When thyroid patients find themselves with poor cortisol levels as revealed by a 24-hour adrenal saliva test, the first choice for treatment is the T3 Circadian Method.

But there are two other situations where patients have found they simply need to use adaptogens:

  1.  if saliva cortisol results show a mix of highs and lows during the daytime, such as above-range cortisol in the morning, and low cortisol at noon, high in the afternoon, etc.
  2. if you are simply going through a lot of on-going chronic stress.

What are Adaptogens?   An adaptogen is any particular substance found in certain plants and herbs which works to help even out your biological internal response to stress, whether from people stress, lack of sleep, exposure to toxins, sickness, the stress of continued hypothyroidism, exposure to the cold, or eating poorly.  i.e. an adaptogen helps you cope, adapt and recover better.  And negative side effects are few. It’s straight from nature!

Examples of adaptogens include

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea L.)
  • Siberian Ginseng (recommended to take any Ginsengs in the daytime to prevent bedtime insomnia)
  • Korean Ginseng
  • North American Ginseng
  • Astragalus
  • Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
  • Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
  • Suma (Pfaffia paniculata)
  • Holy Basil (patients use this to lower high cortisol alone)
  • Maitake, reishi, and shiitake mushrooms are considered to have adaptogenic qualities.
  • Licorice root is also considered an adaptogen, but it can have an aldosterone-like effect and cause high blood pressure in some due to sodium retention.

Many of these herbal adaptogens have a long history of use in China and Russia–hundreds and thousands of years. Most scientific study was begun by the 1940’s by two Russian scientists and have continued in the West.

How do we dose adaptogens?  Even one dose is going to help. Multi-dosing throughout the day is recommended when stress is on-going, and bottle labels of whatever you get should give you an idea. Some resources state you will need more per-dose than is recommended on the labels.

Is there good research supporting the effect of adaptogens that patients have experienced? 

  1. This study reveals how even one dose can give good results: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16261511
  2. A good study of Rhodiola: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10839209

Any other beneficial results from adaptogens?  Wonderfully, adaptogens can be high in anti-oxidants, meaning anti-cancer. And folks who have used adaptogens regularly and for years report few to no colds or the flu. Ashwagandha has been shown to possibly help Parkinsons and Alzheimers, as well as inhibit breast, colon and lung cancer in laboratory testing.

Where can I find adaptogens?   Health food stores, for sure. Or on the net if you can wait for arrival.

P.S. I, Janie, keep both Ashwagandha and Rhodiola, liquid versions, in my cabinet and will use them when I’m under stress.