Healthy Ways of Battling Stress
Stress is a major issue that many people have to deal with in their everyday life. For this reason, a large number of remedies for stress have emerged over the years. From various types of therapy, to medicines and supplements, there are a lot of available options.
But recently, a new trend in stress relief has taken hold – adaptogens. These herbs have been in use for millennia, but scientists are only now confirming their ability to help with stress. So if you want to know how to reduce cortisol levels, supplements might be a good choice.
Before taking a look at the available options, you need to understand how cortisol affects the brain. Let’s discuss its role in stress, and then you’ll see some of the best supplements for reducing it.
The Role of Cortisol in Stress
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that serves many important functions in our body. Adrenal glands produce cortisol and release it into the bloodstream. When this happens, cortisol regulates our blood pressure, reduces inflammation, and helps our body metabolize glucose faster.
So why would you want to lower its levels? The reason behind this is stress. An important role of cortisol is to trigger the fight-or-flight response. Even though it’s a natural response, too much stress can lead to chronic imbalances.
When this happens, your body is alarmed even when there’s no particular reason for that. This is where reducing the levels of cortisol is important for homeostasis. If you manage to bring your cortisol levels back to normal, you can fight off the unnecessary stress response.
As previously said, adaptogen supplements can be very effective in ensuring this. So let’s go over some of the best.
Panax ginseng is one of the most potent adaptogens. It has a wide variety of benefits, among which is the ability to reduce the levels of cortisol. There are various studies that confirm this, even though the exact way this happens is still not fully understood.
Some studies claim that in the short term, Panax ginseng doesn’t affect cortisol levels directly. Instead, it alters the mechanism of other stress responses, which result in a lowered cortisol level.
One of the ways it does this is by blocking the activity of the adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), which results in lower production of cortisol in the adrenal glands.
This traditional Chinese herb has been used for centuries to treat various disorders. Among its many effects, a prominent one is the lowering of cortisol.
A very unique benefit that this herb provides is stress relief paired with higher energy levels. This is a rare combination, since most antianxiety medications have sedative properties. Rhodiola rosea is effective in reducing cortisol levels, while at the same time regulating the hormones related to depression and fatigue.
This ancient herb has been in use for more than 3,000 years. Ayurveda, one of the oldest medicine systems, advocates its use for treating many health conditions and improving overall quality of life.
A 60-day trial involving 64 people suffering from chronic stress was conducted. At the beginning, various factors contributing to stress were measured, including cortisol levels. The participants were then given a high concentration of Ashwagandha root extract, and their stress score was measured every 15 days.
On the final day, all of the subjects showed a significant decrease in cortisol levels, along with other contributing factors to stress. This shows that this herb can be very effective at battling chronic stress.
Bacopa monnieri is another herb widely used in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s an adaptogen as well as a nootropic, meaning that it has great potential in increasing mental performance.
Bacosides, the dominant active compounds in this plant, have long been studied for their neuropharmacological effects. Aside from this, it has anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, and other important properties.
A placebo-control study examined the effects of this plant on cortisol levels. After giving one group Bacopa extract, and the other a placebo, researchers found that the Bacopa group showed lower levels of cortisol, as well as a higher ability to perform various mental tasks.
As you can see, there are some very powerful adaptogens that can help reduce the levels of cortisol. There are many more out there, these are only some of the most effective ones.
Among other beneficial effects, lowering the levels of cortisol in your body can significantly improve both your physical and mental health. Adaptogens often offer a variety of benefits, so you can choose the ones that fit your needs the best.