Herbs That Lower Cortisol Levels and Relieve Stress

Cortisol Lowering Herbs

Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. Lowering cortisol (if it gets too high) is of great importance to our bodies. It largely regulates our sleep and will help the thyroid gland make enough hormones. When cortisol becomes too high it may be recommended to start using herbs that lower cortisol.

Symptoms of high cortisol levels are:

  • Bad mood
  • Being anxious
  • Weaker bones
  • Being overtired
  • Overweight
  • Unable to lose weight
  • Poorly functioning thyroid gland
  • Hormone imbalance

So when we want to avoid these negative effects of excessive cortisol we can use herbs. The herbs that lower cortisol will work very powerfully and bring the hormones back into balance. Restoring sleep patterns and possibly making excess weight disappear more easily by improving thyroid function.

The negative impact of high cortisol levels

Cortisol is a very important hormone. It is necessary to keep the hormone in balance. We have a number of vital processes that are regulated by cortisol levels in our bodies. Hormones regulate; keeping our blood sugar levels in balance, keeping blood pressure in balance, and regulating thyroid hormones.

Furthermore, the hormone plays a major role in aromatase, this is the conversion of testosterone to estrogen (also very important for women), and this is directly related to our libido. And of course, there is the most important of all, too much cortisol has a negative impact on our state of mind or mood.

Herbs that lower cortisol can help remedy these problems in this way. When we are under stress for too long, the adrenal glands will continuously produce high amounts of cortisol.

These high amounts will cause aromatase to be very high. Which is to say that we are going to convert huge amounts of testosterone into estrogen. In men, this will very quickly lead to ‘man boobs' or male breast formation. In women, this will provoke obesity and cellulite.

This is largely explained by the slower metabolism, due to not enough thyroid hormone being produced. We also see higher blood sugar because the high cortisol will demand more glucose from the body. We will also store fat faster. In time, it will lead to problems with our blood pressure. And the risk of diabetes becomes a lot higher.

Not only the stress but certainly all these negative factors have an unfavorable impact on our mood. We will have less desire for sex and our sex life will be at a very low ebb.

Herbs that lower cortisol


Ashwagandha may be the best way to bring hormones back into balance. Research has shown that the action of the herb can be compared to the drug lorazepam. A medication that is often given to people who are under intense stress. Ashwagandha is able to bring hormones back into balance just 30 minutes after a stressful situation.

Ashwagandha can be used through a supplement but should not be used by women during pregnancy. Because of its effect on female hormones. Female hormones are very high during pregnancy. Ashwagandha can disrupt them by trying to bring them back into balance.

In fact according to NIH.GOV:

Ancient Ayurvedic medicine has a remarkable solution for such lifestyle-induced biological and psychological conditions. Adaptogens are herbs that improve the responses to stress and help the body adapt by normalizing physiological processes in times of increased stress. Source


Another good example of when we lower cortisol with food is licorice. The licorice will give our body more energy. We are also going to experience more energy when performing prolonged efforts.

It will also lower high levels of cortisol. However, the blood pressure increases the effect of licorice and should be kept in mind. People who suffer from high blood pressure should not use a licorice supplement. Or at least not in high doses.

Rhodiola or roseroot

Is also counted among the adaptogens just like ashwagandha and so for that reason can also be used as herbs that lower cortisol. It is a very potent remedy for dealing with stress. This can be either stress arising from physical or mental exertion.

When stress is accompanied by fatigue, this may be the most appropriate remedy. Rhodiola will lower cortisol, but in the process will also have a kind of stimulating effect. A bit comparable to caffeine from tea and coffee.

But not with the same highs and lows as with caffeine. The stimulating effect of Rhodiola is not as sudden and uplifting as with caffeine but rather remains stable and persistent.

Of course, as with caffeine, we do have the problem of insomnia here. A normal dose of roseroot will not cause any problem sleeping. But when high doses are taken, the risk of sleep problems increases. Therefore, definitely do not use a higher dose than the one indicated on the package.

Rhodiola is often used during menopause to address problems such as hot flashes. It could also be used to treat depression. Some scientific studies have been able to produce favorable results here.

This is also often used in sports to combat fatigue and reduce stress, among other things. It is also considered a rejuvenating herb and can be used as a supplement.


Ginseng is also considered an adaptogen for its ability to start lowering stress. In addition, Panax Ginseng is also counted among the herbs that lower cortisol.

Panax ginseng is known by several names.

  • Korean Ginseng
  • Panax Ginseng
  • Asian Ginseng
  • Thai Ginseng
  • Red Ginseng

All of these names ultimately mean Panax Ginseng. It is the only species in the Ginseng family that also gets ginseng as its botanical name.

American and Russian Ginseng

We also have American and Russian Ginseng. These do not carry the same botanical name. American ginseng is called Panax quinquefolius. The herb does have the same active ingredient as the Panax ginseng. These are the ginsenoids. However, American Ginseng is not as suitable to use against stress but will help more to give energy.

Russian or Siberian ginseng ultimately has nothing to do with ginseng. Its official name is Eleutherococcus Senticosus. It does not contain the same active ingredient as Panax Ginseng. However, it does have the same effect on stress.

Russian ginseng is a lot cheaper and can help as herb that lower cortisol. However, the effect of the Panax ginseng supplement will be a lot more powerful.

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