The Adrenals (adrenal glands) are having a moment right now. Or at least in my health and nutrition focused world they are. Has the Adrenal Cocktail moved to the mainstream yet? Well keep reading, because if not I’m hoping it’s about to! Today we’re talking all about the adrenals and it’s a good one so grab a tea and your notepad!
To give you more of a foundation of knowledge before moving ahead, let’s first just chat about what our adrenals actually are and how they work in the body.
Everyone has two adrenal glands and they live on top of your kidneys. Their primary job is to make hormones like cortisol (stress hormone), aldosterone (helps regulate blood pressure and electrolytes), epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) (both control your fight or flight response), and DHEA and Androgenic Steroids (precursor hormones to estrogen and androgens in addition to those created by your sex organs).
If your adrenals are under producing hormones you can ultimately end up with Addison’s Disease which is severe adrenal insufficiency and can be pin pointed by bloodwork.
How do you know you have adrenal fatigue?
It’s hard to say, and it’s actually pretty difficult to get a diagnosis. The symptom s of Adrenal Fatigue look a lot like symptoms of some other ailments such as hormone dysregulation or auto immune disorders. So it’s up to you to do your research, get in touch with the right health care practitioners and begin to work towards getting out of depletion.
Common Signs of Adrenal Fatigue:
Day time fatigue or afternoon crash
Brain Fog or Trouble Focusing
Craving Sugar or Salt
Irritability or Anxiety
Feeling “tired but wired”
What causes Adrenal Fatigue?
The short answer – STRESS!
Stress, you’ll come to find if you hang out with me for very long, is one of the root causes of A LOT of our health issues.
Stress in modern times isn’t what it used to be throughout time. For the majority of human history, stress was in the form of fighting off predators (a bear or saber tooth tiger, for example), perhaps weather like flooding, droughts, blizzards, or fires causing loss of shelter and food security, or maybe loss of loved ones and hunger. But these weren’t all day/everyday occurrences for our ancestors.
In modern times almost anything can be classified as stress or “stressful”.
There is good stress, Eustress (exercise, for example), and bad stress. Unfortunately bad stresses far exceed good stressors in today’s world.
Examples of bad stress in modern times can be:
A text popping up
Things that come up with your family or kids
High glycemic diet
Coffee, or other stimulants, especially along with dysregulated blood sugar.
Chemical burden from household cleaning products, personal care products, and workplace exposures
and so on… You get the picture!
So when we’re stressed (which is OFTEN) our adrenal glands release the stress hormone, Cortisol.
In this state of chronic, long-term stress, your body’s attempt at maintaining homeostasis is keeping cortisol output up. Which takes precedence over all other hormonal (and bodily) functions. That’s when you usually will experience one or some of the symptoms listed above.
How do we correct adrenal fatigue?
So now you know what it is and you know what causes it. How do we correct adrenal fatigue?
Correcting adrenal fatigue does not happen overnight. This can be a long, extensive process and I recommend you give yourself grace and find a professional to help you, whether it’s a Holistic Nutrition practitioner like myself or a functional medicine doc. Get support!
First you need to find healthy ways to manage, (reduce where possible) and cope with emotional stressors. Some ideas include:
- Find a therapist and/or talk support group
- EMDR therapy (with a therapist)
- EFT Tapping – gently tap acupressure points (look for The Tapping Solution on youtube)
- Breathing Exercises (box breathing, belly breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and others.)
- Stretching or Yoga
- Listen to Solfeggio Frequencies (music at specific Hz frequencies to promote wellness, search on youtube.)
- Brain Rewiring (& visualization)
- Reduce consumption of negative or stressful media (news, crime drams, true crime shows, etc.)
- Set boundaries and don’t be afraid to add “No” to your vocabulary
Here are some tips that may help replenish your adrenals:
- Eat Breakfast within 1 hour of waking
- Get balanced macros at every meal (All 3 on every plate: Protein & Fat & Carbs)
- Expose your eyes and skin to unfiltered morning sunlight, before 9am
- Avoid intense and high impact exercise
- Decrease screen time & blue lights (particularly 2 hours before bed, wear blue light blockers)
- Avoid Caffeine (especially on an empty stomach). Consider switching to decaf or another beverage choice like Matcha.
- Remove refined sugar (& processed foods where possible)
- Earthing – Walk or Sit directly on the earth for 10 minutes per day (concrete counts!)
You made it this far- Let’s get down to the best part: the food and herbs that support the adrenals!
- Organ Meats & High Quality Protein (Beef Liver, Adrenal Glands, Grass finished Beef, dark meat organic chicken, wild caught salmon, oysters. (You can find Dessicated liver in a capsule from Perfect Supplements HERE. Use Code LINDS10 to save.)
- Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt to replenish sodium
- Potassium & Magnesium rich foods like avocado, coconut water, and bananas.
- Try an Adrenal Cocktail – RECIPE BELOW!)
- Probiotic rich foods – gut flora can be negatively impacted by stress. Keeping a healthy and diverse microbiome may improve gut health and adrenal fatigue symptoms, from a foundational perspective.
- Licorice Root tincture, glycerite or infusion. Licorice root is an adaptogen that can enhance the body’s stress resistance. It contains glycyrrhizic acid which helps prevent the body from breaking down cortisol stores too quickly.
- Herbal Infusions with nourishing herbs like oat tops, nettles, and linden to replenish your body with water soluble vitamins, trace minerals, and phytonutrients.
- Nervines such as oatstraw, chamomile, skullcap, catnip, passion flower to calm the nervous system. Great for acute, in the moment usage as teas or tincture.
- Daily adaptogens support your body’s ability to deal with stress: Reishi, eleuthero, rhodiola, tulsi, to name a few.
Note: Not all adaptogens are suitable for everyone. If you’re one of my clients I can help you determine which adaptogen may be suitable for your needs or please work with an experienced clinical herbalist. Adaptogens need to be taken as tonics for extended periods of time (at least 3 weeks, sometimes longer) to experience the benefits. My Friend Amanda with Tree Mama Herbals has an excellent course on Adaptogens if you want to learn more about this specific class of herbs. You can get it HERE! No monetary affiliation, she’s just amazing!
- Try CBD or CBN to help Reduce Stress. I LOVE Nuvita Organic CBD and you can get a discount using the code LINDS10 – Shop Nuvita HERE. CBD also works best when taken daily.
Have you heard of an adrenal cocktail?
Adrenal Cocktails have 3 main ingredients. Vitamin C, Potassium, and Sodium. These three key ingredients play a key role in adrenal health. The Adrenal cocktail is best taken mid morning or early afternoon to support the adrenal function and circadian rhythm by replenishing minerals.
Vitamin C – Cofactor for hormone production, helps with iron recycling and helps the body produce antioxidants which combats stress on the body. 90% of vitamin C is stored in the adrenals.
Potassium and Sodium are our key electrolytes (along with magnesium)! You should see those three in various ratios in most electrolyte supplements. Keeping the proper potassium to sodium balance is super important for adrenal health.
Potassium is helpful for maintaining the proper calcium ratio in the cells so they can stay hydrated and the hormones can move in and out of cells easily.
Sodium is dumped and used up daily through all the bodily functions, and when in chronic stress you’re using even more sodium. Sodium levels also impact your magnesium absorption. Whole food salt is super important for our overall health! (avoid iodized table salt that also often has anti-caking agents & get iodine from occasional seaweed consumption or a yummy kelp seasoning instead.)
Some people will add some sort of fat in the form of heavy cream or coconut milk, and collagen for added benefits. Fat may help reduce a blood sugar spike from the OJ. T
Winter is the PERFECT time to adrenal cocktails since its citrus season! Generally I will use bottled orange juice but I got a great deal on Blood Oranges recently so I squeezed some fresh juice for this recipe!
Blood Orange Sparkling Adrenal Cocktail
To a glass of ice add:
4 oz. Blood Orange Juice (if fresh squeezed, juice from 2 blood oranges)
1/4 tsp Cream of Tar Tar
1/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
Top with sparkling mineral water, such as Perrier.
Enjoy the fizz & adrenal replenishment!
- Your adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol, along with other important hormones.
- Chronic stress leads to chronic output of cortisol, which eventually leads to hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency.
- Managing stress through lifestyle and diet are the first keys to replenishing the adrenals.
- Adding nourishing, supportive foods, minerals, and herbs may help with overall adrenal recovery.
- Work with a practitioner experienced in adrenal health if you suspect you have adrenal fatigue.
I know that was a lot of information, but this is a BIG topic and a lot of people need support around this!
Recent Blog Posts you May have Missed:
Aviva Romm, MD, (2017) The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution, Harper Collins
Endocrine Society. “Adrenal Fatigue | Endocrine Society.” Endocrine.org, Endocrine Society, 23 April 2022, https://www.endocrine.org/patient-engagement/endocrine-library/adrenal-fatigue
Sharon Tilgner, N.D. (2009) Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth, Wise Acres LLC
John Hopkins Medicine https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/adrenal-glands