may also help:

  • DHEA which tones down the effects of cortisol.
  • B vitamins to help keep “homocysteine” in check. You could try Activate.
  • Antioxidants.
  • Herbal adaptogens like rhodiola. You could try Adapt.

 

Sources:

  1. Hassel, B., & Dingledine, R. (2006). Glutamate. In Siegel,G. J., Albers, R. W., Brady, S. T., & Price, D. L. (Eds.), Basic neurochemistry: Molecular, cellular, and medical aspects (267-290). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. 
  2. Kim, A. H., et al. (2002). Blocking excitotoxicity. In Marcoux, F. W., & Choi, D. W. (Eds.), Neuroprotection (3-36). New York: Springer.
  3. Krimer, L. S., et al. (1998). Dopaminergic regulation of cerebral cortical microcirculation. Nature Neuroscience, 1, 286-289.
  4. Wichers, M., & Maes, M. (2002). The psychoneuroimmuno-pathophysiology of cytokine induced depression in humans. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 5, 375-438.
  5. Peled, R., et al. (2008). Breast cancer, psychological distress and life events among young women BMC Cancer, 8.
  6. Alhaj, H. A., et al. (2006). Effects of DHEA administration on episodic memory, cortisol and mood in healthy young men: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Psychopharmacology, 188(4), 541-551.
  7. Darbinyan, V., et al. (2007). Clinical trial of Rhodiola Rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 61(5), 343-348.
  8. Bystritsky, A., et al. (2008). A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(2), 175-180.
  9. Khanum, F., et al. (2005). Rhodiola rosea: A versatile adaptogen. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 4, 55-62.
  10. Lombard, J. (2006, September). Neurobiology of mood and cognition: Strategies and protocols of neurotransmitter balance. Presented at Great Lakes Conference.
  11. Kobayashi, K., et al. (1998). Effects of L-theanine on the release of alpha-brain waves in human volunteers. Journal of the Agricultural Chemical Society of Japan, 72(2), 153-157.
  12. Lake, J. (2008). Integrative Management of Anxiety. Psychiatric Times, 25(1), 13-16.
  13. Grant, J., et al. (2007). N-acetyl cysteine, a glutamate-modulating agent, in the treatment of pathological gambling: A pilot study. Biological Psychiatry, 62(6), 652-657.
  14. Grant, J., et al. (2009). N-acetylcysteine, a glutamate modulator, in the treatment of trichotillomania. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66(7), 756-763.
  15. Mori, M., et al., (2002). Beta-alanine and taurine as endogenous agonists at glycine receptors in rat hippocampus in vitro. The Journal of Physiology, 539, 191-200.
  16. Wu, H., et al. (2005). Mode of action of taurine as a neuroprotector. Brain Research, 1038(2), 123-131.
  17. Palatnik, A., et al. (2001). Double-blind, controlled, crossover trial of inositol versus fluvoxamine for the treatment of panic disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 21(3), 335-339.
  18. Abdou, A., et al. (2006). Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. BioFactors, 26, 201-208.
  19. Kinrys, G., et al. (2009). Natural remedies for anxiety disorders: Potential use and clinical applications. Depression and Anxiety, 26, 259-265.
  20. Akhondzadeh, S., et al. (2001). Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: A pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 26, 363-367.
  21. Yuan, C. S., et al. (2004). The gamma-aminobutyric acidergic effects of valerian and valerenic acid on rat brainstem neuronal activity. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 98, 353-358.
  22. Panijel, M. (1985). Therapy of symptoms of anxiety. Therapiewoche, 41, 4659-4668.

Taurine is an amino acid that increases glycine and GABA to calm the brain (AKA ease anxiety). It also protects the brain by reducing the harmful effects of excess glutamate. I consider taurine when I see someone with mood instability along with anxiety, but it may also be helpful for anxiety alone. Learn more.>>>

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