James Dixon, our nootropics and nutritionist, takes a look at the best supplements to reduce cortisol to help you lower those stress levels. Take a look at what he discovered…
Cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, is elevated during times of stress. It works by diverting the body’s energy away from regulating bodily functions such as digestion and the immune system.
When experiencing long-term stress and anxiety, cortisol levels can rise and negatively impact both your physical and mental health. This can include eliciting a range of issues including anxiety, depression, headaches, memory problems, digestive issues, weakened immune system, weight gain, insomnia, and pre-diabetes.
There are plenty of things we can do to combat this, however.
Firstly, obviously, we can avoid stress. Though short-term stress is fine, long-term stress can be ruinous. If you can, set up your lifestyle to ensure that it doesn’t weigh too heavily on you.
Try not to work long hours, try to avoid stressful situations, seek medical attention if stress and/or anxiety persist. Speak to your healthcare provider if you think that you might need help in overcoming stress and anxiety.
Secondly, there are lifestyle factors that can help. Things like regular exercise, time spent outdoors, meditation, plenty of sleep, and high-quality social interactions will all help to alleviate stress. Prioritise these things as much as you are able to.
Finally, getting your diet right can work wonders. A food plan rich in adaptogens and light on caffeine and alcohol should help to keep stress and anxiety levels low whilst enabling your body to better deal with the stress that remains.
Supplementation can work wonders, too, of course. There is a whole range of supplements out there that can help to lower your stress levels, mitigate the effects of long-term stress, and hopefully keep you happy and healthy in the long term.
Let’s have a look at them.
For the best all-round supplement to beat stress whilst allowing yourself to enjoy a good nootropic benefit, it’s hard to outdo NooCube.
It’s one of the best nootropics on the market and is packed full of adaptogenic compounds sure to help alleviate stress and anxiety whilst keeping your head clear and your energy levels high and even.
What is cortisol?
As above, cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands. It’s a steroid hormone that is released into the bloodstream when an individual is stressed. The balance of cortisol in the body is incredibly important for good health, with imbalanced levels often leading to chronic health concerns.
Cortisol plays a lot of vital roles within the body, including helping the body respond to stressors and maintaining its danger response, increasing glucose metabolism, controlling blood pressure, and reducing inflammation. It is also essential for your body’s natural threat response.
The amount of cortisol created is maintained by the body to ensure a correct balance.
When the body creates either too much or too little cortisol, it can lead to health problems. Health problems themselves can also contribute to imbalanced cortisol output. For instance, Cushing’s syndrome is a condition in which the body produces excessive cortisol, while Addison’s disease is a condition in which the body produces too little cortisol.
Symptoms of excessive cortisol include weight gain (particularly around the face and midsection), poor skin quality and skin that struggles to heal, acne, and facial hair growth and irregular menstrual cycles in women. Symptoms of too little cortisol can include fatigue and ongoing tiredness, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, drastic weight loss, and abdominal pain.
It is imperative that you balance your cortisol levels if you want to ringfence your long-term health and wellbeing.
Our top supplements to reduce cortisol
These supplements should all help you to better manage your cortisol levels, in part by improving your body’s response to it, and in part by diminishing it if output is too high.
CortiSync aims pretty squarely at reducing stress levels and balancing cortisol levels in the body.
It offers benefits such as balancing cortisol levels and reducing stress, of course, as well as increasing energy, boosting cognitive function, aiding in maintaining healthy weight, supporting immune health, improving sleep quality, and helping to mitigate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
CortiSync uses a unique mix of ingredients to achieve this, many of them known for their stress-relieving and adaptogenic natures. They include the likes of rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, and mucuna pruriens, all there to mitigate the symptoms of stress whilst also bolstering mental and physical performance. Everything is provided in usable, clinically relevant, safe doses.
I like CortiSync’s balance of price, quality of ingredients, and manufacturing standards. It is not the cheapest cortisol-supporting supplement, but you get what you pay for – it provides excellent results without compromising on the quality of ingredients.
It’s a good one to start this list with – a generous, well-priced, well-dosed, and intelligently designed supplement that has a focus on balancing those cortisol levels. We have a good benchmark here by which to measure everything else.
Although CortiSync is generally well-tolerated and has minimal drawbacks, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before use, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or take prescription medications.
Nooceptin is a nootropic from SAP Nutra, a manufacturer based in the US. They focus firmly on using scientifically backed ingredients in all their products, relying on clinically relevant studies and good-quality data. I always rate them highly and like to see their products being taken seriously within the supplement industry – they are one of the better companies out there.
Nooceptin’s formula revolves largely around Lion’s Mane and is caffeine-free, making it suitable for long-term, daily use without adding to stress levels, which many nootropics can do. Most of the active ingredients are herbal, which we will see a lot of in this list, meaning few if any side effects or nasty interactions.
As above, the primary ingredient is Lion’s Mane, which is a type of mushroom that has been used for centuries to aid cognition. It is known to stimulate the parts of the brain associated with higher thinking. Recent studies have shown that Lion’s Mane can increase the growth rate of brain neurons by working with the body’s Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).
Nooceptin also uses citicoline, a fantastic form of choline. Choline is essential for brain and muscle function, making adequate intake incredibly important. Citicoline is believed to be the safest and most effective form of choline – and it is highly bioavailable.
Nooceptin includes several additional herbal remedies and plant extracts that have been scientifically demonstrated to improve cognitive function. You get a good dose of one of my favourite supplements, rhodiola rosea, which can increase blood flow to the brain and improve nutrient metabolism.
It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of health concerns, including the likes of depression, impotence, gastrointestinal problems, and fatigue. Research has shown that rhodiola rosea can improve energy levels and moods, aid in easing the signs of despair and anxiety, enhance learning and memory, and strengthen the immune system.
Meanwhile, ginkgo biloba extract can help to ward off cognitive decline and serious disease over time. Recent research suggests that ginkgo biloba may not only reduce decline but also potentially reverse it in some instances. You get 100 mg per serving, which should be plenty.
Nooceptin also uses 200mg of panax ginseng, which should help to better regulate and lift mood and motivation. Panax ginseng has been shown to have antidepressant-like effects in laboratory settings, in addition to cognitive improvements.
It contains antioxidants and ginsenosides, which are therapeutic ingredients that might result from its ability to control the immune system and prevent diseases.
Ginsenosides are thought to target immune system pathways involved in chronic inflammation. In one study, researchers found that ginsenosides from Korean ginseng quite profoundly reduced the body’s levels of inflammatory cytokines whilst also diminishing the immunological reaction to inflammation.
Then there is bacopa monnieri extract, which has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to improve mental clarity and focus. It is a herb commonly found in India’s wetlands that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Modern research has shown that it can protect the brain and prevent memory loss and cognitive decline. It has even been used as a supplementary treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.
Finally, there is also a good dose of the amino acid l-theanine in there, which can enhance attention and processing of complex tasks over extended periods.
Many of these ingredients, notably bacopa monnieri, l-theanine, and rhodiola rosea, are potent adaptogens. This means that they are clinically proven to help the body to better deal with stress and anxiety. They should help you to adapt and react to stressors that would otherwise cause large spikes in cortisol production.
In taking Nooceptin, therefore, you will be improving your ability to deal with stress, mitigating the amount of stress you are under, and allowing your brain to function far more fully.
Xanapril is a dietary supplement made from organic ingredients that is pretty much perfect for anybody looking to manage stress and anxiety – and, thus, for those looking to reduce cortisol levels.
Its natural ingredients aim to reduce stress levels and aid with emotional management, whilst also promoting sustained concentration and better sleep quality. Its main goal is to help individuals feel less stressed and manage reactions from their body when faced with stressful circumstances, allowing for a more relaxed and focused day.
As with the other nootropics on this list, it is completely safe and non-addictive, providing anti-anxiety effectiveness without the risky side effects on offer from harsher medications.
Ashwagandha, magnesium l-threonate, rosea rhodiola, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and Korean ginseng all come together to bring about these effects whilst also offering improved cognitive function. These supplements have been used for centuries in traditional forms of medicine, and their potential health benefits have a wealth of modern clinical data backing them up.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It can help to boost intellectual capacity and immune function, whilst also helping to improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and increase energy levels. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can help to reduce inflammation and protect the body from a number of health concerns, including depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Meanwhile, magnesium l-threonate is an incredibly important mineral that has been investigated for its ability to reduce signs of cognitive decline, enhance memory, and sharpen focus. It has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factors, promoting new brain cell growth. Magnesium supplements are also popular for enhancing concentration and sleep quality, as well as lowering stress levels. This latter benefit is, of course, of particular interest here.
As we have seen, rosea rhodiola is another adaptogen that aids the body in its ability to more ably cope with stress and anxiety. It should lead to benefits such as better focus, energy, mood, and stress responses.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid formed within the brain from glutamate. It is thought to play a role in anxiety control and mitigating excessive nerve cell activity, as well as aiding in the creation and proliferation of neurons. Research has shown that regulating GABA levels can lower anxiety, stress, and restlessness, whilst also bolstering mood in general. It might also lessen high blood pressure.
Panax ginseng is a natural treatment for anxiety, depression, and stress, as we have already seen above.
Brought together like this, these natural supplements represent a great way to reduce stress and improve cognitive function. The combination of nootropic ingredients and adaptogens should help you to overcome the worst of your stress and anxiety whilst enjoying clearer, calmer thinking.
NooCube, produced by Wolfson Brands, is a nootropic supplement that has been available for around seven years. Seven glorious years.
As we have seen, nootropics are a category of natural supplements that aim to enhance human thinking, learning, and memory, particularly when these functions are working suboptimally.
NooCube is designed for those with heavy workloads and limited time in which to complete them, like students and professionals, and it aims to improve cognitive performance and mental wellbeing without overly relying on harsh stimulants. The formula contains natural, well-sourced ingredients that are intelligently dosed and blended to promote brain health and improved cognition hand in hand with diminished stress and anxiety levels – and, thus, diminished cortisol output.
In essence, NooCube works like other high-quality supplements by utilizing a powerful blend of top-notch ingredients.
The formula begins with 250 mg of bacopa monnieri extract. As we have seen, bacopa monnieri is believed to reduce anxiety levels and improve memory, making it a promising ingredient for nootropics, and of particular value in reducing cortisol levels.
NooCube also contains two amino acids, l-tyrosine (250 mg per serving) and l-theanine (100 mg), which are both beneficial for cognitive function.
L-tyrosine is important for the formation of hormones and neurotransmitters, and it helps to control stress neurotransmitters while improving memory. L-theanine, found in green and black tea, has been shown to have several beneficial effects, including reducing anxiety and improving cognitive function. Together, they should do a lot for keeping you calm, reducing the severity of your stress responses, and ultimately reducing your cortisol levels.
There are some great additional botanicals in the formula, too. Cat’s claw concentrate, an Amazonian vine, is included for its immune-boosting properties and potential to fight neurodegenerative diseases. Oat straw concentrate is included for its potential to improve blood flow to the brain, leading to improved alertness, attentiveness, and energy. Marigold extract is included for its potential to boost memory and cognitive function.
Then there is one of the main stars of the show, Alpha GPC, a natural choline compound. It earns its place in NooCube’s formula for its potential to improve attention, memory, and athleticism.
Resveratrol and pterostilbene, both antioxidants, are included for their potential to ward against oxidative stress, inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases, whilst biotin, or vitamin B7, is there for its potential to maintain nervous system health, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep quality and energy levels.
The ingredients included are all well-dosed and backed by high-quality clinical data and scientific research. All told, they should do what any calming nootropic should do – aid cognition and mental wellbeing whilst protecting you against the effects of stress and anxiety. NooCube is one of the best of its kind, giving you the reassurance to trust its ability to deliver these results.
Vyvamind is another nootropic supplement made from natural ingredients that is designed to enhance overall brain performance. It is specifically formulated for high-performance adults who need to maintain focus and concentration for extended periods of time.
Its key ingredient is citicoline, which we have already seen in a couple of different guises. Citicoline is an effective nootropic ingredient that can increase acetylcholine output, which in turn is important for maintaining healthy working memory.
In addition to citicoline, Vyvamind contains five other key nootropic ingredients, including Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, L-Tyrosine, and CDP Choline, all of which can help increase energy levels, improve focus, and aid in concentration.
I wouldn’t urge many people to take on Vyvamind for reducing stress and anxiety. It contains a high dose of caffeine anhydrous, a potent stimulant that will generally make stress and anxiety worse. However, it can make use of the stimulant paradox – it can help to decrease excessive motor activity in individuals with ADHD, making it perfect for them.
While it may not be as comprehensive as other nootropic supplements like NooCube or Nooceptin, Vyvamind is a solid option for those seeking to mitigate ADHD symptoms. The underlying theory and research supporting the supplement are robust. You should experience a greater sense of calm and wellbeing for taking it if you struggle with any form of attention deficit concerns.
One could argue that taking NooCube with a cup of coffee can provide the desired stimulation in addition to its nootropic blend. However, simplicity is key when it comes to managing ADHD. It’s best to minimize the number of things to think about. Taking one supplement can significantly improve symptoms without overcomplicating things.
It’s important to note that excessive caffeine intake on top of ADHD medication can be problematic, so caution is advised. I would always recommend speaking to your healthcare provider before bringing anything new into the mix if you’re on an existing treatment plan.
There are some truly great options here. Most of them revolve around a dual purpose – dosing you with ingredients to help you better cope with stress whilst also diminishing overall stress levels, and simultaneously improving overall cognitive health and function.
I can think of few objectives as laudable as these.
But how do you choose between them? Well, really, it depends on what you’re looking for. Whichever way, you have options.
For instance, if you are only really concerned about lowering overall cortisol levels, then CortiSync might present an obvious choice. It is a solid option, after all, loaded with adaptogens to improve your resilience to the ruinous effects of stress, lowering your cortisol levels to keep you healthy and happy in the longer term.
If you need some kind of stimulant but also want something that will keep your head right and your cortisol levels under control, do consider VyvaMind. It is well-dosed with good-quality caffeine, making it an odd choice for many looking to lower their stress levels, but an amazing choice for some.
If you want something that will act as a peerless nootropic supplement whilst also naturally helping you to reduce your body’s cortisol levels, my old bias comes to the fore. I love NooCube, always have since I first tried it, and continue to do so as I use it regularly, day after day. It keeps me focused, happy, and stress free. You could do a lot worse and not much better if you’re looking to diminish your stress and anxiety levels.