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Natural Cortisol Alternatives

by
author image Warren Rosenberg
A professor of allied health science and member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Warren Rosenberg has been writing since 1979 on topics including health and fitness. His works include the college textbooks "Exercise Science" and "Integrated Science." As a professional photographer, he provides photographs to textbook publishers, magazines and websites. He holds a Ph.D. from New York University.
Natural Cortisol Alternatives
Many dietary supplements act as natural cortisol alternatives. Photo Credit Omega 3 pill in hand image by palmer530 from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Cortisol is an important natural hormone produced by the adrenal glands and is responsible for regulating many important body functions. Cortisol helps regulate glucose metabolism and control blood sugar levels, helps maintain normal blood pressure, supports healthy immune system function and helps moderate the inflammatory response. Cortisol also functions as a "stress hormone," helping to regulate our "fight or flight" response. There are several dietary supplements that can function as natural cortisol alternatives.

Olive Oil

Natural Cortisol Alternatives
Olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Photo Credit Olive verdi image by Marco from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

According to a study published in the journal "Nature" in 2005, a compound found within extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO, has been shown to have a natural anti-inflammatory effect. This compound, oleocanthal, gives EVOO anti-inflammatory properties similar to that of cortisol and may account for this long-known benefit of a Mediterranean diet.

White Willow Bark

Since early Egyptian times 3,500 years ago, extracts from the bark of the white willow tree have been known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Known by its biological classification name, Salix alba, white willow bark contains the chemical agent salicin, which is closely related to salicilic acid, the active agent in aspirin. White willow bark is often consumed as a tea, brewed from dried bark.

Pycnogenol

Pycnogenol, a compound extracted from the bark of pine trees of the species Pinus pinaster atlantica, is rich in flavonoids and has been shown to have certain cortisol-like effects. In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, pycnogenol also has the cortisol-like properties of regulating blood glucose and lowering blood pressure through its ability to relax blood vessels. Pycnogenol is available as a supplement in the form of powder or pill.

Flaxseed

Natural Cortisol Alternatives
Flaxseed Photo Credit flax seeds close-up image by Konstantin Sutyagin from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Flaxseed is rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and can help lower blood sugar, or glucose, according to a study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. The primary active agent in flaxseed is alpha linolenic acid, a form of the omega-3 fatty acid family. The cortisol-mimicking effects of flaxseed can be obtained with either whole flaxseed or flaxseed oil.

Vitamins A, D and E, Selenium and Zinc

Antioxidant vitamins A, D and E along with the nutrients selenium and zinc have all been shown to have roles in regulating the immune system and should be considered as nutritional requirements to support this important function of cortisol. Broccoli, carrots and tomatoes are good sources of vitamin A and zinc. Vitamin D is presented in fortified milk and can be produced within the skin when exposed to adequate sunlight. Vitamin E can be found naturally in wheat germ, sunflower seeds and avocado. Selenium is found in seafood and meat.

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