Mythbusting Cortisol Blockers

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that plays a crucial role in a range of processes in the human body. It helps regulate metabolism and immune response, and it has a key role in how the body responds to stress. Additionally, cortisol aids in the control of blood sugar levels and reduces inflammation [1].

Cortisol is a vital hormone that affects many functions in the human body. It is produced by the adrenal glands, which are small, triangular-shaped glands located on top of each kidney.

These glands are responsible for releasing cortisol into the bloodstream.

How Does High Cortisol Levels Affect the Body?

High levels of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” can significantly impact the body in several ways [2]:

1.    Weight Gain: High cortisol levels can lead to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen.

2.    Impaired Cognitive Function: It can interfere with memory and learning.

3.    Lower Immune Function: It may suppress the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections.

4.    Depression and Anxiety: Elevated cortisol levels are associated with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

5.    Heart Disease: Chronic high cortisol can lead to heart disease due to increased blood pressure and cholesterol.

6.    Bone Loss: It can result in decreased bone density, leading to conditions like osteoporosis.

7.    Sleep Problems: As cortisol regulates the sleep-wake cycle, high levels can cause sleep disturbances.

8.    Digestive Issues: High cortisol levels can cause problems like gastritis and ulcers.

What are Cortisol Blockers?

Cortisol blockers are supplements or medications designed to control the level of cortisol in the body. Controlling the excessive level of cortisol in the body can help prevent and treat the symptoms of increased cortisol in the body. However, they should always be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Types of Cortisol Blockers

There are two types of cortisol blockers:

  1. Enzyme Inhibitors: These blockers target enzymes involved in converting precursor molecules into cortisol. By inhibiting these enzymes, the production of cortisol is reduced.
  2. Receptor Antagonists: These blockers prevent cortisol from binding to its receptors in cells throughout the body. By blocking this interaction, the effects of excess cortisol can be mitigated.

Potential Benefits of Cortisol Blockers

The potential benefits of using cortisol blockers are still being studied extensively, but some promising areas include:

Enhanced Weight Loss

Cortisol blockers are a great tool for weight loss. Cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone, can lead to weight gain in high does. The weight gain is in the abdominal area which is sometimes referred as the visceral fat. By blocking cortisol, it may be possible to prevent this type of weight gain.

Improved Mood

Blocking cortisol can also potentially improve mood. High cortisol levels can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. By reducing these levels, cortisol blockers can help to improve overall mood and mental well-being.

Better Sleep

Another benefit of cortisol blockers is improved sleep. Cortisol plays a significant role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle, and high cortisol levels can disrupt this cycle, leading to insomnia. Blocking cortisol can help to normalize the sleep-wake cycle, leading to better quality sleep.

Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases

Finally, cortisol blockers can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. High cortisol levels have been linked to conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. By reducing cortisol levels, cortisol blockers can potentially lower the risk of these conditions.

What are the Cons of Cortisol Blockers?

Cortisol blockers may cause side effects including digestive issues, such as nausea and upset stomach. Some people might also experience headaches and sleep disturbances.

Risk of Addison’s Disease

Long-term use of cortisol blockers can potentially lead to Addison’s disease, a condition characterized by insufficient production of hormones by the adrenal glands, including cortisol.

Lower Immune Response

Cortisol plays a crucial role in the body’s stress response and immune system. Blocking its production might reduce the body’s ability to respond effectively to infections.

Hormonal Imbalance

Since cortisol is a hormone, blocking its production could disrupt the balance of other hormones in the body, leading to various health complications.

What are Some Good Alternatives to Cortisol Blockers?

There are numerous natural alternatives to cortisol blocker medications that can help manage stress and maintain hormone balance.

  1. Adaptogens:These are a unique class of healing plants that can help balance, restore, and protect the body. Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and Holy Basil are examples of adaptogens that can help lower cortisol levels.
  2. Physical Exercise: Regular physical activity, particularly aerobic exercises, can effectively decrease cortisol levels. Yoga and meditation also offer significant stress-reducing benefits [3].
  3. Sleep Hygiene:Insomnia can elevate your cortisol levels which can lead to adverse health effects as discussed previously. Improving sleep quality and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help lower cortisol levels [4] [5].
  4. Dietary Changes:Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help maintain stable cortisol levels. Certain foods, like dark chocolate and green tea, can also help reduce cortisol levels [6].
  5. Mind-body Techniques:Practices such as deep breathing, massage therapy, and mindfulness can aid in reducing cortisol levels and promoting relaxation.

Certain foods can naturally help to manage cortisol levels in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, and antioxidants from fresh fruits and dark leafy greens can help to lower cortisol. Green tea is known for its calming properties and can reduce cortisol levels.

Additionally, foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, strawberries, and peppers can also help to combat high cortisol levels. It’s also beneficial to include lean proteins like chicken, turkey, and tofu in your diet, as these foods can help to regulate cortisol responses in the body.


  1. Thau L, Gandhi J, Sharma S. Physiology, Cortisol. StatPearls, Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023.
  2. Uwaifo GI, Hura DE. Hypercortisolism. StatPearls, Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023.
  3. Chen C, Nakagawa S, An Y, Ito K, Kitaichi Y, Kusumi I. The exercise-glucocorticoid paradox: How exercise is beneficial to cognition, mood, and the brain while increasing glucocorticoid levels. Front Neuroendocrinol 2017;44:83–102.
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