Yoga, meditation, avoidance of major current stressors, and just simplifying in general. I’ve let a lot of things slide lately for the sake of getting my cortisol down. But I don’t believe, and neither does my naturopath, that my adrenals need healing yet, because they haven’t burned out (they’re still chugging away pumping out the “good” stuff) I haven’t had symptoms of adrenal fatigue because I think in general, I’m good at managing everyday stresses and I’ve been proactive with things like herbal support for the last few years. But my stress levels went way up recently due to things I could no longer ignore or control.
Anyway, I just realized I neglected to address the main poster’s questions, that my naturopath had an interesting explanation for. I originally went in for extensive testing because I was having major hormonal ups and downs, most notably that I was menstruating every two weeks. But all of my tests except for ferritin, hemoglobin, vitamin d and cortisol came back normal. Her take on my symptoms (aside from clearly needing more iron and sunshine) was that my hormones were no longer being accepted effectively, which in my understanding, is something that can happen with thyroid hormone especially.
Basically, when cortisol is elevated for too long, the tissues stop responding or being sensitive enough to thyroid hormones (as well as estrogen, progesterone, insulin, testosterone, and even cortisol itself), even if the production is still optimal and circulating according to tests. So you can have dysfunction even with optimal test results. I don’t fully understand yet how higher calorie, carb, and saturated fat intake makes tissues more sensitive to hormones, but I’m assuming that’s what’s going on if symptoms are improved, which mine definitely were, and in the face of little more than dietary changes.
So, maybe it does or doesn’t need to be said that you can have cortisol issues without adrenal fatigue (though it doesn’t mean that isn’t where you’re headed) and that stress, in any form; physical, mental, emotional, is a primary factor to consider when trying to address it. Food will help with symptoms and will help keep you afloat and maybe give you enough of a break to de-stress, but I don’t think it will fix the underlying problem, unless the only cause of your stress was food in the first place, or a secondary but related physical issue. For me, relationship stress raises my cortisol higher than anything else, and I know in therapy circles, that is commonly the case. But certainly not always.
Also, my naturopath has me on high dose ashwagandha in addition to my usual support dose to help my body regulate the cortisol levels. So that may be helping a little as well. Supposed to help with the mental symptoms such as memory lapses and concentration.