It is estimated that millions of people around the world suffer from adrenal fatigue. Some suggest that 80 percent of Americans area already suffering from some level of adrenal exhaustion, and people in other Westernized countries are likely no different. Our adrenals secret more than 50 different hormones that keep us happy and, well, NOT exhausted, so if they aren’t functioning as they should, you likely aren’t going to wake up wanting to shout out, “Top of the morning to ya!” There is an ancient herbal remedy that can help, though.
There are scientific studies stating that adrenal fatigue isn’t an actual medical condition – but that’s kind of ridiculous. If a single endocrine gland that governs so many of the hormonal balances in our body isn’t working – I’d call that a medical emergency, not just a condition.
One long-used herbal remedy for adrenal fatigue, and “tired blood” as it is called in Traditional Chinese Medicine is a perennial plant called Chinese Foxglove, or Rhemannia. This plant is from the Phrymaceae or lopseed family, and has been used throughout China, Japan, and Korea where it grows natively as a medicinal remedy.
Rehmannia is one of the most commonly used plant compounds in all of Chinese Medicine. It helps to balance yin, and with so many people suffering from depleted kidney yin – the source of our so-called “inherited qi,” which cannot easily be replaced once we use it up. Our kidneys are considered to be the master organ in charge of our entire endocrine system, including the adrenals, in TCM. The kidneys are thought also, to be the root of life and longevity. Few westerners realize that they are depleting their very life force, and even fewer are aware that their adrenal fatigue is linked to the health of the kidneys.
The yin aspect of the kidneys is storing the Essence of Life (Jing) and water; the yang aspect is serving a life gate of fire, that is, as the motive force for transformation in the body.
We use up this qi unknowingly living a fast-paced lifestyle, doing super-hard core works out, juggling family and work pressures, and simply trying to live in modern day society with its constant existential stressors.
Is it any wonder so many of us feel burnt out?
But this problem of depleted kidney qi is ancient. Rehmannia was first mentioned in the Chinese medical literature around 200 B.C. during the Han dynasty. It is a fascinating plant that changes gene expression.
More than 70 compounds including iridoids, saccharides, amino acid, inorganic ions, as well as other trace elements have been found in the herb.
Rehmannia was known as dihuang (meaning earth yellow, or underground yellow) and disui (earth marrow) in ancient China. Shennong Bencao Jing was written (ca. 100 A.D.). It was included in this text among the superior class herbs, with this description:
“Rehmannia is sweet and cold. It mainly treats broken bones severed sinews from falls, and a damaged center. It expels blood impediments [toxins held in the blood], and promotes growth of the muscles and flesh. When used in decoctions, it eliminates cold and heat accumulations [indicative of depleted kidney qi] gatherings, and impediment. Protracted taking may make the body light and prevent senility.”
It has been used for treating diabetes, bone loss and osteoporosis, and much more.
Since it supports the overall health of the kidneys, it will therefore, also start to help your entire endocrine system – especially the adrenals – function in balance, purportedly fixing long-standing imbalances caused by stress, poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, exposure to copious levels of environmental toxins and more.
There are multiple herbal combinations that use this single root, which you can research and match your symptoms with here, or you can seek the expert advice of an TCM practitioner.
Of course, learning to eat better, lower your stress levels, and improve your detoxification can only help this herb do what it is designed to do, so don’t expect any herbal remedy, including rehmannia, to “fix” your health without supporting it with healthy lifestyle choices, too. With rehmannia’s help, though, you can start to repair years of adrenal fatigue and damage to the endocrine system.