A Valuable, Simplified Guide to Adrenal Fatigue, Herbs and Health
Herbs and health have had an integral relationship for millennia. Herbalism has been used for over 60,000 years. The ancient Sumerians and Egyptians recorded herbal health remedies and plant medicine in detail on medical papyri and other material. And even now, large segments of the global population use herbs for health more than other type of remedy.
Plants also form the base of many allopathic pharmaceuticals and homeopathic remedies. It is estimated that at least a quarter of the modern pharmacopeia is derived from plants, with most of the activity of these derived compounds correlating to the traditional therapeutic uses of the same plants.
Different herbs have different properties, and understanding some of the basics can give you an effective and safe tool kit for remedying common health issues you may come across. It is also helpful to use herbs for healing within a wider health plan for more serious issues and chronic ailments, including adrenal fatigue and for remedying issues that occur within the body’s stress response system.
Herbal Health Remedies for First Aid and Other Common Uses
Bruises and Sprains
For bruises and sprains, use essential oils added to a base-oil and apply the mixture to the affected area. Essential oils contain compounds that easily penetrate the tissues, and oils like olive and coconut provide a stable and inexpensive base. You can use pure olive oil or mix two parts of it with one part coconut oil, and add the contents of a vitamin E capsule as a preservative.
For every 10 ml of the base-oil mixture, you can add 10 drops of essential oils. Here are some of the best for these particular issues:
- Black spruce
- Roman chamomile
- Blue Gum
You can experiment with different combinations of herbs and health benefits to find what you’re most comfortable with. There are a few oils, such as lavender and peppermint, that are helpful for many other conditions. It could be that a collection of four or five essential oils is all you need to have on hand. Every individual is different however, and some trial and error may be needed to find the essential oils that work best for you and your family.
In homeopathy, Arnica is known to be the main remedy for bruises, ingested or applied topically as Arnica cream.
Wounds and Burns
Homeopathic herbs and health remedies made from certain plants can be very helpful in remedying different types of wounds:
- Ledum is great for puncture wounds.
- Rhus Tox helps with poison ivy and injuries that feel better with movement.
- Calendula is excellent for open wounds, taken internally as a remedy or applied topically as a cream.
Taking these herbs and health remedies in lower potencies a few times throughout the day is the usual recommendation. Oil-based ointments and creams can also be used, though unlike with bruises and sprains, for wounds and burns the best remedies are made with whole medicinal herbs rather than essential oils.
Wounds should be clean and dry before the ointment is applied. Ointments containing the following herbs are best:
- Pot marigold
- Purple coneflower
- St. Johnswort
- German chamomile
- Common comfrey
With burns, sunburns included, do not use oil-based applications. You can, however, use pure lavender essential oil applied directly and immediately to the burn area.
Another outstanding herbs and health remedy for burns is Aloe Vera. Though you can buy the gel already prepared, it’s much more effective if used fresh from the plant. If you can grow your own aloe vera at home, you can learn how to cut the stalk and extract the gel relatively quickly so you can apply it to the burn as soon as possible.
Headache and Digestive Issues
Inhaling a homemade vapor made with a few drops of lavender, basil or peppermint essential oils added to boiling water can help relieve headaches and migraines. You can also use the herbal health remedies topically by applying them to your forehead or temples.
Ginger has long been used for nausea, including morning sickness in pregnant women and the nausea caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients. Turmeric helps with digestion and liver function, and with its anti-inflammatory properties can prevent the recurrence of ulcerative colitis. Aloe vera is helpful for digestive issues as well.
Herbs that support liver function improve digestion and all-round health and vitality. Dandelion root, great for liver function, can be boiled to make tea. Milk thistle supplements or tinctures can help improve almost any liver condition. Artichoke is good for protecting the liver against toxins and infections.
Adrenal Fatigue, Herbs and Health
The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system is a collection of organs and systems that, when exposed to prolonged stress, can cause symptoms including allergies, brain fog, hypoglycemia, anxiety, depression, heart problems, respiratory issues, inflammatory bowel disease and more.
The adrenal glands are an important part of the NEM system, and when overused due to stress, adrenal fatigue and adrenal exhaustion can occur.
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) can become a debilitating condition that makes functioning day-to-day a struggle. Those with AFS can suffer from insomnia, tiredness, weight gain, lack of libido, fertility issues, frequent colds and flus, decreased memory function, and lack of focus, among others.
If you suffer from these symptoms due to AFS or NEM dysregulation, seek the right medical guidance to help you return to a healthy state of body and mind.
Part of your health plan may include medicinal herbs that can alleviate some of the symptoms associated with these conditions. Along with the herbs already mentioned for digestion and liver function, below are some of the most useful.
Herbal Health Remedies for Tiredness
Tiredness, exhaustion and lack of energy are the main symptoms of adrenal fatigue. If you get tired easily or feel you need a boost in energy, there are some herbs and herbal combinations that can help.
Siberian ginseng aids the body in handling stress and supports healthy adrenal functioning. It improves stamina and reduces tiredness.
Licorice root contributes to the rebuilding of the adrenals and improves cortisol output. Furthermore, it helps curb the craving for sweets and caffeine, which can lead to an energy crash after the initial spike. These are cravings those with AFS experience frequently.
Ginkgo biloba protects the adrenal glands, brain, and liver from free radicals. When suffering from fatigue, the adrenals undergo oxidative stress and this herb can help minimize its effects.
These herbs may be beneficial in early stages of AFS to kick start the system and stimulate the adrenal glands to produce more hormones. In advanced stages however, the adrenal glands may not be able to handle the stimulation. This can lead to adverse effects and even a crash, where the adrenals become too exhausted to function, and the body enters a survival mode state, conserving as much energy as possible.
An alternative or addition to herbs is essential oils, combined with a base-oil such as jojoba, and used as an energizing concoction to sniff or apply to your skin. Some recommended by herbalists are orange oil, coriander oil and jasmine oil.
And though warm lavender baths tend to be used more for relaxation, they can be adapted to boost energy by using sea salt, baking soda and other essential oils such as peppermint and rosemary. If you suffer from chemical sensitivities, as many do in advanced AFS, use essential oils with caution as adverse effects can occur. Watch out for more fatigue, rashes, brain fog, and aches and pains.
Herbal Health Remedies for Insomnia
Chamomile is one of the most popular herbal health remedies for relaxation and sleep. Taken as a tea or a tincture, it helps soothe the mind and body in preparation for bed. Try three cups of tea a day or 30 drops of tincture three times a day. Chamomile essential oil drops can also be added to a warm nighttime bath.
Valerian is another very well known herb that helps relieve insomnia and anxiety. Capsules are easier to ingest than the tincture, as the tincture can be quite pungent. You can take it before bed, and again if you wake up in the middle of the night, which is a common occurrence with AFS.
Another great healing herb for those who wake up frequently at night is Passionflower, which is very safe and can be taken as a tincture up for four times daily.
These are great herbs to help you relax and sleep better. However, if your liver is congested, which is often the case in advanced AFS, supplementation may often have the opposite effects than intended. This is known as a paradoxical reaction. Do proceed with caution if you suspect this and start with very small doses.
Herbal Health Remedies for Stress
Stress, when prolonged or chronic, wreaks havoc on the mind and body. It is the cause of AFS and many other complications of a dysregulated NEM Stress Response. Along with proper steps to rebalance your system, you can use herbs to help reduce stress, restlessness, and anxiety in a safe and effective way.
Hops are great herbs and health remedies for stress and any stress-related symptoms, such as digestive issues. It can be taken as a tea or tincture.
Lavender is a well known relaxing and calming herb, usually used in aromatherapy and essential oil applications. Not to be ingested.
Taking Magnolia bark capsules before bed can lower cortisol levels and help the body and mind relax.
Other excellent herbs to consider are Ashwagandha, Kava Kava, and green and black teas.
It is important, however, that if you suffer from any health conditions, you talk to a medical professional about the right kinds of healing herbs for your body, so as not to contraindicate any medications or produce any unwanted effects.
As some of these herbs directly affect cortisol, it is even more important to make sure they are safe for you to take if you have AFS. Taking these herbs can help in early stages of adrenal fatigue, but can often times have the opposite intended effect as the condition progresses if not used correctly.
Nutritional coaching can be very useful in determining what types of herbs and spices to incorporate into your diet to improve your health.
Along with the herbal remedies for stress, lifestyle coaching can be a great way to find creative solutions to stressful situations and arrange your life in a way that is more relaxing and fulfilling.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.