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Cortisol Lowering Protocol (CT/Poliquin)


Anyone have any experience with doing this? How did it work for you and what did you do?

I'm thinking of trying this. I am relatively lean, but hold fat around my midsection more than anything, as well as having low-normal test levels, and low free test levels. I tend to get stressed out easily so I believe I have a higher cortisol level and this could help me out.

The only thing right now that I can say I am doing that would help lower it is my PW shake and I take vit C with it.

I'm planning on adding in glycine and Phosphidyl Serine. 5g of glycine at lunch, then PW using 10g glycine along with 300mg of PS. I know Poliquin sells both, and am thinking of just getting that unless someone has a better suggestion.

Does this sound close to the protocol to use? Any tips or am I missing anything?


For proper Cortisol assessment you need a multi-sample salivary test.

I got "cortisol" issues as well determined by Poliquins bio-sig, however I've also done the Salivary and it showed my cortisol is only a problem in the AM where it's above high-normal.

During the rest of the day it's below average (Ideal in this situation).

So with this info I was able to compile a strategy to combat AM cortisol and not the rest. Bio-signiture is just an estimate for the most part, you need more accurate testing methods.


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Well was hoping for more input - maybe I will post this again in CT's forum since I believe he has had experience with this.

As far as my test levels, I was hoping this might be the right thing. I was thrown around to various docs and endo's with none being able to tell me what's going on or what I could do. I've increased the fat in my diet which I think might have helped some. I've tried from Alpha Male to TRIBEX to myo-genix or something like that. None of them seemed to work that well, if at all.

So I was hoping it might be due to a cortisol issue, and doing this might finally help me out.


CT usually recommends glycine at 0.1g/lb of bodyweight post-workout and phosphatidyl serine
at 800mg post-workout. PPS is really expensive, glycine is cheap. Work your way up to that dosage of glycine, though, since it can really accelerate your need to use the bathroom.

As far as lowering cortisol in the non-workout window, check out this thread http://tnation.tmuscle.com/free_online_forum/blog_sports_training_performance_bodybuilding_alpha/had_my_first_biognature_analysis_done?id=2167749&pageNo=0 where the author goes into his Biosignature Cortisol protocol.

If you find out anything else besides this, please share.


I second eggers...

Phosphatidyl serine has the most evidence supporting it. It's expensive, but worth it IMO. Rhodiola also has a significant amount of evidence behind it. It's an adaptogen so it'll help bring you into a homeostatic balance. I use it routinely. It's cheap and great for the mind.

I'd definitely get a salivary cortisol check. That way you'll find out real quick if it's really your cortisol. More than likely, more than just your cortsiol is out of whack. If one hormone is out of balance, you can usually bet that another one or possibly two are also. It's the old hormonal symphony.

Also, you could very well have low T because of high cortisol. That happens more than most people think. Once you straighten out your cortisol situation, you may be surprised your T levels increase.


Thanks for the info. Yeah I actually read through that before and got some of the ideas from there...I think I'll re-evaluate my plan on the glycine, and increase the dose. That's a large PW dose, and with the GI distress it can cause, I definitely will think about starting low and working up. And I was wrong about the PS - per what I read here:

I knew I read that less than 800mg worked, but for some reason I was thinking 300 instead of 600. I would plan on doing the 600 instead of 800 per that.


Yeah that was my hope, my hormone levels were out of whack and it was due to the cortisol. So fixing the cortisol will help bring everything around.

I had to smack myself in the forehead after you mentioned Rhodiola, I know that was going to be something I wanted to try to see if it would help out my test levels, but it had slipped my mind when doing some other stuff. Then I got on this lower cortisol kick and trying glycine/PS. Actually I think I am going to try using Rhodiola instead at first to see if that helps. Thanks for jogging my memory on it.


Watch out for low-end crap in the Rhodiola department. So many of the brands you see in stores just don't do a thing. I don't know why the industry can't weed these people out (some of the low-end performers are from big brand names!). I take a Rhodiola rosea supplement called Mind Body & Spirit. The important thing is to spend in the $15 to $20 a bottle category --there's something about the cheaper stuff, it almost universally doesn't work. GOod luck!


Thanks for the tip. Since T-Nation sells it, I planned on (and actually already bought one) getting it from T-Nation. Should be quality stuff.


Is a high cortisol reading is significant with a high umbilicus pinch?


DK, if you're feeling stressed out all the time and/or worrying about your test levels, than your body is experiencing a psychophysiological response to your self-created stress, meaning your body is reacting to the stress you are perceiving, even if it's not directly present in your environment. This "worrying" causes your body to secrete extra cortisol and results in lower testosterone levels. High cortisol levels have been linked directly and/or indirectly to increased abdominal fat, increased overall body fat, hindered sex drive, syndrome X and metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, type II diabetes, heart disease (via elevated blood pressure-cortisol induced), depression, alzheimer's disease (via atrophy of brain cells-cortisol causes physical atrophy in brain cells), weakened immune response, memory problems, and even osteoporosis. Basically, having flat-lined levels of high cortisol leads to a host of health problems due to the body's inability to "leave" its state of stress and enter a state of relaxation and recovery.

Having "cortisol flux," or highly responsive and precise patterns of cortisol activity is healthy. This means your body ups cortisol when necessary (during intense workouts, "fight or flight" responses, etc.). This also means your body doesn't up cortisol production or reactivation (via 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1 turning inactive cortisone into active cortisol) at an overly ambitious pace.

The most effective ways to control cortisol levels are:
1. Avoid stress when you can
2. Manage stress properly when you do have it
3. Get adequate sleep each night (8-9 hours should do it)
4. Avoid dehydration, extreme caloric restriction (calorie restricting diets are mentally and physically stressful and thus spike cortisol and HSD activity, so your body hormonally primes itself to store fat in response to the hypocaloric state in order to survive...Isn't that just great? When people are reducing calories to try and cut fat, your body spikes cortisol and HSD in order to keep fat...)
5. Get regular exercise, but avoid overly long workouts. After about 60 minutes of intense exercise your central nervous system will need a rest and if you overtrain you'll be putting unnecessary stress on your body. Try and keep your workouts under an hour (unless you're a professional athlete...)
6. Eat healthy- good nutrition is key to controlling cortisol.
7. Earn "positive CNS points" by participating in any of these activities: epsom salt baths, Restorative Pulse Electromyostimulation, ice massages, glycogen/protein drinks pre/post-workout, neural restorative drinks (green tea, kombucha, etc.), deep tissue massage, myofacial felease (foam roller), meditation, 15-minute walks, and consistent static stretching (except pre-workout stretching, that should be focusing on mobility and keeping the stretches dynamic).

Here are supplements that you should look into if you feel you need a "boost" in any of these stress-reducing areas. Read about particular ones, and see if any are right for you.

Get rich amounts of these vitamins: Vitamin C, B-1. B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-12, calcium, zinc, magnesium.
Cortisol Controlling: Magnolia bark, theanine, epimedium, phytosterols, PS (phosphatidylserine), L-tyrosine, BCAAs.
HSD balancing: PMFs (polymethoxylated flavones- citrus peel), grapefruit extract, licorice (glycrryhizin), quercitin, magnolia bark, chinese basil, jujube berry, scutellaria baicalensis.
Test boosting: Eurycoma longifolia, cordyceps (cordyceps sinensis), CLA, HMB (hydromethylbutyrate), ZMA.
Adaptogens (if you're super stressed): Korean ginseng, rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, suma, schisandra, astragalus.
Sleep aids: Melatonin, valerian, GABA.
Anti-anxiety: 5-HTP, St. John's wort, SAM-e, kava kava, gotu kola.

Many of these supplements have overlapping effects, meaning they help in more than just the category I put them under. I felt the best from using a combination of magnolia bark, theanine, melatonin + GABA + 5-HTP before bedtime, cordyceps, ZMA, eurycoma, rhodiola rosea, and epimedium.

Remember, cortisol flux = good. Chronic stress = bad. Goodluck! :slight_smile: