Updated: 01/11/2018

The results of my research into Cortisol were somewhat surprising. We at DietSpotlight spent some time writing a detailed review, scrutinizing the side effects, ingredients, scientific research and overall customer care. We also dug deep and read hundreds of customer comments that are posted online. Lastly, we compressed all of the facts and responses we found to give you the information you need.

Cortisol Readers: Click here to find out why we're giving away samples of our product, Burn HD.

1. What Is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced in the cortex of the human adrenal glands. It is a member of the glucocorticoids hormones and its functions include controlling the immune system, metabolism and stress levels. [1]

Cortisol taken as a medication is known as hydrocortisone and performs the exact same functions.  [1]

Popularly referred to as the ‘stress hormone’ the functions of cortisol extend far beyond that, controlling blood sugar levels, weight, blood pressure and diuretic functions.

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2. How Did Cortisol Get Started?

Cortisol, as a hormone, was discovered by Nobel Prize winners Edward Kendall, Tadeus Reichstein and Philip Hench in 1930. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their discovery of the hormone that had a great effect on stress in 1950.

Hydrocortisone, cortisol in medicine form, was first discovered in 1950, granting ailing patients with low levels of cortisol to supplement their natural production. The discovery of cortisol then furthered research into the relationship between cortisol and stress in the human body.

Cortisol Customer Testimonials

3. Ingredients Of Cortisol And Composition

Cortisol is composed of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen in different concentrations. The chemical formula for cortisol is C21H30O5.

4. Benefits Of Cortisol

Cortisol is a far-reaching hormone with a number of different functions. Cortisol is responsible for controlling or regulating the following bodily functions. [1]

•           Metabolism

Cortisol kicks into action during a fasting period and breaks down glucose for use during such periods.

•           Immune Response

Cortisol prevents the production of certain chemicals in the body that would otherwise lead to inflammation or swelling. Cortisol also greatly reduces the allergic responses in an individual exposed to allergens.

•           Increases Blood Pressure

•           Increases Blood Sugar Levels

When under stress, cortisol triggers a breakdown of protein, leaving the body with energy to escape the stress causing events.

•           Diuretic Function

Cortisol increases the passing of extra water in the body and as such increases the absorption of nutrients, especially sodium.

5. Types Of Cortisol

Cortisol is available in different forms depending on what ailment it is being used to treat. The hormone comes in the following forms:

Creams. Cortisol can be used in a cream form to treat skin conditions or contains that are not internal. Cortisol can be purchased over the counter to treat the following conditions:

  • Dermatitis
  • Skin Rashes
  • Psoriasis
  • Bites and Stings
  • Eczema

Ointments cortisol in this form is usually much lighter and thinner than creams due to the mixture of oil and water. Cortisol ointments are used to treat the following ailments and conditions.

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Skin reactions

Tablets.  Cortisol is available in tablet form. This is usually used to treat chronic conditions or ailments that are not manifested on the skin or scalp. The use of cortisol tablets is common in patients suffering from any of the following ailments:

  • Asthma
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Addison’s Disease
  • Adrenal Gland Disorders
  • Cancer

There are also a variety of capsules and tablets intended to reduce cortisol levels.

Cortisol Foam. Hydrocortisone foam is a specially formulated substance usually applied to the rectal region to treat painful inflammations like:

  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Piles

Cortisol Injections. This entails directly introducing the hormone into the bloodstream via the needle. The hormone is directly injected into the site of the injury or swelling and it is usually employed for this purpose by athletes who seek to reduce swelling and bruising.

Besides sports injuries, cortisol injections are also used to treat:

  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Arthritis

6. How Does Cortisol Work?

Cortisol can be described as a miracle hormone, regulating numerous bodily functions. What is cortisol? And what exactly is cortisol function in human anatomy?

The adrenal glands, a set of organs close to the kidney produces the body’s supply of natural occurring cortisol.

However, due to some illnesses, a person may not be able to produce enough cortisol for the body to perform optimally and that is when hydrocortisone comes into play. Cortisol/hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid that influences numerous bodily functions.

Cortisol, for instance, affects the immune, respiratory, excretory, endocrinal, skeletal, muscular and nervous systems. This wide range of influence makes it a necessity in the body, and low cortisol levels will lead to a less than the optimal response on bodily functions. [1]

Cortisol decreases swelling or inflammation by preventing leukocytes (the white blood cells that fight infections) from reaching the area of the injury or reaction.

By reducing the swelling or preventing further inflammation, cortisol improves the speed of recovery from the same injury. In treating cancer, cortisol shrinks the swelling caused by malignant tumors, thereby easing the pressure the tumor may have been asserting on nearby organs or nerves. [1]

Cortisol reduces itchiness and redness due to reactions, bites, and stings by changing the immune system’s response to such activities. The body fails to take defensive measures it would normally engage due to the regulation of the applied cortisol. It should be noted, that during use of cortisol or hydrocortisone, patients are more prone to infections due to the immunosuppressive nature of the medication.

7. Cortisol And Weight

Cortisol has been linked to weight gain by scientists. High levels of naturally occurring cortisol or excessive, unregulated use of the medicine have been shown to cause a significant increase in the production of insulin.

Insulin, which then breaks down the body’s glucose content rapidly, leaves the body with extremely low glucose content. The fatigue or tiredness caused by such low levels of sugar correlates with the immediate need to consume high caloric foods with excessive sugar content. [1]

Abnormal cortisol levels will also deplete the production of testosterone, significant for muscle development, leading to a suction in muscle content in the body. A loss of muscle content finishes the body’s ability to burn excess fat and calories. Stress levels caused by a spike in cortisol will also send wrong signals to the nervous system, indicating an exertion of calories to ease the stressful encounter despite the opposite being the case.

A lot of products are advertised as cortisol blockers but there is no research backing the claims of such products. Controlling the body’s cortisol level requires a lifestyle change to reduce stress and by implication make weight loss easier.

8. Brands Of Cortisol

Cortisol or Hydrocortisone is recognized by the United Nations as an essential medication that should be readily available to all individuals in need of the same.

By implication, there are a lot of brands selling the generic cortisol under their specific branding with varying concentrations of the active ingredient.  The brands of cortisol available presently are:

  • Ala-Cort
  • Ala-Scalp HP
  • Anusol HC
  • Aquanil HC
  • Beta HC
  • Caldecort
  • Cetacort
  • Cortaid
  • Corticaine
  • Corticool Maximum Strength
  • Cortizone-10
  • Cortizone-5
  • Cotacort
  • Delacort
  • Dermarest
  • Dermasorb HC Complete Kit
  • Dermtex-HC
  • Gly-Cort
  • Hydrozone Plus
  • Hytone
  • Instacort-10
  • Ivy Soothe
  • IvyStat

9. Ailments Treated With Cortisol

Cortisol has proven to be quite effective in the treatment of the following ailments. The effects of the medication are significant and so cortisol is either used as a primary or supporting therapy in the following illnesses or conditions.


Individuals with asthma take cortisol upon the onset of an asthma attack to significantly reduce the manifestation of the symptoms. The attack is contained after the use of cortisol.

Severe Allergies

Taking advantage of the anti-inflammatory property of cortisol, it is a recommended solution, rather than just be getting out of prison for assault and capable of eating allergic reactions.  The body’s natural inflammatory response is temporarily altered by cortisol and thus prevents further aggravation of the symptoms.

Skin Conditions (Dermatitis, eczema, rashes, psoriasis)

By suppressing the immune system’s response to a localized particular area, cortisol is able to keep certain skin conditions in check as itching and further flaring up is eliminated.


Cortisol and other corticosteroids are employed in the fight against cancer due to their specific bodily functions and responses. Leukemia and lymphoma are usually treated with corticosteroids as a complementary treatment to chemotherapy. Allergic reactions are prevented by the anti-inflammatory properties of cortisol/hydrocortisone.

10. Cortisol And Stress

Cortisol is known as the ‘stress hormone’ because its levels are usually indicative of the individual’s state of calmness or anxiety.

A stressed individual has a higher cortisol level than a person who is relaxed. Increased cortisol levels lead to a myriad of wide-ranging medical conditions, not restricted to a singular aspect of the human anatomy. Stress can lead to chronic depression and other mental illnesses, problems with recalling memories, skeletal and muscular problems, and blood pressure issues.

Getting one’s cortisol levels at the proper levels is paramount for a good quality of life. Individuals should have at least one cortisol test every few months to ensure the hormone levels are at healthy values. If the values are out of order, such a person either considers natural cortisol blockers for high cortisol levels or cortisol supplements if dealing with a low cortisol level. [1]

11. Managing Low Cortisol Levels

Low cortisol levels are usually caused by the adrenal glands inability to produce the body’s daily need for cortisol due to a number of reasons.

The most common ailment that results in the body failing to produce sufficient cortisol is Addison’s disease. The ailment sometimes referred to as an acute adrenal crisis, is a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment The symptoms of a low cortisol level includes the following: [1]

  • Fatigue and Extreme Tiredness
  • Muscle Weakness and Loss of Definition
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Dangerously Low Blood Pressure
  • Night Chills
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Abnormal Heart Rate
  • Sharp, Sudden Pain in Back of Legs
  • Dizziness

These symptoms are usually indicative of Addison’s disease or, at the very least, an impaired adrenal gland. A cortisol test will eliminate such fest and can be conducted by verifies medical practitioners.

The causes of such a condition can be traced to extremely stressful events on the glands– an accident, infection or injury to the gland.

An Addisonian crisis is a further worsening of the cortisol levels. The crisis occurs when an individual with already low cortisol levels, experiences orbits placed in a stressful environment. The nature of Addisonian crisis entails an immediate refurbishing of the body’s cortisol levels otherwise it could become worsened.

An Addisonian disease and crisis usually affect the same compromised individuals. The following factors predispose an individual to an acute adrenal crisis:

  • Extended use of synthetic steroids like prednisolone
  • Adrenal Tumors
  • Severe and Chronic Infections.
  • Blood Thinners triggering Adrenal Bleeding
  • Past Surgery on Adrenal Glands
  • Shock
  • Accidents

After determining what exactly caused low cortisol level, the doctor will normally prescribe an injection of hydrocortisone to be injected either intramuscularly or intravenously. Tablets, suppositories, creams, ointments, and hydrocortisone foam are also prescribed, depending on what symptoms or ailments a person is experiencing.

12. Managing High Cortisol Levels

If a person suspects that he or she has high cortisol levels, a cortisol test should be conducted by a medical practitioner.

A high cortisol level is usually indicative of Cushing’s syndrome, caused by a spike in the level of glucocorticoids in the body, of which cortisol is a member. The symptoms of Cushing’s develop over an extended period of time and as such should only be diagnosed after sufficient testing and monitoring. [1]

The symptoms of high cortisol levels include the following:

  • Uncontrolled Weight Gain
  • Diabetes
  • Abnormal Facial Hair Growth in Women
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Muscle Weakness and Loss of Definition
  • Bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Back Aches
  • Mood Swings
  • Depression
  • Low Libido
  • Unregular Menstrual Cycle
  • Bone Weakness
  • Susceptibility to Infections
  • Stunted Growth in Children
  • Facial Swelling
  • Stretch Marks

These symptoms should all be reported to a doctor if noticed in order to get a definite diagnosis and ensure the right treatment plans begin immediately. The causes of a high cortisol level are going to be listed out below

Pituitary Adenoma

This is a noncancerous growth in the pituitary gland. The tumor produces ACTH which is a hormone that causes the adrenal glands to work in overdrive, producing much more cortisol than the body actually needs. 80% of patients with Cushing’s syndrome have this being growth.

Benign Growth In Adrenal Glands

A growth in the adrenal gland is liable to causing excess cortisol production by the gland. This growth is most times noncancerous and can be treated with medication. Cancerous growths in the adrenal glands are very rare and regular check-ups must be carried out to prevent this.

Excessive Steroid Medication

Taking medications that are of a similar nature to hydrocortisone in excessive amounts can lead to a rise in the level of cortisol in the body.

Uncontrolled Stress And Depression

Treatment for high cortisol levels depends on the causative factor of the abnormal production. The treatment is decided by a licensed medical practitioner who will decide on the course of action to reduce cortisol production in the body.

Treatments for high cortisol levels are as follows:

  • Surgery

A pituitary adenoma, a chief cause of high cortisol levels, can be removed by surgery. The doctor decides on the necessity of the surgery, the procedure is a relatively safe and effective one. After the surgery, low cortisol levels will be experienced and hydrocortisone must be administered for an extended period of time to manage the levels. Surgery can also be carried out to remove the adrenal glands if they have been compromised

  • Radiotherapy

The adenoma can be targeted using radiation. This treatment is carried out over months or even year but the success rate is high.

  • Medication

Certain drugs act as a cortisol blocker. These drugs are decided by doctors depending on your exact needs and disposition. Taking medication as a cortisol manager can be very effective as long as the dosage is followed.

13. How To Take Cortisol

After being prescribed a treatment of cortisol to treat a medical condition, the application must be done in a manner that ensures fast-acting relief.

Taking cortisol is dependent on the type of medication you have been prescribed.

The following types of cortisol are taken:


Cortisol tablets can be taken with water and should be taken with a meal. It is recommended to take cortisol tablets with a milk to prevent an upset stomach. Your doctor will ask for your medical history, recent surgeries, allergies and reactions before prescribing a dose to you. Cortisol tablets are usually taken on a daily dosage.


Cortisol injection can be administered intravenously or intramuscularly depending on the treatment plan. Intravenous injections get released into the bloodstream directly and have a faster effect than intramuscular injections.

Creams, Ointment, and Lotion

This is usually applied directly to the affected region. Usually, these types of treatments take a week to have the desired effect and afterward should be discarded.

14. Side Effects Of Cortisol

Cortisol medication can be very beneficial but the side effects are also to be noted. The most commonly reported side effect is a relationship between cortisol and weight gain, and a proneness to opportunistic infections while on the medication. Discontinue medication if you notice any of the following symptoms. [1]

  • Acne
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Blurred vision
  • Swollen ankles or joints
  • Dark or bloodstained fecal matter
  • Chronic infections
  • Dizziness and fainting spells

15. Cortisol Lawsuits

In 2005 the Federal Government brought charges against the makers of Cortislim and Cortistress, medications advertised as a cortisol manager for weight loss and disease prevention. The Federal Trade Commission sued for false advertisement, claiming that the medication had no factual or research backing it claims.

The manufacturers, Pinnacle Marketing Concepts, Inc. and Window Rock Enterprises, Inc. agreed to a settlement of $4.5million for their false, unsubstantiated claims of medicine efficacy and functions. [1]

16. Alternatives To Cortisol

Olive oil, Vitamins supplements, and exercising are great ways to manage the body’s cortisol levels without medication. [1]

Another way to manage cortisol is with adaptogen herbs such as Tongkat Ali, ashwagandha, ginseng, rhodiola rosea, and mucuna pruriens. [2] [3]

What Users Are Saying

“I don’t normally do reviews but I actually am feeling alot better. Ive been using this for a little under 2 months. I have more energy & was shocked to see I lost 8lbs. I have been stuck at the same weight forever no matter what I tried. This actually is giving me the boost I need. Definitely going to stay on it!”

“Tried for a month, no change. My abnormally low cortisol levels were the same. I have ordered a second bottle and hope things will improve.”

“Not great. Did notice a little energy boost at first then nothing. One thing that concerned me is the pills changed color from a different bottle.”

Also: read our Burn HD Weight-Loss Kit review »Cortisol Ingredients

17. The Bottom Line – Does Cortisol Work?

So, should you buy Cortisol? Well, first off, we like that this diet product is easy to purchase online and it can be taken anywhere, which is convenient. On the other hand, we have some reservations because it’s not supported by actual science. Furthermore, we’re leery about this diet pill because of the negative user reviews we found posted on the web.

If your goal is losing those extra pounds, dieting helps, but what about supplementation? One that caught our attention is a product containing clinically-tested ingredients. Plus, it’s backed by positive user reviews.

Among the best products we’ve seen this year is one called Dietspotlight Burn. This supplement uses four ingredients backed by research. Results found in online journals show the blend helps to boost metabolism, curb appetite and ignite fat loss. User reviews and customers tell us they see great results.

Also, the company behind Dietspotlight Burn is offering customers a Special Trial Offer, which is a goo

Learn More About Burn HD »
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What are the side effects of Cortisol (Corticel)?

Cortisol (Corticel) side effects may include irritability and sleeplessness, based on some of its ingredients.

What are the ingredients in Cortisol (Corticel)?

Cortisol (Corticel) ingredients include vitamin C, calcium, chromium, St. John’s wort, vitamin B12, magnolia bark extract, beta-sito-sterol, l-theanine, gymnema sylvestra, green tea leaf extract, panax ginseng root extract, banaba leaf extract, and vanadyl sulfate.

How do I know if Cortisol is right for me?

Choosing the right product is the #1 question asked by DietSpotlight readers. We recommend trying any product before buying it and know that finding a product with a sample offer is near impossible - so we created our own product, Burn HD, with scientifically backed ingredients.

Click here to get your sample of our powerful fat burner today.

Does Cortisol (Corticel) work?

Cortisol (Corticel) does contain chromium and green tea extract, both of which have been proven to help aid in your weight-loss journey. However, there are included in proprietary bends with insignificant amounts of each.

How much does Cortisol (Corticel) cost?

One bottle of Cortisol (Corticel) costs $29.99.

How should I take Cortisol (Corticel)?

For regular dosage, you can take Cortisol (Corticel) twice a day with water. For a more advanced dosage, you can take two capsules twice a day.

How long do I need to stay on Cortisol (Corticel)?

You can continue the use of Cortisol (Corticel) as long as necessary.

Does Cortisol (Corticel) contain ephedra?

Cortisol (Corticel) does not contain ephedra.

What is the maximum amount of Cortisol (Corticel) capsules I can take per day?

The website for Cortisol (Corticel) suggests that you consume no more than four capsules per day.

For a product containing significant amounts of clinically tested ingredients, you may want to check out Dietspotlight Burn.


Previous Cortisol Review (Updated August 20, 2007):

Corticel - What You Should Know

Cortisol is basically a diet capsule that's intended to be taken orally twice each day; once at breakfast and once at lunch, but always with a full glass of water. Cortisol is manufactured and distributed by a company known as Life Miracle. This company claims to produce "Cutting Edge Health and Environmental Products." Life Miracle has been operating online since 1996 and appears to deal primarily with health supplements. Cortisol is claimed to be an "all-natural" dietary supplement, which aims to maximize the user's metabolism while decreasing unwanted stress.

While Cortisol (commonly known as Cortisone and Hydrocortisone) is a type of diet pill, it additionally endeavors to balance the dieter's blood sugar with natural ingredients. Basically Cortisol is derived from the adrenal gland and is a steroid hormone (stress hormone). Therefore when someone is under stress, their body can retain energy/weight. Unfortunately this can result in weight gain. However, Cortisol aims to manage this stress and reduce potential weight gain and food cravings. Similar to many diet plans, pills, programs and supplements, Cortisol is stated to be more effective in correlation with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Cortisol is sold in bottles of 60 for $29.99. Cortisol appears to be marketed primarily toward women, but is available to men as well.

List of Ingredients - Cortisol

Primary ingredients found in Cortisol are Calcium (150 mg), Vitamin C (100 mg), Vitamin B12 (50 mg), Chromium (100 mg) and St. John's Wort (100 mg).

Other in ingredients found in Cortisol are Cellulose, Gelatin, Microcrystalline, Silica and Magnesium Stearate.

Corticel - Product Features

Cortisol is a dietary supplement that comes in capsule form and endeavors to assist with weight reduction by controlling the user's stress levels. This product is claimed to boost the dieter's metabolism, balance blood sugar levels and suppress cravings for snacks. Cortisol contains key components such as Calcium (150 mg), Vitamin C (100 mg), Vitamin B12 (50 mg), Chromium (100 mg) and St. John's Wort (100 mg). This diet capsule is intended to be taken twice daily with a full glass of water. It sells on the official website for $29.99.

Cortisol Advantages

  • Cortisol can be easily and conveniently purchased on the official website.
  • Cortisol contains all-natural ingredients.
  • Cortisol comes in a convenient capsule form.
  • Cortisol does not appear to contain caffeine.

Cortisol Disadvantages

  • Cortisol must be taken in unison with a healthy diet and regular exercise in order to be effective.
  • Some ingredients found in Cortisol may be unsuitable for some dieters.
  • Customer testimonials are absent from the official Cortisol website.
  • The official website does not appear to offer significant clinical research regarding Cortisol.


It's certainly an interesting angle that Cortisol addresses stress management as part of its weight-control formula. While this process of "controlling the body's stress" may prove beneficial for some users, there doesn't appear to be much clinical evidence to support Cortisol. If the official Cortisol website offered some substantial research results or consumer testimonials, the diet product would likely appeal to more consumers. When it comes down to it, there are many other diet supplements available that may attract more attention. Regardless of what diet pill or program you try, consult a physician first.

Summer Banks Dietspotlight Author
About the Author:

Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.

3 Cortisol Reviews

  • Are there any side effects?
    joe gomez

    Is Cortisol effective in treatment of fear of heights. What are the side effects?

    • Maribel (Editor)

      Hello Joe, that’s an interesting question :). Although Cortisol is a weight-loss supplement, it does claim to reduce stress, so it’s likely that it can help with your fears in general, and that includes fear of heights. But, try it and see if thats the case for you. Keep in mind however, that users have said it doesn’t help with weight loss, if thats what you’re looking for…check Dietspotlight Burn.

  • Would the cortisol you have on your site take the place of the steroids?
    Anthony Struzzieri

    My pituartary gland is damaged by radiation 4 yrs ago.I now have a Thyroid problem with renal gland malfuntion.My doctor is treating me with a hydrocortazone,such as predisone.But I have signifacent side effects.Would the cortisol you have on your site take the place of the steroids?