If you’re battling chronic stress, your adrenals are likely taking a hit. Get some relief from adrenal fatigue with these calming adaptogenic herbs to give your body a break.
Let’s face it: Some weeks are so stressful that we need an entire weekend of not leaving the house (or the bed, for that matter) to recover. However, if you find you’re feeling run-down, overly anxious, chronically fatigued, and stressed more often than not, you might have adrenal fatigue.
Read on to discover what adrenal fatigue is, and how herbs can help you get back to feeling energized and healthy.
What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
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Although there is no official diagnosis of adrenal fatigue in the medical community, natural health practitioners recognize adrenal fatigue as a “burnout” of your adrenal glands due to chronic stress.
Your adrenals are two small glands that sit above your kidneys and are part of your endocrine system. They are responsible for producing a large number of hormones that are crucial to our day-to-day functions.
One of the major hormones your adrenals regulate is cortisol, also referred to as the “stress hormone”. Normally, a certain amount of cortisol release is a good thing, as it helps regulate our circadian rhythms. However, if too much cortisol is released during times of chronic stress, it can overload your adrenals. The resulting symptoms typically include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Autoimmune conditions
- Hair loss
- Brain fog
- Low libido
- Muscle loss
- Weight gain
Stress doesn’t have to be just physical for it to affect your adrenals – it can include psychological and emotional stress as well. Here are a few stressful experiences that may cause your adrenals to work overtime:
- Death of a loved one
- Work stress
- Lack of sleep and insomnia
- Poor diet and too much/not enough exercise
- Environmental toxins and pollution
- Financial hardships
- Negative relationships
Again, while the mainstream medical community doesn’t recognize adrenal fatigue as an official diagnosis, studies show that long-term stress does indeed alter adrenal function, and that chronic fatigue and adrenal function are related. (1, 2)
How do Herbs Help Adrenal Fatigue?
Luckily, certain herbs have properties that can help support your adrenals and keep stress under control.
Many of these herbs are referred to as adaptogens. They help adrenal fatigue by increasing your body’s ability to adapt to stress through increasing mental and physical endurance. They also protect your cells from the damaging effects of too much stress.
Studies show that adaptogens help increase resistance to external toxins as well as boost immunity and protect your brain from free radical damage brought on by excess stress. (3) The molecules in many adaptogens also have a similar structure to compounds that help inactivate your fight-or-flight system – the one that’s active during times of stress.
Other herbs on this list work as mild sedatives to help calm your nervous system, which can help give your adrenals a break from constant stress. You can use these with adaptogen herbs for a combined effect.
7 Herbs to Naturally Heal Adrenal Fatigue
Many of the herbs that can help ease adrenal fatigue have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Read on to see how they work, and which one might be best for you.
, also known as “Indian Ginseng”, is a plant native to the drier regions of India and northern Africa. Its roots are the most common part used for herbal preparations. Studies show ashwagandha is a broad-spectrum adaptogen, meaning it rejuvenates your body and protects it from stress on multiple levels.
This herb is great for increasing mental and physical energy, boosting your immune system, reducing stress, and reducing damage caused by stress. (4)
How to Use It: The most popular way to take ashwagandha is by a supplement, but you can also brew your own tea. Add two teaspoons of dried ashwagandha root to three and a half cups of boiling water and boil for 15 minutes, then strain and drink a quarter of a cup daily. In addition, you can also add the powdered form to smoothies. Dosages vary when it comes to powders, so start small with about ½ teaspoon at a time.
2. Rhodiola Rosea
is an herb that grows in the northern mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. Its root is also the main component used for its adaptogen properties.
This herb is best used if adrenal fatigue is causing you to feel physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. Studies show it boosts mental performance and the ability to concentrate as well as physical performance during exercise. (5, 6)
How to Use It: Rhodiola can be taken in pill form, as an extract, or in powder form. Try adding ½ teaspoon of Rhodiola powder to your daily smoothie or coffee.
Astragalus is an adaptogen herb native to the northern and eastern regions of China where it has been used for its adaptogenic properties in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. When it comes to combating stress, astragalus is particularly effective at boosting your immunity, which is crucial because excess stress can hit your immune system hard. (7)
Take astragalus when you’re feeling extra run-down due to stress, especially if you feel the signs of a cold coming on.
How to Use It: Pour 8 oz of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried astragalus root. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and serve. Drink daily. Alternatively, you can supplement by taking the recommended dosage of capsules listed on the label.
is considered one of the most ancient herbs known to mankind, with its use dating back over 5,000 years. While it’s not an adaptogen, it does have mild sedative properties that help relax your nervous system, ease anxiety, and promote restful sleep. (8)
Chamomile is best used when you’re feeling overly anxious or “wired,” due to stress and racing thoughts.
How to Use It: Brew your own tea by pouring 8 oz of boiling water over 1 tbsp chamomile flowers. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and serve.
Ginseng is another adaptogen herb and fleshy root that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Like other adaptogen herbs, it helps your body adapt to stress, but it really shines when it comes to improving your cognitive functioning. (9)
How to Use It: Ginseng can be taken in capsule form, following the dosage guide on the label (the average dose is between 200-400 mg daily). Alternatively, you can brew your own tea by steeping four slices of ginseng root in two cups of just-boiling water for 10 minutes. Sip daily.
Lavender is a purple flowering herb known for its sedative effects on the nervous system. Studies show it is an effective treatment for patients with an anxiety disorder who experience restlessness and disturbed sleep. (12)
Use lavender when you feel overly anxious or have trouble sleeping.
How to Use It: You can either make a lavender tea by pouring 8 oz of boiling water over 4 tsp lavender flowers. Steep for 10 minutes and serve. Alternatively, you can diffuse lavender essential oil throughout your home and inhale it for similar benefits.
Licorice root (yes, this is where licorice flavor comes from!) is yet another adaptogen herb native to Europe and Asia. Studies show it can actually help regulate cortisol levels, the stress hormone that is all over the place during adrenal fatigue. (13)
Take licorice root as a standard adaptogen to help balance your cortisol levels. You’ll also likely to feel better rested when you supplement with licorice since cortisol plays a large role in our sleep and wake cycles. (14)
How to Use It: You can take licorice extract in capsule form, or make a tea by pouring four ounces of boiling water over one teaspoon of dried licorice root and letting it steep for five minutes. Sip daily.
The Bottom Line
Herbs are extremely beneficial when it comes to naturally helping your body overcome adrenal fatigue. Try some of these adaptogens, along with a lavender or chamomile tea when you’re feeling anxious, to help give your adrenals a break and get back to feeling like your old self.
(Read This Next: 10 Antiviral Herbs to Naturally Fight Infection & How to Use Them)