Addison’s disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency and hypocortisolism, is a condition where the adrenal glands produce insufficient quantities of the hormones called cortisol. It is a rare endocrinal disorder that occurs in people of all ages. Tuberculosis is the predominant cause of Addison’s disease and can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Other causes of Addison’s disease are:
- Autoimmune reactions
- Genetic factors
- Serious infections
- Lack of sleep
Addison’s disease is a condition that has no cure and life-long treatment and management of the disease is the only option. Fortunately, some natural herbal remedies and simple lifestyle changes listed here can help treat and manage Addison’s disease.
Ginger is a wonder herb with many medicinal properties. It is useful in treating the symptoms as well as the disease. The calming effect of ginger helps soothe the intestinal irritations and discomfort frequently associated with Addison’s disease. It stimulates bowel movements and prevents nausea. Ginger can be grated or sliced and consumed in food. It can also be used to prepare ginger tea.1
2. Green Tea
This multi-benefit tea is used for many different herbal treatments and is known to regulate hormones and keep the body’s metabolism functioning properly. Furthermore, it helps to boost the immune system of the body, protecting it against autoimmune attacks.2 Green tea also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.3
Ginseng has been suggested in many alternative studies for treating Addison’s disease. It is effective in supporting a healthy immune system and can prevent the autoimmune attacks on the adrenal cortex that cause Addison’s disease. Any other types of immune-boosting elements in the diet, such as citrus fruits, or those foods that are high in antioxidants, can also help to slow or prevent the disease from getting any worse. Ginseng has an acrid and warm energy making it contraindicated for Yin Deficient and inflammatory or heat signs. Siberian ginseng is more of a warming TCM Kidney yang tonic with some anti-inflammatory effects associated with cortisol.4 The powdered form of the root can be used in preparing tonic or tea.
Licorice has also been found to be effective in the management of Addison’s disease or adrenal failure. Licorice extract, derived from the root of the plant improves hyperpigmentation by dispersing the melanin, inhibits the melanin biosynthesis and decreases free radical production.5 6 Reports on the usefulness of licorice extracts on body fluid homeostasis in patients with Addison’s disease are contradictory. One study found no positive effects, while three other studies noted an increase in weight gain and sodium retention.7
Intake typically includes licorice root and plant material, capsules, and tablets of powdered drugs, extracts, tonic drinks
Turmeric is a popular spice with numerous medicinal properties. Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound found in the roots of turmeric plant. In alternative healing of Addison’s disease, turmeric has been known to help boost the strength of the immune system and increase hormone production. This helps to counteract the detrimental drop in hormone production, which occurs when autoimmune cells or other diseases that can cause Addison’s disease attack or weaken the adrenal cortex. Numerous pre-clinical studies have provided a solid basis for examining curcumin’s efficacy against human diseases.8 Curcumin not only induces a concentration-dependent increase in cortisol secretion but also can inhibit the large increases in cortisol production.9
Turmeric can be ingested orally by using it as a spice in the food. Its powder can also be added to warm milk for a soothing effect.
6. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant. It is known for its ability to protect the body against the effects of Addison’s disease. Its hormone-boosting and immunity strengthening properties are very effective in treating Addison’s disease. Milk thistle is categorized as a supplement, rather than a drug and hence work best when combined with other herbal medications.
Milk thistle products are available as capsules, powders, and extracts.
7. Yoga And Meditation
Certain lifestyle choices and changes can show positive benefits in treating Addison’s disease. But, science does not fully acknowledge the efficacy of acupuncture, yoga, meditation and other Oriental methods due to lack of scientific studies. In fact, they have a huge potential in treating and managing Addison’s disease.
Studies show that individuals practicing yoga regularly had low serum cortisol levels.10 These Eastern techniques can help improve mental health and regulate hormones. Addison’s disease is related to hormone production, and many scientific studies link the positive mental health benefits to yoga and meditation. The change in personality caused by Addison’s disease can also be improved through meditation and yoga.
8. Diet And Exercise
Diet and exercise are the best methods for a healthy immune system. A balanced diet combined with regular exercise can boost the body’s defenses against autoimmune diseases, and can also keep the hormones in balance. This can reduce the severity of the effects experienced due to Addison’s disease.
Exercise can be difficult for some Addison’s patients as chronic fatigue and muscle weakness associated with the Addison’s disease can make regular exercise hard to achieve. Low-impact, easy-to-perform cardiovascular exercises, such as jogging, swimming, and aerobics offer the best support to people with Addison’s disease.11 However, diet and exercise should always be used as a complement to both traditional and medical treatments.
9. Reduce Stress
Stress is a crucial factor that affects adrenal health. By reducing stress, people suffering from Addison’s disease can better manage the symptoms. Since stress hormones like cortisol are not produced in sufficient quantities, the effects of the disease can be more severe in the patients. Simple methods to beat stress include:
- Taking up new hobbies
- Eating on a regular schedule
- Meditation and Yoga
- Maintaining a consistent and reasonable work schedule
- Practicing breathing techniques
- Spending time in Nature
- Exercising regularly within your physical limits
- Avoiding stimulants like alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and caffeine
- Seeking professional help
10. Good Sleep
The adrenal glands require plenty of quality sleep in order to work efficiently. Lack of sleep results in the adrenal glands pumping out extra stress hormones like cortisol to keep you alert and prevent low energy levels. Hence, it is important that people with Addison’s disease take ample rest when they are tired and get sufficient deep sleep. Anything between eight and ten hours of quality sleep at night will go a long way in preventing and managing the condition.
Diet: Dos And Don’ts
An important factor that can naturally support adrenal and hormonal balance is avoiding foods that stress your body and including foods that replenish your adrenal energy. Eliminating common allergens or sensitives, toxins, and chemicals can help your body heal itself.
What To Avoid
- Excessive alcohol, tobacco or caffeine that interfere with sleep cycle and result in anxiety or depression
- Most sources of sugar and sweeteners (high-fructose corn syrup, packaged sweet products, and refined grains) that can cause inflammation and irritation in the gut
- Packaged and processed foods to an extent possible (they contain artificial ingredients, preservatives, sugars and sodium)
- Hydrogenated and refined vegetable oils (soybean, canola, safflower, sunflower and corn) that cause inflammation
What To Include
- Natural, healthy fats (coconuts and coconut oil, butter, avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil)
- Fresh organic vegetables (especially all leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts)
- Wild-caught fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines that provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids)
- High-quality animal products that are grass-fed, pasture-raised and organic (eggs, beef, chicken, turkey)
- Seaweed (it is high in iodine and supports thyroid health)
- Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
- High-fiber foods like berries, chia seeds, flaxseeds and starchy vegetables
- Probiotic foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir
|↑1||Alok, Shashi, Sanjay Kumar Jain, Amita Verma, Mayank Kumar, Alok Mahor, and Monika Sabharwal. “Herbal antioxidant in clinical practice: A review.” Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine 4, no. 1 (2014): 78-84.|
|↑2, ↑6||Khanna, Neena, and Seemab Rasool. “Facial melanoses: Indian perspective.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 77, no. 5 (2011): 552.|
|↑3, ↑5||Bagherani, N., S. Gianfoldoni, and B. Smoller. “An overview on melasma.” J Pigment Disord 2, no. 216 (2015): 2376-0427.|
|↑4||Tierra Michael. Integrating the Traditional Chinese Understanding of the Kidneys into Western Herbalism. East West School of Planetary Herbology.|
|↑7||World Health Organization. WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants. Vol. 2. World Health Organization, 1999.|
|↑8||Gupta, Subash C., Sridevi Patchva, and Bharat B. Aggarwal. “Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials.” The AAPS journal 15, no. 1 (2013): 195-218.|
|↑9||Enyeart, Judith A., Haiyan Liu, and John J. Enyeart. “Curcumin inhibits ACTH-and angiotensin II-stimulated cortisol secretion and Cav3. 2 current.” Journal of natural products 72, no. 8 (2009): 1533-1537.|
|↑10||Katuri, Kishore Kumar, Ankineedu Babu Dasari, Sruthi Kurapati, Narayana Rao Vinnakota, Appaiah Chowdary Bollepalli, and Ravindranath Dhulipalla. “Association of yoga practice and serum cortisol levels in chronic periodontitis patients with stress-related anxiety and depression.” Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry 6, no. 1 (2016): 7.|
|↑11||Nemec Keith. Controlling Addison’s Symptoms Naturally. Total Health Institute. 2012.|