Thyroid UK
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Cortisol levels

Any ideas, people?

After years of saying to anyone who would listen that I thought there was more going on than just being hypothyroid, I saw Dr O and he suggested Adrenal Fatigue.

When my saliva test results came back from Genova instead of low cortisol its high - in fact about twice the top of the reference range (and nearly 3 times the midpoint) for all four readings. DHEA is bang in the middle of the reference range, but obviously the DHEA/Cortisol ratio is out.

I have always been moderately anxious, although I have learned to manage my anxiety for the most part, and I have a long history of depression, although that too is much better in recent years. I am ALWAYS tired and lacking energy (but limit caffeine stirictly), sleep badly, crave sugar, am always tense around the neck and shoulders. I used never to catch bugs, but this year have had proper flu and am now on my second cold in a month.

Its another six weeks before I see the good doc again. He's sent me the usual information about diet and lifestyle, but in general (with the exception of the sugar) my diet is pretty good and my lifestyle isn't too bad either. No steriods, drugs or excessive alcohol (what's excessive? - I might have actually hit 20 units on holiday, but usually its less than half that).

I think I had rather pinned my hopes on the AF being the answer, but now I am wondering!

[Edited by admin in line with later stated intent of author.]

5 Replies

Unfortunately AF can cause high cortisol, low cortisol or mixed levels. Has he suggested anything to bring your levels down? Possibly something like Holy Basil or Seriphos?

(PS - I'm not sure we are supposed to mention doctors by name? Maybe you should just use an initital?)


Whoops! It doesn't seem to allow me to edit my post, so I'll just call him Dr O in future.

He had already put me on some supplements, (brain fog, can't remember what they were and I don't have access to them at the moment!) which were for thyroid and glucose regulation as I remember, and has added Mallow Plus to that. I can't find much about it, but it apparently mimics one of the adrenal hormones, among other things.

I have given up all caffeine today, and so far have resisted the sugar. No wonder my brain is on strike! I did also restart meditating - have always been rubbish at that, but not since I discovered guided meditation online.


I had high cortisol results as well, although by the sound of it, not as high as yours. I used Seriphos to help me lower it, and for the first time since my childhood I managed to put an end to the constant insomnia I had struggled with. This happened last year.

Unfortunately I have found my levels reverting to what is "normal" for me i.e. getting high again. So I'm going to have to repeat the treatment. But at least I got a few good months (from the point of view of my insomnia) out of my last treatment.

High cortisol is bad for the thyroid, just like low cortisol is. Also, I think I have read that high cortisol increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. So ignoring it is not a good idea.


I already have the osteoporosis - inherited from my grandmother. And no, I have no intention of ignoring it. I will ask about other supplements when I see him, but I guess in the mean time I just have to knuckle down and do the extra bits on the lifestyle list. I could exercise more, but am already pretty active as a dog walker, I could be more insistent about bedtime, (difficult when married to a night owl). And I have stopped the intermittent fasting, even though in the short term at least, it made me feel heaps better.

The report from Genova really alarmed me because it mentioned the possibility of tumours (Cushings) but I am assuming the levels aren't high enough to send this doc into a spin!


Exercise increases cortisol levels I think, and so does fasting.


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