Adrenal fatigue is more than just occasional fatigue or an afternoon energy “crash.” Adrenal fatigue not only affects our endocrine (or hormonal) system, but also our nervous and digestive systems, overall cognition, neurological function, and more. Luckily for us, herbs can play a big role in not only alleviating the symptoms of adrenal fatigue but also supporting a rebalance in our hormonal and nervous systems so symptoms can clear up for good. Read on to discover some of my top herbal therapeutics for adrenal fatigue.
Adaptogens Over Coffee
Adapta-what?? Adaptogens are an incredible class of herbs that help the body adapt to stressors instead of reacting. In turn, they can help promote our nervous system to become more stabilized and balanced both acutely and long-term.
More and more people are making the jump from coffee and caffeine to daily adaptogenic morning beverages for a naturally stimulating, yet caffeine-free boost. Since coffee and caffeine are common aggravators of adrenal fatigue and it’s related symptoms, consider switching to an “herbal coffee” based on adaptogenic herbs that carry a similar flavor and energy as your daily cup of joe.
Some of my go-to adaptogens for supporting adrenal fatigue are ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), holy basil/tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus), and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum).
Note that not all adaptogens are created equal. Some are more stimulating than others and can diminish our fragile energy reserves if used during a state of depletion and imbalance (like when dealing with adrenal fatigue). If you are uncertain, be sure to consult with your clinical herbalist to help you decide which adaptogens can best support your overall health picture.
Nourish Thy Nerves
Our adrenal glands and nervous system work hand-in-hand to help modulate how the body responds to stress. So naturally, if our nervous system becomes “frayed” and constantly pushes us into “fight or flight mode” at the drop of a pin, our adrenal function, and thus cortisol secretion, can become confused as well. Using nervous system nourishing herbs daily can help support healthy nervous system function and balance the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
My favorite nervine herbs are milky oats (Avena sativa), holy basil/tulsi, skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), and lavender (Lavandula officinalis).
Support Your Gut
Although not every adrenal fatigue picture presents with tummy troubles, it’s important to recognize how much chronic stress affects the overall function of our gut long-term. In addition to using herbs like fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and peppermint (Mentha piperita) for acute digestive woes, consider using other gentle gut restorative herbs long-term.
Some staple gut nourishing herbs I draw from include plantain (Plantago major), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Calendula (Calendula officinalis), marshmallow (Althea officinalis), and slippery elm (Ulmus rubra). In general, most gut restorative herbs tend to be gentle in nature for offering daily long-term support. But always double-check for any contraindications and individual cautions
Honor Your Rest Days
Rather than simply “powering through” your daily routine when you feel worn thin and fatigued, focus on honoring your time to rest as much as possible! Take frequent breaks, rest from working out for a day, or rearrange your social plans for a night to make time for a bath and early bedtime. Herbs are a great ally here to help unwind the mind and thoroughly relax the body so you can get the rest you need.
Some of my go-to herbs for rest and relaxation are California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), skullcap, hops (Humulus lupulus), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), and passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). Note that depending on your sensitivity and dosing, these herbs and other sedative or rest-promoting herbs are contraindicated to take while driving and may impair your ability to focus and be active throughout the day. For these reasons, strive to take them before bedtime and at night only.
An Important Note
Since adrenal fatigue has become quite the trendy “catch-all” name to self-diagnose fatigue-related symptoms, it is important to check in with your doctor and healthcare practitioner or clinical herbalist to get a second opinion about your overall health picture. It is important to note that not everyone with fatigue symptoms or a stress-heavy lifestyle has adrenal fatigue.