6 adaptogen herbs for treating adrenal fatigue

If you’re feeling tired, stressed, and experiencing low energy, you may want to talk to your doctor about introducing these plant-based herbs into your current wellness routine.

Adaptogens are powerful herbs that help the body adapt.  To understand how they work, you have to understand the adrenal system. The adrenal system plays an integral part in many aspects of our health, from blood sugar to hormones to mood.  It is responsible for the classic “fight or flight” that we hear so much about.  When the system activates, it floods your system with adrenaline and cortisol.  Blood sugar spikes to provide energy, blood pressure goes up so that you can stay standing if there is any blood loss, your heart rate surges to keep your body oxygenated and then insulin cleans up all that extra sugar in your system.  When “safety” returns, the system quiets down and balance is restored.  While this worked in the past when danger was intermittent, most of us now exist in a world of persistent perceived dangers resulting in a constant low level stress response.  If this overdrive goes on too long, you reach adrenal fatigue.   Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include problems with concentration, difficulty with sleep, stomach issues, fatigue, food cravings, frequent colds, hormonal imbalances, pain, weight gain, anxiety and/or depression.

Adaptogens regulate the adrenal response.  They aim to restore health, vitality and immunity. They are thought to be safe over the long term and balance the body whether in a state of overdrive or fatigue. 

Below are a few with strong supporting evidence:

Rhobdiola: this root helps with fatigue, mental fog, trouble concentrating, low energy, and mild depression. It promotes a calm emotional state and supports optimal immunity and cognition by suppressing production of cortisol. 

Astralagus: increases stress resisting proteins and boosts immunity. The root of this plant is an immune stimulator that is used in cancer therapies around the world. It also seems to be helpful in blood sugar maintenance.

Holy Basil: improves energy and relieves fatigue.  It is an anti-inflammatory and can lower blood sugar and cholesterol.  

Ashwaganda: improves energy, memory and sex drive. It also reduces anxiety and is an anti-inflammatory.

Panax Ginseng: supports physical endurance, mental clarity, and has antioxidant properties. It is known to be anti-cancer, anti-fatigue, anti-inflammatory, and helpful in both cancer and diabetes treatments.

Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng): this root increase’s mental alertness and performance, enhances concentration, improves sleep, builds and maintains muscle as we age

Adaptogens are best used over time (at least 3 months) and the effects can be subtle when started because the body takes time to adapt and balance after a prolonged stress state.

When it comes to evaluating whether or not you are experiencing adrenal fatigue or if you should be using an apaptogen, it is always best to consult a doctor. Some adaptogens (which by definition are thought to be safe) do have implications for pregnancy or if you are on blood thinners etc. In our practice at Weiss Wellness, some of the tests we perform may range from a cortisol saliva test or iris contraction tests (not always 100% accurate-nothing is)  in certain circumstances to a complete hormone and wellness evaluation.


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