22 Natural Ways to Lower Cortisol

Taken from a blog by Dr. Eric Berg


  1. Practice a low carbohydrate diet with intermittent fasting

This calms the nervous system, aids in digestion and increases stress resilience.

  1. Eat eggs and organ meats

This boosts Choline, an essential nutrient that lowers cortisol and aids in the breakdown of foods and digestion.

  1. Eat dark, leafy green vegetables

Eat 7-10 cups a day to get the vast majority of essential vitamins and minerals you need daily. These non-starchy veggies are loaded with potassium and magnesium and they stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to deactivate the fight-or-flight response. This is one of the most effective strategies for stress and digestive problems.

  1. Eat celery before bed

Inside this crunchy delicious vegetable is a calming phytonutrient that promotes restful sleep and relaxation. Eat six or seven stocks in the evening before bed. Celery is also an excellent fibre the cleans the colon and lowers inflammation.

  1. Eat salmon

and other oily fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Low levels of omega-3 are associated with elevated cortisol levels. If you don't like fish take a good Omega 3 supplement.

  1. Eat sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi

Fermented foods contain lactobacillus strains that can increase oxytocin, the love hormone that not only is a mood-enhancer, but is also a powerful cortisol inhibitor.

  1. Drink green tea

Epigallocatechin-3-gellate (EGCG) is a powerful phytonutrient found in green tea that has potent stress lowering properties and prevents Iron build-up.

  1. Drink kiefer

A probiotic dairy product that helps lower cortisol. If you have problems digesting dairy products, take enzymes. It is also wise to take a good probiotic before bed.

  1. Eat turmeric

This spice lowers cortisol and increases stress resilience. It also helps with inflammation.

  1. Eat or drink holy basil leaf

This tasty herb has stress reducing properties that promote restful sleep, lessens insomnia and other sleep issues.

  1. Drink lemon balm tea

This herb can reduce cortisol and anxiety levels, elevating one’s sense of well-being.

  1. Take emodin

Also known as Japanese knotweed, this herb has been shown to regulate stress hormone production and lower cortisol.

  1. Take ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng

This herb is a very strong adaptogen. It can lower cortisol levels and help the body to adjust to the effects of stress.

  1. Take vitamin D and get out in the sun

Vitamin D helps stabilize your Circadian Rhythm, which is necessary for healthy sleep and balanced cortisol levels.

  1. Take zinc

This essential mineral has shown to lower cortisol levels by regulating the production of neurotransmitters needed for a balanced stress response.

  1. Take nutritional yeast or snack on sunflower seeds

because both have vitamin B1 and B5, which helps to lower stress and anxiety.


  1. Get active

Take long walks in nature to physically remove yourself from everyday stressors. This will immediately result in a reduced cortisol level. When walking in a forest specific stress reducing compounds are released into the air by pine trees, such as limonene and pinene, which promote restful sleep and contribute to lowering stress.

Ready to up your game? Robust exercise, such as running, lifting or swimming, helps the body metabolize and eliminate excess adrenaline in the blood, resulting in lower stress levels that promote sleep and repair.

  1. Go to the beach

Wade through the water. Get your feet wet up to the calf. Salt water is abundant in minerals such as magnesium, sodium, potassium and selenium, all of which are known for their cortisol lowering properties and you can absorb them through your skin. The combination of the salt water, negative ions, sunlight and the sound of water will produce a profound physical and mental relaxation. Do this as often as you can.

  1. Take up a hobby

or participate in an art therapy or music class. Taking in a play or comedy performance are also therapeutic.

  1. Listen to calm music

Music stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and can promote balanced cortisol levels.

  1. Consider infrared light

This light frequency has been found to increase melatonin, a sleep promoting hormone that counteracts the bad effects of stress.

  1. Practice calming breath techniques

Breathe in through your nose for five seconds, then breathe out for five seconds. This rhythmic pattern, when done for 6 minutes, can noticeably reduce blood pressure and lower stress.


All these strategies can be applied in combination and as a life-style choice. When increasing your activity level remember to give your body time to adjust. Exercise is a positive form of stress, but it is a stress none-the-less and if you are coping with elevated stress levels a comfortable walking pace is recommended to provide all the benefits of exercise with the least amount of stress.

Qualicum Beach Apothecary offers dietary counseling. Please contact us with any questions, 250-594-3332 (to reach the shop), or write directly to our Chartered Herbalist: kim.andersen@alumni.uleth.ca. We will be happy to assist you.