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Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands cannot adequately meet the demands of stress on the body.  It can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections (especially respiratory infections).  One may feel fatigue that is not relieved by sleep (Are you experiencing stress related adrenal fatigue?, 2011).

The adrenal glands help us handle stress through hormones that regulate immune function, heart rate, muscle tone and energy production.  When adrenal glands are working properly, they respond to stress and help the body to remain in balance (homeostasis).  When adrenal levels are down, your body responds by experiencing adrenal fatigue (Are you experiencing stress related adrenal fatigue?, 2011).

Adrenal fatigue can exhibit the following symptoms: constant tiredness, need for extra sleep, inability to cope with stress, low back pain in the area of the kidneys, recurrent infections, moodiness, reduced libido and craving for salty or sweet foods (Greer, 2012).

Herbal Options

There are many herbs that can be used to support and regulate the adrenals.  These herbs are Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra and G. uralensis), Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng), Eleuthero Root (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) and Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus).  Many of these herbs can be combined depending on your specific concerns and goals for resolution.  Singly, the benefits are:

Licorice Root – reduces coughing, improves female hormone balance, decreases inflammation and better blood glucosecortisol.  Licorice root in high doses can increase blood pressure.

Ginkgo – enhances blood flow, antioxidant properties and cognition

Ashwagandha – restoration of the inner core for strength, libido and endurance

Korean Ginseng – for physical and mental exhaustion, lowered immunity, support of adrenal and thyroid function, reduces depression and insomnia

Eleuthero Root – mental clarity, immune function and physical stress

Rhodiola – stress and fatigue management, enhances metal performance, reduces anxiety, increases stamina and reduce symptoms of depression

Astragalus – blends well with Eleuthero root and Echinacea in dealing with respiratory infections

You can have a saliva test performed to help determine cortisol and thyroid levels.  The test is comprehensive and cost effective.

Remember, it takes a lot of stress for your body to reach the level of adrenal fatigue.  There is no silver bullet to resolve the problem overnight.  It may take 30 to 60 days of taking a combination of herbal supplements before you may see noticeable relief (Greer, 2012).

Here are some links to learn more about adrenal fatigue:

Are you experiencing stress related adrenal fatigue? (2011). Retrieved August 06, 2012, from Adrenal Fatigue: http://www.adrenalfatigue.org

Greer, M. (2012, August). Herbal Options for Managing Adrenal Fatigue. Retrieved August 03, 2012, from Integrative Practitioner: http://www.integrativepractitioner.com/article.aspx?id=19333