Adrenal Fatigue Supplements

How to treat adrenal fatigueAdrenal Glands & Adrenal Fatigue 101

The adrenals are two pea-sized glands that sit on top of each of the kidneys. They are major endocrine glands and produce a wide range of potent hormones that have impact on the whole body:

  • Aldosterone & other mineralcorticoids: Regulate blood pressure and electrolyte balance.
  • Adrenaline & noradrenaline: Ignite the fight-or-flight rapid response to stress throughout the body.
  • Cortisol & other glucocorticoids: Regulate metabolism and immune system function (more on these in a moment!)
  • DHEA and other androgen hormones: Precursors for hormones including testosterone and oestrogens.

Adrenal fatigue is said to occur when the adrenal glands are overworked for a long time and they become less responsive to signals from the body, leading to low and irregular secretion of key hormones.

The two major hormones that are thrown out of balance by adrenal fatigue are cortisol and DHEA

Adrenal fatigue cortisol

CORTISOL – More than “The Stress Hormone”

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” produced by the adrenal glands to:

  1. Deal with the physiological effects of stress
  2. Regulate the metabolism
  3. Respond to circadian rhythms and sleep cycles
  4. Control blood pressure, and heart and blood vessel function
  5. Maintain fluid and electrolyte balance
  6. Slow down the immune system’s inflammatory response

Think of it as the guy who mops up the mess after the fight or flight response. When everything is functioning correctly, the adrenal glands release just enough cortisol to keep levels at a perfect equilibrium. When the adrenals are “fatigued”, they are unable to provide adequate, steady supply of cortisol when it’s needed.

Normally, cortisol levels are highest in the morning and lowest at night. It blocks the release of melatonin, allowing us to wake up feeling refreshed and awake. With adrenal fatigue, cortisol is released haphazardly and irregularly. You may find it hard to get to sleep at night, wake up at 4am and be unable to get back to sleep, or you might snooze through your alarm and feel like you could sleep for another 10 hours.

DHEA and adrenal fatigue

DHEA – Dehydroepiandrosterone

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a precursor for sex hormones and is commonly low in people with adrenal fatigue. Without adequate DHEA, oestrogens and testosterone cannot be produced in adequate amounts leading to sex hormone imbalances and symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue include:

  • A feeling of being “wired but tired”
  • “Brain fog” or poor cognitive clarity
  • Lightheadedness
  • Extreme fatigue lasting for weeks
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Insulin resistance or blood sugar issues
  • Hair loss
  • Sex hormone imbalances
  • Irritability
  • Easy feeling overwhelmed
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Insomnia
  • Craving sweet and salty food
  • Decreased libido

This list of symptoms may be familiar because it is a very common picture. You’d be right in thinking this collection of symptoms may be due to a lot of other serious conditions like a hormone imbalance, clinical depression, anxiety disorders or thyroid disease – or a clinical adrenal disorder.

This is why it’s essential to get checked out by a doctor before diagnosing yourself with adrenal fatigue – there may be something underlying these symptoms and it may not be just your adrenal glands. Supporting your adrenal health is always helpful, but targeting your treatment at the underlying cause of your symptoms is the best way to get better.

Do you have adrenal fatigue

Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue usually occurs after long-term, underlying stress – the kind of stress where you think, “I’m fine!” while trying to manage one million things on your To Do list each day. For other people, adrenal fatigue can develop after a traumatic event or series of events. Other factors involved in its onset appear to be:

  • High or prolonged levels of stress
  • Diet low in fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Over-exercising
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of sleep
  • Pushing yourself beyond physical or emotional exhaustion
  • Heavy use of caffeine and other stimulants

Key Nutrients & Herbal Remedies for Adrenal Health

Whether you’re an adrenal fatigue skeptic or recovering from serious burnout, taking care of your adrenal glands is good for your general health, exercise performance, and recovery time. Anything that supports your energy levels, nervous system and mood will benefit your adrenals (think B vitamins, magnesium, ginko and ginseng) but there are a few key natural therapies that are specifically indicated for adrenal fatigue.

The first step is free, but can be the most challenging to master:

Avoid & Adapt to Adrenal Stressors

Daily stress is somewhat unavoidable but if you’ve run yourself into the ground, now’s the time to pull back and prioritise what really matters. Moderate, gentle exercise is great but don’t overtrain. Switch out HIIT classes for yoga. Eliminating inflammatory and stimulating foods can give you adrenal glands a rest so ditch the caffeine, sugar, meat and any foods that may have an intolerance or allergy to (the most common are dairy, gluten and eggs). Take up meditation, journalling, long walks on the beach – keep your nervous system chilled out and your mind as calm as possible.

Vitamin C

The adrenal glands contain the most vitamin C of all tissues in the body, with concentrations of about 100x higher than what is found in blood plasma. Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of aldosterone, adrenaline and cortisol, so it gets burned up really quickly under stress [1] [2]. Even though scurvy is thought of as an old-timey disease, many people still have low grade vitamin C insufficiencies [7].

Vitamin C is abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly kiwi fruits, red capsicums, broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables. If your diet isn’t cutting it, vitamin C is also one of the safest nutrients to supplement. Up to 2,000mg per day is tolerable for most people. Stick to straight ascorbic acid and look for a supplement that also includes bioflavanoids which will help vitamin C to do its job.

Withania somniflora (Ashawagandha)

Also called winter cherry or Indian ginseng, Ashwagandha is a potent adaptogenic herb that can help to support the adrenal glands, soothe the nervous system, and helps to keep vitamin C levels high in the adrenals [3]. It is traditionally used to boost libido and improve satisfaction from orgasm – bonus! [4]

Glycyrrhiza (Licorice Root)

Licorice root has been used as an adaptogenic herb for hundreds of years – an adaptogen is a herb that helps to rebalance the body after any type of stress. Glycyrrhetinic acid is an active component in licorice root and has been found to modulate the adrenal glands to regulate the release of cortisol and increase the synthesis of DHEA [5].

CAUTION: Prolonged use of licorice root can cause dangerously low levels of potassium [6]. Do NOT use licorice if you have high blood pressure or are on blood pressure medications. Speak to a herbalist or naturopath for personalised advice.

The 5 Best Supplements for Adrenal Health

#5 Go Nutrients Adrenal Edge (2 oz)

Adrenal Support Supplement
This liquid herbal extract is full of adaptogenic herbs to balance and revitalise the body. Ashawagandha, Gingko and Licorice are major stars of this blend. Just ¼ teaspoon 1 – 3 times per day is enough to deliver a concentrated therapeutic dose of adrenal-supporting herbs that have been shown to regulate cortisol and DHEA. This is a great choice if you prefer to take liquid herbs or have difficulty swallowing capsules.

#4 NutraHerb Organic Ashwangandha Root Powder (600mg, 120 capsules)

Nutraherb Adrenal SupportNutraHerb have encapsulated high quality organically grown Withania somniflora root powder along with black pepper to boost its bioavailability in the body. This is a particularly clean product with no GMOs, a vegan-friendly capsule, and gluten-free rice concentrate as a binder for the herbs. Two capsules per day will deliver a therapeutic dose to support adrenal and nervous system health.


#3 Nature’s Sunshine Licorice Root (396mg, 100 capsules)

Licorice Root for Adrenal FatigueNature’s Sunshine licorice root capsules contain 396mg of glycyrrhiza per capsule – two per day is all most people will need to take to reach a therapeutic dose to support the adrenal glands. Renowned for using high quality herbs, Nature’s Sunshine products contain no added lactose, wheat or artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

CAUTION: Do not take licorice root if you have high blood pressure or are taking blood pressure medication. Not recommended during pregnancy or lactation.


#2 RxHealthLabs Sustained Release C-Complex (1,000mg, 90 tablets)

Vitamin C for Adrenal HealthRxHealthLabs have created a vitamin C tablet that is packed with high -dose ascorbic acid and a well-designed blend of bioflavanoids and quercetin – key antioxidants to boost vitamin C’s function. This supplement contains 1,000mg of ascorbic acid per tablet, which may be impossible for the body to absorb all at once. This is where the sustained release formula takes effect, reducing saturating the gut with vitamin C and increasing absorption across the day. Replenish your adrenal reserves quickly! 


#1 Ridgecrest Herbals Adrenal Fatigue Fighter (60 capsules)

Adrenal Fatigue FighterRidgecrest Herbals have a reputation for making effective, beautifully blended supplements. They’ve done it again with this synergistic complement of herbs and nutrients to support the health of adrenal glands, naturally boost energy, and support mental clarity. With a good quality B vitamin complex, Ashwagandha, and lots of ginsengs and other adaptogens, this supplement will likely pack a punch very quickly. The dose is 2 capsules a day so one bottle will last a month. Be sure to take it with food as the potent levels of niacin (vitamin B3) can cause a “hot flush” feeling if taken on an empty stomach.

View Ridgecrest Adrenal Fatigue Fighter on Amazon Here


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About James Lyons

James Lyons (BHSc Nutritional Medicine) is a clinical nutritionist, medical writer, and educator. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and is passionate about improving public access to reliable and accurate health information.

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