Learn More About Cortisol Control

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What is cortisol?

Whenever we are under stress, our bodies release cortisol. Cortisol is our primary stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is also known as the "fight-or-flight" hormone because of its effects in increasing blood pressure and blood sugar levels to help us run away from or fight off a predator or other stressful event. Cortisol plays an important role in the body's regulation of cardiovascular function as well as fat, protein and carbohydrate utilization. When the body experiences stress, cortisol secretion increases, causing a breakdown of muscle protein and the release of amino acids to form glucose.

The resulting higher level of glucose in the body combined with the decreased use of glucose by other tissues in the body, ensures that the brain is receiving adequate energy. Small amounts of cortisol are a "good" thing but the prolonged secretion of cortisol can have detrimental effects on the proper functioning of the body's cardiovascular, immune, neurological and metabolic systems. Too much cortisol for too long will lead us to develop a number of adverse health conditions. Elevated cortisol levels have been associated with increased appetite, weight gain, diabetes and depression. Elevated cortisol levels can have adverse effects on the immune system, memory, and sugar metabolism.

Chronic stress has been found to be a major contributing factor in obesityCortisol is a potent signal to increase appetite and store fat. The increased cortisol in our body tells our brain that we're hungry, at the same time telling our fat cells to store as much fat as they can and hold on to it as tightly as possible. Chronic stress can lead to cravings for high fat, high carbohydrate foods such as cookies, candy and chips. This stress-driven appetite can lead to dangerous weight gain, primarily around the waist. This has caused 20% of American adults to become obese with a stress related condition known as metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by an excessive amount of abdominal fat.

What are some nutrients that might help to lower cortisol?

The phospholipids nutrient phosphatidylserine, known up until now for its cognitive effects, seems to have cortisol suppressive properties. Recent research shows that phosphatidylserine given in two divided oral doses helps suppress cortisol caused by intense weight training. In fact, in this same study, those using PS experienced less muscle soreness as well. By decreasing cortisol levels, the testosterone level can increase possibly relating to anabolic effects. PS seems to only decrease cortisol levels when they are elevated and does not seem to decrease cortisol levels below normal. Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in muscle tissue. It seems to play a very important role in protein synthesis and is very important to weight training athletes.

Some research suggests that glutamine levels may be a good indicator of overtraining or overreaching. In other words, athletes who were overtrained generally had low levels of glutamine along with high levels of cortisol. One study actually showed that glutamine directly prevents the cortisol-induced degradation of muscle proteins. Some of its positive effects include enhancing protein synthesis, increasing GH levels which can counteract some of the catabolic effects of cortisol, potent cell volumizing effects which can create an anabolic environment in muscle cells, and partially determining the rate of protein turnover in the muscle. An oral glutamine supplement can help athletes prevent some of the symptoms of overtraining.

Magnolia bark (Magnolia officinalis, also sometimes referred to as Relora) is a traditional Chinese medicine used since AD 100 to treat ailments ranging from menstrual cramps to asthma. In recent Japanese studies, magnolia compared favorably with Valium, a well known pharmaceutical anti-anxiety drug, in reducing anxiety, although without that drug’s side effects, such as physical dependency or disruption of motor activity. No studies yet exist showing that Magnolia directly lowers cortisol, but many scientists who have researched this useful herb suspect that its relaxing effects are sufficiently powerful that it can reasonably be expected to do so.

Scientists believe ashwagandha,an Indian (that is, ayurvedic) herb can make GABA, the calming brain chemical work more effectively. Ashwagandha acts to calm the mind and promote restful sleep. It has also been used to boost the immune system, improve memory, and to promote overall wellness. A calming dose is up to 200mg three times a day. Recent studies suggest that among its many other properties, ashwaganda can significantly lower cortisol levels, particularly in thos suffering form stress or overtraining.

The stress and cortislol-reduction effects of another ayurvedic herb, holy basil, seem to be quite notable. For instance, a series of studies of rats exposed to noise stress found that holy basil supplementation led to reduced stress-induced changes in serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and acetylcholine levels in the brain. Studies with humans have yielded similar promising results. In one study, 56 aging patients took a 300-milligram capsule of holy basil once a day for three months. Within a week, blood tests showed that most had experienced significant decline in cortisol levels, and within a month these same subjects reported more energy and a greater sense of well-being.

Are these supplements safe?

To date no evidence has emerged that these cortisol-fighting nutrients appear to be dangerous. Even subjects with below-normal levels of cortisol have reported no adverse effects from them. However, if you have any medical conditions, always consult with your health care professional before using these or any supplements.

And remember—you can get the best cortisol-lowering nutrients at the best prices from A1Supplements.com!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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