Adrenal cocktails have been trending on social media and health sites for months.
Influencers claim they can help support your adrenals, sleep, stress, energy, hormone function, and more.
But what exactly are adrenal cocktails, and do they live up to their hype?
Read on for helpful information on adrenal cocktails, including what goes into one, their potential benefits, side effects, and whether they’re worth a try.
What is an Adrenal Cocktail?
The basic building blocks of an adrenal cocktail are:
- A juice with natural vitamin C, typically orange, pineapple, or other citrus juices.
- Coconut water as a source of electrolytes and minerals, such as potassium.
- A healthy pinch of salt for trace minerals and electrolytes.
Some adrenal cocktail recipes include spices such as:
- Ginger or Cinnamon for flavor and digestive or metabolic support*
- Aloe vera juice an alternative to coconut water
- Coconut milk as a source of healthy, satisfying fat
- Collagen powder for protein and to support gut health*
- Cream of tartar for potassium
This combination of ingredients is believed to help support adrenal function and fight what’s known as “adrenal fatigue,” “adrenal burnout,” or, more formally, “HPA Axis dysregulation.”
Although the medical establishment does not recognize “adrenal fatigue” as a valid condition, many alternative, integrative, and functional medicine doctors and practitioners do.
Here’s an overview of what the adrenals are, what adrenal fatigue is (according to integrative medicine), and how an adrenal cocktail may help.What are the Adrenals?
The adrenals are two walnut-sized, triangular-shaped glands that sit atop the kidneys.
These glands are responsible for producing various stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline.
They’re also involved in the function of sex hormones, electrolyte balance, digestion, metabolism, blood pressure, blood sugar, stress response, and many other bodily functions.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
As previously stated, the medical establishment does not consider “adrenal fatigue” or “adrenal burnout” as actual conditions.
Case in point, a 2016 Review published in BMC Endocrine Disorders concluded this condition is a myth.REF#2912
However, some integrative health doctors and practitioners believe it is a subclinical or undetectable version of adrenal insufficiency (where the body doesn’t produce enough adrenal hormones).
Others, such as functional medical doctors, feel the terms HPA Axis Dysfunction or HPA Axis Dysregulation are more accurate descriptions.
HPA Axis dysfunction or dysregulation is a condition brought on by stressREF#2913 in which the adrenals become less sensitive to adrenal hormones, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, poor digestion, chronic stress, mental health concerns, etc.
The most common symptoms believed to be associated with adrenal fatigue or HPA Axis dysfunction are:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Weight gain (especially around the abdominals)
- Sleep disturbance
- Mood swings
- A heightened sensitivity to stress
Although the medical establishment may consider the science settled on adrenal fatigue, information on HPA Axis dysregulation suggests there may be more to the adrenal puzzle. More research is needed.
How Do Adrenal Cocktails Work?
There have been no studies conducted on the efficacy of adrenal cocktails for supporting adrenal function.
However, proponents of these elixirs believe they work by replenishing vital nutrients, such as minerals from sea salt and vitamin C from oranges, that support adrenal gland function.
But is there any actual science behind this theory?
Although there is no science validating the adrenal cocktail combination, there is established research backing the effects of nutrients found in the basic ingredients (oranges, coconut water, and sea salt) on different aspects of adrenal function.
Let’s look at how each ingredient may support adrenal function and potentially alleviate certain symptoms:
Orange juice or juices with natural vitamin C
The adrenal glands have one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the body, and vitamin C is essential to various aspects of adrenal function, including hormone production and stress response. REF#2914
Research has also shown Vitamin C is excreted by the adrenals in response to stress.REF#2915 Stress is believed to be a leading cause of “adrenal fatigue” and is directly related to HPA Axis dysregulation.
Vitamin C is also essential for the proper absorption of iron, acts as an antioxidant that may support cell function and normal inflammatory response, and provides a good amount of natural sugars,REF#2916 which may explain the reported increases in energy from people taking adrenal cocktails.
Coconut water contains several nutritional components that may support adrenal function*.
For example, coconut water contains natural electrolytes, such as potassium, which supports adrenal, kidney, and muscular function.REF#2917
It’s also 97% water, low in sodium, and contains a small amount of natural sugars, making it an ultra-hydrating beverage with energizing properties.
Coconut water also contains magnesium, with one cup boasting 14% of your recommended daily magnesium amount.REF#2917
Sea salt is the most controversial ingredient in adrenal cocktails because many Americans already consume too much sodium.
However, high-quality sea salt does contain several trace minerals that support electrolyte and mineral balance, which supports adrenal function.
This is why salt is included in commercial sports drinks and other electrolyte products.
However, getting too much salt can be problematic for anyone, especially those with heart or kidney disease.
Are Adrenal Cocktails Safe For Everyone?
If you’re okay with drinking orange, pineapple, or other citrus juice, coconut water or cream of tarter, and a bit of extra salt, then yes, an adrenal cocktail is safe to drink.
Since coconut water is low in sugar, an adrenal cocktail may even be safe for those with blood sugar issues, provided they replace orange juice with lemon juice or another low-sugar option. However, check with your doctor or dietician first.
Adrenal cocktails may not be safe for people with heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or metabolic conditions.
Those with coconut allergies should substitute coconut water for another potassium-containing ingredient, such as cream of tarter or banana.
In general, adrenal cocktails are a healthful and natural beverage and make a great alternative to sodas or other sugary drinks.
How To Make An Adrenal Cocktail: Adrenal Cocktail Recipe
A quick online search will yield various recipes for adrenal cocktails, but here’s a basic recipe you can make at home:
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup coconut water
- A pinch of sea salt, pink salt, or Celtic sea salt
Mix to dissolve the salt, sip, and enjoy once or twice daily.
Looking For Other Natural Adrenal Support?
Various herbs, such as nervines and adaptogens, have been used for centuries to support adrenal function and a healthy stress response*.
Some examples include:
- Ashwagandha: An Ayurvedic adaptogen, which studies suggest may support various aspects of healthy sleep, stress response, HPA Axis function, and emotional well-being.REF#2918 REF#2919
- Passionflower: A go-to nervine may help promote healthy, restful sleep and a peaceful state of mind.REF#2920
- Rhodiola: A rose-scented herb native to Siberia that’s been shown to have potentially beneficial properties for promoting normal energy, stress, and stamina.REF#2921
- Tulsi (Holy Basil): Also known as “liquid yoga,” this herb is a staple in Ayurveda, the traditional wellness practice of India. Research suggests Tulsi may help reduce stress by supporting adrenal function.REF#2922
- Schisandra: A traditional Chinese herb used extensively to support a healthy stress response and the central nervous system.REF#2923
As you’ve learned, stress can be hard on the adrenals and even lead to HPA Axis dysregulation.
Therefore, regular stress management techniques can help support adrenal and whole-body health.
The adrenals also benefit from a healthy lifestyle, which includes a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats; plenty of hydration; regular exercise; and optimal sleep.
For many people, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping a handle on stress is enough to provide optimal adrenal support.
If you’re concerned your adrenals could use a little extra TLC, talk to your healthcare practitioner about trying adrenal cocktails and/or herbal supplements.
- 1. , "Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review", BMC Endocrine Disorders . 1 1. , "Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review", BMC Endocrine Disorders .
- 2. , "A new model for the HPA axis explains dysregulation of stress hormones on the timescale of weeks", Molecular Systems Biology. . 2 2. , "A new model for the HPA axis explains dysregulation of stress hormones on the timescale of weeks", Molecular Systems Biology. .
- 3. , "Vitamin C is an important cofactor for both adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla", Endocrine Research. . 3 3. , "Vitamin C is an important cofactor for both adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla", Endocrine Research. .
- 4. , "Human adrenal glands secrete vitamin C in response to adrenocorticotrophic hormone", The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. . 4 4. , "Human adrenal glands secrete vitamin C in response to adrenocorticotrophic hormone", The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. .
- 5. , "The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Energy Metabolism and Well-Being", The Journal of International Medical Research. . 5 5. , "The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Energy Metabolism and Well-Being", The Journal of International Medical Research. .
- 6. , "Nuts, coconut water (liquid from coconuts)", USDA FoodData Central. . 6 6. , "Nuts, coconut water (liquid from coconuts)", USDA FoodData Central. .
- 7. , "Clinical evaluation of the pharmacological impact of ashwagandha root extract on sleep in healthy volunteers and insomnia patients: A double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study", Journal of Ethnopharmacology. . 7 7. , "Clinical evaluation of the pharmacological impact of ashwagandha root extract on sleep in healthy volunteers and insomnia patients: A double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study", Journal of Ethnopharmacology. .
- 8. , "An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract", Medicine (Baltimore) . 8 8. , "An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract", Medicine (Baltimore) .
- 9. , "A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality", Phytotherapy Research. . 9 9. , "A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality", Phytotherapy Research. .
- 10. , "Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy", Phytomedicine. . 10 10. , "Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy", Phytomedicine. .
- 11. , "Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons", Journal of Ayurveda Integrative Medicine. 11 11. , "Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons", Journal of Ayurveda Integrative Medicine.
- 12. , "Schisandra chinensis and its phytotherapeutical applications", Ceska a Slovenska Farmacie . 12 12. , "Schisandra chinensis and its phytotherapeutical applications", Ceska a Slovenska Farmacie .