The best Dietary Supplements to Reduce Stress (Cortisol)

Supplements reduce Cortisol stress ? Cortisol is a hormone in the human body and is also known as the “stress hormone”.

Its main function is to influence wakefulness and various catabolic processes.

Cortisol in itself is not “bad”.

Some people can suffer from elevated levels of the hormone and this can lead to pathological consequences.

In these cases, it is good to seek to lower cortisol, which some nutritional supplements can help to do.

In this article, you will learn what are the 7 most promising supplements that can help you reduce your stress levels.


Herbal adaptogens are a class of substances that help the body fight stress and fatigue. Some adaptogens can also have a direct effect on cortisol.

In the table we have collected the herbs adaptogens that are directly related to cortisol.

Herb Effect Situation
Ashwagandha Significant decrease up to 30% In healthy and stressed individuals
Shisandra Boosts and Lowers Lowers in beginners and advanced exercisers.
Increases in beginners during rest
Long Jack Reduces 16% Daily Use in Stressed Individuals
Ginkgo Biloba Lowers Prior Cognitive Stress Test by Healthy Individuals


Melatonin is one of the substances that can have radically different effects on cortisol and stress depending on when the dietary supplement is taken.

It is assumed that its action is directly related to the rhythm of sleep, in which cortisol itself is involved.

If taken before 12:00 noon – increases cortisol levels during the day;

If taken before or after exercise – has no effect on cortisol levels;

If taken before sleep – may lower cortisol levels the next day and at night.

  • Melatonin can lower cortisol levels only if taken before sleep.

Fish oil

Fish oil intake in animals and humans has shown that omega-3 fatty acids normalize the response to stressful situations.

This effect has been recreated in several studies using high doses of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Improvements were noted in both the short-term response (adrenaline levels) and the long-term response (cortisol levels).

Some human studies have found positive effects on cortisol, whether the stress is cognitive or physical.

Others find an impact on stress levels, but no impact on cortisol levels.

At this point the results are mixed, but the properties of fish oil have great potential. Both omega-3 fatty acids may have a contribution to make.

EPA modulates some stress-related immune functions, and DHA directly influences at high stress levels via the GABA receptor.

Interestingly, even a small daily dose of 762 mg of omega-3 (EPA+DHA) lowers noradrenaline levels in healthy and non-stressed people.

  • For now, the properties of fish oil are more than promising. A specific influence on cortisol has not been fully confirmed, but fish oil has an overall positive influence in high stress.


The effect of DHEA on cortisol is unconfirmed to date and the studies themselves are inconclusive.

DHEA has been found to lower cortisol in those tests in which an increase in sex hormones such as androgens and estrogens are also found.

In the human body, DHEA exists in a pseudo-balance with cortisol. The two hormones function in one stress axis and their synthesis occurs through one mechanism.

DHEA and cortisol levels are linked, and in a healthy organism they are balanced.

The ratio between the two substances may be the key to whether DHEA as a dietary supplement can affect cortisol levels.

At this stage it is suggested that DHEA may lower cortisol in some specific groups:

  • Individuals who have high levels of cortisol and low levels of DHEA (hypercortisolemia);
  • Sufferers of schizophrenia who typically have low DHEA levels;
  • Individuals with low testosterone or estrogen levels;
  • Postmenopausal women.
  • There is a direct relationship between DHEA and cortisol levels in the body. In most cases DHEA does not affect cortisol levels, but in some specific groups of individuals a positive effect may be noted.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can have radically different effects on cortisol levels depending on the intake situation.

A 500-1500 mg daily dose of ascorbic acid can directly lower or raise cortisol levels, depending on whether the vitamin exhibits pro-oxidant or antioxidant properties.

The influence of vitamin C in this case relates solely to cortisol levels around strenuous exercise activity. Vitamin C does not affect cortisol levels in the resting state.

Pre-exercise vitamin C intake affects cortisol differently depending on the type of exercise.

In strength and short training activities, the vitamin keeps cortisol levels low. In long workouts and heavy aerobic activity, vitamin C tends to raise cortisol levels.

  • Vitamin C only affects cortisol around exercise, lowering levels during strength and short workouts and increasing levels during long aerobic workouts.


Phosphatidylserine has a structure similar to the fatty acids around human nerve tissues. The substance itself is not essential, but its additional supplementation may have its benefits.

Phosphatidylserine has a positive effect on stress, and it does so without a direct relationship to certain stress biomarkers such as cortisol and heart rate. The effect occurs with long-term use and even in healthy individuals.

A relationship between phosphatidylserine and post-exercise cortisol levels has been found.

In practice, however, this positive effect is difficult to recreate in real life for two main reasons:

  • Cortisol is only lowered when using animal sources, which can be harmful. Phosphatidylserine from soy has no confirmed positive effect;
  • The effective dose is at least 750 mg. For the high cost of the substance, this dose is extremely expensive.

The anti-stress properties apply to both sources of phosphatidylserine. The soy source may also lower cortisol, but there is no evidence at this time.

  • Phosphatidylserine affects stress directly and without having a direct effect on cortisol levels. For the time being, mass phosphatidylserine from soy has no confirmed influence on the hormone cortisol.

Mucuna prurience

Mucuna pruriens is an herb that is known as a natural source of the amino acid L-DOPA.

There is evidence that mucuna positively affects male sex hormones as well as cortisol.

So far, there is only one study that found a positive effect on cortisol.

Taking mucuna lowers it significantly, but only in infertile men who have been under prolonged psychological stress.

  • Mucuna pruriens lowers high cortisol levels resulting from prolonged stress. So far, the effect has been confirmed in infertile men. It is not clear what the result will be in healthy men or persons of the other sex.


Aromatherapy with certain substances may also help to lower cortisol. So far, there are studies on three substances that have confirmed their positive effect. These are saffron, rose mace and lavender.

  • Although aromatherapy is not a popular remedy, research has shown that the scents of lavender, rose oil and saffron can lower cortisol and suppress feelings of restlessness and anxiety.

Which dietary supplements increase cortisol?
Although the focus of the material is on supplements that lower cortisol, the BB-Team Shop team also offers you a list of supplements that can raise it. If you’re prone to high levels of the “stress hormone,” better avoid these substances.

  • High doses of caffeine;
  • High doses of 5-HTP;
  • Licorice.

Sources used for supplements to reduce stress