7 adaptogen herbs to lower cortisol
As you probably know, cortisol is the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels and chronic stress can affect every physiological system in your body, including your thyroid and adrenal glands. It can lead to weight gain and bone loss, contribute to diabetes and heart disease risk, make you anxious and irritable, and deplete your energy levels.
Cortisol is also known as the aging hormone. When cortisol gets too high, it puts you into a “fight or flight” response, which stimulates your sympathetic nervous system and your adrenal glands. This causes an increase in blood pressure and a decrease in your digestive secretions. Your body is in a state of constant stress, which burns out your adrenal glands, stresses your digestive tract and causes you to age more rapidly. If you want to look younger, feel younger and be healthy and heal adrenal fatigue, you must get your cortisol levels balanced.
These are side effects of chronically elevated cortisol: anxiety, autoimmune diseases, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, common colds, hormone imbalance, irritable bowel disease, thyroid conditions, weight loss resistance.
So what can help us to lower levels of cortisol?
Plants are well-known for their healing abilities. And adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants – they help balance, restore and protect the body. An adaptogen helps you respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions. Naturopaths claim that adaptogenic herbs can recharge your adrenal glands, helping you to respond to stress. There are 16 proven adaptogenic herbs. Some of them are: ashwaganda, astragalus, ginseng, licorice root, holy basil, some mushrooms and rhodiola.
Top 7 adaptogen herbs
Ginseng is the most well-known adaptogen, and Asian ginseng is considered the most powerful. According to research, Asian red ginseng helps improve mental performance and the ability to withstand stress. This kind of ginseng also has antioxidant and antidepressant effects, and can help naturally lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
2. Holy basil
This herb is known in India as the “elixir of anti-aging.” Preliminary studies suggest that holy basil can help fight fatigue and stress, boost the immune system and regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and hormone levels.
Ashwaganda has been used in Eastern medicine for over 2,500 years and now is often used in Ayurvedic medicine. It regulates the immune system and eases anxiety, has immunomodulating effects that boost your immune system and help the body in lowering cortisol levels.
4. Astragalus root
Astragalus is often used in Chinese medicine. This root boosts immunity and buffers the effects of stress. It increases the amount of anti-stress compounds our bodies use to repair and prevent stress-related damage. It also reduces the ability of stress hormones like cortisol to bind to receptors.
5. Licorice root
Licorice root helps increase energy and endurance, boosts the immune system, and protects the thymus from being damaged by cortisol. However its use requires professional supervision because of it may affect blood pressure.
Rhodiola (rhodiola rosea), or golden root, is a powerful adaptogen. It provides a buffer to stress-related mental and physical fatigue. Rhodiola rosea contains a phytochemical known as salisdroside. This component helps relieve anxiety and fight aging. Rhodiola also suppresses the production of cortisol and increases levels of stress-resistant proteins. According to studies, this herb can restore normal patterns of eating and sleeping after stress, lower mental and physical fatigue and protect against oxidative stress, heat stress, radiation and exposure to toxic chemicals. Rhodiola also protects the heart and liver, increases use of oxygen, improves memory, and may even extend longevity. Plus, according to new research, it’s effective in weight loss.
7. Cordyceps mushrooms
Nutrition-rich cordyceps, reishi, shiitake and maitake mushrooms are funguses with antioxidant properties. They may not be adaptogens in the classic sense, but each has adaptogenic, anti-tumor and immune-enhancing properties.
Chronic stress can significantly affect your quality of life. Don’t let it happen. Healthy diet, physical activity, enough sleep and positive attitude will help protect you from chronic stress. And you can increase your capacity to deal with stress and improve your mental and physical performance by adding adaptogens to your routine.