How to Permanently Heal Adrenal Fatigue Using Powerful Ancient Herbs

HJ: Most people have no idea that they are suffering from Adrenal fatigue to varying degrees.  We have come to think of the symptoms as entirely normal parts of life, meaning our entire culture has evolved around it and integrated it to a certain extent.  Therefore, when we exhibit symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which from the Chinese medicine perspective is really deficient kidney energy (either Yin, Yang, or both), we feel more normal than anything else, due to the fact that we can collectively commiserate with everyone else suffering from this ‘disease’ in the same way.

In Chinese medicine, our kidneys are recognized as the ‘seat of health’, meaning they are foundational to our wellbeing.  An imbalance in the kidneys manifests in many ways and usually results in other organs and body systems becoming imbalanced.  Therefore, instead of treating each organ individually, we need to primarily address the imbalance in the kidneys and the rest will, for the most part, sort itself out (not always, but more often than not).

Our modern lifestyle is very aggravating, draining and disturbing to the kidneys and therefore, it is important to nourish them as much as possible in order to maintain balance and health.  The adrenal glands sit directly on top of the kidneys and are therefore directly interrelated with their function.  In the West, kidneys are not given the same importance as the adrenals, although they are just as significant in their own way.

The herbal formulas below are very powerful.  Do your research or see an acupuncturist before jumping in and taking them regularly.  However, when you are ready, the company Active Herb and Sun Ten both offer many classical formulas and use high quality herbs.

– Truth

Adrenal Fatigue – A Chi Perspective – Treating Adrenal Fatigue With Herbs

By Rosanna Commisso |
By Dr. Sam C. Liang | Sun Teng Global

What are the adrenals?

To understand the importance of the adrenals in your body’s response to stress, let’s start by looking at what your adrenals glands do. Your adrenal glands are essential to life as they help you cope with all types of stress. As part of the endocrine system, their role is to govern the fight or flight response (alarm reaction) and get you ready for action. They do this by producing several important hormones including cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. Making sure that your adrenals produce the right amount of hormones is crucial – too much or too little of any particular hormone can cause havoc in your body and affect your ability to deal with the demands of living.

What is Adrenal Fatigue or Insufficiency?

Adrenal Fatigue is a medical condition where the adrenal glands are unable to produce adequate amounts of the hormones necessary for proper body function. This lack of hormones results in changes in the body’s carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system and even sex drive. The result of this imbalance means that the individual experiences normal everyday stresses as overwhelming, resulting in complete and utter exhaustion that never seems to be relieved no matter how much sleep or rest they get. Although you can’t see adrenal fatigue, as there are no visible symptoms, it is a crippling and devastating condition for its sufferers. The fact that it is invisible makes it even harder for sufferers as others may question the individual’s symptoms and the validity of the condition itself. Individuals suffering from adrenal fatigue may look and seem healthy but they are feeling like their energy and life is slipping away.

Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

The underlying cause of adrenal fatigue is ongoing, continuous unresolved stress. The stress can be emotional, mental, physical or external such as; poor diet, heavy metal toxicity, extreme shock and emotional trauma, excessive exercise, physical trauma, working too hard without enough rest, over-indulgence in stimulants like coffee, tea, tobacco, and narcotics, excessive use of cortisone therapy, lack of sleep or infections. Unfortunately, the body reacts the same way to both real and imagined threats. For instance, constant worrying about a relationship ending can cause the same over-taxing of the adrenals and suppression of the immune system as actually having the relationship end. So your thinking has a major impact on your adrenal health and therefore your overall well-being. When the brain interprets an event as threatening (stressful) the adrenals begin to work. They signal the nervous system to prepare to fight or flee. Even though the stressful event may be over, the body continues to fight. When this state of emergency is maintained for long periods of time, the body’s reserves become depleted and the immune system and adrenals are weakened.

During the early stages of adrenal fatigue your body produces an excess amount of cortisol to deal with the constant fight or flight response initiated by the stress. High cortisol levels can result in obesity, increased cholesterol and blood pressure,altered brain chemistry causing depression and anxiety, insulin resistance and osteoporosis. If you fail to address the stress, eventually your adrenals become so exhausted that they are no longer able to produce an adequate amount of cortisol or other necessary hormones to maintain normal physiological function. Adrenal Fatigue can become a chronic ongoing condition, so to avoid it in the first place it’s so important to listen to your body. If you are tired it is pointless trying to rebel against what you body is telling you. You may be able to convince yourself that nothing is wrong and that’s its just mind over matter or that all you need is some more caffeine or sugar, but in the end your body will be heard even if it has to fall apart and shut down for you to hear what it is saying to you – and that is that you need to stop and rest.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

  • Always feeling cold
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic low-grade infections
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Night sweats
  • Needing to go to the bathroom at night
  • Depression
  • Environmental sensitivities
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Increased allergies
  • Insomnia
  • Light-headedness
  • Lower back pain in kidney area and sacrum
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscular weakness
  • Poor memory
  • Scanty perspiration
  • Sensitivity to light, noise, touch, movement
  • Total feeling of exhaustion
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Feeling overwhelmed by little things
  • Nausea

Seeking help with Adrenal Fatigue

Finding help for your Adrenal Fatigue is unfortunately not easy. Many doctors only recognise extreme adrenal conditions such as Addison’s and Cushings. If you feel that you have had several of the symptoms listed above for a period of time, then it’s important to find a knowledgeable GP to work with you. The best way to gauge your adrenal hormone profile, particular your cortisol levels, is to have a saliva test. The difference between blood test results and a saliva test result is that a cortisol blood test will measure the total hormone levels – both bound (inactive) and unbound (active) while the saliva test measures only the unbound active hormones, giving you a true reflection of what is happening in your body. To find a doctor who uses saliva testing (and who would likely be familiar with adrenal fatigue), try calling compounding pharmaciesin your area. They may be able to tell you which doctors order saliva tests.

Adrenal Fatigue According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

The fundamental principle of health and healing in TCM is the concept of balance. Your body contains both Yin and Yang Chi and in health, the relaxed Yin state balances the adrenal Yang state. The problem arises when you have an excess of either Yin or Yang influences in your life. In TCM the adrenal glands are part of the water element and relate to kidney energy. The kidneys are seen as the single most important organ affecting the length and quality of your life. They control your internal Chi, your Yin/Yang balance and house your Jing which is your life force, your aliveness, your creative power and your essence. Abundant kidney Chi correlates to a strong physical constitution as well as a strong innate sense of purpose and will. Since the adrenals relate to kidney Chi, Adrenal Fatigue is considered to be a Kidney Yang Deficiency. However, if the condition continues without treatment, it can also result in a Kidney Yin Deficiency. Kidney Yang relates to the reactive, sympathetic nervous system and the secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine.

In contrast, Kidney Yin is the parasympathetic nervous system relating to the secretion of cortisol. Just as the body requires some degree of Yang adrenaline hormone to create motivation to react both to normal as well as life threatening stimulus, it also has a continual need for the Yin hormone, cortisol to buffer the effects of stress. In the early stages of stress, the body increases its production of cortisol, while in the later stages its secretion of cortisol is severely diminished. This lack of cortisol is diagnosed as “Kidney Yin Deficiency.” The clinical manifestations of Kidney Yang Deficiency are: soreness of the back, cold knees, sensation of cold in the back, aversion to cold, weak legs, bright-white complexion, weak knees, impotence,premature ejaculation, lassitude, abundant-clear urination, scanty-clear urination, apathy, oedema of the legs, infertility in women, poor appetite and loose stools.  The tongue is pale, swollen and wet and the pulse is deep and weak. In TCM theory, when there is kidney Yang deficiency, the body fails to transform the essence leading to a decline in endocrine and physiological functions.

The way to treat Kidney Yang deficiency is to warm the kidney. This means reducing your intake of cold (eg ice cream and other frozen foods, iced drinks), raw foods and antibiotics, as these foods inhibit your body’s warming function, eventually depleting Yang. In addition, the use of sugar can overstimulate the sympathetic reflex and deplete kidney Yang. Deficient kidney Yin is manifested with symptoms of aching, soreness of the lumbar region of the back, weakness of the legs and knees, tinnitus, dizziness, vertigo, constipation, night sweats,insomnia, dry throat, feverish sensation in the soles and palms, nocturnal emission, and in women, scanty menstrual flow and amenorrhoea, flushed complexion, heat, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, dryness and chronic signs of inflammation and wasting. A deficiency of Yin suggests that the maintaining and repairing function of the body is depleted or lacking.

The Diagnosis and Treatment of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome According toTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

(This article is adapted from the contents of Dr. Sam C. Liang’s presentation delivered at the seminar “Traditional Chinese Medicine for Adrenal Fatigue” hosted by the Oriental Healing Arts Institute (OHAI) in Irvine, CA on June 13th, 2010)


Adrenal fatigue is a type of syndrome caused by the decreased function of the adrenal glands. This syndrome is caused by prolonged periods of overwork, nervousness, stress, and pressure from daily life. It may also be triggered by acute or chronic infections, including respiratory disorders, such as the common cold, bronchitis, or pneumonia. This type of fatigue persists even with rest or sleep. Adrenal fatigue patients will feel like they are in a constant state of illness, lethargic or “feeling gray”. Suffering this type of listlessness, they become dependent on coffee, caffeine or other stimulants to get through the day. Adrenal fatigue syndrome is also referred to as non-Addison hypadrenia, sub-clinical neurasthenia, and adrenal apathy. Millions of people in the United States and throughout the world suffer adrenal fatigue. There are eight types of differential diagnosis for “Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome” according to TCM:

  1. Kidney Yin deficiency
  2. Kidney Yang deficiency
  3. Kidney Yin & Yang deficiency
  4. Kidney Qi deficiency
  5. Miscommunication between Heart and Kidneys
  6. Liver & Kidney Yin deficiency
  7. Spleen & Kidney Yang deficiency
  8. Lung and Kidney Yin deficiency

The TCM Diagnosis & Treatment of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

1. Kidney Yin Deficiency

Kidney Yin becomes injured by overwork, chronic illness, late-stage Kidney patterns, or following febrile disease. As a result, deficient Kidney fire flares and the excessive heat damages Kidney Yin and fluids. Clinical signs and symptoms include five-center heat, insomnia with night sweats, dry mouth, sore throat, heel pain, low back soreness, beng luo, a red tongue body, and a thin, rapid pulse.

1.1    Treatment of Kidney Yin Deficiency with Insomnia Signs & Symptoms This pattern is caused by over-thinking. Excessive over-thinking leads to Kidney Yin/ Essence deficiency and flaring of Heart fire. The signs and symptoms are palpitation, insomnia, random/bizarre dreams, five-center heat, dizziness, and tinnitus.

Treatment Principle Because the kidney is deficient, its water is unable to nourish the Heart’s fire and insomnia results. Treatment includes replenishing Kidney water to subdue the deficiency fire and, calming and stabilizing the spirit.

Recommended Herbal Formulas: The following formulas are combined together and taken 3 times during a day after each meal with warm water.

The following formulas are combined together and taken 2 hours before bed or immediately after dinner with warm water.


1.2    Treatment of Kidney Yin Deficiency with Fatigue

Signs & Symptoms

The body is thin and emaciated, low-grade fever, dizziness with tinnitus and deafness, weakness in the legs, and lusterless facial color.

Treatment Principle

Tonify and nourish Kidney Yin.

Recommended Herbal Formulas

The following formulas are combined together and taken 3 times a day after each meal with warm water.

2. Kidney Yang Deficiency

The body is unable to warm up the Zang-fu organ because of deficiency of the primordial yang which results in dampness and water retention in the body as well as decreased function of the reproductive system. This is due to overwork, aging-induced Kidney deficiency, or chronic diseases.   Clinical signs and symptoms include cold signs such as white and pale face, cold and soreness of the low back, abundant clear urine or retention of urine, edema (especially below the waist), erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, excessive vaginal discharge, infertility due to coldness in the uterus, pale tongue body with a white coat, deep thin pulse at the Chi position or a deep hesitant pulse.

2.1 Treatment of Kidney Yang Deficiency with Fatigue Signs & Symptoms

Interior cold causes watery diarrhea with undigested food, abundant clear urine, sore upper and low back, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and weight gain, especially around the waist, that is hard to lose.

Treatment Principle

Warm Shen Men (神門), tonify the essence and blood.

Recommended Herbal Formulas

The following formulas are combined together and taken 3 times a day after each meal with warm water.  

2.2 Treatment of Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water Retention/Swelling

Signs & Symptoms

Edema of the whole body, pitting edema especially below the waist, scanty urine, low back pain, cold stagnation affecting the limbs, and a pale flabby tongue body with teeth marks.

Treatment Principle

Warm the Kidneys, move the Qi and promote water movement.

Recommended Herbal Formulas:

The following formulas are combined together and taken 3 times a day after each meal with warm water.


Rosanna Commisso has been practicing yoga for over 25 years. She studied both Hatha and Ki Yoga. In addition to her love of yoga, Rosanna brings with her over 20 years experience working in both the traditional and alternative health sectors as a hospital pharmacist, counsellor and natural health educator. Rosanna developed ChiYo after being diagnosed with CFS and adrenal fatigue and wanting to find a form of exercise that would help heal, revive, energise and calm her body. Her goal was to create a class that would benefit anyone looking for a restorative practice.
2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Really cool article, highly useful and creatively-written..Good Work

    • As a little kid I loved….yogurt, coagtte cheese, vegetables, occasional juicy fruits, brown rice with tomato sauce, split peas and lentils, peanut butter, nuts, salty things (although I NEVER put salt on my foods, just liked foods that were naturally salty). I rarely ever used butter or oil. The only meat I liked were fish/shrimp/seafood, turkey and occasionally steak in small amounts, but I didn’t really like meat. Oh, I also liked cheese (especially cheddar cheese). These were probably my most frequently eaten foods. I did like whole grain breakfast cereals and oatmeal too. Loved yogurt but did NOT like milk. I liked when my mom occasionally made us shakes with a little bit of ice cream, soy protein powder, and blueberries. I was always an energetic, thin, healthy kid. But I did have mucous a lot and I wonder if thats from all the dairy I ate and loved, and it makes me hesitant to go back to dairy. If I ever ate eggs, I only liked them when the yolks were super runny. I liked salads too.So why not eat like you did as a child, DaughterOftheSun? Sounds like you were much healthier then. I say, forget about everything you learned about what constitutes a healthy diet. Do you really love all those exotic super foods or do you eat them because you BELIEVE them to be healthy? A food is only healthy when you believe it to be. If you aren’t satisfied with it, it’s probably doing you no benefit. Start with what you are craving. You state that’s protein, then your body is trying to tell you something. Eat some good quality protein that you feel comfortable with consuming and go from there. It sounds like you love dairy. Me too! 🙂 If you are worried about mucous, give raw dairy a try if you haven’t any previous experience with it. You may find that you don’t get mucous problems if the dairy is raw. This seems to be many peoples experience. I’d say it’s worth a shot. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else, but let it be something you would actually like and not something you’ve read is suppose to be good for you and also give your body a chance to adjust to the new food before writing it off as bad for you. Hey maybe you could try something that isn’t green. 🙂 Just playing with you! I completely understand where you are coming from. I once said to my mom I’m at the point where I could eat tree bark and I actually meant it. LOL :)Maybe the reason why you are so tired is because you aren’t eating what you know deep down inside you should or want to be eating. I know with me, the constantly thinking about what is healthy to eat and all the conflicting nutrition advice made me not want to eat half the time. It all just left my head spinning with confusion. Believe it or not, all that thinking can really drain ones energy. What I would love for you is to have the courage to follow your own instincts and beliefs and not someone elses beliefs. You can ask for advice here, but you will be hard pressed to find a unanimous view on diet and this will only make the problem worse. Just like with everything in life, Everyone has there own beliefs, but the one that should matter most to you is YOURS. To many times I listened to others salt is bad, meat is bad, saturated fat is bad, dairy is nothing more than cow puss blah, blah, blah. All that got me was deficient in salt, protein, calcium, messed up hormones due to the lack of saturated fats. Trust your gut! No one will take as good a care of you as you! Best of luck. You’ll figure it out. I have faith in you.

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