An increasingly common problem among people of all ages and backgrounds is caused by chronic stress, which people are beginning to treat as adrenal fatigue. The most common symptom of adrenal fatigue is low energy levels and high stress. Many people push themselves through the day by using stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and sugar. As a result, these lifestyle choices can tax the adrenal glands which happen to be located on the kidneys which are a part of the endocrine system.
There are several herbal supplements and adaptogens that can help assist with adrenal fatigue and help elevate energy levels back to normal.
Adaptogens are popular herbs that date back to Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine that are often considered tonics for their wide range of benefits to the body.
So what are some great qualities that adaptogens possess?
- They are safe and free of toxins
- They have bioactive substances since they are plant based roots that work with multiple processes in the human body. They help the body deal with stress in multiple areas.
- They have a normalizing effect, rather than increasing or decreasing certain functions in the body. So for example, if hormone levels were too low, it could help raise the levels back up to normal, depending upon if the levels in the body needed to be restored.
- Unlike drugs, they are full of phytochemical substances that our body’s can readily utilize and recognize for biochemical needs.
- They can help restore harmony in the body as well as rejuvenate many stress induced illnesses.
So what are the adrenal glands?
The adrenal glands are responsible for such functions as keeping blood pressure in balance, providing the body with additional sex hormones which are all related to stress. In order to have a healthy balance in the body you have to develop a healthy response to daily stresses in your life.
If you expose your body and mind to excess stress it begins to exhaust your adrenal glands. Healthy functioning adrenals are crucial for all other systems in the body to function normally. If you often experience depressed adrenal function it could be due to hypoadrenia which is obtained through years of stress accumulation due to diet and lifestyle choices.
In addition to hypoadrenia which is the underproduction of the adrenals, there is another condition which is known as Cushing’s Syndrome or hyperadrenalism. The condition of hyperadrenalism is related to excess amounts of cortisol (a stress hormone) being released when the body responds to external or internal stressors. The conditions of hypoadrenia and hyperadrenalism have been dismissed by medical practitioner’s for years, however it has recently been more well understood.
It is best to evaluate your health by asking yourself certain questions. Here are some health related questions as formatted by Naturopathic Doctor Maggie Luther:
- Do you constantly feel fatigued, even after “enough” hours of sleep a night?
- Are you constantly in a state of worry or anxiety, or in an irratable mood, even with the ones you love?
- Do you have difficulty avoiding the cold and flu every year when it comes around, find yourself sick through the fall and winter season, or tend to take longer than those around you to recover?
- Have you been dieting, working out, eating better, but are still unable to lose weight?
- Do you carry around excess weight around your midsection?
- Do you easily feel tired after exercising? Do you find it hard to motivate yourself to exercise or be active?
- Do you suffer from a chronic condition such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, poorly managed cholesterol, cancer, arthritis, migraines, (PMS), celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, isomnia, etc.?
- Do you go from one doctor to another being told that your lab results are normal or your symptoms must be in your head?
If you happen to answer any of these questions with a clear yes, then perhaps it’s time to consider how you can deal with the major stresses in your life that may be negatively impacting your life.
Changes can be made by adjusting your diet, incorporating exercise, and other good lifestyle habits. There are plenty of natural therapies, nutrients, and methods that can help restore balance and relieve stress in your life.
Stress takes a major toll on the body, so it’s important to develop ways of coping with stress that lead you to a healthier lifestyle.
Experiencing stress is a normal part of life, and whether we get annoyed by people, pollution, lack of sleep, or financial issues, major life changes, or increasing physical demands we all have triggers.
The key with adaptogens is to address specific symptoms and help the body deal with stress in a natural way. By in-taking adaptogens we can increase immunity and help deal with fatigue.
There are definitely some good adaptogenic herbs that one can start out with in order to help bring the adrenal glands to a homeostatic balance and prevent hormone fluxes.
Here are some of those herbs you can start out with:
- Ashwagandha – Used to help stamina, sexual function, reduce cortisol levels, and promote calm sleep. It can be either stimulating or relaxing depending upon your body’s needs.
- Bacopa Brahmi – This is used for improving mental capacity and flow through the cerebral cortex of brain. It is a popular memory enhancer. Some say it has anti-epileptic properties.
- Gotu Kola – Wonderful herb for improving mental alertness, fighting depression, and improving physical stamina. It has popular use among yogis in India for helping to reach high meditative states of consciousness.
- Holy Basil – This herb helps tremendously with protection against chemical stress from the environment. It has also been used for normalizing blood sugar levels, blood pressure levels, and improving mental function. It is also antimicrobial and protects against bacterial infections.
- Maca Root – This root is native to Peru and is used for enhancement of sexual function, fertility, and regulating hormone levels in both men and women. It’s often used by women for treating menopausal symptoms.
- Panax Ginseng – This is the Asian form of ginseng. It is considered the most energizing and helps with the aging process. It is an overall tonic for vitality, and it assists with sexual function and physical endurance and stamina for endurance athletes.
- Rhodiola Rhosea – Used for supporting the heart through stressful events. It is often used to enhance energy, relieve depression, assist with physical endurance, and reduce overall anxiety. It also strengthens the immune system and the mind for the better, if one were more tired. Small doses stimulate, while larger doses are known to be more sedative.
- Schisandra – Helps with concentration and calms down the heart. This herb energizes the body in a non-stimulating manner and has immune boosting ability.
Those are some basic adaptogens that can help to improve one’s path toward holistic wellness.
In addition, if you’d like to make further changes to your diet and lifestyle check out a few of my posts from my blog that refer to healthier habits and lifestyle:
Overall, the adrenal glands are known to secrete two main stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. The hormone epinephrine is released during times of fear or anger. The hormone cortisol is released as a secondary hormone that affects most organ systems in the body. Stress responses of cortisol can include the release of blood sugar, increase of blood flow to the kidneys from increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as stimulate gluconeogenesis.
By taking some adaptogens for your adrenal glands you can begin to defeat stress and prolong stamina for life enriching physical activities.
- Gohil, Kashmira J., Jagruti A. Patel, and Anuradha K. Gajjar. “Pharmacological Review on Centella Asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Medknow Publications, Sept.-Oct. 2010. Web. 18 May 2016.
- “Herbal Monograph – Indian Pennywort, Centella, Gotu Kola.” Herbal Monograph – Indian Pennywort, Centella, Gotu Kola. The Himalaya Drug Company, 1989. Web. 18 May 2016.
- Luther, Maggie. The Everything Guide to Adrenal Fatigue: Revive Energy, Boost Immunity, and Improve Concentration for a Happy Stress-free Life. Avon: Adam’s Media, 2015. Print.
- Rao Rammohan V, Descamps Olivier, Varghese John, Bredesen Dale E. “Ayurvedic medicinal plants for Alzheimer’s disease: a review.” NIH Public Access 2012; 4(3): 22. NIH Public Access. 14 June 2016.
- Schmidt, Barbara, David M. Ribnicky, Alexander Poulev, Sithes Logendra, William T. Cefalu, and Ilya Raskin. “A Natural History of Botanical Therapeutics.” NIH Public Access (2008): 1-12. NIH Public Access. Web. 12 May 2016.