Naturopathic Approach To Restore Cortisol Balance
By Diana Milling • March 21, 2016
The first step in overcoming adrenal fatigue is to be self aware and cognizant of your health. Pay attention to your bodies reactions to everyday stressors and the way in which you handle them. Listed below are helpful strategies to help balance cortisol.
Be sure to exercise regularly. Incorporate yoga, meditation and mind-body medicine to your routine at least 2-3x per week. Acupuncture is a great way to relieve stress. In some cases addressing past or ongoing psychological or emotional stressors with a trained health professional can be very therapeutic.
This may take some time depending on the severity of imbalance. It is important to obtain 7-8 hrs of restful sleep every night to ensure adequate physical and cognitive repair. Being able to achieve the appropriate sleep cycles will help to restore stress hormone levels. Cortisol levels should ideally be low during sleep to assist with cellular healing.
Diet & Hydration
Both diet and hydration are key players in helping our bodies remain in a state of homeostasis.
When we are in an anxious state our sympathetic nervous systems are activated causing an increase in heart rate, rapid breathing and muscle tension, all can lead to systemic fluid loss. Thus it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water daily.
As for diet, an anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to decrease systemic inflammation. This means avoiding all processed foods, refined grains and sugars. More often than not, gluten containing products cause inflammation so avoiding gluten when possible is beneficial. Focusing on lean meats, vegetables, protein and healthy fats is a good place to start. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake to give both your adrenal glands and your liver a break so they can function optimally.
Supplementation & Adaptogenic herbs
Elevated cortisol levels can over time deplete necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function optimally. These deficiencies can lead to many of the ailments discussed above. It is often beneficial to temporarily supplement to correct any underlying deficiencies. This should be done after a through assessment and under the supervision of a trained provider.
Adaptogenic herbs can be a great adjuvant therapy to help lower cortisol. These herbs can help to restore cortisol levels to their natural curve. They do this by enhancing the bodies natural response to physical and emotional stress. These herbs do a great job at helping the body function optimally during times of stress. Some examples of adaptogenic herbs are: Rhodiola Rosea, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Panax Ginseng, Eleuthro and Schisandra. Again, administration of any of these herbs should be monitored by a trained provider as caution needs to be taken on an individual basis to avoid possible interactions with pharmaceuticals or other supplements.
Cortisol levels can be assessed by performing an ASI (Adrenal Stress Index) saliva test. This is a reliable, accepted, non-invasive way to assess adrenal function and stress hormone levels. As stated above this should be performed by a trained professional that is proficient in interpreting the results and can provide appropriate corrective options.
Once an assessment has been done and appropriate measures have been taken, you will be able to have adequate energy needed during the day to lead you into a good nights rest. This will allow you to wake feeling refreshed and energized rather than sluggish and fatigued. As with most things relating to our health, wellness is a process. It is achievable and doing so will improve quality of life and bring brighter days ahead.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.