Using Ashwagandha for adrenal fatigue is nothing new. Ashwagandha, otherwise known as Indian Ginseng, is a plant known for strengthening the immune system, stimulating the thyroid gland, preventing loss of cortisol, and improving cognitive function, among a number of other characteristics. Additional benefits of Ashwagandha include supporting healing and maintaining a body’s exquisite balance. When you are stressed, a natural remedy like a plant-based supplement can help ease symptoms and return the body to its optimal function.
What exactly is Adrenal Fatigue?
The adrenal glands are two small glands located directly above your kidneys, responsible for producing the three hormones released when your body experiences stress: cortisol, aldosterone, and adrenaline. If you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, it is your body telling you that it is not producing these hormones properly. There is much debate about what causes this to happen, though the thinking is that it is caused by chronic stress, as your adrenal glands cannot keep up with the demands of your body’s fight-or-flight response. There is also evidence that Addison’s disease, which is a rare form of adrenal dysfunction, is caused by damage to the glands and preventing them from producing cortisol and aldosterone.
Does Ashwagandha Help Adrenal Fatigue
Yes, Ashwagandha does help with adrenal fatigue as it helps the body cope with stress by improving adrenal function. It is widely used to help balance stress hormones and improve energy levels in those experiencing adrenal fatigue. Ashwagandha is believed to work by soothing the brain, decreasing inflammation, decreasing blood pressure, and strengthening the immune system. It is popularly touted as helping people suffering from adrenal fatigue, a condition wherein the body’s neuroendocrine stress response is compromised by overwhelming pressure, leading to compensatory systemic slowdowns in order to conserve energy. Fatigue and lethargy are classic symptoms, and, in extreme cases, can render the person incapacitated.
The scientific evidence on Ashwagandha is that the herb is a powerful rejuvenating agent. It has several pharmacological actions, including neuroprotective, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only is it helpful for treating the physical ailments that are prevalent at the clinical levels of stress, but also, Ashwagandha is helpful in treating mood disorders and memory loss. As a popular Ayurvedic herb in India, Ashwagandha is given to both the young and old for treating scores of ailments, and is even used by some as an aphrodisiac.
While it is used by health practitioners to treat various conditions, scientists are studying the herb to demonstrate its effectiveness. It has been used extensively as a supplement by people suffering from adrenal fatigue. While it has positive aspects, we unfortunately saw some negative results when not used correctly, so adrenal fatigue patients need to know this herb, including how to use and to use it carefully.
However, the thing that may be more well-known about Ashwagandha is it is adaptogenic properties, helping your body cope with stress. The word adaptogenic indicates the herb has qualities that increase functioning when needed, and soothe functioning when called upon. This ability to adapt to a body’s internal environment has led to widespread, indiscriminate use of this herb by those with fatigue and seeking vitality.
Some use it for cognitive health, saying that it helps them think better. Others use it to relieve pain and swelling. Some also say that this herb has anti-aging properties.
How to Take Ashwagandha for Adrenal Fatigue
Studies show that taking daily doses of Ashwagandha in 225-600 mg servings over a period of 1-2 months have been shown to significantly lower cortisol levels, thus helping improve symptoms of adrenal fatigue. You can learn more about these findings from these studies here, and here.
Can Ashwagandha Heal Adrenal Glands?
Ashwagandha can help restore balance to hormone levels and healthy functioning of the adrenal glands, which can improve your stress response and help you maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day.
Ashwagandha and the Neuroendometabolic Stress Response
Ashwagandha is recognized as a plant-based adaptogen to enhance adrenal function. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis drives adrenal glands to secrete more stress-reducing hormones, and is part of the neuroendocrine metabolic (NEM) stress response.
The NEM stress response is composed of six component responses which function to modulate and control stress in the body. When a body is under chronic stress, these six responses can become imbalanced and lead to specific symptoms including anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, poor thyroid function, cravings for salt, decreased sexual desire, and more. Ashwagandha is supposed to help balance these reactive systems, helping regulate mood, balance hormones, and strengthen the immune system.
Boosting the Immune System
Ashwagandha apparently has immune modulating and immunostimulating powers as well. One study on mice found a substantial modulation of immune system function.
In this study, researchers used one of three compounds to induce myelosuppression: cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, or prednisone. They measured activity using hematologic and serologic tests, and found that Ashwagandha prevented myelosuppression. The herb increased hemoglobin concentration, red blood cell counts, white blood cell counts, and platelet counts, and mice gained weight. The mice studies also showed immunomodulatory and immunostimulatory properties, which could be useful for humans to manage NEMs stress responses.
People with late-stage adrenal fatigue syndrome typically experience moderate to severe issues with inflammation and an impaired immune system. The low-energy state of the body frequently causes it to slow certain systems of the body. The immune system can be an unwitting target, possibly leading to more frequent bacterial or viral infections, which tend to last even longer than usual. As shown in the clinical trial in mice, Ashwagandha can help to support the immune system.
Ashwagandha Can Help Prevent Cortisol Loss in Adrenal Glands
One study looked at Ashwagandha as a substance that can stop cortisol from being lost from adrenals. In this study, mice who spent five hours swimming in water experienced significant cortisol loss from exercise stress. They also lost the amount of ascorbic acid. When the researchers administered Ashwagandha, the loss of cortisol and ascorbic acid was prevented.
People suffering from adrenal fatigue experience different levels of cortisol, depending on time of day and other factors. Taking Ashwagandha appears to prevent or decrease cortisol loss, helping an individual to feel more energetic. Of clinical significance, however, Ashwagandha’s ability to sustain cortisol is usually seen only during the initial stages of adrenal fatigue. In this phase, adrenals are able to respond to the herb and produce necessary hormones for maintaining body balance. In the most advanced stages, people often find Ashwagandha stimulating the system too much, leaving them feeling tense.
The adapotgenic properties are biased towards being stimulating, for reasons not yet known. Therefore, one should use Ashwagandha sparingly, and only in conjunction with a knowledgeable practitioner. In fact, inappropriate use of this herb may cause an adrenal crash and delay the adrenal recovery.