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Are There Supplements to Reduce Cortisol (Stress Hormone)?

cartoon brain with a thought bubble representing stress

Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to inflammation and various health issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, poor digestive health, weight gain, and reduced mental alertness. Besides natural stress management methods like exercise and meditation, certain supplements can help decrease cortisol. Please continue reading to learn more about some of the supplements that can help to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. 

What is cortisol? How is it related to chronic stress?

Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. It is produced by the adrenal glands, then released when the body is dealing with stressful situations or imminent danger (this is called the body’s fight or flight response). 

It is important to keep stress levels under control because the prolonged presence of psychological stressors can lead to an overproduction of cortisol. While the body needs cortisol to manage stress, too much cortisol can lead to a chronic stress response. This can impact various organ systems in the body and have negative effects on the immune system, digestive system, mental status, metabolism, and overall health. 

Studies have shown that moderate to high levels of cortisol can increase the risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and diabetes. It can also lead to weight gain and obesity, interfere with sleep, cause brain fog, and impaired immune responses against infection.

Besides external stressors, a rare but serious disease called Cushing’s syndrome can result in very high cortisol levels in the body.

How can you relieve stress naturally?

For starters, eating a balanced diet with healthy fats, staying well hydrated by drinking water, limiting caffeine intake, getting regular exercise, and practicing yoga and meditation are good practices for a healthy lifestyle, which can help relieve stress naturally. Sleep also plays an important role; aiming for 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep every night is essential to alleviate stress. Certain supplements can also help to lower cortisol levels and reduce stress. 

Is there a pill to reduce cortisol?

Cushing’s syndrome is a condition in which there are very high cortisol levels in the body. Doctors may perform surgery to remove a tumor of the adrenal glands or radiation therapy to treat a pituitary tumor in the brain causing high cortisol. They may also prescribe a medication that manages excessive cortisol production, such as metyrapone (Metopirone), mitotane (Lysodren), or ketoconazole. Mifepristone (Korlym, Mifeprex) is approved for Cushing syndrome patients with type 2 diabetes or glucose intolerance.

The injection Signifor (pariseriotide) and the oral pill Isturisa (osilodrostat) are newer medications for Cushing’s syndrome. 

What are the best supplements to reduce cortisol levels?


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a traditional Indian Ayurvedic herb that has been shown to lower cortisol by up to 30% when taken regularly for 30-60 days. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower elevated cortisol levels and lead to an inflammatory reduction. Omega-3s also improve mood, mental clarity, and memory. Natural sources of omega-3 fish oils include sardines, salmon, anchovies, mackerel, and other fatty fish.

Prebiotics and Probiotics 

Prebiotic and probiotic supplements help to maintain good gut health. A healthy gut has been linked to lower cortisol levels and reduced stress. Natural sources of prebiotics include high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods.

Arctic Root

Arctic root (Rhodiola rosea), also called rose root, golden root, or rose root, is a traditional Chinese medicine herb believed to increase stamina and energy. It can also lower the body’s cortisol response to chronic stress. This can lead to a reduction in elevated cortisol and lower stress levels. Since it has an energizing effect, the arctic root is a particularly good choice for people suffering from stress and fatigue.


Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is a traditional Indian Ayurvedic herb that has beneficial effects on mental health. It is used to treat insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Bacopa can also lower cortisol, reduce stress, and improve mood. 

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo is a popular supplement for brain health and cognitive performance. Besides improving brain function, ginkgo has also been found to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels, reducing stress.

Cordyceps Sinensis

Cordyceps is a traditional Chinese medicine herb that increases stamina and longevity. It has also been found to lower cortisol levels. However, this herb can increase epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are also stress hormones.


Phosphatidylserine is a fatty substance that has protective effects on the brain and nervous system. It decreases cortisol hormone levels, reduces stress, improves mental and physical performance, and helps prevent cognitive decline and dementia. 


L-theanine is an amino acid found in black tea, green tea, and some brands of dark chocolate. Research suggests it produces a state of calmness for up to three hours by reducing cortisol levels and blunting cortisol responses.

Wrapping Up

Elevated levels of stress in the long term are linked to chronic disease. Certain supplements can help with lowering cortisol stress hormone and thereby reducing stress. However, it is important to understand that herbal supplements cannot significantly reduce cortisol levels. If you have a medical condition like Cushing’s syndrome, your doctors will use specific treatments to decrease cortisol levels. In other words, seeking professional medical care for cortisol reduction is important if you have a medical condition. 

With that said, a few supplements can help lower cortisol and reduce the stress associated with everyday life events; they can be helpful when being used in addition to practicing a healthful lifestyle. These supplements can also improve sleep quality and concentration and help treat anxiety and other mental health problems in people with chronic mental stress. 

Always talk to a doctor before taking a supplement to lower cortisol levels. This will ensure there are no potentially dangerous interactions between supplements that lower cortisol and your other medications. 


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