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A Dietitian’s Review: Pure Encapsulations Cortisol Calm

Cortisol seems to be the latest buzz word in the health and wellness space. It’s certainly buzzing all over social media. 

If you’ve heard of Pure Encapsulation’s Cortisol Calm supplement, you may be wondering if it works or not. As a registered dietitian who specializes in PCOS and hormone health, I’ve got you! 

In this blog post, I’m going to break down what’s in the Pure Encapsulation Cortisol Calm supplement, what it does, if it works, and also give you my unbiased and honest review. 

infographic of pure encapsulations cortisol calm supplement and text overlay stating a dietitian's honest review of cortisol calm.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

What Is Pure Encapsulation Cortisol Calm?

Cortisol Calm is a dietary supplement made by the US-based company Pure Encapsulations. It’s a capsule that contains a blend of nutrients and herbs. The suggested use is 1 capsule in the morning and 1 capsule in the evening, with meals.

Health Claims Made by Pure Encapsulations Cortisol Calm

According to the Pure Encapsulations website, Cortisol Calm is designed to maintain healthy cortisol levels and support relaxation, restful sleep, and positive mood during times of occasional stress. 

According to the Pure Encapsulations website, benefits and features of Cortisol Calm include:

  • Promote relaxation and healthy cortisol response
  • May support healthy sleep, positive mood, and cognitive function
  • Provides support for occasional stress, calm and emotional wellbeing
  • A blend of herbal extracts and vitamin D
  • Made with high-quality ingredients backed by verifiable science

The company prides itself on the ingredients it uses and its sustainability efforts. It cites that they formulate products using pure, non-GMO ingredients, free from unnecessary additives and many common allergens. Pure Encapsulations are free of wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame. 

The website cites that they reduce unnecessary plastic packaging wherever possible and they partner with a third party to recycle packaging that is not accepted for curbside recycling. 

infographic of pure encapsulations cortisol calm supplement health claims.

Alright, let’s take a look at what’s actually inside this supplement.

Cortisol Calm Supplement Facts

Here’s what’s inside of Cortisol Calm:

Vitamin D3 400 IU

The first nutrient that’s in Cortisol Calm is vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is common, occurring in approximately 42% of US adults (1).

If you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), vitamin D deficiencies are particularly common. In fact, 67-85% of women with PCOS are vitamin D deficient according to one study

You may or may not be surprised to learn that just like cortisol, vitamin D is actually a hormone. 

Research has shown that having optimal levels of vitamin D can: 

  • Improve mood and depressive symptoms (2)
  • Improve menstrual cycle regulation and ovulation rates
  • Decrease glucose and insulin levels
  • Lower inflammation

Cortisol Calm contains 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D3, which is a well-absorbed form of vitamin D. This is a very low dose of vitamin D, however, and may not be optimal for everyone’s needs, especially if you’re deficient. Your doctor can screen you for vitamin D deficiency with a simple blood test and advise you on supplementation if necessary. 

Sensoril Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract 250 mg

Ashwagandha is an ancient herb and adaptogen that’s commonly known for its ability to enhance the body’s stress response and optimize the immune system. 

Potential benefits of ashwagandha: 

  • Reduce stress and anxiety levels
  • Lower cortisol levels
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Decreases glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and insulin levels 
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Lower inflammation
  • Improved thyroid function in hypothyroidism (improved TSH, T3, and T4 levels) 

Most research has shown that doses of 250-600 mg daily are effective at improving various symptoms. One very small and short-term research study showed that doses up to 1250 mg daily were safe and well tolerated for 30 days (3). 

Ashwaganda does appear to be safe when taken for up to 3 months, however, we don’t have long-term research to know if it’s safe for long periods of time such as several months or years. 

There are some individual case reports that ashwagandha may cause a serious health condition called thyrotoxicosis after people self-prescribed ashwagandha to themselves (4, 5). It also may increase testosterone levels in some people. 

Ashwagandha may be contraindicated for those taking certain medications, such as thyroid replacement meds, anti-diabetes medications, antihypertensives, immunosuppressants, and sedatives (6).

Additionally, ashwagandha is not recommended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

For my full thoughts on ashwagandha for PCOS specifically, don’t miss this blog post: Ashwagandha for PCOS: What You Should Know.

infographic of pure encapsulations cortisol calm supplement ingredients.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) extract 125 mg

Rhodiola is an herb that has been used for centuries to increase endurance, while reducing fatigue and stress levels.

A 2020 systematic review found that rhodiola may alleviate symptoms of mild depression and anxiety, while improving mood. It does note that more research studies are needed before definitive recommendations can be made. 

Another review notes that a number of studies have found that rhodiola has an anti-fatigue effect and improves mental performance, particularly concentration. It also found that rhodiola seems to be effective in managing various aspects of stress-induced conditions.

The NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that rhodiola appears safe when taken for 6 to 12 weeks, however, more research is needed to determine long-term safety of rhodiola rosea. It also is not clear if it’s safe for pregnancy and lactation. 

Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) extract (bark) 100 mg

Magnolia extract, or magnolia bark, has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. 

Potential benefits of magnolia: 

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Lower inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Improve sleep quality and duration
  • Reduce depressive symptoms (7)

Long-term safety data has not been established yet. It’s also unclear if magnolia extract is safe for pregnancy. 

L-theanine 50 mg

L-theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found in green tea, black tea, and some mushrooms. It’s known to support the nervous system and promotes calmness, sleep, and relaxation.

L-theanine may help: 

  • Reduce stress and anxiety 
  • Lower cortisol levels
  • Improve mental alertness and focus
  • Increase immunity
  • Lower inflammation

The L-theanine dosage used in research studies was typically 200 to 400 mg daily. Pure Encapsulations Cortisol Calm supplement provides a significantly lower amount than what appears to be a therapeutic dose range. 

Although L-theanine does occur naturally in certain teas, it’s in much smaller amounts than what’s typically found in L-theanine supplements. There isn’t long-term safety data established for L-theanine supplements. 

Other ingredients in the Cortisol Calm capsules include vegetarian capsule (cellulose, water) and ascorbyl palmitate.

Ok, now that we’ve established what’s in the Cortisol Calm supplement, you’re probably wondering what I actually think of it. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of this supplement.

Pros of Cortisol Calm

  • Third Party Tested. The supplement industry is not well regulated. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate or approve of any dietary supplements, their labeling, or health claims. It’s not uncommon to find supplements on the market that don’t actually have what they’re advertising inside their supplements. Thankfully, all of Pure Encapsulations supplements, including Cortisol Calm, are third party tested for purity and quality.

  • Vegetarian. This supplement is safe for consumption for those who follow a plant based diet.

  • Evidence Based. While some supplements make outlandish claims in regards to what their supplements can do, the ingredients in Cortisol Calm do appear to have research studies that back up its’ health claims. 

infographic of pure encapsulations cortisol calm supplement pros and cons.

Cons of Cortisol Calm

  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. This supplement is not safe for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

  • Long Term Safety. Many of the ingredients in Cortisol Calm do not have established long-term safety data. This means that any potential complications of long-term use aren’t well understood.

  • Medication interactions. This dietary supplement may interact with several common medications, such as thyroid replacement medications, anti-diabetes medications, antihypertensives, immunosuppressants, and sedatives. Always talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements or medications.

  • Cost. This supplement is pricey. If you take it as suggested (1 capsule in the morning and 1 capsule in the evening), a 30-day supply will cost you approximately $50 USD. 

Should I Take Pure Encapsulations Cortisol Calm? 

Maybe? Unfortunately there isn’t a definitive answer since everyone’s unique situation and medical needs are different. 

As the supplement claims, the ingredients that are in Pure Encapsulations Cortisol Calm supplement do have the ability to reduce stress, anxiety, cortisol, and promote better sleep, mood, and relaxation. If you struggle with these types of symptoms, this may be a good option for you. 

Although, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or on certain medications, you may want to think twice…and even if you’re not, you absolutely should talk to your healthcare provider before starting any sort of dietary supplement. 

Additionally, long-term side effects or safety concerns aren’t fully clear yet for some of the ingredients in Cortisol Calm. More research is definitely needed before it can universally be stated that this supplement is safe for long-term use. 

Alternatively, you could jump on the cortisol mocktail train that has been all over social media recently too. 

blackberry lemonade in a drinking glass with 2 blackberries and decorative lemon wedge.

Here are some of my favorite cortisol mocktail recipes: 

Pineapple Coconut Cortisol Mocktail

Skinny Cortisol Mocktail Recipe

Blackberry Lemonade Cortisol Cocktail

5 Delicious Adrenal Cocktail Recipes To Make

The Bottom Line

Cortisol Calm is a dietary supplement made by the US based company Pure Encapsulations. It’s a capsule that contains vitamin D, ashwagandha, rhodiola, magnolia extract, and L-theanine.

It contains high quality ingredients and is third-party tested for quality and purity. Cortisol Calm contains ingredients that may help to reduce anxiety, depressive symptoms, and promote relaxation and sleep. 

It is not considered safe for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking certain prescription medications. Long-term safety data has not been established yet for several of the ingredients in Cortisol Calm. 

You should always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any type of dietary supplement.

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Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only. It does not substitute for or replace professional medical advice. Always consult with your personal healthcare provider for personalized and individualized advice regarding your medical care.

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