What is the Best Adaptogen for Adrenal Fatigue?
Even though the medical fraternity remains divided on the legitimacy of adrenal fatigue as a real medical diagnosis, there's no doubt that intense stress, insomnia, extreme tiredness, unexplained cravings, and other chronic conditions can leave you feeling low and uninspired.
Such moments can leave you wondering what's happening to you. Lucky for you, there is a natural remedy that can get you back to your usual high spirits by alleviating all these symptoms.
Welcome to the world of adaptogens!
Adaptogens are nature's solution to the myriad of problems we've just listed above and much more! Read on to learn more about these wonderful natural herbs and the best type of adaptogen for adrenal fatigue.
What is Adrenal Fatigue
Here is the theory behind adrenal fatigue.
Adrenals are vital body organs about the size of large grapes located just above the kidneys. They weigh roughly 5 to 8 grams and are responsible for producing the hormone cortisol, which regulates blood pressure.
When you're stressed, your body typically responds by revving up the adrenal glands to release more adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones control your "flight or fight" response by increasing blood flow to the muscles for heightened performance.
However, in prolonged stressful situations, the adrenal glands overwork, constantly releasing these hormones until they burn out, at which point adrenal fatigue sets in.
Adrenal fatigue is increasingly becoming common due to the pressures of modern life. Perhaps this explains why James L. Wilson, the doctor who coined the term, referred to it as the "21st-century syndrome."
Interestingly, the adrenal glands are the first responders to stress and the first to be affected. Remember, these glands also produce estrogen and progesterone, which control other bodily functions. So, when they function sub-optimally, you are likely to experience a range of deficiencies.
What are Adaptogenic Herbs
The earliest studies on adaptogens trace back to World War II when scientists wanted a way to make pilots fly longer and faster. Later, the Soviet Union published findings on a stimulant known as Schisandra Chinensis – a plant whose seeds and berries helped Nanai hunters withstand thirst, exhaustion, and hunger. It's believed it also greatly enhanced their ability to see at night!
How do adaptogens work?
Adaptogens help the body adjust to physical and psychological stress by stimulating its stress-protection system to revert to a balanced state, also known as homeostasis.
The body goes through three phases during stress – alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. During the resistance phase, the body produces adrenaline to enhance muscle performance and increase mental concentration. Adaptogens essentially help the body to resist longer until it overcomes the stressor.
General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)
General adaptation syndrome refers to the body's physiological changes when dealing with stress. It has three stages – alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.
The alarm phase refers to the body's initial response(s) to a stressor. The sympathetic nervous system is activated by the sudden release of hormones—adrenaline and noradrenaline—preparing the body for the "fight-or-flight" response.
The release of hormones causes specific physical changes, including a rise in blood pressure, increased heart rate, dilated pupils, trembling, rapid breathing, pale/flushed skin, and heightened senses.
These symptoms are what we usually refer to as 'shock.'
While in the resistance phase, the body may attempt to reestablish its initial balance after the disorienting shock. If the stressor ceases, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal (pre-stress levels). Otherwise, the body continues to produce stress hormones to stretch the resistance.
However, over-resistance leads to exhaustion – the last stage of GAS. This is often physically, emotionally, and mentally draining and signals your inability to continue coping with the stressor.
At this stage, most people experience fatigue, decreased stress tolerance, and burnout.
The longer it takes the body to go through these stages, the greater the risk of long-lasting adverse effects. Therefore, understanding GAS and its triggers can help you manage stress better.
Did you know that stress can be positive? In this case, we refer to it as eustress!
What is the Best Adaptogen for Adrenal Fatigue?
Adaptogens have proven efficacy in the management of stress. Here are six top adaptogenic herbs to choose from whenever you're dealing with stress.
This medicinal herb has been around for 3000 years! Research shows that concentrated extracts of ashwagandha may help alleviate everyday stress by promoting cell-mediated immunity. It boosts adrenal function, balances stress hormones, and raises energy levels in people experiencing adrenal fatigue.
Siberian Ginseng for Adrenal Fatigue
Ginseng is the best adaptogen for modulating the body's stress response because it regulates the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis and improves overall health. It has anti-inflammatory properties and works wonders in boosting your energy levels and body metabolism.
This adaptogen is great for mental health because it alleviates depressive symptoms and anxiety. It also reduces fatigue by revving your energy levels and stamina while enhancing your mood. Further, it improves concentration should you need to get through a busy day at work.
Thanks to these properties, Rhodiola extract therapy is used in treating people with cancer, cardiac problems, and low immunity.
There is scientific evidence that this herb's unique properties can help reduce the impact of chemical, physical, and psychological stress. Holy basil is used to normalize blood sugar, improve brain function, and lower blood pressure. It also protects the stomach by counteracting the effects of stress-induced ulcers.
If stress causes you sleepless nights, this herb will ensure you sleep well by reducing cortisol levels and lessening anxiety symptoms.
Eleuthero enhances mental alertness, concentration, and performance. It also reduces stress and helps maintain healthy body energy and stamina by optimizing the burning of fat instead of carbs.
Other benefits include boosting immune functions, stabilizing sugar levels in the blood, and supporting cognitive functions. This herb has the potential to balance your hormone levels throughout life and help alleviate insomnia, fatigue, memory problems, and loss of strength due to low energy levels.
A hugely popular adaptogen, Schisandra comes in five distinct flavors that work synergistically to promote vitality and overall health. Schisandra berries enhance the body's natural resistance and ability to adapt to stressors.
This herb is also great for mental endurance and improving metabolic efficiency.
Best Supplements For Adrenal Fatigue
If you opt to go the supplements way, you can consider these adaptogen-based supplements to help you overcome adrenal fatigue.
HPA Select – this supplement combines the adaptogenic properties of ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Panax ginseng, eleuthero, and licorice. The recommended dosage is two capsules in the morning and another two at midday for extreme cases.
ZENAdapt – if you're experiencing chronic stress, hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue, or just looking to boost your health and immunity, this supplement is for you.
ZENAdapt – this blend of Rhodiola and ashwagandha promotes optimal production of cortisol and balances stress response. This prevents the overproduction of stress hormones that keep you awake at night.