Signs of high cortisol and the top 5 supplements to lower it

Cortisol is very much needed in the body as it helps you wake up in the morning, control inflammation, provide fatty acids for energy when you’re not eating, etc… But chronically elevated cortisol will lead to inflammation, tiredness, adrenal fatigue, etc. The pituitary gland releases ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), which signals the adrenal glands to produce and release cortisol. So, we can prevent cortisol release by blocking ACTH release or we can directly lower cortisol. I list the symptoms of elevated cortisol below.

Symptoms of high cortisol include:

  • inability to fall asleep
  • irritability
  • weight gain around mid section
  • muscle weakness
  • cognitive dysfunction, mentally and physically fatigued
  • inability to detox
  • tiredness after a meal due to insulin resistance
  • blurry vision and eye floaters
  • low testosterone and struggle to build muscle
  • hypothyroid
  • struggle to digest food properly
  • serotonin symptoms
  • stubborn lower belly, lower back and face fat
  • high blood pressure
  • increased thirst and salt craving

Top 5 supplements to be stacked:

  1. Ashwagandha root extract – 300mg (MK-66 extract) per cap, 120 caps. Start with 1 cap twice daily. It’s a great adaptogenic herb, that will also help you build muscle, increase testosterone and improve sleep. (Lowers ACTH and cortisol itself)
  2. Magnesium glycinate – 200mg per cap, 180 caps. Start with 1-2 caps before bed, depending on your bowel tolerance to it. (Lowers ACTH and cortisol itself)
  3. Phosphatidylserine – 100mg per cap, 120 caps. Also has nootropic properties, and should be taken at 400mg per day. (Lowers ACTH and cortisol itself)
  4. Zinc glycinate – 22mg per cap, 250 caps
  5. Relora – 300mg per serving, 120 servings (contains magnolia (which is anti-anxiety and anti-serotonin) and Phellodendron (which is a dopamine breakdown, MAO-B, inhibitor))

If you are interested in the complete cortisol lowering guide, check it out here

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15 thoughts on “Signs of high cortisol and the top 5 supplements to lower it”

  1. Hi Hans, I had a blood test recently and my morning cortisol was high. Doctor asked if I’m stressed and I don’t feel I am. I have a lot of the symptoms as listed above, mainly feeling hot as soon as I wake and sweating when I start to do any activity, weight gain, blurry vision, so fatigued and aches and pains, especially lower back and hips, trouble sleeping. Last week we went on a few days holidays, I’m amazed at the difference everything went, except for the sleeping, still waking up several times, but my energy was different, not as hungry and pains gone. First day back home and everything is back. The only supplement I didn’t take with me was the adrenal cocktail I’ve been doing since last year the naturopath told me to do, could this be fuelling high cortisol. I am waiting for my delivery of ashwaghanda hopefully this helps. Also I take about 1000mg of magnesium split up during the day mainly malate and glycinate, I thought I read somewhere that too much magnesium can alter sodium/potassium ratio that’s another reason I’ve been continuing with the cocktail.
    Thanks AP

    • Those symptoms do sound like high cortisol and/or low preg and prog. Magnesium is very helpful, but if your body can’t retain it, then it’s not very helpful. Have you tried taking it with aspirin? It helps to retain the magnesium. Additionally, you can try some pregnenolone and vitamin B1.

  2. Hi Hans, a post script to my previous comment. I also didn’t take my hydrolised collagen powder while I was away. Could too much glycine cause a problem? I seem to have some issues where aminos are concerned I get insomnia when I tried to take L-theanine. I used to get mood issues when I first started collagen powder that was years ago though, and that hasn’t happened for a long time.
    Cheers again AP

    • Glycine can be excitatory since it does activate the NMDA receptor. Theanine seems to act relatively similar to glycine at the NMDA receptor. Glycine can also drop blood sugar, so it’s important to have lots of carbs with it.
      Collagen could be gut-irritating in of itself though.

      • Hi Hans, thank you so much you are a wealth of information. I have been using collagen powder long before it became trendy, and I’ve always wondered if some of my issues were contributed by it, despite endless hours of googling I’m hard pressed to find anything negative about it, apparently it is a “super food”, and I have also not found anything about gycine either, only about it’s positive effects, so thankyou. Could the collagen have an effect on copper, I have been struggling to get the copper, zinc and iron (overload) balanced for quite some time,also due to high dose zinc prescribed by doctor, which I have recently stopped when I learned how it effects copper bioavailability which I’m low in? That is another reason for upping my magnesium, isn’t it supposed to help ceruoplasmin?

      • It’s my pleasure. I haven’t seen anything that indicates that collagen can inhibit copper absorption or excretion or anything. Amino acids generally don’t interfere with micronutrients. Liver is the best source of copper. Just 100g daily for a few weeks should get your copper back to normal. Which of your iron markers are elevated? High ferritin and low transferrin and ceruloplasmin?
        Zinc can deplete copper for sure. Oysters are a good balanced source of zinc and copper. Liver is better for replenishing copper specifically though.
        Magnesium doesn’t interfere with ceruloplasmin from what I could find.

  3. Thanks Hans, I can’t remember the exact numbers but ferritin was at the top end of the range, and transferrin was low and saturation was over range. I have had 2 blood donations in the last 3 months, and can’t believe how quickly it has come down, should this be done regularly do you think? Any suggestions on making beef liver palatable, are other livers also high in copper?

    • Beef and lamb liver are the highest which chicken liver not so much. When preparing the beef liver, fry it at low temps until it’s not red on the inside anymore and then take it off the heat else it will become too dry. I used to eat it with fried banana and it tastes awesome.

  4. Hi Hans,
    I decided to give Relora a try, with the Ashwagandha. I was wondering if there are any side effects from Relora? It hasn’t done anything for my appetite, but I feel calmer during the day. But sleeping has been worse and I have this kind of heartburn feeling sometimes, and I feel gut motility has slowed.

    • Hey man,
      Some people respond good others bad. Not sure why it’s affecting your gut negatively though. Do you have a good quality product without additives?

      • Which vitamins increase magnesium retention in the body? I have been using magnesium for about 1.5 months, will my stress level still show its high effect gradually or magnesium goes directly to my urine. I use 200mg until 2 weeks ago, now I have increased it to 400-600 per day. What do you suggest I do

      • I started using vitamin C, I think it will have an effect. I am currently taking 2000 to 2500mg. During the day, 1000mg in the morning, 500mg in the afternoon and 500mg in the evening worked, but I don’t know if it was a placebo or if it really had an effect as it reduced my stress level a bit. I was very stressed for 1 year, now it started to decrease, but not at the level I wanted. I wonder if the body will recover in 5 6 months or is there a problem. I wasn’t like this 2 years ago. I wasn’t OCD anxiety or depression. It developed with stress 1 year ago, now I worry about everything, unnecessary things, I can be angry, I worry too much

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