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Cortisol Cocktails Don’t Do What You Think They Do

At first glance, the idea of a cortisol cocktail is pretty darn appealing: Get a handle on stress by drinking a yummy, fruit-filled beverage? Where do you go wrong?

As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Thus, it is with the cortisol cocktail. Here’s why.

A glass of cortisol cocktail with an orange slice and two small oranges in the background
Do cortisol cocktails work?

What Is Cortisol and Why Would You Want Less of It?

First up, the name. Cortisol cocktails got their fun epithet from their claim to help you lower cortisol levels.

Cortisol, the stress hormone, was a definite benefit in prehistoric times when it was necessary to spur hunters into action or give you a boost when swimming away really fast from a megalodon. Don’t worry; megalodons went extinct 3.5 million years ago … but stress hormones have been around far longer than that, essentially since the dawn of vertebrate existence.

So we’re stuck with them.

The problem? There’s a bit of a mismatch today between how dangerous our environment is (not very) and how much time we spend in stressed-out, worried states. This can lead to so-called “adrenal fatigue,” discussed below.

Thus, runs the thinking, we need help managing those stress levels naturally. Enter the cortisol cocktail.

What Is A Cortisol Cocktail?

Also called an adrenal cocktail, cortisol cocktails are combinations of ordinary kitchen ingredients.

While they differ in their makeup depending on the TikTok video or blog post you visit, they typically include citrus juice (orange, lemon, and lime being the most popular), coconut water, sea salt (not table salt), and cream of tartar.

Other additions can include ginger, coconut milk, magnesium powder, and sparkling soda.

Recently, the idea of a cortisol-balancing drink, which may or may not use the name “cortisol cocktail” or “adrenal cocktail,” has taken on a looser form.

Some recipes now include green tea, honey, and other antioxidant-rich ingredients.

What Are Cortisol Cocktails Meant to Help With?

So how do cortisol cocktails work?

According to many an unlicensed talking head, the adrenal system, which manufactures cortisol and other hormones, can get out of whack.

It may fail to help you respond to stress effectively, leading to burnout, loss of sleep, high blood pressure, etc.

The cortisol cocktail can supposedly help replenish nutrients the adrenal system needs to function well. Those nutrients include, according to the Cleveland Clinic, vitamin C from orange juice, sodium from sea salt, and potassium from coconut water and/or cream of tartar.

Also according to the Cleveland Clinic, the drink probably doesn’t do what it says it does.

Do Cortisol Cocktails Work?

While it’s not necessarily bad for you to drink a bunch of juice and get some extra electrolytes, a drink being generally healthful is different than it serving specific health needs.

Most likely, cortisol cocktails are just a good sports drink replacement, albeit one with less sugar and more whole-food ingredients.

As such, if you think you might have a hormonal imbalance, see a doctor.

On a related note, you should know that “adrenal fatigue” is not a recognized scientific term.

While loosely associated with chronic stress (associated with cortisol), adrenal insufficiency is a medical diagnosis requiring testing to determine hormone levels.

It cannot be self-diagnosed by an alternative practitioner based on symptoms alone.

Adrenal Cocktail Risks

In rare cases, the adrenal cocktail may be more than just a ho-hum drink that probably won’t rescue any of your organs, glandular or otherwise.

In some cases, consuming this drink in significant quantities could cause issues. Avoid cortisol cocktails if you:

  • Have high blood pressure (sodium isn’t good)
  • Have kidney problems (potassium is a problem)
  • Are aiming for a healthier diet (the drink contains lots of sugar and 150-200 calories)

If none of those issues apply to you and you simply want to hydrate in a fun way, go for it! Just make sure you’re managing expectations.

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