THE Most important thing a health care provider can do is to take a history and physical, and truly listen to what is going on. A 10-minute doctor’s visit will not accomplish this. A general state of well being along with morning fasted lab testing is a good first step. This is best done with a morning blood draw to see what the cortisol along with other lab markers. A morning cortisol of 12 to 18 is usually a pretty good number for morning cortisol. Next, is to know what the cortisol is doing through the day and this is best measured with a salivary cortisol test kit. There are many other hormones to consider such as DHEA, pregnegalone, progesterone, estrogen and so on. The end result of adrenal gland production is cortisol, however many of these other hormones will be altered trying to maintain cortisol homeostasis. A good example is pregnegalone which is directly derived from cholesterol. When your cholesterol is too low, such as from a very low-fat diet, statin drugs, or a recent disease (like COVID-19), it is important to take into account how this will affect cortisol production. The concern that high cholesterol is a driver of heart disease is a topic of debate, and it is becoming apparent that things like inflammation and environment are more important drivers of cardiovascular disease. A low reserve of cortisol production is a major driver of heart disease.
One of the most important things you can do to optimize cortisol is behavior change. If you think that your cortisol is deranged, consider starting with going to bed with the sun and getting up with the sun. Cut out stimulation at night, especially artificial lights. Use candles if you must and certainly put down the electronics. It’s going to take a while for your cortisol production to go back to normal. It took a long time to get this way, it some time to get back to normal. It’s all about being able to maintain and build that cortisol reserve. Having that reserve allows you to handle a stress that we’re all going to encounter at some point. Meditation is another great tool that is widely underused. Even taking five minutes each morning and writing down the things you want to do for the day and what you are grateful for is going to help. Activities such as sports, church, music, light reading, journaling, or anything that is outside of your normal external influences. All these exercises help to decrease that sympathetic nervous system. Remember to be proactive and make these things happen, otherwise you will just put them off.
Chinese medicine has thousands of years of experience on how adaptogenic herbs can support our health. It turns out that these herbs support our cortisol and other hormones. Chinese herbs such as Ashwaganda, Rhodalia, Schizandra, licorice root and Ginseng are just some of the herbs that affect stress and cortisol. An easy way to take adpatogenic herbs is a product called Tianchi from www.herbworks.com. Tianchi is a packet of adaptogenic herbs that you mix in water and consume. I have posted many other articles about Tianchi.
Ashwagandha is said to clean out the cortisol from its receptors. Daily dosage for a root powder is typically 1 to 6 grams, while an extract of ashwagandha is 500 to 1500mg.
Licorice root is an adaptogenic herb that has a long history of supporting cortisol production. The mechanism of licorice root is to delay the conversion of cortisol to cortisone. Most licorice root products are way too concentrated. It is better to take a very low dose of licorice root, around 20 to 30 mgs. High doses will stimulate aldosterone from the adrenal gland and increases blood pressure. Licorice root is best taken in the mornings. Tianchi contains a proper amount of licorice root.
Holy Basil is a Chinese herb that has been around for thousands of years.
Cordyceps is an herb known to stimulate energy; be careful of the quality of cordyceps as it can be difficult to source.
Schisandra is another powerful herb that has its effects on the liver.
Vitamin A, B, and C are important for the adrenal gland. Cod liver oil is a great source for vitamin A, B and some C. Remember, it is best to take vitamin C in a low insulin and sugar state because glucose in the blood will block the vitamin C from getting into the cells. Humans do not make vitamin C as other animals, so we must get it from the diet.
NAD and Cortisol
NAD is, it’s really a coenzyme, but NAD helps the mitochondria make more ATP energy. So, without enough NAD, ATP production is suboptimal. Why this is important is for most of us as we’re adults, we’re in some sort of healing phase. We’re working on stuff or stressed out and supplying our cells with as much ATP as possible.