Our modern culture has a real knack for keeping our schedules full and our minds stimulated. At some period in your life, you might feel the push to do more, be more, and eventually find you’ve plain run out of steam. When we endure perpetual stress, our adrenal glands do their best to regulate the production of stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. But eventually even our adrenal glands get tired and can’t keep up. When you reach the point of adrenal fatigue, the stress you’ve experienced has been so great for so long that your body can no longer recover.
The type of stress that leads to adrenal fatigue is rarely the kind that you can step back, assess, and then simply choose to opt out of. Despite best efforts to eliminate the unnecessary or remove the things that take more energy than they provide, you may still find yourself under the pressure of work deadlines and family responsibilities. Along with getting proper rest and food intake, one of the best and often easiest ways to provide support is through adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens assist in our body’s management of metabolic systems during stressful times. They are basically superheroes. They can help adjust a function, be it too high or too low, while still having other beneficial effects.
Choosing an adaptogen that is right for you should be done with the help of your Ayurvedic practitioner. Your practitioner will consider other imbalances you might be experiencing along with the herb’s gunas, such as if it is hot, cold, light, heavy, dry, oily and so forth. The herbs listed here are all categorized as adaptogens. Read about what makes them top picks for combating adrenal fatigue along with other reasons they are advantageous to keep in your toolkit.
Note: There can be contraindications for taking herbs, especially if you are taking other medications or have existing conditions. Please always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming.
Ashwagandha is classified as a nerve tonic and a rasayana (rejuvenative) for the mamsa dhatu (muscle tissue) and shukra dhatu (reproductive tissue). As an adaptogen, it has the power to calm as much as it does to energize. It has also been used for both its immune boosting abilities. You’ll find this herb in formulas that are meant to build tissues that have been depleted. Ashwagandha is heating and best for vata and kapha doshas.
Along with its abilities to help cope with stress, brahmi/gotu kola is often taken to settle the nervous system, improve concentration, and enhance memory. It’s also used where there is excess pitta in the skin and joints and generally known for improving the health of skin when used either internally or externally. It’s slightly cooling, but is still considered to be pacifying for all three doshas.
The sweet taste of licorice can be one that you either love or hate, but nobody disagrees on how effective licorice is in reviving our nerves, kidneys, and adrenal glands. This demulcent root can soothe a cough as well as calm an upset gut from excess stomach acid. With regards to stress, this one is unique. Its actions are known to mimic cortisol. Licorice is cooling and can be great for all doshas, but it can aggravate kapha if taken in excess.
Shatavari is the feminine answer to ashwagandha. Where ashwagandha is heating, shatavari is cooling. As ashwagandha rejuvenates the male reproductive system, shatavari does the same for female reproductive tissues and hormones. Shatavari can help to build tissues such as muscle, blood, and ojas. It aids in calming and settling nerves, nourishing the brain, and easing a restless mind. In digestive conditions where pitta is high and there is excess heat and oiliness in the body, its unctuous qualities can help to soothe. Shatavari is best for vata and pitta.
Shilajit makes the list for adrenal fatigue not only because it is an adaptogen, but because some say it is a panacea and can increase the power or potency of any other herb you are taking. It’s an exudate from a rock, thus it has high mineral content. This makes it an anti-stress herb, as minerals can be depleted during times of sustained stress, and they are exceptional for supporting the healing of broken bones or low bone density. But with these talents, it’s best at nurturing the urinary tract. Shilajit is heating and, though it can be good for all doshas, pittas should beware of taking in excess.
Tulsi, or holy basil, is revered as a sacred plant imparting high sattva qualities and spiritual clarity to those who consume it. It can provide mental clarity and even clarity in the heart and lungs. In fact, it has a strong affinity for the lungs. Tulsi is used to support a strong immune system. While tulsi may be appealing to all doshas because of its sattvic nature, it is too heating for pitta but can pacify vata and kapha.