Adaptogens are natural substances that are believed to help the body adapt to stress and promote overall well-being. And, we can all use a little help in that department. That's why I'm sharing 8 commonly prescribed herbs for adrenal fatigue and stress management. Read on to get started.
What do your adrenals do?
Fact: your adrenal glands help produce over 50 hormones. It's no wonder that when our adrenals are out of balance, we can feel it in a big way!
Here's what you need to know about the adrenal glands:
- The adrenals are a pair of small, triangular-shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys and make up a part of your endocrine system.
- The glands produce hormones that are essential for life, including adrenaline, cortisol, and aldosterone. These three hormones help regulate the body's stress response, metabolism and blood pressure.
- Despite being tiny, the adrenals play a vital role in helping your body function properly.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a term used to describe the collection of symptoms that occur when your adrenals aren't functioning properly.
It's important to be aware that the term "adrenal fatigue" isn't an official diagnosis in mainstream medicine. But, proponents of this condition believe that the onset of symptoms is caused by chronic stress that overstimulates the adrenal glands and leads to inconsistent levels of cortisol in the bloodstream.
Adrenal fatigue was first coined by Dr. James L. Wilson, a naturopath and chiropractor. You can dig deeper into the history and debate on the condition here. But, I'll summarize some of the symptoms believed to be characteristic of under functioning adrenals:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Brain fog
- Mood changes, including depression and irritability
- Body aches and pains
- Low blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Salt cravings
Fortunately, there are a number of easy to implement changes you can make to your diet to manage adrenal fatigue. First, you'll want to limit caffeine, sugar, processed foods and hydrogenated oils. Then, you can start to introduce adaptogenic herbs to support the adrenal glands and bring them back into balance.
Keep reading to learn more.
What are adaptogens?
Despite their mysterious-sounding name, adaptogens are a type of herb that can help the body to better cope with physical, mental, and emotional stress.
Common adaptogenic herbs include ashwagandha, ginseng, and Rhodiola rosea. These herbs have been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems such as Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine, and they are now gaining popularity in the Western world as well.
Evidence-based studies have shown the efficacy of adaptogens in reducing stress levels, boosting energy levels, and improving overall health. So, whether you're suffering from adrenal fatigue, or simply battling everyday life stressors, adaptogenic herbs may be worth exploring. Wouldn't it be great if they could help you cope with whatever life throws your way?
8 herbs for adrenal fatigue
Below are my favourite healing adaptogens for adrenals and stress management:
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has used in Ayurvedic medicine to help the body cope with stress. Ashwagandha is also thought to improve energy, enhance sleep, and manage the body's inflammatory response.
- Rhodiola rosea: Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that grows in Northern Europe and Asia. Rhodiola is believed to balance the secretion of cortisol to reduce stress. It's also thought to enhance energy and improve mood. Note that there are over 20 different types of Rhodiola, but only Rhodiola rosea has shown benefits.
- Holy basil: Holy basil is an adaptogenic herb that has been prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Holy basil helps your body adapt to stress and helps alleviate anxiety. It's often enjoyed in tea.
- Maca: Maca is a root vegetable that is native to Peru and has traditionally been used to help the body cope with stress and adrenal fatigue. In addition, maca may support libido, fertility, and mood. As an added bonus, this adaptogen is a superfood that's tasty in smoothies.
- Ginseng: Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to help the body cope with stress. Ginseng is thought to work by managing the body's inflammatory response, which can be triggered by chronic stress. Some people enjoy ginseng in tea, although the flavour can be quite bitter.
- Astragalus: Astragalus is a Traditional Chinese Medicine herb that works by enhancing the body's ability to react to stress and improving the health of our immune system and fighting the inflammatory response. It can be brewed in tea.
- Cordyceps: Cordyceps are a type of mushroom used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to heal adrenal health. Cordyceps support immune health and energy during times of increased stress. Mushroom powder is often enjoyed in coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is a popular adaptogen in Ayurveda medicine. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to prevent stress-induced decreases in serotonin, helping manage stress induced mental health issues. Try this golden milk latte, anti-inflammatory green smoothie or immune supporting turmeric shots to get a tasty dose of turmeric.
How to take adaptogens
While they can be taken in supplement form, they are also commonly found in teas, tinctures and even meals. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate the herbs in your diet to best heal adrenals naturally:
- Add them to smoothies or juices: Adaptogens like ashwagandha, maca, and cordyceps can be added to your favorite smoothie or juice recipe.
- Mix them into oatmeal or yogurt: Oats and yogurt are both naturally soothing foods, so they make an ideal base for adaptogenic herbs. Add a teaspoon of your powdered adaptogen for a stress-reducing breakfast.
- Stir them into coffee or tea: If you need an extra boost of energy, try adding some powdered adaptogens to your coffee or tea. Start with a small amount and increase as needed until you find the perfect ratio for you. Try this golden milk latte, which uses turmeric as its adaptogen.
- Blend them into soup: Adaptogenic herbs can also be added to soups for an extra dose of stress-relieving nutrients. Try adding a teaspoon of powder to your favorite soup recipe next time around.
Note: When using herbs for adrenal glands, start with a low dose and increase gradually as needed. If you're pregnant or have underlying health conditions, there are adaptogens that should be avoided. So, please consult with a healthcare provider before adding these herbs to your health routine.
If you're looking for a natural way to manage stress, these 8 herbs are the best supplements for adrenal fatigue:
- Rhodiola rosea
- Holy basil
I hope that helped you understand how to use herbs for adrenal fatigue and stress. Let me know if you've tried any of these herbal remedies and how they worked for you.