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Adrenal fatigue occurs due to high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body caused by a fast-paced, stressful, or overworked lifestyle. The adrenal glands are present on top of your kidneys and produce a number of hormones including cortisol.
Adrenal fatigue is not a proper medical diagnosis per se, but it has been affecting more and more people lately. It can cause sleeplessness, lethargy, sugar or salt cravings, depression, digestive issues, and unexplained weight loss or weight gain. (1)
This article will be discussing what doctors and researchers say about adrenal fatigue and some home remedies.
Controversy Regarding the Term Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is a “loose” medical term used to describe the tiredness associated with long-term physical or emotional stress. It is not considered an actual medical condition per se, and its treatment is regarded as controversial by some doctors.
Some medical professionals are of the opinion that diagnosing long-term stress, fatigue, and lack of energy as adrenal fatigue may prevent the correct diagnosis and treatment. Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of treatment of adrenal fatigue.
Moreover, taking adrenal supplements when you do not need them can mess with the function of the adrenal glands and prevent them from producing hormones normally. (2)
So, if you feel chronically fatigued, it may be better to try some natural treatments and remedies before taking any supplements and other medical treatments.
Natural Treatment for Adrenal Fatigue
The best treatment for adrenal fatigue is by reducing stress levels. This can only happen when you decide to remove yourself from stressful situations, identify triggers, and learn to relax your body and mind through therapy or meditation.
Having said that, these are a few natural remedies you can try to decrease stress levels in the body.
1. Consume licorice root
Licorice root is a well-known adaptogenic herb, that is, it helps reduce stress and fatigue. (3)
Licorice root contains an active compound called glycyrrhizin, which can nourish the adrenal glands with doses as low as 1.75–5.25 g per day. In extract form, 25–75 mg per day is recommended. You can also use it in tablet or syrup forms.
2. Use ashwagandha as a stress buster
Ashwagandha is an age-old Ayurvedic remedy known to promote calmness and increase energy. It has several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce stress and decrease fatigue. (4)
The ideal dose is 2 g of ashwagandha root per day. For people suffering from insomnia, Ayurvedic practitioners sometimes recommend doses as high as 7 g.
3. Consume rhodiola extract
Rhodiola can help eliminate stress, reduce anxiety, and improve memory and cognitive function. (5) Using it in combination with ginseng can be beneficial for the body.
You can consume 3–12 mg of rhodiola extract per day.
4. Try Ginkgo biloba herb
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is a common herb known for its neuroprotective effects. It has also been proven to reduce stress levels in patients. (6)
Ginkgo extract is available in the form of tablets of liquid syrup. The recommended dosage is 120–200 mg per day divided equally in the morning and evening.
5. Use Korean ginseng
Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) is another traditional herbal remedy for stress and exhaustion. The main root of this plant helps improve insulin uptake, increases blood circulation in the brain, improves memory, and helps treat symptoms of depression and fatigue. It also helps deal with menopausal fatigue in older women.
The recommended dose for Korean ginseng is 100 mg a couple of times a day. (7)
6. Maca herb to uplift mood
Maca, or Peruvian ginseng, is another herb known for its mood-lifting and rejuvenating properties. It is adaptogenic and is relatively safe to consume for most people. (8)
The ideal dose is between 1,500 mg and 2,000 mg per day.
Note: Maca should not be consumed by pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with hormonal disorders due to maca’s estrogen content.
7. Use Holy basil for stress relief
Holy basil, or tulsi, is an ancient Ayurvedic herbal remedy that can help resolve mental, physical, and physiological stress. (9)
Holy basil contains many antioxidants and other plant compounds that can reduce cortisol levels in the body. This helps eliminate stress and gives you better sleep.
Holy basil can be consumed in the form of tea or store-bought pills. Research suggests that the ideal dose varies between 400 mg and 500 mg in the morning and 800 mg in the evening.
Note: Holy basil is not recommended for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women. It is also advised to stop consuming it at least 2 weeks before surgery as it can prevent blood clotting.
Precautions to consider
Always consult a doctor before trying any herbal remedies. Some of them can have adverse effects on the body, though rarely.
Dietary Tips to Reduce Adrenal Fatigue
Here are a few changes you can make to your diet to reduce adrenal fatigue:
- Some studies suggest that consuming a plant-based or plant-forward diet and reducing meat can help decrease adrenal fatigue. Plant-based foods are easier to digest and can prevent bloating or lethargy.
- Increasing consumption of sodium-rich foods and decreasing potassium-rich foods (such as bananas) in your diet can help prevent adrenal fatigue. Note: Avoid excess sodium consumption if you have high blood pressure.
- Reducing caffeine and sugar consumption can go a long way in improving your physical and mental health.
- Taking vitamin supplements, particularly vitamins B and C, as well as omega-3 fatty acids has been proven to reduce fatigue.
- Regularly consuming nutrient-dense foods such as bone broth and seaweed can help improve your health in multiple ways.
Lifestyle Tips to Prevent Adrenal Fatigue
Here are some lifestyle changes you can make to prevent or treat adrenal fatigue:
- Identify and remove stressful triggers from your life. These may include the people you spend time with and your job.
- Follow a proper bedtime routine and avoid tiring yourself with stressful activities, especially before bedtime.
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and refreshed.
- Cortisol levels tend to increase in the body after 11 pm. Hence, it is better to go to sleep by 10–11 pm every night. Cortisol levels may surge later for some people, but a good measure is to try to go to bed within 16 hours of waking up in the morning.
- Adrenal fatigue can be caused by an increase in cortisol levels in the body. Remember to reduce excessive stress and learn to lay back and relax even in stressful situations. Moreover, increasing DHEA levels in the body has been known to reduce adrenal fatigue. DHEA is a compound that can help reduce cortisol levels. It can be increased by increasing magnesium consumption.
- Start some basic exercises to help rejuvenate your body. Exercising while feeling fatigued may seem difficult, so start slow and simple. Try yoga for a couple of weeks or some light stretching and jogging.
Adrenal fatigue can be a stressful and disheartening situation to go through. Follow the tips given above to decrease stress and improve your quality of life.
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