Addressing high cortisol: I was very stressed the... - Thyroid UK

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Addressing high cortisol

Gillybean129 profile image

I was very stressed the other night and it was 3am before I dropped off (up at 7 for work as well) Pretty sure it was all the stress of the previous few hours, I felt 'wired' and restless along with pounding heart (not palps).

I haven't done a saliva test and read Aswaganda can help, along with holy basil, would it hurt to try this without the saliva test or is it a bad idea?

My life for the last 7 years or more has been very stressful and I think this is a result of this.

16 Replies

I am sure some of the more knowledgeable people will be along to weigh in soon but just wanted to share my experiences. I found out recently that my sleeplessness is linked to anxiety, but also to histamine (which can be caused by multiple things including food and anxiety). Since I've been actively trying to reduce my histamine levels, I've definitely been sleeping better. It might not be all that is going on with me but it's certainly one of the things that was causing me probs without me realising it.

Naomi8 profile image
Naomi8 in reply to LuxN

No wonder so many OTC sleep aids use antihistamine as the active ingredient.

my anxiety levels seem through the roof past few months and getting little sleep. I ordered saliva test but could never produce enough saliva over 30 min period..i always thought it would be easy but it wasnt, i did one few years ago and was difficult but did it, this time total fail, prob because im stressed! so i am interested in responses xx

radd profile image
radd in reply to Binkie


If you are short on saliva have you looked in Sjgogrens Auto Immune Disease. This is common in People with Hashimotos and attacks the glands that secrete fluid, such as the tear and saliva.


Binkie profile image
Binkie in reply to radd

i will read that thanks :)

Theresa72 profile image
Theresa72 in reply to Binkie

What does that test do for you


Adaptogens can be powerful so it would be wise to perform a saliva stress test so you can supplement according to results.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that helps to normalise adrenal stress syndromes and Holy Basil reduces cortisol production but unless you know your adrenal circadian pattern (what cortisol you are secreting and at what times of day) it can be hard to supplement appropriately.

It is important to not only reduce high cortisol levels for better sleep but also to maintain good blood sugar balance and optimise the HPA-axis function (as well as loads of other things).

I found the saliva test easy to perform ..... just spit, freeze and send four little files. You will not get "accurate" (baseline) results is you start supplementing adrenal improvers.


Saliva Stress Test (test ref END01)

HLAB35 profile image
HLAB35 in reply to radd

I had a go with Ashwagandha last year, I wasn't really sure if anxiety was my problem though - it was more misplaced energy at the wrong times of day! It did make me feel a bit spaced out, so I agree with you radd. Personally, I prefer to use things that are naturally found in a traditional diet with lots of good amino acids and magnesium. Sleep is so important, so I consider it a priority to get that right or it ruins the following day. Last night I got to sleep well, but I woke at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep due to a racing mind. I realise I forgot to drink any Kefir last night - which sorts out my gut and contains tryptophan that aids sleep. I've become quite dependent on it, it seems!

radd profile image
radd in reply to HLAB35


If you wake constantly between 2-4 am this could be caused by the liver lacking glycogen reserves that are required for conversion by the adrenals to keep blood glucose levels high throughout the night.

Snacking on a gluten free whole grain cracker/bread & peanut butter before bed (or during the night) will help as it is important to stabilise your blood sugar levels from the time you eat dinner to the time you go to bed.

Some take a snack to bed with them or an "adrenal cocktail". ( I haven't tried this but many swear by it).


Adrenal Cocktail

HLAB35 profile image
HLAB35 in reply to radd

Thanks, I'll definitely give that a go!

I found that when I was 40something i suddenly became hypersensitive to caffeine. Now I can't even drink a cup of normal tea in the morning without it disrupting my sleep, and I have a suspicion that eating too much dark chocolate in the evening also affects me :-(. Have you tried avoiding all caffeine for 24-48 hours? Maybe you already do!.

I currently take my levothyroxine last thing at night, but I am considering taking it in the morning because it is taking me longer to get to sleep at night. Apparently when you take thyroid medication you get a peak of thyroid hormones in the blood about 30 mins after you take it.

I see you are on Thyroid-S. Does it work for you?

Naomi8 profile image
Naomi8 in reply to eeng

My sister cannot sleep after chocolate in the afternoon/evening.She does not drink coffee or tea after midday,and sticks to decaf tea for her afternoon cuppa.

Hi Gillybean -

I would definitely do the saliva test first! Stopthethyroidmadness has good information on which supplements to avoid before the test in order to get a true snapshot of what is going on.

I am not familiar with the test offered in the UK; I was lucky to find one that tests at 2:00 am. Not all labs have reference ranges for nighttime samples.

The wired feeling and strong heartbeat can (!) be caused by adrenaline output, normal cortisol levels would counteract this but with low cortisol you can feel the adrenaline effect much longer than normal.

Low and high cortisol symptoms can be similar so the saliva test before treatment is very important.

Considering your long period of stress I think you should find out what's going on, I waited to long and it is very hard work to get back to normal.

Have you looked at

I hope you can sort it out

well i was feeling similar, a dr put me on adrenal glandular and it made me hyper. i went off of those and a few weeks later did the saliva 4 times a day test and found out i am high in the morning and late afternoon ......i am now on a formula that is just herbs made by a company called gaai i think is the way you spell it hence it is organic herbs which is important to me..and i take 2 am and 2 afternoon...hasnt been long...and i had to start with one at a time first for a few days......i have hair loss from high cortisol so it isnt anything to play around with and to be taken seriously which i had no idea.....

I have great experiences with Ashwaghanda, Astragalus and Schizandra. They really help me during stressful times. Maca powder also helps. I rotate them to keep the full benefits but they can also be taken together.

I think a 24 hour saliva cortisol test is valuable in its own right (to know what is wrong with your body). However in the end how you feel matters most so I just started experimenting and have not looked back since.

Just make sure you start very low and increase slowly just in case you are very sensitive.

Hi, just a note to say I totally understand what you mean at night're tired but wired and just cant sleep. I learned the hard way that you need certain nutrients to convert your thyroid medication into usable energy and if it doesnt convert I feel wired full of electricity at night. The better you eat the better you sleep. B vits, zinc and magnesium are soooo important. I cant stress this enough.Epsom salts baths are great in the evening as they have magnesium but go very easy or they have the opposite effect... a small handful in a warm bath is good. Make sure water is not hot, just warm or it has bad effect. When I eat red meat a few times a week, lots of veg, vitamin fortified cereals, lots of protein and less rubbish... I feel much better and sleep well. Diet really is the key... research it and how you can eat to help your thyroid. Also be careful about vitamin supplements and how they effect you or interact with your meds. I was taking vivscal and had terrible insomnia so had to stop taking it. As soon as I did I slept great again. Good luck !!!

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