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What Are Cortisol Blockers? (Everything You Should Know)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: July 13, 2021

The stress hormone cortisol has a bad reputation and for very good reasons.

Not only can high cortisol levels cause anxiety and other mental health issues, but they can also impact your physical wellbeing through lack of sleep, high blood pressure, and difficulty with maintaining a healthy weight.

For many of my clients, stress has been one of the most contributing factors for struggling with weight loss, even when their diet and exercise routine should provide good results.

We teamed up with a nutritionist for some information to help you understand why cortisol production has such an impact.

What Kind Of Dietary Supplements Help To Block Cortisol?

Supplements leaning above each other

While prescription medications can lower cortisol levels, this isn't always the best way to tackle the problem of stress.

Instead, you should look at some dietary supplements that include natural herbs and minerals that have been proven to interrupt the “psychophysiological stress responsivity.”

I know that’s quite an impressive term, but all it means is that there are certain ways you can naturally reduce the signals sent from your pituitary gland to not produce as many stress hormones.

We’ve seen a few good dietary supplements claim that these ingredients tend to work the best:

  • Lemon balm
  • Chamomile
  • Ashwagandha
  • Rhodiola

How Do Cortisol Blockers Work?

Top view of pills and medicines

People tend to think that cortisol is this evil hormone that we need to get rid of for stress relief. But certain amounts of cortisol are still important for your body, and in certain situations, the body boosts production and actually needs it.

An example would be finding yourself in a dangerous situation like a crash. The cortisol release then helps your body become more aware and focused on the situation to figure a safe way out.

The problem is persistently high cortisol levels.

And here’s how blockers can help.

Improve Cortisol Cycle

Different glands in the human body produce and transform cortisol in a recycling type of way. It’s a natural process, and normally, after a stressful situation, the body would slowly lower cortisol levels again.

These blockers often work by improving the functions that transform cortisol to bring you to post-stress recovery faster.

Reduce Cortisol Release

Another approach is to disrupt the functionality of the glands that produce too much cortisol. By reducing the supply, your body will slowly get rid of the cortisol floating around your body and bring you to a calmer state of mind and body.

Benefits Of Cortisol Blockers

Woman holding supplement containers while giving a thumbs up

There are four main benefits that reduced cortisol levels bring, and they are not all just about managing stress.

1. Improved Blood Pressure

Physical and mental pressure from our environment triggers the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol; in a dangerous situation that comes with the benefit of higher blood pressure and a faster heart rate to prepare for a threat.

But with a constant elevation of cortisol that can lead to chronically high blood pressure.

With a lower cortisol level that lasts for longer periods of time, you may be able to prevent cardiac issues [1].

“As your cells are crying out for energy, your body may send signals to the brain that you are hungry and need to eat. Studies have demonstrated a direct association between cortisol levels and calorie intake in populations of women. False hunger signals can lead you to crave high-calorie foods, overeat and thus gain weight. Unused glucose in the blood is eventually stored as body fat.” - PremierHealth.com.

2. Gain Control Of Chronic Stress

Woman stressed and holding her head

Stress relief is something that many people struggle with, especially at the end of a busy work and family day.

The better you’re able to control your stress levels at the end of the day, the more your mind and body will relax.

That stress management may also lead to better sleep, which further helps with managing stress.

3. Deal With Weight Gain

One thing we’ve seen with many clients is that even those with a great diet and regular exercise can end up struggling with weight gain [2].

In many cases, it comes down to stress, and that’s where hormone blockers can play an important role in aiding weight loss for otherwise healthy adults.

Related: What Are Natural Fat Blockers?

4. Stabilize Blood Sugar

A doctor checking someone's blood sugar

Finally, cortisol is also linked to insulin production, which ultimately controls blood glucose levels.

A disruption in insulin can lead to highs and lows, and one of the most common results of that is increased appetite and calorie intake.

The bottom line is that lowering stress might be one of the best ways to lose weight.

Do Cortisol Blockers Have Side Effects?

Pills stacked above each other

So, the good news is that most over-the-counter stress hormone blockers are based on natural herbs and minerals. And these are classed as generally safe to take by the Food and Drug Administration.

Now, you still have to be careful to look out for ingredients that you might be allergic to, but lowering cortisol levels shouldn’t result in you developing a rash or stomach issues.

It’s also very unlikely that cortisol blockers lead to too low levels, which could lead to hormonal disorders.

If you have had general hormonal balancing issues before, then it’s best to get professional medical advice.

FAQs

Do Cortisol Blockers Actually Work?

Yes, cortisol blockers may actually work to give you more control over cortisol levels. Unless you have some significant medical conditions, using natural herbs and minerals is one of the best ways to gain more control over your body’s stress responses.

Does Caffeine Increase Cortisol?

Yes, caffeine may increase cortisol levels, and high levels of coffee consumption can significantly elevate stress responses. This can be measured in salivary cortisol increases within minutes of drinking a cup of coffee.

Are You Going to Try Cortisol Blockers?

Now, I would never suggest that a cortisol-blocking supplement is the magic pill for people. You will still need to explore stress management techniques and make lifestyle changes that reduce external stress factors.

But with the right supplement, diet, and approach to your lifestyle, you should achieve much better health and finally get to that stage of permanent weight loss.

Let us know on social media and in the comments below if you’ve had experience with these types of supplements and what other tips you might be able to share.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9809193/
  2. https://www.vogue.com.au/beauty/wellbeing/are-high-cortisol-levels-stopping-you-from-losing-weight/news-story/9d86b89ffa37e0945e330ed4c8e90b44

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