Strictly speaking, adrenal fatigue is not an officially accepted medical illness category. However, since people suffer from an uncategorized group of nonspecific symptoms, it has been loosely termed as adrenal fatigue, an advanced stage of which is adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease.
It is hypothesized that the cause is under functioning of the adrenal gland, but at a level undetectable by currently available lab tests. The hormone that is produced less by the adrenal gland in this condition is cortisol.
The typical symptoms are body aches, tiredness, nervousness, insomnia, irritability, moodiness, lightheadedness, digestive problems, sugar and salt craving, and dependence on stimulants, such as caffeine. To counteract these symptoms there are several herbs that seem to work.
Herbal Remedies for Adrenal Fatigue
The following herbs can be used singly or in combination, depending on your specific symptoms and contraindications. The herbs work either by modulating the adrenal secretion or by boosting the body’s immune system to better handle stress. Be sure to consult your doctor before trying any of them because they can have harmful drug interactions with any medicines that you may already be taking.
Licorice extract is obtained from the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra. The active ingredients are triterpenoid saponins, such as glycyrrhizin, which regulate the cortisone-cortisol balance in the body.
The daily dose is 25-75 mg. It is available in liquid and tablet form. Side effects include increased blood pressure, electrolyte abnormalities, seizures, and vision problems.
Ginkgo biloba is a well-known herb, known to enhance the peripheral circulation and afford neuroprotection. It helps in adrenal fatigue because it modulates the stress response. The extract is obtained from the leaves of Ginkgo biloba. The active ingredients are flavonoids, bilobalides and ginkgolides.
They help by improving the blood flow, alertness and mood. The dosage is 120-240 mg daily in two divided doses. Side effects include headaches, dizziness, stomach upset, seizures, and skin reactions. Ginkgo should not be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
This is usually used in combination with eleuthero and rehmannia. The extract is made from the root of Astragalus membranaceus. The active ingredients are antioxidants.
Astragalus stimulates the adrenal gland and also boosts your immune system, to help deal with stress. The recommended dose is 750-2000 mg daily in liquid or tablet form. It has no major side effects.
It is also known as Siberian ginseng. It is not related to American ginseng and Korean or Chinese ginseng. This herb improves alertness, physical and mental performance, and boosts the immune system. The extract is got from the root of Eleutherococcus senticosus.
The active ingredients are eleutherosides. Consult the product label or ask your pharmacist for its dosage. Side effects include headache, insomnia, drowsiness, nervousness and lowered blood sugar. It is contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Rehmannia glutinosa is an extensively used herb. The part of the plant used medicinally is the root. The active ingredients are iridoid glycosides, such as catalpol.
The herb relieves tiredness and promotes functioning of adrenal gland and the immune system, thus helping tide over stress. Its daily dose is 750-2000 mg in 2-3 divided doses. Side effects are swelling, palpitations, dizziness, gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, decrease appetite, and lowered blood sugar.
Ginseng is extracted from the root of Panax ginseng. The active ingredients are ginsenosides. It relieves fatigue and tiredness, boosts the immune system, and helps fight stress.
The dose is 100-200 mg of standardized extract (containing 4% ginsenosides) once or twice daily. Side effects include rash, itching, diarrhea, loss of appetite, sore throat, excitability, depression and insomnia.
Rhodiola extract is derived from the root of Rhodiola rosea. The active ingredients are rosavins and salidroside. It increases stamina, prevents fatigue, improves mental function, regulates the stress response, reduces anxiety, and elevates the mood.
This herb works well in combination with ginseng. The daily dose is 3-12 g. Side effects include allergic reactions, lowered blood sugar level, increased heart rate, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and altered blood pressure.