How Adaptogens Can Help Your Adrenal Glands


The term “adrenal fatigue” has gained significant popularity, and for good reason. Humans can not live without adrenal glands, and when they are overstimulated or depleted our bodies are negatively impacted.

But what are adrenal glands? The adrenals are little blob-looking glands that sit atop the kidneys (don’t all organs look a bit blob-like?). Undeterred by their small stature, adrenal glands are giants in producing hormones that regulate most of our bodily systems, including our stress response.

  • Stress response on the kidneys
  • Stress response on the body


When we are acutely and chronically stressed, adrenal glands produce and release stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. When this happens, we need some kind of support to get these glands back to a state of normalcy. Adaptogens are often great at giving adrenal glands the support they need.

“Adaptogens help the adrenal glands respond more effectively and efficiently to the excess in hormones,” says David Winston, registered clinical herbalist and expert in adaptogens. “When stress stops, adaptogens help the adrenal glands shut down more quickly. Adaptogens also support adrenal function by allowing cells access to more energy and preventing oxidative damage.”

Stress response on the organs


Both plant and mushroom adaptogens are used for adrenal support. Commonly found for this purpose are ashwagandha, ginsengs, codonopsis, cordyceps, eleuthero, holy basil, licorice, reishi, rhodiola and schisandra.

  • Stress response on the kidneys
  • Stress response on the body

According to naturopathic doctor Katrina Bogdon, ND of Our Healing Roots, “Adaptogens often have immune-modulating properties. If someone presents with fatigue, poor sleep and frequent infections in need of adrenal support, reishi is a favorite of mine. It mixes well with other bitter flavors such as dark chocolate and coffee, and pairs well with hot drinks through the cold months.”

Katrina Bogdon’s Thoughts on Adaptogen Support
“Aside from single herbs, I will also use combination adrenal support products in my practice. Many of these combinations tend to be adapted for different times of day and different symptom pictures. It’s important to pick a formula that is well matched to the situation. Some formulas tend to be more stimulating and work best in the morning and for people with low cortisol symptoms. Other formulas tend to be more relaxing and work better at night for people with high cortisol symptoms.”

If you are interested in herbal formulas for adrenal support, be sure to consult a clinical herbalist for assessment and information so you can use the right herbs for you or your product.