Adrenals, Stress, and Adaptogens: Nurturing the Body's Resilience to Stress

Reviewed by Aleksandra Morgan, CNP

 Adrenal Glands' role in chronic stress, and how to support healthy stress responses with adaptogens

In today's fast-paced world, stress has become a constant in many people’s lives. While stress response is essential for survival in acute situations, prolonged exposure to stress can lead to chronic health issues.  

The adrenal glands, small triangular glands located on top of the kidneys, are responsible for producing cortisol, commonly known as the "stress hormone." When we encounter a stressful situation, whether it be physical or psychological, the hypothalamus in our brain signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol into the bloodstream. This initiates the body's fight-or-flight response, preparing us to confront the challenge at hand. After the stressful situation passes, a normal adrenal function will gradually decrease cortisol levels so the body can return to its normal state of homeostasis (balance).  

However, this does not always happen, and cortisol levels can remain elevated. Elevated cortisol over extended periods can have negative effects on various bodily systems. This stress hormone can disrupt sleep patterns, impair cognitive function, weaken the immune system, and contribute to the development of chronic conditions such as anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure. 

Since we can’t remove the stressors from our lives, what can we do to support a healthy stress response and protect our health from chronic stress exposure? - Meet adaptogens! 

Adaptogens are herbs that help the body adapt to stress and maintain homeostasis. These botanical compounds have been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). 

Adaptogens work by modulating the body's stress response and supporting adrenal function. They are gentle and safe, making them suitable for long-term use.  

Here are some common adaptogens and their benefits: 

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Ashwagandha is a popular adaptogen in Ayurvedic medicine, known for its potential to reduce stress & anxiety, and improve overall vitality. Studies show that it also offers neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea): Rhodiola is an adaptogen that helps to enhance mental and physical performance, reduce fatigue, and improve mood. 
  • Ginseng (Panax ginseng): Ginseng is another well-known adaptogen, revered for its energy-boosting properties, cognitive benefits, and potential to enhance immune function. 
  • Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum): Holy Basil, also called Tulsi, is a sacred herb in Ayurveda. It has a calming effect on the nervous system, promotes mental clarity, and supports immune health. 
  • Relora is an herbal supplement derived from the bark of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense, known for its potential to alleviate stress and anxiety. Relora offers a natural and non-drowsy way to promote relaxation, moderate stress responses, and restore emotional balance. 

Here are our favorite adrenal support supplements: 

AOR Relax and Recharge is a formula that contains two adaptogenic herbs: Rhodiola and Ashwagandha. This supplement relieves stress symptoms, reduces cortisol levels, and enhances memory and mental focus. It also provides a much-needed energy boost and reduces mental fatigue. It is ideal for students, shift workers, and those experiencing stress-related burnout, since it increases stress tolerance and improves overall mental and physical performance. 
Cyto-Matrix Panax Ginseng is a highly potent Panax ginseng extract that aims to enhance cognition, energy, mood, and immune function. Its active compounds, ginsenosides, help regulate the body's stress response and mitigate the harmful effects of chronic stress. 
St. Francis Strest Adrenal Tonic is an Ashwagandha-based formula designed to relieve symptoms of stress and restore mental, emotional, and physical equilibrium. It reduces both mental and physical fatigue, alleviates anxiety, and promotes a calm state of mind. This powerful tonic combines Ashwagandha with five other key adaptogenic herbs (Holy basil, Rhodiola, Siberian ginseng, milky oat seed, and Schisandra) that synergistically work together to help individuals thrive in modern times, cope with various stressors, and improve overall well-being. 
Douglas Laboratories Relora-Plex is a unique blend of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense extracts, along with B vitamins. Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to relieve symptoms of perceived stress, active ingredients like honokiol and berberin in Relora® have shown results in reducing stress and feelings of anxiousness. In clinical trials, Relora® demonstrated a reduction in salivary cortisol, indicating a decrease in stress-induced cortisol release, leading to improved markers of stress, sleep, and restlessness, without causing drowsiness.
Xymogen Cortisolv is a herbal supplement that offers comprehensive support for individuals dealing with everyday stress. Its clinically tested and patented ingredients, including Relora®, Sensoril® (Ashwagandha), and Suntheanine® (l-theanine), combined with Banaba leaf and Maral extracts, help restore balance to the overstressed body and mind. It also provides temporary relief from perceived stress symptoms such as fatigue, sleeplessness, irritability, and decreased focus.

In a world filled with constant challenges and stressors, it is crucial to prioritize our well-being. Understanding the role of adrenal glands in managing stress and how chronic stress can impact our health helps us make informed choices. Incorporating adaptogens into our daily routines offers a natural and holistic way to support our bodies' resilience and maintain balance amidst life's inevitable pressures. Remember, self-care and stress management play an integral role in leading a healthy and fulfilling life. 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider regarding any medical condition, dietary changes, or supplementation.