Table of Adaptogenic Herbs Used to Treat Adrenal Gland Dysfunction

Name Latin name Use in Adrenal Support & General Uses
Ashwagandha Withania somnifera Supports the hypothalamic-pituitary axis function (HPA). Helps adaptability to both physical and chemical stress. Can reduce vitamin c and cortisol depletion under times of stress. Can increase catecholamine production.

Tonic for debility, exhaustion, emaciation, memory loss, muscle weakness, overwork, and insomnia.

Capable of normalizing cortisol levels, whether they are too high or too low.

Beneficial in both the “resistance” and “exhaustion” phases of adrenal fatigue.

General & sexual debility, nervous exhaustion, convalescence, problems related to aging, emaciation (especially in children), loss of memory, muscle weakness, spermatorrhea, overwork, tissue deficiency, insomnia, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, tired eyes, rheumatism, skin afflictions, cough, dyspnea, anemia, fatigue, infertility, glandular swellings, AIDS, immune system problems, and lumbago.

Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza glabra Increases cortisol levels and mitigates problems with low blood pressure. Improves the body’s ability to retain sodium and magnesium, thereby reducing problems with frequent urination.

Glucocorticoid potentiator that functions by inhibiting the key enzyme that inactivates steroid hormones in the liver and kidneys.

Mineralocorticoid-like activity, thereby potentiating aldosterone.

Useful adrenal tonic that helps with adrenal insufficiency (exhaustion), including Addison’s disease.

Anti-inflammatory, demulcent, expectorant, mild laxative, pancreatic tonic, immune stimulant with anti viral properties. Soothes and tones GI tract. Used topically for herpes lesions, eczema, and psoriasis.

Dose: 1-2 g root t.i.d. or 250-500 mg extract t.i.d.
Should be used with caution in patients with high blood pressure.

Korean Ginseng Eleutherococcus senticosus Commonly used to treat adrenocortical hypofunction. Acts on the pituitary to stimulate the adrenal gland, thus increasing the ability for people to handle stress and to improve mental fatigue and physical endurance. Particularly useful to treat adrenal exhaustion and to correct disruptions in the HPA after a period of exogenous steroid use.

Supports immune function, improves visual acuity, promotes physical and mental endurance, supports faster healing postoperatively.

Dose: 2-4 g t.i.d. or 100-200 mg of a 1:20 extract (1% eleutherosides)

North American Ginseng Panax quinquefolius Extracts of ginseng containing eleuthorosides were found to have specific binding affinity to adrenal receptor sites, including glucocorticoid, mineralocorticoid and progestin receptors. This preferential binding affinity may be part of the mechanism of the balancing adrenal effects of adaptogenic herbs.

Nervous dyspepsia, mental and other forms of nervous exhaustion from overwqork, hert and blood circulation, diabetes, depression, neurasthenia, neurosis and psychasthenia.

Schisandra Schisandra chinensis Counteracts testosterone-induced atrophy of the adrenals in animal studies.

Poor liver function, hepatitis, liver cancer, sexual stimulant, tones and strengthens kidney function, insomnia, mental illness, forgetfulness, irritability, immune function.

Borage Borago officinalis Helps to restore the adrenal glands after internal stress of cortisone or steroid use.

Often used after fevers as a diaphoretic and long term for convalescence. Stimulates the milk flow in nursing mothers. Useful in respiratory ailments due to expectorant, emollient and anti-inflammatory action.

Astragalus or Chinese Milk Vetch Astragalus membranaceus Tones the adrenals, lungs and spleen.

Classic Chinese energy tonic with considerable immune-enhancing properties.

Antiviral, carminative, antispasmodic, supports hepatic function, improves glucose tolerance, vasodilator, diarrhea, fatigue, prolapsed uterus, fluid balance, supports immune function.

Dose: 2-6 g q.d.

Shatavari Asparagus racemosus See Korean Ginseng.

Restores fluids and soothes inflamed membranes; useful in dysentery, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, cough, and dehydration. Topically for stiffness throughout the body.

Sarsaparilla Smilax officinalis The natural steroidal glycosides found in sarsaparilla root enhance glandular balance, boost hormone production, and aid muscle building. Testosterogenic, helps with muscle bulk and libido, and progesterogenic, useful in premenstrual syndrome and menopause.

Eczema, psoriasis, general pruritis, rheumatism, gout, Lyme disease, herpes and other venereal complaints.

Wild Yam Dioscorea villosa Wild yams contain a sapogenin called diosgenin, which is a precursor to the hormone progesterone. The wild yams do not contain any hormones, but they are potential precursors.

Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, antirheumatic, hepatic, and diaphoretic, nausea in pregnancy, dysmenorrheal, uterine and ovarian pain, diverticulosis.

Golden Root Rhodiola rosea Increases the body’s resistance against mental and physical stress.

Depression, immune function, long-term memory, cardiac arrhythmias.

Devil’s Club Root Oplopanax horridum Hyperglcemia or unstable blood sugar. Has a balancing effect on the endocrine system, therefore used in the treatment of diabetes and for people whose energy levels vary considerably throughout the day.

Diabetes, lung hemorrhage, tuberculosis, swollen glands, burns, wounds, chronic infections, stress headaches.

Dose: 1 g q.d.

Fo-ti, Ho Shou Wu Polygonum multiflorum Prime rejuvenating herb in Chinese medicine. Used to treat dizziness, weakness, and numbness and to support healthy function of the liver and kidneys.

Dose: 1-4 g q.d.

Dang Shen Codonopsis pilosula Used in Chinese medicine for fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, and vertigo.

Western research has demonstrated its strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic capabilities.

Dose: 1-6 g q.d. or as tea

Cautions: Ginseng can sometimes cause insomnia. Licorice in high doses can cause high blood pressure.

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