On deadline with this review, so I’m pretty stressed out—just like 75 percent of Americans who report they experience moderate to high levels of stress.  And for many, the stress is chronic.
We know stress is unhealthy, but it turns out one of the most powerful stress hormones in our bodies—cortisol—may be sabotaging our weight loss goals. Stressful situations—whether it’s worry about family or finances, work deadlines, or the intense pressure of everyday life—trigger and produce physiological changes in the body, the evolutionary fight-or-flight response. Stress hormones kick in, preparing us to fight, or run, for our lives.
Most of our stressors are not life-threatening, but cortisol doesn’t know that. Cortisol has no idea that what’s got us stressed are everyday pressures—some small, some big, but generally not life-endangering. The problem is that chronic stress keeps cortisol activated, and while it thinks perhaps it’s helping, it’s not. Chronically activated cortisol can contribute to a host of health problems, including obesity.
Cortisol doesn’t make us fat, but it can make it much harder to get rid of excess pounds, especially belly fat. How? Put simply, the amygdala, our emotion center in the brain, says “Help!” and the adrenal gland, ever ready to render aid, releases cortisol to make sure we have a store of energy to use in the event of fight or flight. But consistently high levels of cortisol may increase appetite and make sure that excess fat storage—especially in the abdominals—stays put.  We need energy to fight or flee, so we can’t very well burn off our emergency supply, right? We need to eat more so we’re not burning that emergency supply. Such is cortisol’s hormone-brain reasoning.
Enter the miracle pill: cortisol blockers.
Cortisol Blocker Claims
There are plenty of cortisol-blocking pills on the market. We’ll look at two.
Corticel™ claims to be a “breakthrough fat loss” supplement that boosts metabolism with a “proprietary stress mitigating blend of potent nutraceuticals and rich antioxidants to help you lose weight safely and effectively.” Like other cortisol blockers, it claims it has a “positive effect” on stress levels and combats unhealthy behavior such as “binge eating” as a result of daily stress. Corticel provides potent “feel good” nutraceuticals and rich antioxidants, has clinically researched safe and effective ingredients and is a non-ephedrine formula that is available without a prescription.” 
Cortibol is another blocker, but goes beyond; it’s described as a “cortisol manager, blocker and fat burner with proven metabolism boosting support.” It claims its product will “block cortisol buildup that causes stress that makes you body want to retain fat.” 
Cortisol Blocker Ingredients
- Vitamin C (as calcium ascorbate); Calcium (as calcium citrate); Chromium (as Chromium Picolinate); St. John’s Wort; Vitamin B12
- Corticel™ Proprietary Blend One: Magnolia Bark extract 1.5% honokiol, Beta-Sitosterol, Suntheanine® (as 100% L-Theanine), Gymnema Sylvestre
- Corticel™ Proprietary Blend Two: Green Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia sinesis) 50% EGCG, Panax Ginseng Root Extract 4% ginsenosoides
- Corticel™ Proprietary Blend Three: Banaba Leaf Extract (Lagerstrosmia speciosa) 1% corosolic acid, Vandyl Sulfate (providing 5 mcg vanadium)
- Inactive ingredients: Gelatin, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Magnesium Stearate, Silica
Cortibol™ active ingredients:
- Cordyceps (a type of fungus used in traditional medicines as a stimulant and stamina enhancer) 
- Rhodiola Rosea (a traditional Chinese medicine and Scandinavian herb touted to promote physical/cognitive vitality) 
- Eleuthero Senticoccus (Siberian ginseng, an adaptogen and herb that may increase work capacity during strenuous aerobic activity. It also has anti-stress qualities.) 
- Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng, used in traditional medicine for its immune-boosting, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, sleep-inducing, antibacterial and anticonvulsant properties.) 
- Panax Ginseng
- Eurycoma Longifolia (Malaysian Ginseng, the root of which contains several chemicals that have different effects in the body. Some of the chemicals seem to affect how the body produces the hormone testosterone. Research in animals and humans suggests it might increase testosterone in the body.) 
- Inactive ingredients: Gelatin Capsule, Rice Flour, Magnesium Stearate.
The Science (or Lack Thereof) Behind Cortisol Blockers
The Mayo Clinic has done its homework on this:
The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, memory and concentration impairment and, weight gain. 
A University of New Mexico study found cortisol boosts fat and sugar consumption by triggering that part of your brain that controls appetite. 
Does cortisol make us fat? No. But is it helpful when you’re trying to lose weight? Definitely not. That said, the weight-loss industry has not missed this boat; indeed, there is no shortage of cortisol blockers on the market. But…
“There is no solid evidence that cortisol blockers lead to weight loss,” says dietitian Katherine Zaratsky,  despite claims made by the manufacturers of alleged cortisol-blocking supplements.
A decade ago, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged the marketers of some cortisol blockers—CortiSlim and CortiStress, in particular—with making fraudulent claims. In the case of CortiSlim, the FTC said the makers of the product claimed their product led to weight loss of up to 50 pounds for “all users,” especially in the “abdomen, stomach, and thighs” and that the weight loss would be rapid and permanent. All false claims. The FTC also charged that the company “claimed that the effectiveness of CortiSlim and its ingredients is demonstrated by over 15 years of scientific research. According to the FTC’s complaint, these claims are false or unsubstantiated.” The FTC was involved because most of these products were hawked and sold primarily via infomercials. 
“We will take appropriate enforcement action against firms that promote dietary supplement products with unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of the product,” said Dr. Lester M. Crawford, Acting FDA Commissioner. “Consumers rely on the claimed benefits of the product, and we owe it to them that such claims be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.” 
Word on the Street About Cortisol Blockers
It’s always fascinating to see users of a product praise it when science has allegedly debunked it. In the case of Cortibol, a majority of users on Amazon seem to love it and are convinced it works; but interestingly, not for weight loss. “Satisfied” customer Bridgit S. says it keeps her calm, though she hasn’t noticed any weight loss. 
And Beverly agreed: “I highly recommend, but I’ve had no weight loss.” She uses the supplement to help with social anxiety. 
But the negative reviews are brutal: “Does nothing.” “A scam.” “Waste of Money.” “Gimmick.” They were not holding back. 
On the Mayo Clinic site, Zaratsky advises people to “steer clear of weight-loss products that make unproven claims,” including cortisol blockers, she says. “Instead, focus on reducing your calorie intake and increasing your activity level. For lowering stress, explore stress management techniques.” 
The Bottom Line
Are cortisol blockers worth a try?
Run Away Now.The best way to control cortisol levels in your body won’t come from a supplement, so don’t bother shelling out a penny for a pill. Instead, try exercise, healthy eating, and participating in social activities that help us chill out and let go of the stressors (as best we can in this day and age). Take a walk, a yoga class, spend time with people who make you laugh, people you love and care about. Once your body feels safe, calm, and not in fight-or-flight mode, your cortisol levels may go down and allow your body to let go…especially of the extra weight being stored for the fight of your life.
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