If the pace of life has left you exhausted, your adrenal glands may need some support. These triangular-shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys handle all of our work, home, financial, relationship, family stresses, and much more. Yet most of us don’t give them a second thought until we’re exhausted, depressed, or experiencing other symptoms of adrenal stress. Click here to learn more about the symptoms of adrenal gland stress.
Here are 14 ways to give your adrenals a boost:
1. Give the fast food a break. Usually loaded with neurotoxins like monosodium glutamate (MSG), fast food can cause your body to be in a constant state of stress after eating it and until the chemicals are detoxified from your system. Depending on the strength of your liver’s detoxification systems that can be anywhere from a few hours to several days.
2. Take a deep breath…and then, take a few more. Research shows that even a few minutes of deep breathing can have an impact on the adrenal glands by reducing the stress hormones they secrete. Instead of jumping out of your seat during a traffic jam or other stressful spot, start breathing deeply.
3. Reduce your stress. Ok, I know this sounds impossible to many people. But the truth is that no one else is going to reduce your stress. While life can be stressful sometimes, it’s important to take some time on a daily basis to release stress. Go for a walk, stop and smell the roses (literally), give a loved one a hug, practice meditation, get some rest, or practice some other form of stress management.
4. Eat plentiful amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Chronic stress depletes nutrients. By eating a diet that is rich in nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables, you’ll give your body the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that help it recover.
5. Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands only to cause an energy crash later on. Try herbal teas instead. Peppermint tea is a natural pick-me-up that doesn’t stimulate the adrenal glands.
6. Try to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep at night. And if possible, don’t wake to a blaring alarm clock since the noise causes a flood of stress hormones to be released.
7. Practice the yoga posture Viparita Karani. For those of you who don’t speak Sanskrit (myself included) that means “legs up the wall.” While keeping your legs up the wall, elevate your pelvis on a bolster or folded blankets. According to yoga expert, Roger Cole: “If the legs tire of being straight, bend the knees and cross the legs, with knees near the wall.” According to Cole, “This pose stimulates baroreceptors (blood pressure sensors) in the neck and upper chest, triggering reflexes that reduce nerve input into the adrenal glands, slow the heart rate, slow the brain waves, relax blood vessels, and reduce the amount of norepinephrine circulating in the bloodstream.” For more yoga poses, check out Cole’s article in Yoga Journal here.
8. Exercise regularly but don’t overdo. Exercise is a valuable release for pent-up stresses. Just know your limits and don’t overexercise, since it can cause stress on the adrenals.
9. Take some vitamin C. The adrenal glands use more vitamin C than any other organ or gland in the body. Vitamin C is essential to manufacture adrenal gland hormones. So, when you’ve been chronically stressed, your adrenals may have depleted your vitamin C stores. A typical dose to assist with adrenal stress is 500 to 2000 mg or higher– higher doses may be necessary in extreme cases. Of course, a qualified health professional should be consulted when using higher doses or before beginning any new supplements.
10. Take some extra vitamin B-5, or pantothenic acid, as its also known. Pantothenic acid is necessary for adrenal gland health. While it is naturally present in the adrenal glands, it can become depleted as hormones are manufactured in response to stress. A common dose for adrenal fatigue is 1500 mg but should always accompany a B-complex vitamin since these nutrients work synergistically.
11. Avoid sugar and refined wheat products. They cause your blood sugar to fluctuate rapidly, which in turn causes your adrenals to overreact.
12. Eat some protein at every meal to stabilize blood sugar and prevent strain on the adrenals. That doesn’t necessarily mean meat. Some good vegetarian sources of protein include: legumes (beans), nuts, seeds, avocado, and quinoa (a delicious whole grain).
13. Supplement with Siberian ginseng. Depending on how serious your adrenal stress may be you may also benefit from herbal support from eleutherococcus senticosus as it is also known. It works primarily on the pituitary gland in the brain to better regulate adrenal gland function. In adrenal fatigue, communication between the pituitary gland and the adrenals may be impaired. A typical dose of Siberian ginseng for the treatment of adrenal fatigue is 100 to 200 mg daily.
14. Take a page from Ayurveda—the Indian form of natural medicine with a several-thousand-year-old history. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine recommend ashwagandha, or withania somnifera as it is also known. Ashwagandha is a tonic for fatigue and exhaustion, memory loss, muscle weakness, and other symptoms of adrenal fatigue. It can normalize adrenal gland hormones. One to two teaspoons of an ashwagandha tincture daily is the commonly recommended dose. Always consult your physician prior to use.
Michelle Schoffro Cook