Always exhausted? The holidays can really take it out of you. If you’re experiencing a lack of productivity or an inability to get things due to being plagued by fatigue, it might be your worn-out adrenals. Although traditional doctors don’t consider “adrenal fatigue” a real or diagnosable condition, alternative and non-mainstream medicine doctors believe this syndrome — often associated with stress and frequently following chronic infections like bronchitis, flu, or pneumonia — occurs when the adrenal glands start to function below their necessary level. Everyday stressors can overtax your adrenal glands, leaving them less able to regulate stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline.
While there is no approved test for adrenal fatigue (plus, since the symptoms are very general, you should rule out conditions like depression, fibromyalgia, or hypothyroidism first) improving your diet can only help. If you’re ready to take your New Year’s resolutions off the back-burner and get energized, try these five natural fatigue cures. They might just help make 2023 the year you beat back exhaustion.
Boost a.m. energy.
Tulsi, or “holy basil,” is a plant native to India that is commonly used in the traditional Indian medicine system, Ayurveda. Sometimes called “hot basil” due to its peppery taste, this adaptogen may help soothe an overworked fight-or-flight stress response that taxes your adrenal glands. A study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal found that participants who sipped on a cup daily for four weeks both cut their stress response and improved their chronic exhaustion levels. So, try brewing yourself a morning cup of tulsi tea!
Block a slump.
Often crave sugar or salt mid-afternoon? It might be your body’s way of compensating for sluggish adrenals that can’t make enough energizing hormones. Try eating apple slices and plain peanut butter an hour before you typically crash. A study conducted on mice and published in the journal Heliyon found that protein may improve adrenal function when the body is under stress. Apples do not contain a whole lot of protein themselves, but peanut butter sure does — and fruit is a great source of fiber to pair with your spread.
Thwart p.m. fatigue.
If you’re ready to collapse into bed long before it’s time, get crafty. Spending 45 minutes enjoying a hobby like scrapbooking, knitting, or doodling may soothe your adrenal glands (plus, it’s always good to get your creative juices flowing!). According to a study conducted by Drexel University, participants who engaged in art making experienced a significant lowering of their cortisol levels. While cortisol is important for your health, too much of it can be harmful and cause unwanted symptoms, like fatigue.
Nix racing thoughts.
Exhausted adrenal glands can cause a “wired and tired” feeling that leaves you fatigued but too restless to sleep. One thing that might help: ashwagandha. The herb calms on-edge adrenal glands, lowering their production of sleep-disrupting cortisol, according to a study published in the journal Cureus. The results deemed ashwagandha a natural compound with sleep-inducing potential for insomnia patients; it was well-tolerated by participants and improved their sleep quality at a dose of 300 mg. twice daily. Taking ashwagandha supplements may help relieve stress and anxiety, too.
Try a fake-ation.
Does your fatigue vanish while on vacation? Escaping stressors lets the adrenals heal, and faking time away has similar benefits, suggests a study published in the Journal of Vacation Marketing. So, try taking a 10-minute daily break to “plan” a trip, imagining the sites you’ll visit and food you’ll eat. This may put you in a mindset of being away, giving your adrenals the time off they need to heal. It’s like how they say faking a smile can actually make you happier!
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.