Supporting Adrenal Fatigue with Supplements: 3 Common Mistakes


In a perfect world, there would be a magic pill to help us recover from adrenal fatigue instantly.

In the fast paced world we live in, this is something many are searching for.. and in attempt to support and repair their adrenals, many spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on natural health products.

Here at (HYAF), we are big proponents of a holistic approach to recovery.
The truth is that though in some cases a major trauma can fatigue the adrenals very quickly, for the majority, the path to burnout has been a slow and steady build over a longer period of time.  Of course, we each have a different story, but my point is that when it comes to adrenal recovery-- there is no magic pill and it can take a while for things to come back into balance. 

There is no magic pill. 

Even though there is no quick fix, supplements can be a wonderful way to help support and nourish a depleted body. They can be a helpful tool to incorporate into your holistic recovery plan.

Today, I'm excited to share with you some supplement tips and tricks to optimize their effects and also, to highlight some of the common mistakes I see occurring all the time with our clients in practice. 

Mistake #1: absorption is hindered by gut health issues

I see this all the time, people with all sorts of adrenal fatigue symptoms taking various supplements in tablet, capsule or soft gel form. 
I'm not saying that this in itself is a bad thing, but many AF sufferers struggle with the integrity of their intestinal health, hence all the digestive issues we experience.
To maximize the bang for your buck, you want to make sure that you're able to breakdown, absorb and metabolize the supplements you are taking. Makes sense right? 

Recommendation: acknowledge gut health situation and start there first

When considering starting a supplement plan, first check-in with your gut health. How has your digestion/elimination been lately?
If you suspect this needs attention, then I recommend starting with some gut health focused supplements and dietary tweaks first.

  • Have a glass of lemon water before meals
  •  Focus on chewing food very well to take stress of the digestive process
  • Supplementing L-Glutamine Powder (5 grams mixed with a glass of water before bed) to help with repair of the intestinal lining
  • Digestive Enzymes (take with each meal to help with breakdown and absorption)
  • Try taking a combination powder supplement that helps restore gastrointestinal integrity such as this one. 
  • If you are anxious to add some sort of adrenal support to the mix, you could start lightly with some ashawaghanda root powder, which you can add to smoothies, chia puddings, elixirs and more. 

Mistake #2:Not using the right type of supplement for your stage of adrenal fatigue

This is another big one. We can easily read suggestions and success stories on forums of Facebook groups from others who have or are struggling with adrenal fatigue, but every body is different and the stage of adrenal fatigue you are in makes a big difference in the way that natural compounds (like certain herbs and glandulars) behave. The way you want these compounds to behave will depend on what your cortisol picture looks like.   For instance, if you find struggle to get out of bed in the morning (a sign that your cortisol is too low when it is supposed to be high), then you will want to avoid herbal formulas that are created to help reduce cortisol.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you're tired but wired at night, it could mean your cortisol level is too high when it should be low-- and using adaptogenic herbs of stimulatory nature at this time can actually exacerbate this issue.  Certain adaptogenic herbs like maca, panax ginseng, licorice and holy basil have their time and place, but when used at the wrong stage of burnout can result in a completely opposite reaction to what was desired in the first place. This is because they stimulate a cortisol boost which is not good for over active adrenals or adrenals that are burnt-out. 

Recommendation: Know your stage or start with simple nutrients instead of herbs

I recommend professional testing to get a baseline of where your adrenals are at and clear insight on what's going on hormonally. Though an investment up front, this will take out the guessing component and help you create a plan that is specific and tailored to your needs. If I had done this from the get go when I was struggling, I would of saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars that I spent experimenting with different supplements. Working with a professional can make all the difference in selecting the right supplements, at the right doses for your body, to help you see and feel the results of your recovery efforts more effectively. 

If you'd rather not get tested or if you just want to start somewhere, then I recommend opting for basic co-founding nutrients that the body can use (and needs to use) in any stage of adrenal fatigue. 

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin C
  • B-complex (especially B5 and B6)
  • Zinc

Mistake #3: doing too much at once

Being over zealous and going out and purchasing a whole bunch of different products and superfoods at one time can be over stimulating for the body. 
Without understanding what to take, how and in what form to take it, and at what dose you should take it in, can actually impede your recovery and in some cases, when taking too much of something at the wrong time, even make things worse.  This can occur for instance, if you are over stimulating your adrenals in the early stages of adrenal fatigue when they are already in over drive, or again in the later stages when they are burnt out. 

When you jump into taking numerous sorts of adrenal support at once, it's hard to tell which is causing which benefit/reaction you may be experiencing and the truth is, when you start taking something new, your probably won't notice any benefit for at least 2 weeks. 

Recommendation: Start start slow

I know I've said it before, but for best results, I will have to recommend working with a professional. The time, money and guess work it will spare you is truly significant.
I know you though, you're antsyin the meantime right? Wondering what you can do right now?  If you're wanting to start somewhere today then I recommend considering the tips I have laid out above, and starting with one herbal or adrenal nutrient complex formula that makes sense for you. I encourage you to do your research. 

By starting slow,  you can pay close attention to how your body feels and how it feels with what you have added. 

Example: After checking in with your gut health and determining what stage of adrenal fatigue you are in, you can start with a one adrenal focused herbal or glandular supplement/formula and see how you feel while on it. 

  • Start with co-factor nutrients as mentioned above or an adrenal formula that includes these nutrients along with some sort of adaptogenic properties
    • ake note of certain symptoms you are experiencing and gauge them between 1 and 10 so you can look back and see how these change after taking the supplement for a few weeks. For example, you can note questions like the following: 
      • How tired are you in the morning on a scale of 1 to 10?
      • How tired are you in the afternoon at 3:00 on a scale of 1 to 10?
      • How wired are you in the evening on a scale of 1 to 10? 
  • Re-assess after 3 weeks and see how things are going
  • Remember that with the adrenals finding the right support for you can be very much a trial and error process, this is enhanced by the fact that as your support your body in "adapting" to stress and situations with "adaptogenic herbs", that sometimes they adapt to the supplements you are taking.  On this note, adrenal support formulas need to be monitored and assessed and re-interpreted fairly regularly to help keep them effective. We recommend sticking with some sort of adrenal supportive supplement regimen for at least 3 months when it comes to working towards recovery, and if further support is needed after 3 months you can re-asses and re-structure the regimen as needed. 

Supplements can be confusing in general on a good day, but throw something complicated like adrenal fatigue into the mix and it seems like it gets a whole lot more complicated doesn't it?  I made you a quick guide to help bring more clarity on how to use supplements to support adrenal fatigue effectively (and safely).   I hope this brings a If you have yet to be tested and want to start supporting your adrenals with supplements- this list of herbs and nutrients that you can use in the various stages of adrenal fatigue are all laid out for you in the guide below! 

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As I mentioned, though this is just one part of the recovery puzzle it can be a great help and an awesome support to the rest of your self care and recovery steps
I have seen clients eating all the right food and taking all the right supplements, but not progressing with their recovery at the level that they were hoping because of the fact that they were neglecting the mindfulness component and self-care in other areas. The needs and care each body needs is unique, just like us. 

Wishing you all the best on your path to recovery and if you have a supplement that has absolutely been a life saver along your recovery journey, please share it in the comments below along with what stage of adrenal fatigue you used it in. 

All the best,