10 healthy ways to reduce cortisol levels

10 Healthy ways to reduce cortisol

Understanding cortisol

What is Cortisol? Cortisol, commonly known as the “stress hormone,” is a vital steroid hormone synthesised in the adrenal glands. Its production and release are intricately controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain, forming part of the body’s complex response system to stress.

What is cortisol vital for?

Beyond its role in stress response, cortisol is integral to numerous physiological processes. It plays a pivotal part in regulating various metabolic functions, including glucose metabolism, which is essential for providing energy to the body.

Its anti-inflammatory effects are crucial in modulating the body’s immune response, helping to reduce inflammation and aiding in tissue repair. Cortisol also exerts significant influence over the sleep-wake cycle, impacting circadian rhythms and thus influencing sleep patterns and energy levels.

Additionally, cortisol helps maintain blood pressure and cardiovascular function and assists in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This hormone’s multifaceted role underlines its importance in maintaining homeostasis and responding to external stressors.

However, imbalances in cortisol levels, whether excessive or deficient, can lead to various health issues, highlighting the need for a delicate balance in its production and regulation. Introducing Naturecan’s healthy ways to reduce cortisol levels. Keep reading to learn more.

What are normal cortisol levels?

Normal cortisol levels vary throughout the day. They are typically highest in the morning and gradually decrease by evening. The standard range for morning cortisol is 10-20 μg/dL, while in the afternoon, it’s 3-10 μg/dL.


Who gets higher levels of cortisol?

Cortisol, often referred to as the “stress hormone,” is a crucial hormone in the body, released by the adrenal glands in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration. It plays a significant role in a variety of bodily functions, including metabolism and the immune response. Its levels can be influenced by various factors, including stressful jobs, lack of sleep, and gender differences. Here’s how each of these factors can impact cortisol levels:

1. Stressful Jobs: Individuals with high-stress occupations often experience elevated cortisol levels. Stress, particularly chronic stress, is a primary trigger for the release of cortisol. This response is part of the body’s fight-or-flight mechanism, preparing the body to face or escape the stressor. Jobs that involve high pressure, long hours, emotional strain, or demanding responsibilities can lead to chronic stress, keeping cortisol levels high.

2. Lack of Sleep: Sleep is essential for the regulation of many hormonal processes, including cortisol secretion. Lack of sleep disrupts the normal rhythm of cortisol production. Typically, cortisol levels decrease during the early phase of sleep and then rise throughout the night, peaking in the early morning. Insufficient sleep can lead to higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol throughout the day, which may contribute to various health issues, such as a weakened immune system, weight gain, and increased risk of chronic diseases.

Who gets higher levels of cortisol?

3. Gender Differences – Women: Research has shown that cortisol responses can vary between men and women. Women may experience different cortisol rhythms, and their levels might be influenced by menstrual cycle phases, pregnancy, and menopause. Additionally, some studies suggest that women might be more sensitive to the effects of stress on cortisol, potentially due to differences in hormone levels, particularly oestrogen, which can modulate the body’s response to stress. However, it’s important to note that individual responses to stress can be highly variable and influenced by a multitude of factors beyond just gender.

Signs of high cortisol explained

The signs and consequences of prolonged high cortisol levels, often stemming from chronic stress, are multifaceted and can significantly impact various aspects of health and well-being.

Signs of High CortisolConsequences/Implications
Weight Gain and Metabolic IssuesIncreased appetite leads to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen. Heightened risk of metabolic syndromes such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Elevated Blood PressureConstriction of blood vessels and increased blood volume, resulting in high blood pressure. Increased risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Disrupted Sleep PatternsDisturbance in circadian rhythms causes difficulties in falling and staying asleep. It can lead to insomnia or poor-quality sleep, impacting overall health.
Mood Swings and Emotional InstabilityFluctuations in mood, heightened anxiety, and depression. Can affect personal and professional relationships and overall quality of life.
Muscle WeaknessReduction in muscle mass and strength, leading to physical weakness. May affect mobility and daily functioning.
Skin ChangesThinning of skin, increased bruising, and slower healing of cuts and infections. Visible changes in skin appearance and texture.

How to lower high cortisol levels in 10 steps

Symptoms of high cortisol may include fatigue, increased anxiety, digestive problems, and difficulty in concentrating. Recognising these symptoms is vital in addressing high cortisol levels. Keep reading for ways to reduce cortisol levels naturally.

1. How to reduce cortisol levels naturally

 Natural methods to reduce cortisol, as stated before, include: 

- Eating a balanced diet

- Practising good sleep hygiene

- Using mindfulness and relaxation techniques

- Incorporating natural supplements as needed

2. How to reduce cortisol levels with medication

In some cases, medications may be necessary to manage cortisol levels, especially in conditions like Cushing's syndrome. Consult with a healthcare provider for personalised advice. Some doctors prescribe various medications to manage high cortisol levels, depending on the underlying cause and individual health profiles. Medications such as ketoconazole, metyrapone, and mitotane are often used to reduce cortisol production in cases where it is abnormally high. Additionally, doctors may recommend specific treatments if a particular condition, like Cushing's syndrome, is the cause of the elevated cortisol. To accurately diagnose and treat hormonal imbalances, doctors often recommend blood tests. These tests can reveal important information about cortisol levels and other related hormones in the body. By analysing these results, healthcare professionals can determine if there is an imbalance at a hormonal level that might be affecting cortisol.

3. Early morning waking

For anxiety and early morning waking, a combination of lifestyle changes, stress management techniques, and possibly medication or supplements can be effective. Establishing a calming bedtime routine and practising relaxation techniques can be particularly helpful.

4. Dietary approaches

 A balanced diet can significantly influence cortisol levels. Foods rich in vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium are known to help regulate cortisol. Avoiding high sugar and caffeine intake is also beneficial.

5. Recognise and eliminate stressful thinking

Training yourself to be aware of your thoughts, breathing, heart rate, and other signs of tension helps you recognise stress when it begins. By focusing on awareness of your mental and physical state, you can become an objective observer of your stressful thoughts.

6. Lifestyle changes

Reducing stress through lifestyle changes is essential. This includes maintaining a balanced routine, ensuring adequate relaxation, and practising hobbies or activities that reduce stress. A balanced routine provides stability, aiding in hormonal balance and improving sleep patterns. Adequate relaxation, achieved through activities like meditation, deep breathing, or hobbies, counteracts the effects of stress hormones and activates the body's relaxation response. This leads to a decrease in stress levels, promotes a sense of well-being, and can prevent the negative health impacts associated with chronic stress.

7. Exercise and physical activity

 Regular physical activity, especially aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling, can lower cortisol levels. However, avoiding over-exercising is important, as it can have the opposite effect. These activities enhance overall fitness, aiding in stress reduction, and regulate hormonal balance. However, over-exercising can lead to increased physical stress, triggering a rise in cortisol levels. This is because excessive exercise can strain the body, leading to an increased stress response. Therefore, moderation is key in exercise routines to ensure they contribute positively to stress management and hormonal balance.

8. Sleep and rest

A good sleep regime is critical in managing cortisol levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Avoiding caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime can also promote better sleep.

9. Mindfulness and stress reduction

Mindfulness and meditation techniques such as yoga and deep breathing exercises are effective in reducing cortisol.

These practices help calm the mind, reduce stress, and consequently lower cortisol levels.

10. Supplements and natural remedies:


CBD oil, a compound found in cannabis and hemp, has gained attention for its potential health benefits, including stress reduction. CBD may interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a complex system involved in regulating a variety of physiological and cognitive processes, including stress response.

Some studies suggest that CBD can lower cortisol levels by interfering with cortisol secretion, potentially making it a useful tool for managing stress-related disorders.

While each of these natural remedies shows promise in reducing cortisol levels and managing stress, it's important to approach their use with caution and ideally under the guidance of a healthcare professional, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions or those taking other medications.

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Cinnamon is often touted as a natural remedy for various health issues, including its potential to reduce cortisol levels. This aromatic spice contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help mitigate stress and consequently lower cortisol levels.

Studies suggest that cinnamon can regulate blood sugar levels, which is closely linked to the body's stress response. By stabilising blood sugar, cinnamon may help in reducing the release of cortisol, particularly in stressful situations or for individuals with conditions like metabolic syndrome or diabetes.

Additionally, the comforting scent of cinnamon has been associated with reduced anxiety and improved mood, further contributing to its stress-reducing effects. However, it's important to note that while cinnamon can be a beneficial addition to a healthy diet, it should not replace medical treatments for conditions related to high cortisol levels.


An ancient medicinal herb, Ashwagandha is well-known for its potential stress-relieving properties. It's classified as an adaptogen, meaning it can help the body manage stress more effectively.

Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can significantly reduce cortisol levels in the body. It works by regulating chemical signalling in the nervous system, thereby calming the stress response and helping to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and stress.

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Omega 3

Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil and certain plant oils, are crucial for brain health and have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower cortisol levels. They play a role in modulating the body's response to stress. Research indicates that regular intake of Omega-3s can help reduce the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress, thereby reducing the production of cortisol.

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Naturecan Ashwagandha

Reducing cortisol FAQs

How can I lower my cortisol levels quickly?

Quick methods to lower cortisol include deep breathing exercises, brief physical activity, and engaging in a relaxing activity like reading or listening to music.

What is a natural cortisol blocker?

 Foods like dark chocolate, green tea, and fish oil can act as natural cortisol blockers. Mindfulness practices are also effective in naturally reducing cortisol production.

How do you know if you have high cortisol?

 Symptoms of high cortisol include fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, and difficulty sleeping. Blood tests can confirm elevated cortisol levels.

Can you flush out cortisol?

While you cannot "flush out" cortisol, managing stress, improving diet, and regular exercise can help regulate its production and effects.

Conclusion: How to reduce cortisol

Reducing cortisol levels involves a holistic approach, combining dietary choices, lifestyle adjustments, physical activity, and stress reduction techniques.

While natural methods are often effective, medication may be necessary in some cases. It's crucial to recognize the signs of high cortisol and take proactive steps to manage it. Regular check-ups with a healthcare professional can also ensure that cortisol levels remain within a normal range. By understanding and addressing the factors that influence cortisol, individuals can improve their overall health and well-being.

For more detailed information and guidance, please consult with healthcare professionals and consider visiting authoritative health websites.


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