Adrenal Health, Adaptogens, & Coffee Elixirs

I wrote this post 2 years ago when my friend Rachel (@coldbrewchick) and I were planning a collaboration. Sad to say that has yet to pan out, but with Coronavirus and… everything… my nervous system is taking a toll and it reminded me of this unpublished post sitting in my Google Drive about coffee and adrenal fatigue.  The last few days I have been revisiting these recipes below to give me that pep without the unbearable anxiety.

Adrenal health seems to be a hot topic as many more of us are showing signs of mild to severe adrenal fatigue. Chronic stress and busy lifestyles drastically affect the body’s ability to recuperate properly. Erika Elizabeth (of @byerikaelizabeth) highlights that we as humans deal with as many stressors in A DAY as the average person would encounter in a LIFETIME nearly 200 years ago. Think about how many things you deal with on the daily that greatly impact your stress levels. Driving in traffic, making deadlines, the fact that your roommate once again forgot to deal with their dirty dishes on the counter, the lady who nearly hit you in the Whole Foods parking lot… the list is just freaking endless. There are so many stressors constantly affecting us that we never truly get a chance to recover from the last. Then to top it off we pump ourselves full of coffee and caffeinated beverages that tend to also jump start your adrenals, making that stress response even more heightened. Over time this leads to an inconsistent level of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, causing your glands to fatigue and lead to many symptoms that are incredibly detrimental to your health. Symptoms include autoimmune conditions, chronic fatigue, brain fog, hair loss, hormone imbalances, insulin resistance, decreased libido, moodiness, depression, skin ailments, weight gain, and the inability to sleep soundly. Does that sound like… everyone? 

So what do you do? Well there are a number of things. Adding in a few healing herbs and avoiding certain foods. Things like sugary processed foods, hydrogenated oils, carb heavy meal choices… and unfortunately my beloved caffeine. Stubbornly, this is a vice I am unwilling to part with- I will gladly cut everything out of my life before I kiss my morning coffee goodbye. LUCKILY, there are a few ways around this. I’ve started incorporating a variety of adaptogens and herbs into that morning cup of joe. Adaptogens help you adapt to the stress around you by helping to balance, protect, and restore. Basically creating a sense of internal balance so when external stressors become heightened, you are able to access those “calm” feelings a little easier in response. I like to add some sort of combination of ashwagandha, lions mane, reishi, mucuna, rhodiola, or astragalus, into my coffee along with collagen and MCT’s oils for a truly lovely healing element to my morning drink. Here are a few of my favorite blends:

The Uplifter
Maca, Mucuna, Ashwagandha

8oz coffee
1 tsp Maca
1 tsp Mucuna Pruiens
1 tsp Ashwagandha
3 TBLSP creamer alternative of choice

While Maca isn’t quite an adaptogen it has some amazing superfood benefits that also support hormone balance and adrenal fatigue, as well as boosts energy. Mucuna Pruriens is a bioavailable source of L-Dopa, the precursor to dopamine, giving you that extra happy pep in your step. Ashwagandha is probably the single most popular adaptogen on the market right now. Also known as the “root of the shaman” ashwagandha helps to balance and restore your nervous system, allowing you to access those calm feelings faster. 

The Fog Cutter
Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Reishi

8oz coffee
2 tsp Lion’s Mane
1 tsp Cordyceps
1 tsp Reishi
creamer alternative of choice

Technically Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi are not classified as adaptogens specifically they have a lot of similar properties. Lion’s Mane is insanely good for your brain and helps to bridge new neural connections and pathways. Both cordyceps and reishi have shown to control cortisol levels during stressful times while simultaneously impacting the immune system in a very positive way. 

Lady Love
Cacao, Rhodiola, Schisandra Berry

8oz cold brew of choice
1 tsp Raw Cacao Powder
15 drops rhodiola
1 tsp Schisandra berry
1tblsp MCT oils
favorite milk alternative creamer

Raw cacao powder has so many benefits, not only does it add a chocolatey element but is amazing for your cardiovascular health and blood pressure. Schisandra berry is known as a stress protector and works well with the adaptogen rhodiola to control cortisol levels within making this combo a natural antidepressant. Schisandra berry as also been known to restore sexual function, especially within women, hence the “Lady Love” name. 

Since caffeine is a non negotiable for me on the list mentioned above I came up with a few rules for drinking coffee with the intention of preventing adrenal fatigue.

  1. 1 cup a day… ONLY. Once upon a time I would drink an entire 35 ounce french press before 10am. I suppose my definition of one cup is pretty loose as my 1 cup of coffee is basically a venti. I guess realistically one cup is defined as 8oz. It takes 6 hours for 1 cup of coffee to metabolize in your system…so in theory it’ll take a whole 12 hours to truly get the coffee out of your system. You want all the caffeine out of your system before you go to bed so you can achieve a truly restful sleep resulting in your adrenals getting somewhat of a break. 
  2. On that note… trying to keep that 1 cup consumption BEFORE 10am… and that’s if I’m planning on being in bed by 10pm. In a perfect world I’d be in bed by 8pm every night. 
  3. If I really feel the need to have that second cup I like to keep an adaptogen coffee alternative on deck like Rasa Koffee, an herbal alternative to coffee. Check them out. 

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