Chronic elevations in the hormone cortisol can have several negative effects on functioning of muscle and immune cells. Chronically high cortisol can also contribute to obesity. Researchers at the University of Connecticut tested the effects of a supplement formulation designed to reduce cortisol response to physical stress. The supplement contained several vitamins and minerals (such as Vitamin C
, calcium, magnesium) magnolia bark extract, L-theanine
, Epimedium extract, Phosphatidylserine
, and beta-sisterol. Subjects performed an intense resistance exercise workout on two occasions. One week prior to the workout, subjects took the supplement formulation or a placebo. The study used a cross-over where all subjects performed both the placebo and the active supplement. Blood was drawn during several time points before, during, and after exercise to assess cortisol and the stress response. Compared to placebo, the supplement formulation resulted in a significant reduction in cortisol levels prior to exercise, during exercise, and during the immediate period after exercise. This was associated with a significant reduction in free radical formation as assessed by plasma malondialehyde levels. The authors conclude that this concoction of supplements was effective at reducing the physiological stress response to intense exercise. The study design does not allow one to conclude if it was the result of a single ingredient or some combination of nutrients in the formulation. However, the results show promise for natural ways to lower cortisol.
Kraemer WJ, French DN, Spiering BA, Volek JS, Sharman MJ, Ratamess NA, Judelson DA, Silvestre R, Watson G, Gomez A, Maresh CM. Cortitrol supplementation reduces serum cortisol responses to physical stress. Metabolism. 2005 May;54(5):657-68.