“When the famous physiologist Hans Selye was conducting his original research on the stress response in the 1930s, he observed that prolonged and sustained stress eventually attacked the adrenal glands themselves.
The end stage of maladaption to stress was the exhaustion phase, during which levels of cortisol production declined to below those needed to sustain health because of the atrophy of the adrenals.
In the popular literature we often hear the term adrenal exhaustion used, but this is misleading since genuine adrenal exhaustion is life-threatening. Only in severe cases does chronic stress eventually lead to a dangerously pronounced underproduction of cortisol. A better term to use is adrenal depletion, meaning the adrenal glands temporarily underfunction because of the high demands placed on them.
However, all of this does highlight that stressed individuals will benefit if their adrenal glands are supported, irrespective of whether cortisol is high or low, but especially for adrenal depletion. The herbs that can do this are known as the adrenal restorative or adrenal tonic herbs.”
When the body is stressed, it produces elevated levels of cortisol. Herbs can help counter-act the effects of elevated cortisol levels. Two of the most important herbs used to restore adrenal function are licorice and rehmannia. While they are important for regulating cortisol levels associated with stress, it’s important to note that they also have more systemic effects that can result in secondary effects on cortisol levels and other factors related to stress (such as kidney tonics), but for this article the cortisol levels are the focus.
Licorice is remarkable because it mimics some hormones produced by the adrenal glands. This makes it very effective in treating a wide variety of ailments, including increased cortisol levels. While it is a very useful herb, it can also cause harm if consumed in large quantities or by people with compromised health. For this reason, it is advised to consult an herbal professional before taking licorice.
Rehmannia is also an herb used to help combat stress-induced illness. It is considered an adrenal tonic which makes it appropriate for treating stress. It has been shown in various studies to also support the function of the pituitary gland during times of increased and prolonged stress.
Please contact us to discuss these herbs, as well as others, that can help with both the physiological and emotional consequences of stress. We will analyze your symptoms and make a custom herbal formula that targets the root of your stress as well as the health issues that arise from that root cause.