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A powerful way to treat Adrenal Fatigue and restore adrenal balance is through the use of natural herbs. People around the world have used herbal medicine for its healing abilities for thousands of years either in whole-food form or in standardized extracts and supplements.
The best herbs for supporting and reinvigorating the adrenal glands are a class of herbs called “Adaptogens”. Adaptogenic herbs help to minimize stress reactions and provide protection against the long-term effects of stress by stabilizing physiological processes and promotion of homeostasis (1).
In addition to their effects on stress adaptation, adaptogens have great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, they are natural mood enhancers, help normalize the immune system, improve energy, stamina and muscle strength. Adaptogens are non-toxic, even with long-term use so you can rely on these herbs to be safe and gentle.
Below follows a brief review of some of the most common beneficial adaptogenic herbs used in the treatment of Adrenal Fatigue:
Considered a staple of traditional medicine for adrenal insufficiency and is used in many Chinese patent herbal formulas. Glycyrrhizin is the main active compound in licorice. Licorice has been used to help decrease symptoms of hypoglycemia and is known to naturally fortify cortisol levels (2). In addition to supporting adrenal function, licorice has anti/inflammatory and antiviral properties, it helps with the healing of ulcers, digestive, respiratory and urinary infections and irritations.
When used correctly licorice may be one of the most useful herbs to treat Adrenal Fatigue, but there are also a few drawbacks. First of all licorice root causes increased production of aldosterone and although this hormone is frequently deficient in Adrenal Fatigue, it also raises blood pressure in some individuals with normal blood pressure. As such licorice root is contraindicated if you have high blood pressure, heart problems and it should not be used during pregnancy.
A second point to consider is that studies show that licorice reduces (at least temporarily) testosterone levels in men. Adrenal Fatigue sufferers often experience a decline in sex hormones and a low libido rendering licorice unsuitable for these patients. Licorice is available in tea, capsules and as a liquid herbal extract. Use no more than 1000 mg of glycyrrhizin per day.
Comes from one of the oldest living tree species, the Ginkgo tree. It is well known for its ability to enhance blood flow improving peripheral circulation for its neuroprotective effects and it positively affects the body’s ability to adapt to stress levels. Ginkgo is a powerful antioxidant that protects the adrenal glands from free radical damage while making ATP. In addition, the scientific literature suggests that ginkgo benefits people with dementia and protects against Alzheimer’s. Clinical studies validate the use of ginkgo in relatively small doses in the range of 120 – 240 mg per day (3).
Also known as Indian ginseng is considered to be highly effective in treatment of Adrenal Fatigue. It is especially useful for stress-induced sleeping problems and has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for stress relief. It has also been linked to pain relief, antioxidant effects, reducing inflammation, stimulating thyroid function as well as respiratory and immune function.
Ashwagandha is available in tablet, capsule and liquid forms. Recommended dosing ranges from 300-500 mg all the way up to the 6000 mg per day (4).
Sometimes referred to as Asian Ginseng, is the most widely used and studied ginseng in the world. Korean Ginseng is traditionally used in herbal medicine to remedy physical or mental exhaustion, lowered immunity and to facilitate adaptation to stress. It is considered a great herb for reinforcing vital energy and longevity.
Modern science has expanded the therapeutic effects of Korean Ginseng to include improvement of brain function, pain-relieving effects, preventive effects against tumors, improved immune system function, anti-diabetic effects, adjusted blood pressure, improved liver function, anti-fatigue and anti-stress effects as well as anti-oxidative and anti-aging effects.
Korean Ginseng is usually taken in doses of 200 to 400 mg per day for general use (4).
Grows at high altitudes in the arctic regions of Asia and Europe and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine in Russian and Scandinavian cultures.
Rhodiola has been used successfully to increase stamina, prevent fatigue, improve mental function, reduce anxiety and ameliorate symptoms of mild depression. There is also evidence that it acts as an antioxidant, enhances immune system function and can increase sexual energy.
The average dose of Rhodiola rosea is between 200 mg and 400 mg per day.
Just as there are herbs that are beneficial and reinvigorating for the adrenal glands, there are also herbs you should stay away from if you are experiencing Adrenal Fatigue because they can exacerbate your symptoms, increase your recovery time, or prevent your recovery by further depleting your adrenal glands.
Therefore always consult your doctor, herbalist, naturopath, or functional medicine practitioner before using any herbal supplements and work together to find the right combination of herbs for you (6).
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