Please consult your healthcare provider before you begin any treatment or pursue a diagnosis. The information contained in this article is from my personal experience and research and is intended to inform and assist you in learning about the impact the adrenals have on menstruation. None of the following is intended to be medical advice and you should do your own research and consult a medical expert. Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means you pay no extra, but I make a small commission. Read my affiliate disclosure for more info.
It’s about that time of the month for me, which inspired me to share my experience with adrenal support tinctures and why I can’t skip taking it the week of my menstrual cycle.
Before I had kids I had pretty normal periods – mild cramps, short periods and not much to write home about. After having two babies, my periods changed my life! Maybe I’m being dramatic. I know people have it way worse, and I’m lucky to just have some severe period symptoms and that’s all. However, my symptoms were debilitating and nothing worked – until this!
My Story and Experience with Adrenal Support Supplements
The week of my period I used to get mild headaches that weren’t terrible, but certainly they were the red flag for me that my period was close. But after having children, something shifted and my body started reacting very different to that monthly cycle.
Typically it would go like this…
I’d wake up, usually the day before my period or the day of, around 4am with an excruciating migraine. It hurt so bad I couldn’t fathom getting up for a pain reliever. I would feel so weak and tired from that pain that I just laid there, in and out of sleep. And then, when I couldn’t keep laying down in agony, I’d try to get up and pull myself together. Which would make me nauseous! Most times the nausea only forced me to lay back down and wait for ibuprofen to kick in. A handful of times over the course of a year, I’d actually throw up or dry heave for several minutes. I couldn’t walk around comfortably, I had to stay lying down for hours, hiding my eyes from all light and deep breathing through the nausea. By 10am the migraine would subside and I’d start to get my strength back and by noon it was like nothing happened.
For months and months this went on. I couldn’t find any real answers and the fact that it only lasted one morning a month, followed by my period, made me believe it had to do with hormones. When I researched deeper into how the body triggers and releases hormones around the time of menstruation, I knew I had something going on with my adrenal glands. And that leads us to my favorite product for hormone regulation!
While doing research, I found out that it is very common for moms to get what’s known as adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue looks different every woman, but it all comes back to the adrenal glands. The generic term for what I believed I had is adrenal dysfunction or adrenal insufficiency, which means that, because the adrenals are damaged, the adrenal glands aren’t working properly.
At this point, my internet search was starting to scare me with words like Addison’s disease and cancer growth. But to fit those diagnoses there are a lot more symptoms than what I had. And again, my symptoms were really only around the time of my periods each month. So I looked into the responsibility of the adrenal glands during menstruation and found that they are supposed to release appropriate hormones around that time and if they don’t, you can get severe period symptoms. Bingo.
One of my friends is incredibly knowledgable about homeopathic and holistic medicines and she suggested I try an adrenal support tincture. Long story short, I tried it and it worked immediately. And then it worked every month after that. It only doesn’t work if I don’t take it!
So if you’re struggling with severe period symptoms, or someone you know is, keep reading to understand why adrenal support tinctures might be the best solution!
Adrenal Insufficiency/Dysfunction or Addison’s Disease?
First, you need to take note of your symptoms. Are they constant or only around the week of your period? Are your periods regular or not? Do you have other symptoms?
Period symptoms with adrenal insufficiency
If you have adrenal dysfunction, your period symptoms might be severe because of it. For me, the whole week before my period was fair game for these symptoms. Luckily the worst of it only lasted a day and everything went away by the time my period started.
- severe headache or migraine very close to the time of menstruation
- severe lower abdominal pain
- severe back pain
Symptoms of other diseases like Addison’s and Cushing’s
Even though these share a few symptoms as above, the additional symptoms can help you rule out or come to the right conclusion for yourself. If you feel like you match either list, consult your healthcare provider before you begin any treatment or pursue a diagnosis.
Cushing’s disease symptoms
- Skin changes, skin darkening, streaking or acne
- high blood sugar
- high blood pressure
- upper body weight gain
- muscle and bone weakness
Addison’s disease symptoms
- Extreme fatigue
- weight loss
- low blood pressure
- craving salty food
- dizziness when standing
Whether you have severe period symptoms, Cushing’s, Addison’s or similar endocrine issues, you’re probably dealing with a problem of the adrenal glands. When they are compromised, for any reason, they don’t do their job sufficiently. Then the body is overwhelmed with too little or too much hormones, causing the symptoms above.
When I looked into the other endocrine diseases, they did not fit my symptoms, so I did not research those much further. For me, the timing and lack of all the other symptoms, led me to believe I had damaged adrenals that were causing a surge, or dip, in my hormones around the time of my period. That’s what I’m going to share with you from this point in this post. So if you’re concerned about more advanced endocrine diseases, this might not be as helpful for you.
How Do Adrenal Glands Affect Your Period?
The adrenals, liver and other organs of the endocrine system are in charge of hormone regulation and the adrenals especially are supposed to keep your sex hormones in balance, along with your cortisol hormone. But, because there are so many outside toxins and disruptors and stressors, it’s common for them to get bogged down. When they do, those hormones become imbalanced, which can lead to severe PMS as I described above.
Estrogen, progesterone and cortisol are the main hormones I’m talking about. These hormones must balance each other out in order to keep the body in good state. Adrenal dysfunction, also known as adrenal fatigue, is the result of damage caused by stress and toxins to the adrenal glands. This damage makes it difficult for the adrenal glands to regulate sex hormones and cortisol. When that happens, period symptoms can be severe and much worse problems could arise as well.
That’s about as far into the science as I’m able to explain. There are medical experts who do a much better job and I’ll link them all throughout this post.
Other Weird Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
Aside from your typical period symptoms, adrenal fatigue can cause other, random, yet still weird and disruptive symptoms like,
- body aches
- low blood pressure
- sleep issues
- problems with digestion
- craving sugar and salty foods
Symptoms of an acute adrenal crisis
When you’re suffering from symptoms of adrenal fatigue, regardless of the exact disease pathway, you’re susceptible to what’s known as acute adrenal crisis. If it sounds scary that’s because it is, and this situation requires close monitoring and consultation with your healthcare provider. A few of the symptoms of an acute adrenal crisis are:
- low blood pressure
- rapid breathing and heart rate
An adrenal crisis occurs when adrenal insufficiency (in my case) goes untreated. In other words, when the hormones remain out of balance, especially cortisol. In my case, I experienced an acute adrenal crisis each time my period came around. Unfortunately, and maybe thankfully, I didn’t know about this condition. Fortunately for me, symptoms resolved within hours.
But this can be a life threatening condition, especially if you’re suffering from untreated or an under-treated underlying condition.
“Adrenal crisis occurs if the adrenal gland is deteriorating (Addison’s disease, primary adrenal insufficiency), if there is pituitary gland injury (secondary adrenal insufficiency), or if adrenal insufficiency is not adequately treated.” – UCLA Health
I eventually spoke to a medical expert who listened to my experience and supported my assumption that my adrenal insufficiency was the culprit in my case. Luckily, my friend’s suggestion was just what I needed. It’s been over a year of taking the adrenal support tinctures and I have not had a single “episode” in that time. That’s why I’m sharing this information and my experience in this post.
At-Home Saliva Tests for Adrenal Function
There are at-home and laboratory tests you can do to help you confirm whether or not your adrenal glands are compromised. One easy at-home test is a saliva test kit you can take to test your cortisol and DHEA levels, which will measure your adrenal function. Those tests can be found here, but I do not have personal experience taking the test. As of right now, I do not suffer from adrenal fatigue as long as I take my tincture, so this test is not needed in my opinion, for my situation.
How Adrenal Support Tinctures Can Help with Adrenal Fatigue
I’m going to first explain why an adrenal support tincture is my go-to natural remedy for severe period symptoms and adrenal fatigue symptoms. I’m not affiliated with any company for the tincture I take, I get mine from a local apothecary and I’d recommend you look into a trusted source for your tinctures as well. But I will share the tincture I started out using and let you know that although it came from Amazon, it did work! Immediately. That first period that came after I had started the tincture, came without any severe symptoms. The difference still blows my mind! Here’s how the adrenal support tinctures work for adrenal fatigue.
To keep it simple, adrenal support tinctures assist the body in balancing out hormones and adapting to the stressors that are bogging the adrenals down. Cortisol, estrogen and progesterone hormones can return to normal levels when supplementing with an adrenal support tincture.
This tincture is comprised of herbs that have been used for this very purpose for a long time. Herbs like, Ashwaganda root, Holy Basil leaf, and Rhodiola root, are suspended in a liquid to contain the appropriate concentration necessary to deliver relief fast. But be careful, there are a lot of liquid herb supplements sold on Amazon! I’d recommend one not made in China, and backed by a herbalist. The one linked above is alcohol-free and organically sourced.
How to Use Adrenal Support Tinctures for Periods to Avoid the Acute Adrenal Crisis
Since adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency is the result of things like stress, toxins and disease, medical treatment for an adrenal crisis like I described above, may usually be a dose of hydrocortisone (a steroid) and supportive care. But since I favor and prefer the power of holistic medicine and homeopathic remedies, I’m much more comfortable taking herbal supplements to keep my adrenal fatigue in check and support my body in that way. Of course, if anything were to change, I’d take the next best steps for my health.
**Word of caution: I am not promoting NOT seeking medical attention if you think you’re having an acute adrenal crisis. I did not know about this condition while it was happening to me and my condition also resolved itself within a few hours. That’s the only reason I didn’t seek medical attention. Do what you think is right for you.
So, how does an adrenal support tincture work so magically? Those herbs are called adaptogens and they allow the body to handle stress better (adapt) and let the liver filter out toxins more easily. They also stimulate the release of cortisol so that that scary crash, aka adrenal crisis, doesn’t happen!
By taking an adrenal support tincture around the time of your period, you can avoid an acute adrenal crisis. And even better, you can get ahead of severe period symptoms like headaches, abdominal cramps, back pain and weakness. I start taking my tincture the week leading up to my period. I take it every morning for the entire week and I’m able to avoid all the severe PMS symptoms I was having before.
Other Herbal Supplements to Help Adrenal Insufficiency
In addition to an adrenal support tincture, you can take other herbal supplements to support your endocrine and other systems. According to one herbalist, the best herbs for adrenal fatigue are these adaptogens:
- Astragalus – this root is sourced in China but organic and on Amazon
- Ashwagandha – this root is sourced in India on Amazon
- Licorice – this organic tea is on Amazon
- Eleuthero – this root is sourced from China, but organic on Amazon
I personally am taking, in addition to my adrenal support tincture, another tincture of Ashwagandha alone. I take this for rapid heart rate/palpitations and feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.
Commonly Asked Questions About Adrenal Tinctures
Adrenal Dysfunction and Adrenal Fatigue are conditions that look so different for each individual. But it all boils down to your system being overwhelmed, whether by stress or disease or toxins or all of the above! If you’re a breathing human, you’re susceptible as we all are exposed to these aspects of life. So although the discussions about adrenal fatigue seem new, the concept and herbal applications have been around a very long time. Here are some things you may be wondering now, or might question along the way of navigating this topic.
Is it ok to take adrenal support supplements?
Unlike taking medications which contain hormones, like adrenal extracts, taking herbal supplements are safe, with little to no side effects. Of course, there aren’t a lot of pubmed studies done on herbal remedies, but the ones that have been done, show that there is truth to claim that adaptogens, like Ashwagandha, can help symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Here are a few peer-reviewed studies that support such claims.
This study concluded that Ashwagandha had a regulating effect on cortisol and DHEA-S hormones and has a “moderating effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. However, further investigation utilizing larger sample sizes, diverse clinical and cultural populations, and varying treatment dosages are needed to substantiate these findings.”
(You’ll often see this last sentence in studies done on herbal remedies.)
And this study, also peer-reviewed, concluded that “Ashwagandha root aqueous extract was beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety.”
This study concluded that there are numerous benefits of using licorice root supplements to combat adrenal fatigue, PCOS, infertility and as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
If you want to find more studies on particular herbal remedies, you’ll easily find them by specifically searching for peer-reviewed studies or journals, followed by the herb in question. But remember, herbal remedies are not a popular topic for the modern medical community and when researchers conduct these studies, they are limited. The National Institute of Medicine explains why here.
How long does it take for adrenal support to work?
Obviously, since every person will have a different case of adrenal fatigue, they will also have varying timelines of recovery. For me, my severe symptoms around the time of my period were gone once I started the adrenal tincture. Meaning, I took the tincture before my next period, and did not experience the same symptoms I had been having each month for the year prior.
According to one source, Dr. Lam, symptoms of adrenal fatigue in general can clear up as fast as 3 weeks after starting the adrenal support supplements or take as long as 3 months.
In addition to taking adrenal supplements, you should be focusing on stress relief activities, a good diet and avoid toxins, especially BPA, phthalates, and DDT, to name a few.
How do you know if you need adrenal supplements?
If you’re experiencing the midday crash, wired with drive, but feel exhausted, or have severe symptoms around the time of your period, you might have adrenal fatigue. If you have irregular periods, a hard time getting pregnant, miscarriages or other conditions related to reproduction, adrenal support might help you too!
For me, the severe symptoms were debilitating, even if just for half a day. The headaches, nausea and weakness were misery while they were happening and I needed a solution. I have children who need me, I can’t afford to be out of commission like that!
What I eventually realized is that I am not alone. Many people suffer from adrenal fatigue and adrenal insufficiency. But thankfully, the solution for me is simple, safe and fast working. And if you have found yourself dealing with this same seemingly unexplained condition, you’re not alone either! There is something that can help you! Worse case scenario, you take the adrenal support and it doesn’t offer you any relief. In which case, you can take the next step, which may involve deeper tests and monitoring by a healthcare expert.
I hope this has answered your questions if you’ve been looking for an in-depth explanation about adrenal fatigue, especially as it relates to menstruation. And if you’re suffering from symptoms you believe are caused by adrenal insufficiency, give an adrenal support tincture a try! Let me know if it helps you.