High Cortisol all day: What have people used... - Thyroid UK

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High Cortisol all day

reliablerebel profile image
72 Replies

What have people used successfully to lower their high cortisol? all four of my levels are high. Has anyone used propranolol ? Would be very appreciative of any help.

72 Replies
shaws profile image
shawsAdministrator

I have read that doses of 1,000 Vitamin C is helpful.

psychologytoday.com/article...

youtube.com/watch?v=VtD7ftK...

radd profile image
radd in reply to shaws

shaws,

This is excellent as the highest concentration of Vit C in a healthy body is found in the adrenal glands. I love Vit C and take 3-4 grams daily in a mixed ascorbate powder which is gentler on the stomach.

I am not supposed to take Vit C due to iron overload (Vit C is a good iron absorber) but consider it so beneficial, I take it as one dose at night time so well away from foods.

It is also a powerful antioxidant so boosting the immune system and protects from free radicals and the oxidative stress caused when thyroid hormones do not work properly (or our toxic surroundings). It also reduces high BP and cellular DNA damage that can cause cancers. It also reduces inflammation and high histamine levels. .... so all in all ... a winner.

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to radd

What brand of vit C are you taking?

radd profile image
radd in reply to reliablerebel

I use Biotics Research Corp through a practitioner but if you don't have a practitioner, the equivalent can be bought through Biocare although not so concentrated, so you might need to take more.

There are many others .. just google "Vit C mixed ascorbate".

.

biocare.co.uk/default.aspx?...

shaws profile image
shawsAdministrator in reply to radd

And not too expensive. and thankfully we don't need a prescription :)

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to shaws

Yes, very interesting, but I currently supplement to quite a high level with vitamin C - will look into this more definitely. Thanks so much

cjrsquared profile image
cjrsquared

Propranolol is a beta blocker it blocks the action of adrenaline and nor adrenaline but doesn't reduce the production of cortisol, therefore it treats some symptoms but not the cause. Sorry I don't know how to reduce cortisol levels, hopefully someone more knowledgeable will answer soon. Good luck.

shaws profile image
shawsAdministrator in reply to cjrsquared

Beta blockers can interfere with the uptake of thyroid hormones so not a good idea unless prescribed by a cardiologist.

NatChap profile image
NatChap

I am currently trying Holy Basil and PS100 , google them for info. I feel it is helping with my anxiety and stress but won't know if they have actually lowered my cortisol until I have another test in a couple of months.

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to NatChap

Thanks NatChap - I have read about these - but I do not have anxiety or stress - I think my high cortisol may be caused by working night shifts. Looking for a different route to take, but it does not seem to be easy!!

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to reliablerebel

But they bring cortisol levels down..the cortisol is what is causing my anxiety.

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to NatChap

Yes, I have read that some people have success with them and some less so. Did your results come back all high?

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to reliablerebel

My morning one was off the scale and the rest at the top of the range.

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to NatChap

My morning one was just at top of range, the other three off the charts!! Think the vit C is worth looking into more. Had not heard of it before

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to reliablerebel

stress IS the main cause for high cortisol levels, another cause could be tumors on the pit or adrenal glands. Holy Basil and PS and other adaptogen herbs are the main treatment for bringing down high levels

QUE6T-33 profile image
QUE6T-33 in reply to Jefner

Can a I ask what PS stands for please ?

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to NatChap

NatChap

How are you getting on with the HB and PS. I have some PS but just scared to try it. Do you take the HB and PS together? Empty stomach or with food. How many HB are you up to? Sorry for so many questions

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to Jefner

All very relevant, and ones I will probably be asking too if and when I am brave enough to buy some

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to Jefner

I'm getting on ok! Anxiety has reduced, still there a little but I'm not taking loads, unless I have to as I am taking so many other supplements. I take 1 PS with my evening meal and breakfast and 2 Holy Basil at bedtime and with breakfast. I could probably do with having some in the afternoon too but I'm trying to hold off.

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to NatChap

Why are you worried about trying them Jefner?

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to NatChap

not worried as such, not with the HB anyway. I am up to 3 at each high at the moment. It's the PS I am not sure about. I did take one and can't decide whether my head invented problems with it or I had a reaction

How many highs do you have?

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to Jefner

All 4 of my results were high but only one out of range which was the morning. I tend to 'feel' worse mid morning and mid afternoon.

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to NatChap

my latest result showed that my morning high had gone from 87 down to 49 which is good. My evening one was normal on my last test but along with the other results I have gone up a little so my anxiety symptoms are pretty much with me for most of the day :(

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to Jefner

:-( Are you sleeping now your evening one is normal?

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to NatChap

It was normal on my previous test but gone up on recent one, but I sleep quite well actually although not until around 1am. I have my phone plugged into my ears all night playing meditation vids on YouTube trying to get some positive stuff into my subconscious. Feel crap in the mornings, sluggish, drowsy and fatigued probs cus of my low t3 levels

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to Jefner

Really! That would drive me mad to sleep like that :-D I sprinkle my pillow liberally with lavender and insist on no lights or noise, different things work for different people though. Yes getting your T3 up will help. It's all just so complicated :-/

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to NatChap

I think we have quite similar problems Natchap - that is why when I first joined this group I started following (stalking!!) you. Just when I thought I was getting the hang of ndt the cortisol issues becam apparent. Its a long road ahead .............

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to reliablerebel

Stalking :-D Yes, I thought I'd got away with the cortisol thing, I'd read about it often rearing it's head when you start on NDT but I'd been doing so well. It was when I tried to raise over 2 grains that I started to get problems. We'll get there I'm sure x

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to NatChap

Meet your sister!! I was stable on 2.5 grains then suddenly started getting palpitations and hot flushes. The second I dropped back to 2 grains all was normal again. And there we are

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to reliablerebel

We shall have to keep each other informed if we stumble upon a solution ;-)

130396 profile image
130396 in reply to reliablerebel

Are your hot flushes related to high cortisol??

I've been getting them daily for three years.

I'm 63 and it feels like menopause has come back.

I did a saliva test at xmas and found I had 3 highs.

I started taking holy basil in January for the two latter highs. I'm still taking it for bedtime high but my flushes are mostly after 4pm which is the time my cortisol spiked high from a low lunchtime high.

I don't know which way to turn as they're driving me nuts

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to 130396

To be honest I am not sure - I think my hot flushes are prob menopause related as I have been having them for about 10 years (I am 53 now) - so I imagine if I had been having high cortisol issues all those years I would now have adrenal fatigue and low cortisol. But having said that, when I tried to increase my ndt beyond 2 grains the hot flushes increased terrifically (along with palpitations). As my iron levels are ok(ish) I reckoned it must be a cortisol problem showing up and got the salvia test. That is when i found I had 4 highs. However, I work night shifts from Dec to August and that might be a stressor causing high cortisol. So am going to wait till I am back on days for a month and retest - and then start the holy basil treatment. Sorry if I am not any help - I am not sure myself it any of this is down to menopause/working nights/or hashimotos!! Best of luck on your journey!!

130396 profile image
130396 in reply to reliablerebel

Thank you for your reply.

I think I went through menopause about 18 years ago but not sure as I had hysterectomy when I was 32 so have nothing to go by.

I don't remember getting hot flushes though. But these have been with me daily for 3 years and no matter what my thyroid levels are I've still had them do it is either late onset menopause or high cortisol.

I think I'm looking more towards high cortisol as they are usually worse after 4 pm and my high was recordedat 4.25pm and again at 10.25pm.my morning one was a tad high but fell low st lunchtime then a huge spike use at the next one.

I'm wondering if I should take Zinc at 4-5pm and see if that helps

Thank you so much

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to 130396

I take zinc and magnesium before bed to help sleep - seems to be helping, for now. I take one 25mg zinc gluconate tab and two 500mg magnesium bisglycinate tabs ( each tab gives only 100g available magnesium) - I don't seem to get hot flushes through the night now which I was before I started taking these. But I do think there is something in the high cortisol and flushes connection

130396 profile image
130396 in reply to reliablerebel

Thank you soooo much for that. I already take magnesium 3 times a day but I'll add the zinc to it.

How long before you noticed the night flushes went away

Rose

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to 130396

Well I was taking my mag and zinc during the day with no effect - only last week did I read to take it before bed. Seemed to make a difference nearly straight away but maybe that was just me. I also take two more mag tabs during the day as well as the two at night. I will get my zinc levels tested in a few months, I gather too much can cause as many problems as too little.

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to 130396

I get the odd flush in the evening as well and am post meno.

130396 profile image
130396 in reply to Jefner

I get them starting in the afternoons and going on until well after I'm in bed some days.

Not sure what it is or why they've returned.

Thanks for replying

Rose

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to 130396

i get the flushes from the cortisol. When my evening levels were normal the flushes stopped but since doing an up to date saliva test the flushes are back because my night time level has gone up a wee bit

130396 profile image
130396 in reply to Jefner

Hi Jefner

Thank you so much for replying.

How are you going to treat your high level?

When your cortisol was high did you get flushes corresponding to when the highs were?

How did you get it down?

Flushes are driving me nuts. They can be quite intense!!!

I was thinking of using progesterone cream but I'm afraid it might push the cortisol up even more.

My progesterone level is in the pits at <1.

Maybe the cortisol has been stealing the bit of progesterone I had??

Rose 🌹

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to 130396

I am treating mine at the moment with Holy Basil which is a highly recommended adaptogen herb Am supposed to start on 1 at each high and then increase to 2 etc every few days if symptoms still bad. I am up to 3 at the moment. I don't take the HB for the evening high because my anxiety symptoms have lowered but I have noticed the flushes coming back but only in the evenings. I am 3yrs post meno and think I am still in the range of some symptoms.....who knows! I have so much going on with my body at the moment, it's a living hell

I had my sex hormones tested the other day and I appear to be estrogen dominant (whatever that means). Don't know about the progesterone sorry but there is a FTPO Sex Hormones Group on Facebook that is run by the STTM group that you could join

Lots of VitC is also recommended to help support adrenals that pump out high cortisol. Some take shed loads of the stuff; they say to take as much as your bowels can tolerate but I only take around 1,000

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to NatChap

I was advised to take my t3 in the mornings but my cortisol levels are sky high so I take mine at bedtime with my Levo as I was worried it might make my symptoms worse. After a few days on the 5mcg I felt a tiny improvement but I didn't increase to 10mcg until after 11 days and have only had a couple of doses. A few days ago I noticed mega fatigue around 2-3pm so I decided, yesterday, to try a 5mcg around that time as I thought it might give me a boost but I ended up feel drowsy and sleepy. So am going back to taking mine at bedtime. To be honest I really don't know what to do

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to Jefner

I'm afraid I can't offer any help with that as I have never taken T3, I went from levo to NDT.

QUE6T-33 profile image
QUE6T-33 in reply to NatChap

Hi Natcap - it's a year after your post about High Cortisol & wondered if the Holy Basil supplement you were taking helped lower your Cortisol ?

NatChap profile image
NatChap in reply to QUE6T-33

Hi, yes it seemed to help. I never got re tested so can't say for sure but it certainly helped my symptoms :-)

QUE6T-33 profile image
QUE6T-33 in reply to NatChap

Nice to know - I'm just starting HB !

humanbean profile image
humanbean

Reducing cortisol levels is not easy.

Beta blockers like propanolol will help the symptoms of anxiety and fast heart rate that often come with high cortisol but will do nothing to actually alter the underlying problem. If you get prescribed propanolol don't take it unless you absolutely have to. If you take it every day you will find it hellishly difficult to stop taking it and will have to wean off it very, very slowly.

I am prescribed a small dose of bisoprolol. I only take one when my heart is going like the clappers and I really, really, really need some sleep.

The first thing you have to do is reduce stress. You'll find lots of advice online about that. People are often advised to learn how to meditate, get plenty of sleep, take up yoga. I have to admit, none of that advice did me the slightest bit of good AT ALL! But it might help you.

The thing about stress is that it comes in many forms - mental, physical, physiological - and when you search for info on how to reduce cortisol most pages I've read deal with mental stress only and never mention physical or physiological stress.

Mental stress

I'll leave this up to you - you know what causes you mental stress.

Physical stress

How much exercise do you do and what type? Are you pumping iron, running half marathons every week, pushing yourself to your limits? That will raise your cortisol levels. It won't be good for your thyroid hormone levels either - vigorous exercise uses up your T3. Until such time as you are fit and well you should restrict your exercise to gentle walking and swimming, and other pursuits that don't push you very far physically. Not doing any exercise is physically stressful too. The human body does need to move - you just have to know your limits.

Physiological stress

Being short of vitamins and minerals is stressful to the body.

Start with finding out your levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D, folate and iron/ferritin. Supplement as appropriate to get your levels up to optimal. Then there are lots of other things to worry about - magnesium, zinc, copper, vitamin A, omega 3 fish oils, selenium, and probably lots more. It gets very expensive! But every deficiency you correct will reduce your body's need to over-produce cortisol because your body will work a little bit better.

Being short of thyroid hormones is very stressful to the body.

If you have insufficient T3, for example, the body will produce cortisol and adrenaline to compensate and to keep you going. The problem is that high cortisol will make it difficult to raise your thyroid hormone dose. You need sufficient thyroid hormone to allow the body to reduce output of cortisol. Your body may have been over-producing cortisol for decades, and changing it can be very difficult. I had to go up in dose in tiny amounts (quarter tablet at a time, sometimes even an eighth), and had to back-track lots of times. I found (by experiment) that I could cope with tiny increases if I introduced them at certain times of day. Once I'd adapted to that I could then move a tiny portion of my dose to another time (a more sensible time) and then adapt to that. Don't try to take all your dose at once, stick to multi-dosing.

You need your gut to work properly. That's a huge subject for another day.

I also found out just a few days ago that my habit of eating only twice a day has probably been catastrophic for my cortisol levels. I'm going to have to adapt to eating three times a day, with a small snack between meals. The idea is that I have to calm down the major swings in blood sugar that I've been creating by eating infrequently and erratically.

And finally : a link to get you started with yet more supplements - introduce one at a time, not six at once. You have to know what helps and what doesn't. I haven't tried all of them.

draxe.com/7-adaptogen-herbs...

Do searches for "adaptogens and high cortisol". Compare and contrast the advice you read. And be cautious - nutcases and weirdos abound!

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to humanbean

Thankyou, very sound advice. Physiological stress is my problem I think, being hypothyroid and not getting enough sleep (due to working night shifts). Mental stress is good and physical ok - I exercise at a low level. Diet improving, need to look at going gluten free. But I gather that is a bit like being pregnant - you either are or you aren't!! I appreciate you taking the time to reply x

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to reliablerebel

can you post your test results (along with ranges) so we can have a look at them? Have you had bloods done recently to check your thyroid levels?

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to Jefner

Both blood and saliva results are from this week. This is my first set of results since starting on my ndt journey 3 months ago. Was stable for 6 weeks on 2.5 grains thiroyd prior to taking blood test. Although I dropped back since to 2 grains because of palpitations which ceased immediately upon dropping back. Do these levels look ok?

TSH *0.051 mIU/L ( 0.270 -4.200)

FT4 *10.87 pmol/L (12.000 -22.000)

TT4 65.1 nmol/L (59.000 -154.000)

FT3 5.47 pmol/L ( 3.100 -6.800)

RT3 12 ng/dL (10.000 -24.000)

TGAb *241.900 IU/mL (0.000 -115.000)

TPO *132.7 IU/mL (0.000 -34.000)

Sample 1 Post Awakening 26.51 (7.45-32.56) OK???

Sample 2 (+ 4 - 5 Hours) 32.24 (2.76-11.31) HIGH

Sample 3 (+ 4 - 5 Hours) 10.69 (1.38-7.45) HIGH

Sample 4 (Prior to Sleep) 10.69 (0.83-3.86) HIGH

Reference Range (nmol/L)

Sum of cortisol 77.6

Hormones

0.67DHEA Sample 1 (am) (0.25-2.22)

0.32DHEA Sample 3 (pm) (0.25-2.22)

DHEA : Cortisol Ratio 0.025 (0.015-0.150)

Secretory IgA 148µg/mL (102-471)

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to reliablerebel

someone else can advise you better on your thyroid meds but your highs need dealing with as regards your cortisol.

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel in reply to Jefner

Yes, I think my dosage problems with ndt (trying to raise) are being caused by the high cortisol issue. So I need to address that before I can try raising ndt again. I have a headache trying to get my head around all this. Thanks for your input x

humanbean profile image
humanbean in reply to reliablerebel

Blood testing for gluten problems won't tell you about all problems with gluten. I was tested a few years ago as part of an endoscopy. Biopsies were taken and blood tests were done. I was found NOT to have coeliac disease.

Fast forward a few years, and I had never stopped eating gluten. I didn't see why I should, I didn't have coeliac disease.

However, I did stop eating gluten as an experiment - very reluctantly.

And the results were impressive. I had major improvements in some quite serious problems. It turns out I probably have something called gluten ataxia.

If you give up gluten for 3 months or so and get no benefits from it you can always go back to eating it. Being gluten-free doesn't have to be a life sentence.

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to humanbean

humanbean

Interesting reading your post about the t3. Because of your high cortisol levels how did you work out that you had to increase your t3 in tiny amounts?

humanbean profile image
humanbean in reply to Jefner

If I tried to raise T3 inappropriately - in larger amounts or at the wrong time of day - I would get jittery and anxious, my heart rate would increase dramatically, I would get high blood pressure.

My saliva cortisol results showed that my biggest cortisol problem was when the first saliva sample was done. My best result was when the second saliva sample was done.

I would start by increasing dose early-mid afternoon, depending on when I ate. Once I adapted to that and felt better for the increase I would try and move the extra T3 to the morning. If it didn't work i.e. I got symptoms of intolerance I would move the extra T3 back to early/mid afternoon. After a few more days I would move it to late afternoon. I raised my total dose very slowly. Instead I found I had to move little portions of the dose around the day, sometimes for quite a long time. The time I wanted to take the bulk of the dose was in the morning. But that was the time of day I found it very hard to adjust to taking it, and I'm convinced it was because of my high cortisol. Sometimes I couldn't tolerate a tiny bit more T3 at any time, even though I was still under-dosed. So I would drop down in dose for a week or two then try again. I could usually tolerate it when I tried a second time.

It caused another problem though. When I got up to my "best" dose I didn't know I had reached it. I tried to go up in dose a bit more, but this time I had problems because I was overdosing (based on symptoms not tests) rather than having a problem with cortisol. I eventually realised I was overdosing when I took my morning temperature and it was a little bit too high. I dropped back 1/4 tablet and was then okay for quite a while. I still find I have to make tiny tweaks to my dose occasionally though.

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to humanbean

the reason for asking is that I was advised to take my t3 in the mornings but my cortisol levels are sky high so I take mine at bedtime with my Levo. After a few days on the 5mcg I felt a tiny improvement but I didn't increase to 10mcg until after 11 days and have only had a couple of doses. A few days ago I noticed mega fatigue around 2-3pm so I decided, yesterday, to try a 5mcg around that time as I thought it might give me a boost but I ended up feel drowsy and sleepy. So am going back to taking mine at bedtime. To be honest I really don't know what to do :(

humanbean profile image
humanbean in reply to Jefner

Do you eat lunch? Does it usually contain lots of carbohydrates?

A simple experiment you could try for the next three days...

Eat a lunch which is high in fat and protein and low in carbs. How bad is your afternoon fatigue? If it improves/reduces then your problems are more likely to be caused by blood sugar issues - either hypoglycemia or insulin resistance (or both).

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to humanbean

yeah I do have a bit of a hypoglycemia problem but I don't eat well during the day because of the anxiety and nausea. I tend to graze. I mainly nibble on a salmon fillet or chicken with some oatcakes with coconut oil on and gulp down some of the Naked Smoothie drinks I buy throughout the day

humanbean profile image
humanbean in reply to Jefner

Not eating properly during the day is almost certainly contributing to your hypoglycemia, your high cortisol, and your poor tolerance of thyroid meds.

Jefner profile image
Jefner in reply to humanbean

Some days I can eat properly but it depends on the level of nausea I get. I also read with cortisol problems it's best to have 4-5 small meals a day

Kitten1978 profile image
Kitten1978

Reliablerebel,

I know that some people take DHEA supplements in order to reduce cortisol. Your DHEA levels are within their ranges but low, your DHEA to cortisol ratio is low. You are better off trying adaptogens first but it may be worth keeping DHEA in mind.

I'm certainly not an expert in this: I'm waiting for my own adrenal stress profile results and expecting my cortisol to be very high so I'm doing a lot of reading about cortisol and DHEA whilst waiting.

Take care

reliablerebel profile image
reliablerebel

Yes I see my DHEA is bottom of ideal range. Have not started researching that yet - one thing at a time, getting both saliva and blood test results the same week my head is fried. Thanks very much for your reply, and I see you have made some interesting posts in the recent past. I hope you don't mind but I am going to "follow" you to see if I can learn more! Cheers x

Kitten1978 profile image
Kitten1978 in reply to reliablerebel

Hi Reliablerebel,

Of course I don't mind you following me. My posts tend to be quite desperate as I'm suffering from severe insomnia. My hypo symptoms have resolved on ndt and I think my lack of sleep is adrenal in nature. Hence I'm impatiently waiting for my ASP results and obsessively googling cortisol and DHEA.

Adaptogens are worth looking into as they are safer than supplementing with another hormone and many people find them helpful.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that you manage to get your cortisol levels down.

Take care

Kitten

Justiina profile image
Justiina

Maybe humbug but hey this really doesn't cost any at all to try. Read about it yesterday. If nothing else it does make feel more confident when you act like you would be very confident.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/208...

nightingale-56 profile image
nightingale-56

I was told by an anaesthetist that vitamin C raises Cortisol.

humanbean profile image
humanbean in reply to nightingale-56

Did you believe him? A very quick google suggests a lot of people would disagree with him. I'm not suggesting that proves anything though... :)

nightingale-56 profile image
nightingale-56 in reply to humanbean

It was a 'her', but she sounded as though she knew what she was talking about! But she is a doctor after all!

Kitten1978 profile image
Kitten1978 in reply to nightingale-56

I remember reading a research study where high levels of vit C decreased cortisol levels...

nightingale-56 profile image
nightingale-56 in reply to Kitten1978

You really don't know what to believe Kitten1978 (the year my daughter was born) do you?

Kitten1978 profile image
Kitten1978 in reply to nightingale-56

Nope, we don't ;( Although given my recent experienced with doctors I would be more likely to rely on the research studies, provided that they used large samples and seem methodologically correct. There have been cases of scientists falsifying their results though...

nightingale-56 profile image
nightingale-56 in reply to Kitten1978

I tend to rely more on Scientists too as I though that was the basis of a doctor's knowledge, but not sure of anything now. Thanks for your views.

purple64 profile image
purple64

How do you know of you have high cortisol levels ?

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