Contact us 877.656.9596

Cortisol: Friend or Foe?

The Second in a Series of Stress Management Strategies

Part 1 of this 2 part stress management series introduced the concept that successful treatment plans for adrenal support extend beyond herbal and supplement regimens to include the removal of occult sources of stress and incorporation of tangible stress management techniques. Because many identifiable sources of stress cannot always be removed or decreased, implementing stress management techniques as a means to control and reduce tension that may occur as a result of stress may be a more practical approach for many people. While some techniques may be appropriate to use during a stressful event, others may be used consistently outside of stressful events as a means to evade the physical and emotional responses they provoke. Stress management techniques come in many forms and include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga, walking, swimming and other physical activity
  • Breathing exercises
  • Journaling
  • Organizing and pre-planning
  • Hobbies and social activity
  • Laughter and optimism
  • Sleep
  • Healthy eating habits

In addition to the above tools, learning to identify the physiologic effects of stress on the body may be the first step to stress management. A simple, time-honored method to initiate stress reduction is Progressive Muscle Relaxation, developed in the early 1920’s. Its creator, Edmund Jacobsen, observed that since muscle tension accompanies anxiety, one can reduce anxiety by learning how to relax muscular tension. Outlined in Michael Murray ND’s book: Stress, Anxiety and Insomnia: What the Drug Companies Won’t Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn’t Know, the following exercise is an example of Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

“The basic technique is to contract a muscle forcefully for a period of one to two seconds, and then give way to a feeling of relaxation in that muscle. Begin with contracting the muscles in the face and neck, then the upper arms and chest, followed by the lower arms and hands. The process is repeated progressively down the body, from the abdomen through the buttocks, thighs and calves to the feet. Repeat the process two or three times.”

This simple technique has been shown to lower the heart rate, reduce anxiety and perceived stress, decrease salivary cortisol, and increase levels of self-reported relaxation.

Besides identifying effects of stress and implementing consistent stress management techniques, perception and outlook surrounding stress may play an essential role in the effects of stress, as outlined in a recent study. The study looked at over 30,000 U.S. adults to determine the relationship between stress and death. The findings revealed that people who perceived their stress levels as high and believed that stress was harmful to their health had a 43% greater all counts mortality risk over those who perceived stress as non-harmful, even with reported high stress levels.

Talking to your patients about perception, outlook and which stress management techniques resonate with them may be essential in developing successful, individualized treatment plans for adrenal dysfunction.

If you’d like to dive deeper into clinical cases, conditions and treatment options associated with stress, anxiety and mood disorders, mark your calendar for January 24 and 25, 2015 for Labrix Advanced Workshop in Las Vegas. Click here to learn more about this advanced training and to register today.

  • Keller et al. Does the perception that stress affects health matter? The association with health and mortality. Health Psychol. Sep 2012; 31(5): 677–684.
  • Murray M, ND; Stress, Anxiety and Insomnia: What the Drug Companies Won't Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn't Know. Mind Publishing; First edition March 1, 2012
  • Varvogli, Liza and Darvir, Christina. Stress Management Techniques: Evidence Based Procedures that Reduce Stress and Promote Health. Health Science Journal. Vol. 5, Issue 2 (2011).
  • Pawlow L. A., Jones, G. E.The impact of abbreviated progressive muscle relaxation on salivary cortisol. Biological Psychology, 2002; 60 (1), 1-16.


Mark your calendar: January 24 and 25, 2015 for Labrix Advanced Workshop. This 2-day event offers in-depth information to take you beyond the basics of hormone and neurotransmitter balancing. Designed for the hormone-savvy practitioner, this event will elevate your knowledge and expand your clinical breadth in assessing and addressing neuroendocrine imbalances. Registration is now open!

Labrix co-founders Dr. Erin Lommen and Dr. Jay Mead, along with staff physicians and special guest speakers will explore in-depth a variety of in-demand topics and case studies during the two-day conference workshop, focusing on advanced women's health and bioidentical hormone balancing and advanced men's health. Other topics to be discussed include advanced adrenal health, weight management, cravings and addiction, sleep disturbances and sexual vitality.

Dr. Jay Mead, Dr. Erin Lommen, Labrix and AFMA Team Up for Fall 2014 Functional Medicine Conference

AFMA Functional Medicine Conference
Hyatt Regency Atlanta - November 6-9, 2014
Register today at or call 1-855-500-AFMA!

Use discount code JM2 or EL2 to receive a $100 registration discount.

AFMA Conference Lecture Topic: Becoming Immune to Cancer: Integrative Solutions for Prevention and Survival presented by Dr. Jay Mead, Labrix Co-Founder and Medical Director

There may be as many forms and types of cancer as there are individual people…and for this reason, our one-size-fits-all conventional medical approach leaves ample room for improvement. Immunity, Hormonal Status, Adrenal Resilience, Liver Function, GI function and Sleep quality all play a critical role in staying fit when it comes to battling the cancer cells our bodies routinely produce. This presentation will offer an understanding of the interplay between our many endocrine and metabolic systems. Building upon this foundation, learn how to functionally evaluate each individual in order to assess their unique profile so an individualized programs for “immune hardiness” can be rendered. This presentation will detail integrative medicine strategies for strengthening the immune system and warding off cancer. It will provide tools the Integrative practitioners needs to design successful “anti-cancer” treatment plans including IV nutrients, hormones, nutriceuticals and dietary programs. Return to the Office Monday morning and equip your patients to win their immune battles. Use discount code JM2 to receive a $100 registration discount.

AFMA Conference Lecture Topic: Cravings, Contentment and Chemical Imbalances: Solving the Always Wanting More Syndrome presented by Dr. Erin Lommen, Labrix Co-Founder and CEO

Chemical imbalances are at the heart of cravings and addiction, and hence a major culprit in derailing our patients’ best intentions. Patients may hope to stay on our prescribed programs of; dietary intervention, lifestyle changes to include regular exercise and new routines of meditation and mindfulness. However, often find themselves not entirely in charge of some of choices they make. In fact, many times cravings and behavior patterns ARE truly out of our control since they are dictated by substantive biochemical agents which are far more persuasive than one’s “resolve to do better”. Our minds are wired to seek what the body may need. Our chemistry is programmed to enhance searching and finding of that which feels good (reward seeking) as this was at one time, synonymous with what the body needed, and hence reward based activity in the brain is strongly encouraged. Understandably, many patients find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of trying-and failing-trying and failing …over and over again. Whether it is sugar, alcohol, binge eating, gambling or other behaviors; no wonder many people feel demoralized and depressed about their potential progress…and very reticent at the thought of trying yet again-another health program. First, the cravings need conquering. Laying a strong foundation through neuroendocrine balancing is essential; Adrenal resilience, Sex Steroid optimization and balancing of the key neurotransmitters; serotonin, dopamine, GABA and norepinephrine. This presentation will provide tools for how to evaluate and interpret lab assessments to get at the root causes of cravings and behaviors. It will also elucidate the most current findings to encourage becoming expert in the employment of natural bio agents which cut cravings off at the pass, set a patient up for success, and provide the roadmap to reaching and sustaining optimal health. Use discount code EL2 to receive a $100 registration discount.  

Vote for Labrix by Oct 31: NDNR Physician's Choice Award     

Labrix is honored to be nominated for the Naturopathic Doctor News and Review's 2015 Physician's Choice Award! Click here to cast your vote for Labrix in the Diagnostic Laboratories category. The award is bestowed upon companies that embrace naturopathic medicine and support naturopathic physicians, their practices and patients. Your vote is much appreciated!