Dr. Kassam Top 3 Stress Busting Herbs for Adrenal Support (ND Recommended)
Top 3 Stress Busting Herbs For Adrenal Support (ND Recommended)
By: Dr. Saira Kassam, ND
Stress is a condition of the mind-body interaction and is perceived differently amongst individuals. The adrenal glands are walnut sized glands that sit atop the kidneys and produce the stress hormone, cortisol. Many of you have probably heard of the detrimental effects of this hormone. Elevated cortisol levels and chronic stress have the ability to affect every system in the body. Chronically elevated cortisol can burn out the adrenal glands, leading to feelings of fatigue and anxiousness. It can also make you more susceptible to weight gain, increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar levels and bone loss.
With chronic activation of the adrenal glands, they can become overworked and overused leading to adrenal dysfunction. Burning out the adrenal glands can come in stages, each with its own tell-tale signs.
3 Stages of Adrenal Dysfunction:
Constantly feeling tired and fatigued can make reaching for caffeine and/or sugar quite easy. However, they don’t fix the lack of energy for very long, and often will result in energy crashes soon after consumption. So, what can help us manage stress & increase energy levels better? ADAPTOGENS!
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens have been used in traditional medicine for centuries and work on the basis of prevention. They are a class of plants that help to recharge the adrenal glands and provide them with some additional support. Adaptogens can support both the brain and body. They help to increase our resilience to stress and protect us from chronically high cortisol levels, which can leave you feeling energized and calm. There are many different adaptogens out there and the one/s you choose must match the stage of adrenal dysfunction.
Here are my 3 top Adaptogens to consider:
Ashwagandha has been used in India for 6,000 years and is found in the dry areas of India, the Middle East, and some parts of Africa. Some of you may know it as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng. Ashwagandha is composed of many medicinal compounds like amino acids, fatty acids and choline. The root smells like "Ashva" which is the Indian word for "horse" and consuming it is said to "give the power of a horse!" That is why it is called Ashwagandha. Thus far, research studies have shown that the benefits of Ashwagandha can be:
Ashwagandha is best suited for Stage 1 + Stage 2 adrenal dysfunction, where the ‘wired but tired’ feeling is observed and is best taken before bed. Avoid taking Ashwagandha in the daytime. The recommended dose is typically 300-500 mg/day.
Caution: Do not use this herb if you are pregnant or have an autoimmune disease.
2. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola is a Russian herb that works by increasing the release of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ in the body. It is used by a lot of females to provide a little extra support emotionally, physically and mentally. The benefits of Rhodiola can be:
Rhodiola is best for Stage 2 of adrenal dysfunction. It is best to take if you are looking for a little more mental stimulation. The recommended dose is typically 200-400 mg/day.
3. Licorice Root
Licorice also known as Glycyrrhiza Glabra, acts synergistically with cortisol. It is one of the most used herbs in Traditional Chinese medicine and is specific for people with adrenal exhaustion (Stage 3). Its main medicinal properties come from the ingredient, glycyrrhizic acid, which inhibits the breakdown of cortisol. This helps to balance cortisol levels in the body and is particularly useful for Stage 3 adrenal dysfunction. The benefits of Licorice root include:
This adaptogen is best indicated for Stage 3 adrenal dysfunction as it helps to raise cortisol levels. It is best taken in the morning for sustained energy. Aim for 1-4 grams/day
Caution: Licorice can cause salt retention, elevated blood pressure and hypokalemia. Do not take Licorice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Make sure to speak to your healthcare practitioner prior to use!
A great thing about adaptogens is that they can be used individually or in combination formulas. Picking one adaptogen or multiple adaptogens depends on your stage of adrenal dysfunction. Adaptogens work best when taken for a minimum of 3 months and as always speak to your Naturopathic Doctor or healthcare professional to see which one/s would be best for you!
The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.