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Adaptogens: The Swiss Army Knives For Adrenal Fatigue


Adaptogens: The Swiss Army Knives For Adrenal Fatigue

by Jen Springer

Adaptogens, sounds like a virus or some other cootie doesn’t it?

Far from it, they are your best friends if you have any of the enigmatic health conditions that doctors are scratching their heads over.

The adrenals are those little walnut sized buggers that sit on top of your kidneys.  I refer to them as “the spark plugs of life” because they give us our zip and keep us running.  Even though they are little, they have a big responsibilities.

When in full gear, they give us the juice to push beyond exhaustion or keep us in high alert when in danger. It is my personal opinion that because we run around like chickens with our heads cut off and don’t take the time to rest and recover, everyone should support their adrenal glands.

You’re probably thinking, “does that include me?”.

Let me give you some signs of adrenal fatigue and you decide:

  • Dragging your buns out of bed but you’re wired at night
  • PMS and other hormonal whackiness
  • You’d rather clean your toilet than have sex
  • Can’t poop or poop is spastic
  • Any autoimmune craziness
  • You hurt all the time without injury
  • Feelings of anxiety, panic, depression
  • Blood sugar cannot stabilize
  • The bags under your eyes look as if you haven’t slept for months
  • Your fingernails split vertically


I write about adrenals quite frequently because I feel they are at the core of all dis-harmony in the body. I feel supporting these little glands are imperative in any health recovery program and will speed up progress by light years.  But, one must be careful on which herbs they choose.  There’s been many a day where I’ve been wired up all night, felt anxious, or had crazy blood sugar swings because I chose the wrong herb!

My encouragement is to first get an adrenal function test prior to taking any herbs so you don’t take the wrong herbs and make matters worse. (Ask me how I know!!!)  If you have a cool integrative doc, ask him/her for a 12-hour cortisol test with DHEA.

If your doc thinks you’ve been smoking crack and has no idea what you’re talking about, you might find an indy lab who will do it like ZRT through Canary Club.

Reason? Certain herbs should be used for high cortisol and others for low.

There are some that will do double duty also but honestly, it’s best to know what you’re targeting.  There are a zillion adaptogens and they loved by Chinese and Ayruvedic Practitioners.  Adaptogen means they support immunity, stress, and can do the ‘ol presto chango to do what your body needs. That’s why I love them, they are broad spectrum and are multi-functional.

I know learning about herbs can be confusing and overwhelming, so I’m giving you a few to start playing with.



Here are my top 5 of all time:

Ashwadandha: Just saying that name ASH-WA-GAN-DA is fun!!!  Say it 6 times super fast and you’ll smile for sure.  This herb is best for HIGH cortisol situations.  If a person knows when they are spiking (from the tests), do it then.  I know I spike at night and that’s why I wake  about 3 am. So, I’ll do some of this in the late evening to help even me out.  This one is also helpful for lack of bedroom ‘mojo”.

Eleuthero: Also known as Siberian Ginseng.  If you have LOW cortisol, this herb might be your consideration.  If you have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), DO NOT USE this herb.   Like a ding-dong I was taking mitfuls to help my adrenals, but I didn’t know that if you are a hypoglycemic this herb should be avoided.  This herb rocks for everyone else and is especially great for people who are so burned out they aren’t making cortisol anymore.

Licorice Root: This is a tonic herb for the adrenals that is great to pair with eleuthero.  It tastes yummy and can even be used as a tea. People with adrenal fatigue often have low blood pressure. This herb will help raise it up so upon quick standing the room won’t spin anymore! People with high blood pressure should not use this herb.  When under heavy stress, I enjoy this as a tea in the morning.

Rehmannia: I love this herb! I love this herb! I love this herb!  This little adrenal tonic is pretty much a-ok for high or low situations and FANTABULOUS for blood sugar folks like me.  A little harder to find, but a great choice for overall adrenal support.

Lycium Barbarum: Just like rehmannia, this baby can be used for everyone.  It’s not really an herb though, it’s a fruit that the Chinese have been using for eons to support kidney and liver chi.   I have never had a negative response to this botanical and I know it has been instrumental in repairing my insulin resistance issues and unclogging my sluggish liver.  I’ve also known men who’ve had trouble saluting  (you know what I mean, wink wink) start running around the house after their wives about a week after loading this little gem. I prefer the liquid form over the whole dried berry because if the adrenals are in trouble, so is digestion. The liquid is assimilated much faster, that means feeling better in short order.

Become friends with the adaptogens, learn about them, and use them.

Get tested before using targeting herbs like ashwaganda or eleuthero so you’re knowing which tool to use for the job. You wouldn’t use a screwdriver to do a hammers job would ya? I’ve tried, doesn’t work!  Tonics like licorice and rehmannia and if you’re not in severe adrenal fatigue, you might be able to get by with just these.

The lycium barbarum can be used by anybody in any situation. I have a friend who makes a concentrated and great tasting formula (unlike ashwaganda or rehmannia!) for this, contact me and I’ll show you the way you’ll look forward to taking your adaptogens every day.






Jen Springer is a Holistic Nutrition Expert who currently serves 10,000 clients.  Her approach to health is refreshing and out of the box, yet makes so much sense.  She has a track record of  helping people have the “A-HA” moment they need in order to start rebuilding vibrant health which is their birth right. With her guidance, people quickly get results even though  they’ve spent years of chasing for answers. Jen has been a health educator and practitioner for the last 10 years.


7 Responses to “Adaptogens: The Swiss Army Knives For Adrenal Fatigue”

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi there,
    So I have been working with Dr. Lam, are you familiar with him?
    They took me off all my adaptogen herbs and licorice, saying that in stage 3 fatigue they act as stimulatories.
    I have what would seem to be all the symptoms of stage 3 but my cortisol is actually high, which I know indicates earlier fatigue…anyway, whatever, just wondered what you know about adaptogens behaving too much as a stimulatory if your body is too exhausted to read it right..

  2. admin says:

    I am familiar w/ Dr. Lam – he is great! From what I know, some herbs elevate and some lower cortisol. So you have to know where you’re at and time the herbs accordingly. Remember, adrenals are in fight or flight for a reason. What’s the stressor creating the 5 alarm fire? Put out the fire. Some of us its blood sugar swings, infections, emotional stress, allergens, digestive disarray, nutritional deficiencies, etc.
    Be well,

  3. Amy says:

    I really enjoyed your article. I have been taking a product with three adapotgenic herbs in it and I have never felt better. The herbs are: the immortality herb, white Korean Ginseng, and Chinese Skullcap. It is an amazing combination for lowering blood sugar, reducing inflammation, mental clarity and wellbeing, regulating body weight, and that’s just the beginning. Adaptogens are amazing. The only thing that I’ve noticed is that they’ve put me on such a normal schedule, that my body craves normalcy – I work third shift, and I don’t want to be on this shift anymore. I don’t want to sleep during the day and be up at night. It doesn’t feel right for my body. That is a tremendous downside – Other than that, I’ve never been more mentally clear. The chinese have use the immortality herb for centuries for health and vitality.

  4. Jamie says:

    Hi Jen,
    I recently read your bit on rehmannia and had a question for you. I’ve been bedbound with adrenal depletion, sluggish and enlarged liver, digestive issues, and now blood sugar issues as well, for 3 years. My new naturopath muscle tested me for rehmannia and I am supposed to start it soon, very slowly. I saw that you had a sluggish liver too. Did you have any trouble with the rehmannia at first? I have not had success with any herbs because my adrenals are so depleted and my liver is unable to process much at this time. Most herbs have had a negative effect causing rapid heart rate, pounding heart, nausea/vomiting, etc. Almost like a severe die off reaction. Rehmannia sounds like the perfect herb for all of my ailments, but I’m nervous about taking it due to my past experiences with herbs .I was just curious as to how this worked with your sluggish liver and how many drops you took at a time .

    Thanks for your time in advance and also for the article excerpt on rehmannia. It was one of the only reviews I could find.
    Thank you,

  5. Peter Gourley says:

    Loved your article. I’ve been taking seriphos twice a day and Paradise Herbs, Imperial Adaptogen, twice a day. I feel pretty decent. My cortisol levels were crazy high at night when I got them tested. I’ve got a pretty stressful job going psychiatry about 12-14 hours a day/five days a week. Insomnia is no stranger to me. I take clonazepam 1mg + ambien 10mg to go to sleep at night.

    Any opinion on the products that I take? Any suggestions for lowering the cirus il more at night?

    I happy to pay you for your consultation.


  6. Peter Gourley says:

    Sorry Jen, I mixed your name up in my previous post.


  7. Amanda says:

    This is a fantastic article. I have worked with herbs for myself and others for years. This information about which adaptogens to use and when helps to clarify for those that will read articles and start taking the wrong one! Thank you, Amanda

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