They are the two glands located on the top of the kidneys. These are organs that give us energy and help us deal with stress.

They also help keep us standing upright. When someone is really tired or exhausted, the body tends to lean forward.

The adrenals also deal with fight or flight response that comes from the medulla by secreting hormones that deal with stress.   They consist of two parts: the outer cortex deals with hormone production for the body’s metabolism, and the inner medulla, which controls the sympathetic nervous system.

THE HPA (Hypothalamus– Pituitary – Adrenal) axis deals with stress that is put on the body.  The HPA axis works like this, when a person is under stress, their pituitary gland (which is located in the brain) produces ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) and stimulates the hypothalamus (also located in the brain) to produce substances that in turn cause the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormone cortisol.

Stress decreases the adrenal, hypothalamus, and pituitary function, and it can also cause low thyroid function.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are eight different types of diagnosis. They deal with deficiencies of yin, yang and Qi, incorporating the kidney, spleen, liver, lung and heart.  Adrenals support the life force that the Chinese call “Jing Qi”, and if the adrenal glands are past the point of being tired they become exhausted and chronic exhaustion will lead to chronic fatigue syndrome; many Americans suffer from it.


One of the issues with my clients is that they cannot sleep more than three hours at night without waking up. This is one of the signs that the adrenals are stressed. Getting 8 hours of a good night sleep is essential.  It is important to be asleep by 10 pm because at the time cortisol starts to drop and continues to drop till 12 midnight, which is part of the natural circadian rhythm, when we get the deepest sleep, and when we make our health hormones.

An excellent way to restore the adrenals is to take a combination of nutritional products astragalus, He Sho Wu, Goji BERRY, licorice and rehmannia. Rehmannia is known as food for the kidneys and strengthens HPA axis. This is very important for restoring the adrenal glands but unfortunately there are very few formulas that contain it.

Cordyceps, eucommia (nourishes bone marrow), deer antler, schizandra, ginseng, holy basil, maca, ashwaganda, vitamin b5, royal jelly, rhodiola, macuna are also important nutrients to boost the adrenaline glands.  You can find them separately or in combination formulas.  Not all nutrients are good for everybody. In my counseling experience, I find that it depends on the personal needs of each client, for example, macuna and rhodiola may be overly stimulatory for certain individuals. Licorice has a similar chemical structure to cortisol, therefore giving a false positive on a cortisol test (To avoid confusion, you can discontinue using it one week before test). Also it should not be taken by those with high blood pressure. Since cortisol levels rise in the morning and drop in the evening, I would recommend licorice be taken about noontime.   Licorice and goji will help drive rehmannia into the adrenals.


Another issue is that the yin part of the Jing Qi should be nourished first with astragalus, he shuo wu, goji, rehmmania for a few months before the yang power herbs (eucommia, deer antler) are introduced.  Do not forget the sea salt; put a pinch in your water to increase hydration.  The immune system plays a minor role in adrenal function, so olive leaf, pau d’arco, and cat’s claw help.

Peter V. Moreo, Jr., C.D.N., R.Ph.