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What is cortisol and how can we naturally reduce high levels which can lead to a chronic stress response?

Cortisol, more commonly known as the “stress hormone”, is a hormone which your body produces naturally by your adrenal glands. Cortisol is required for nearly every organ system in the body, and is responsible for healthy sleep/wake cycles which we know as circadian rhythm.

Problems can start to arise when we are in a chronically stressed state, which can lead to consistently high levels of cortisol. In the world we live, stress is no longer something we experience intermittently, and humans are consciously and unconsciously bombarded with internal and external stressors – some which you may not even be aware of.

The consistent spikes in cortisol can lead to dysregulated nervous system activity, which can lead to further mental and physical imbalances such as anxiety disorder, chronic inflammation, weight gain, insomnia, heart disease, weakened immune system and impaired digestive function.

There are a number of ways which we can help to reduce or down-regulate the cortisol (stress) response. These include dietary factors, lifestyle modifications and alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal medicine. There are many herbs which have been used traditionally and in western herbal medicine, known to produce a positive impact on the stress response and thus, aid in reducing cortisol.

Two of the main herbs which are beneficial for this purpose, can be found in our Peaceful Warrior herbal tea blend, designed for stress relief and inducing a strong and peaceful state of being.

The first herb Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuflorum), also known as Tulsi, is a potent “adaptogen” meaning it has the ability to help manage or adapt stress. It also promotes a nurturing balance between the mind and body with the capability to restore physiological and psychological function.

Modern living is associated with heightened levels of psychological stress. Psychotherapeutic properties of Tulsi have revealed that it has anti-anxiety and anti-depressant eects, which are comparable to benzodiazepine medication (i.e. Valium or diazepam) or antidepressants. It also helps to improve symptoms of sleep problems, forgetfulness and exhaustion. These eects can be attributed to the presence of certain phytochemicals, which are identified as anti-stress compounds which can help to lower corticosterone, which has positive influences on the neurotransmitters in the brain.

The second herb is Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera); a Traditional Ayurvedic herb which has become very popular throughout western herbal medicine and thoroughly researched for its eects on cortisol and the stress response. Studies have shown that ashwagandha has been eective in improving an individual’s resistance to stress and improves overall quality of life. The eects of this wonderful herb have been shown to reduce plasma cortisol levels, which aids in protecting against the detrimental impacts of elevated cortisol levels present in chronic stress. The potent adaptogenic activity has been used to promote physical and mental health, as well as improve overall vitality and longevity. Other uses and benefits include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, neuroprotective, cognitive enhancement and supports immune health.

The third herb to mention is Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) – a medicinal berry with an array of healing properties used widely thoughout Traditonal Chinese Medicine (TCM). Although not found in our Peaceful Warrior herbal tea blend, you will find this herb in our Jade Palace Immune Enhancing tea. Schisandra has a wide range of therapeutic actions, however it is most renowned for its support of the adrenal glands, liver and immune function. In TCM, schisandra is utilised as an adaptogen to increase resistance to physical and emotional stressors. Studies have shown that it has a positive eect on cortisol levels present in blood and saliva and aids in modifying the stress response by down-regulating activity of stress-activated compounds which raise inflammation.

Incorporating these powerful herbs into your daily routine can provide significant relief from the impacts of chronic stress. By leveraging the adaptogenic properties of Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, and Schisandra, you can help your body better manage stress and maintain a balanced, healthy state. Our Peaceful Warrior and Jade Palace herbal tea blends oer a natural and eective way to support your stress response and promote overall well-being. As you navigate the demands of modern life, consider integrating these herbal allies into your wellness regimen to foster resilience, tranquility, and lasting health.