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The 3Rs of Cortisol Balance: Recover, Reset & Rebalance*

It's no shock that up to 80% of Americans report experiencing mild to serious feelings of stress throughout their daily lives, and more than 90% of Americans have nutrient gaps that contribute to altered metabolic response and energetics. (1,2) 

While the concept of adrenal dysfunction is not new in the functional medicine world, the research and approaches to dealing with adrenal issues have evolved. The conversation has shifted from a sole emphasis on the adrenal glands and cortisol toward understanding ways to recover and restore balance to system dysfunction as a whole.*

This means thinking outside the scientific box and looking at underlying system imbalances, which include resetting the neuroendocrine communication network, obtaining metabolic balance, and utilizing novel research to support the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis via the CBD endocannabinoid system, with the ultimate goal of building stress resilience.*

3 Phases of Cortisol Balance (3R Approach)

The adrenal/hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis plays a central role in a balanced and coordinated healthy stress response. With repeated and frequent feelings of anxiousness, the adrenal cortex system may become dysfunctional by losing the ability to have a resilient and healthy cortisol response, also known as the fight or flight response. When our system loses its ability to recover and cycle through a normal stress response, we experience sensations of tiredness, low energy levels, prolonged feelings of anxiousness, and stress.

With prolonged altered resiliency, progression to underlying system inflammatory responses (including the central nervous system and the neuroendocrine system) will contribute to imbalances in energetics, making it difficult to support normal stress and mood responses.

Cortisol Balance by Vital Nutrients is the first complete vegan supplement that supports adrenal function and cortisol balance, showcasing scientifically substantiated, non-animal-derived ingredients that target the three critical phases of adrenal health:*

  • Recover cortisol balance*
  • Reset the neuroendocrine communication network*
  • Rebalance the metabolic response*

This formula is designed to support cortisol balance by providing adaptogenic along with targeted neuroendocrine support without the use of CBD, hemp oil, or other hemp-derived ingredients. Our vegan formula is clinically supported to help the parasympathetic system recover, reset circadian rhythm, and rebalance the neuroendocrine system, which in turn supports a healthy response to stress and anxiousness.*

Phase 1: Cortisol Recovery

The concept of cortisol recovery is defined by the ability to regain function and balance. However, the goal is not to evade stress altogether (for the sake of our adrenals), but rather to build a robust and resilient stress response over time.*

Cortisol Balance provides targeted adaptogens and nutritional support for adrenal function and resilience.*

Adaptogens are herbs that are known to support the body’s ability to adapt to stress. They act as limbic (emotional) brain tonics to tonify the stress axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) and balance the hormonal response. In other words, they can help to support the body’s natural fight-or-flight response.*

Adaptogens have been long studied for their role in supporting a healthy stress response. They are also being researched for their ability to increase the state of nonspecific resistance to stress while decreasing sensitivity to stressors. This can result in overall stress protection, better tolerance to modulating the stress response, and healthy cortisol balance and central nervous system functioning. Adaptogens have been shown to prolong the phase of resistance, allowing the body to handle a greater amount of physical, chemical, biological, and psychological stress at any given time. (2)*

Select botanicals have been clinically studied, demonstrating the ability to support cortisol balance. Ashwagandha root, in particular, has been shown to support a resilient adrenal response (supporting the fight or flight and freeze response) while also supporting healthy function of the adrenal cortex and balanced cortisol levels.*

Specifically, ashwagandha may help activate receptors in the CNS to help balance cortisol production and release.*

Ashwagandha also supports healthy neuroendocrine responses via several mechanisms through the HPA axis and regulation of key mediators in the stress response such as heat shock proteins such as HSP70, and transcription factors, such as FOXO and JNK, which regulate the expression of metabolic responses, including glucose metabolism, oxidative stress resistance, and immune regulation. (3,4)*

Active constituents in adaptogens, such as ashwagandha, are structurally similar to the catecholamines, which act as mediators of the sympathoadrenal system (SAS), which is involved in the early stages of the stress response. Ashwagandha has also been shown to have GABA-mimetic activity, which is another reason it can help to support feelings of relaxation and calmness. (3,4,5)*

Magnesium is another nutrient studied for its role in supporting a healthy and normal stress response, energy production, and healthy moods. It has been shown to have anxiolytic effects on the central nervous system. The body utilizes higher levels of magnesium when under stress, which can lead to magnesium deficiency in the body.*

Magnesium levels have also been associated with stress levels, meaning that magnesium deficiency has been linked to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation and alterations in glutamatergic, serotonergic, and adrenergic neurotransmitter systems. This essentially means low levels of magnesium can negatively impact stress pathways, the fight or flight branch of the nervous system, and the conversation between the nervous system and endocrine system (or the neuroendocrine response).*

While acute stress has been shown to increase magnesium levels, prolonged and chronic stress can deplete magnesium levels, resulting in the augmented release of catecholamines in response to stress, blood sugar dysregulation, and increased susceptibility to oxidative damage. Magnesium can suppress the ability of the hippocampus to stimulate the release of stress hormones and reduce the release of ACTH. In addition, magnesium can act at the blood-brain barrier to prevent the entrance of stress hormones. (6,7)*

The good news is that studies have found an inverse relationship between serum cortisol and magnesium, which means the higher the magnesium, the lower the cortisol. Magnesium also plays a role in electrolyte balance (regulating sodium-potassium ATPase activity), which is important for adrenal cortex health. (7)*

human endocannabinoid system

Phase 2: Cortisol Reset

Resetting the neuroendocrine communication networks throughout the body is an important next step in supporting cortisol balance. This encompasses the idea of adjusting and or recalibrating how the brain and endocrine system communicate with each other, with emerging research targeting the CBD endocannabinoid system.*

As a quick refresher, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an endogenous cannabinoid neuro-modulatory system that regulates the central nervous system and its many functions, such as immune health, inflammatory processes, and metabolic homeostasis. It plays an important role in balancing energetics and activation of the metabolic, immune, and central nervous systems. Activation of cannabinoid receptors (CB2) in these systems is critical to encourage the adrenals to reset.*

Endo (meaning within or internal) cannabinoids (naturally occurring compounds) and their receptors are found throughout the body, including the brain, lungs, immune cells, organs, and connective tissues. They can influence the actions of our immune system and nervous system, which essentially makes them a biochemical bridge between the mind and body. Generally speaking, CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found mainly in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells. (8)

Because of the important role the endocannabinoid system plays in balancing the activation of metabolic, immune, energetic, and central nervous system functions, supporting this system is an integral aspect of cortisol balance.*

Activation of the endocannabinoid system influences the function and response of the central nervous system, which ultimately plays a role in how our adrenal hormones function (or dysfunction) together.*

Cortisol Balance supports the CBD endocannabinoid system to promote healthy stress responses without CBD or other hemp-derived ingredients.*

Copaiba Oil (10% beta-caryophyllene) and Boswellia (65% of boswellic acids) provide a unique combination of terpenes and boswellic acids shown to support a healthy and balanced endocannabinoid system and a healthy immune and metabolic response.*

Copaiba oil is an essential oil rich in beta-caryophyllene (BCP) and a good source of terpenes, which are stronger activators of the CBD endocannabinoid system than cannabidiols, and generally better tolerated than CBD/hemp oil.*

Copaiba oil is a specific CB2 activator that supports activation of the endocannabinoid system, central nervous system function, and healthy immune system function and resolution. Activation of cannabinoid receptors (CB2) in these systems plays a critical role in balancing the entire system.*

Boswellia plays a supportive role in the CBD endocannabinoid system by helping to modulate endocannabinoid bioavailability. It helps to support the breakdown and use of available endocannabinoids, thereby preserving their availability. This supportive response maintains the functional capacity of metabolic and central nervous system activity, while also helping to keep the HPA axis healthy. Additionally, Boswellia supports a healthy initial immune response and modulates the resolution of chronically elevated immune activity.*

Essential omega-3s are critical for maintaining healthy central nervous system function, healthy immune system function, and healthy inflammatory responses. Essential fatty acids help to balance the neuroendocrine communication network and support healthy activation and resolution of inflammatory processes. Cortisol Balance provides an algae-derived, triglyceride form DPA for more system-specific activation.*

Phase 3: Cortisol Rebalance

The final piece of the puzzle involves rebalancing, or the notion of restoring and regaining normal function to the adrenal gland system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.*

As discussed, adaptogenic herbs play a role in modulating the stress response, as well as influencing system homeostasis, and supporting adaptation and resistance to stress. Rhodiola and Eleuthero, in particular, are two key adaptogens that have been studied for their role in supporting a balanced cortisol responses, as well as supporting an adaptive response to the central nervous system. (4)

Rhodiola rosea has been shown to support the body’s resistance to stress, while also having immune-modulating properties. Salidrosides and Rosavins, two bioactive compounds found in Rhodiola, have been shown to modulate the inflammatory process and provide antioxidant support. (9) They may also impart stress-induced neuroprotective effects to areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus, by reducing the secretion of corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF), which in turn reduces corticosterone production when under stress. (9) Rhodiola has been shown to support various stress symptoms, partially fatigue, and is thought to modulate the immune response through Th1 and Th2 balance by favoring the production of Th1 cytokines. (9,10)

Eleuthero, while not a true ginseng, is an adaptogen that has been studied for its ability to reduce feelings of fatigue, while also modulating the stress (fight or flight) response. (11,12) Eleutherosides, in particular, have been studied for their role in supporting resilience and mental functioning under times of stress. Eleuthero also contains polysaccharides, which can support immune system functioning and have a regulatory effect. (11,12)*


Cortisol Balance by Vital Nutrients takes a three-prong “3R” approach to target all aspects of adrenal function and cortisol balance. This includes supporting the recovery of cortisol function, resetting the way the nervous system and endocrine system interact with each other, and helping to rebalance the metabolic response. This high-quality vegan cortisol support supplement is free from gluten, dairy, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy, sesame, and egg, ensuring a broad range of dietary compatibility.*

This multi-layered approach supports cortisol balance and resilience by targeting:*

  • The adrenal/HPA axis*
  • Neuroendocrine network communications*
  • The CBD endocannabinoid system*
  • Immune-inflammatory resolution systems*

Supporting adrenal function and the ongoing ability of the HPA axis and neuroendocrine system to reset and stay balanced is the ultimate goal when it comes to creating a holistic approach to supporting cortisol balance.*

Cortisol Balance by Vital Nutrients is formulated with clinically supported key ingredients shown to effectively support the balance and overall wellness of the entire adrenal/HPA axis, endocannabinoid system, immune system, and metabolic system.*

This unique formula is designed to support parasympathetic system recovery and resetting of the body’s neuroendocrine communication networks. A balanced (or homeostatic) system network supports healthful and relaxing sleep, as well as circadian cycles, for cortisol balance and functional capacity of the adrenal and immune systems.*

If you are a healthcare provider, then having effective stress management tools that address all aspects of adrenal fatigue is a must. Cortisol Balance is your all-in-one, full-spectrum cortisol support supplement.*

Click here to order Cortisol Balance.


1. American Psychological Association. 2020; 2 
2. Medical Economics. 2016
3. Afr J Tradit Complement Alten Med. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 208-213 
4. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010; 3(1): 188-224
5. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019; 98(37)
6. Neuropharmacology. 2012; 62(1): 304-312
7. Nutrients. 2020; 12(12): 3672  
8. Biol Psychiatry. 2016; 79(7): 516-525 
9. Molecules. 2022; 27(12): 3902 
10. Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2017; 3(6): 384-395
11. J Ethnopharmocol. 2004; 95(2-3): 447-53
12. Molecules. 2019; 24(1): 132 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease


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