How does high cortisol affect your body?

Some content creators suggest that high cortisol levels lead to weight gain, anxiety and fatigue, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. But according to experts, cortisol might not be bad.

Theresa Larkin, associate professor of medical sciences at the University of Wollongong told the ABC: One of the misconceptions in these videos is that cortisol is bad. … Often the symptoms people attribute to cortisol are probably due to chronic stress and depression.

Here’s everything you need to know about cortisol and how it affects your body.

What role do cortisol play in the body?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, cortisol is a vital hormone that affects almost every organ and tissue in the body. It has several crucial functions, including:

  • Manage the body’s response to stress.
  • Regulation of metabolism by monitoring the utilization of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Decreased inflammation.
  • Modulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  • Influence on the sleep-wake cycle.

Our bodies have adrenal glands that release cortisol into our bloodstream when we’re stressed, right when we wake up, or when we exercise, according to Health Direct.

What causes high cortisol?

Constant stress causes the adrenal glands to continuously release cortisol, according to Medical News Today.

In addition to stress in your daily life, you can have cortisol spikes due to problems with the pituitary gland (it controls the release of hormones), tumors on the adrenal gland, and side effects of medications, according to Healthline.

What are the symptoms of high cortisol?

Symptoms of high cortisol may include any of the following:

  • Absence of menstruation, according to Medical News Today.
  • Acne, by Healthline.
  • Anxiety, by WebMD.
  • Cushings syndrome, according to Medical News Today.
  • Depression, according to WebMD.
  • Easy bruising, according to Healthline.
  • Extreme fatigue, according to Healthline.
  • Curly face, according to Healthline.
  • Headaches, by Healthline.
  • High blood pressure, by Healthline.
  • Weight gain, especially around the midsection and upper back, by Healthline.
  • Irregular periods, according to Medical News Today.
  • Irritability, by Healthline.
  • Muscle weakness, according to Healthline.
  • Reduced sex drive, according to Medical News Today.
  • Slower Wound Healing, by Healthline.
  • Skin thinning, according to Healthline.
  • Trouble concentrating, according to Healthline.
  • Trouble sleeping, according to WebMD.
  • Weakened immune system, according to Medical News Today.
  • Weight gain with a round face look, according to Healthline.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

How do you lower cortisol levels?

If you think you’re at risk or have high cortisol levels, doctors may recommend natural or medical ways to manage cortisol levels.

How do you treat high cortisol?

Medical News Today shares 12 ways to lower cortisol.

  • Less stress.
  • Start relaxation techniques.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • get enough sleep
  • Maintain a good sleep routine.
  • Start a hobby.
  • Have fun.
  • Exercise.
  • Have good relationships.
  • Get a pet.
  • Stop smoking.

Supplements to take to control cortisol levels

Forbes Health shares supplements that doctors may recommend to help lower cortisol:

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha root powder is a staple in herbal medicine, known for its myriad uses, including relieving stress to lower cortisol levels, calming anxiety, boosting brain health, and of the nervous system and improve memory, according to Health Hive.

Ashwagandha supplements are available in pill, powder and gummy form, according to Inner Body.

Per Healthline, do not take Ashwagandha if you

  • They are pregnant.
  • They are breastfeeding.
  • Have prostate cancer.
  • They are about to have surgery.
  • Have an autoimmune or thyroid disorder.
  • Have liver problems.

2. Omega-3 fatty acids

According to a study published in Molecular Psychiatry, Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the chances of depression risk by reducing inflammation caused by stress.

Omega-3 supplements, such as fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, and algae oil (derived from algae for vegetarians), offer various dosages and types of omega-3 fatty acids, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Per Cleveland Clinic, talk to your doctor before taking fish oil pills. Depending on their dosage, some supplements can:

  • Interfere with recipes.
  • It increases the risk of irregular heartbeats.
  • Increases the risk of bleeding.

3. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is a plant that grows in areas of Europe and Asia. Its roots are called adaptogens, which help your body manage stress when you consume them. Rhodiola can also reduce anxiety, reduce cortisol levels and increase overall resistance to stress, according to Clark Professional Pharmacy.

Rhodiola supplements are available in multivitamin and powder form, according to Sports Illustrated.

According to Verywell Health, take precautions when taking rhodiola supplements if:

  • Have bipolar disorder.
  • have anxiety
  • Take stimulant medications.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Have severe allergic reactions.

4. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, an antioxidant, can help reduce cortisol levels by reducing oxidative stress and protecting the body from free radicals, molecules that damage cells and contribute to chronic disease, according to The rTMS Center.

Vitamin C supplements include gummy, liquid, powder, time-release and pill varieties, according to Puritans Pride.

According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the best fruit and vegetable sources of vitamin C include:

  • citrus fruits
  • Peppers.
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes
  • Cruciferous vegetables.
  • white potatoes

Vitamin C is generally safe to use. If you experience side effects such as nausea, headaches, or stomach cramps after taking supplements, talk to your doctor. You may be overdosing, according to the Mayo Clinic.

5. Magnesium

According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, taking a magnesium supplement over a 24-week period helped lower cortisol levels and reduce cardiovascular disease.

Magnesium supplements are available in powder, pill and gummy forms, according to Healthline.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the following should be considered before taking a magnesium supplement:

  • Allergies
  • geriatric
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Interactions with drugs.

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