Holistic Health

What’s an Adrenal Cocktail?

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Adrenal cocktails are all the rage in holistic health circles. I have several symptoms of taxed adrenals and and with the support of my doctor, I decided to give it a whirl. In this post we will explore this holistic health phenomenal and whether or not this pick-me-up drink is worth your time.


I am going to be brutally honest here. Most health fads are just that, fads. You can trace almost all diet and nutrition fads back to some form of pseudo science and there is almost always a business hiding in the wings that is making a killing off of your hard earned money and your sincere desire to be healthy. I said most… but not all. There are tried and true balanced nutrition schools of thought that mirror the way our ancestors used to eat before heart disease or diabetes were a thing. Those are based on hundreds, if not thousands of years of evidence.

I view every new fad out there with a very healthy skepticism. I have found some legitimate and necessary nutrition supplements, but I lean towards food as medicine and my supplement routine is usually limited to cold and flu season immune boosters, quality minerals an antioxidants, a little MSM, some necessary essential oil blends for my hormones/thyroid and liver capsules. But, when I am healthy, that’s usually about it. So, let’s dig in to adrenal cocktails.


To understand why you would want to drink an adrenal cocktail, you should understand the role of your adrenal glands. Located just above your kidneys, the adrenal glands work to regulate hormones like cortisol, aldosterone and adrenaline, that serve vital functions in your body. They control your energy levels as well as your flight of flight response. It is what makes your heart rate increase and blood pressure rise when you are under stress.

As long as these hormones remain balanced, your body feels good and energized and ready to respond to danger, but an imbalance causes a host of symptoms called Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Notice I didn’t call AFS a disease? That’s because it’s not, it’s the symptom of an underlying imbalance or deficiency.

AFS occurs when severe stress or long term constant stress depletes your body’s ability to make the hormones needed to handle that stress. Think of your fight or flight system as an internal alarm clock. It’s been a part of us since the beginning of our evolution and it was intended to keep us alive when our lives were in danger. Even though we don’t live in caves and aren’t fighting off wild animals in the night like our ancestors did, we still have the same internal alarm system we did back then. The problem is when that alarm system gets stuck in the on switch and it inhibits the “rest and repair” system, which is necessary for your adrenals to recover.


AFS symptoms may be something you barely notice at first, but they can sneak up on you and get worse over time.  AFS leads to lower levels of a number of hormones and neurotransmitters and effects literally every single part of your body. Every individual with AFS can have different symptoms, but there are always common complaints.

The most common signs, which are experienced by most (if not all) sufferers, include symptoms like fatigue and food cravings. Then there are the less common symptoms, like low blood pressure and frequent urination. Take a look at these common symptoms and see how many apply to you.

  1. Difficulty getting up in the morning

  2. Anxiety and overwhelm

  3. Craving salty foods often

  4. Extreme fatigue that persists

  5. Weight gain

  6. Overuse of stimulants, like coffee

  7. You get sick often due to a weakened immune system

  8. Dark circles under your eyes

  9. High and constant anxiety

  10. Dry skin


In order to maintain a healthy hormonal balance, a key to healthy adrenal glands, you must also keep your mineral intake balanced. For example, to maintain good levels of aldosterone you need a balance of sodium and potassium. The ideal ratio of sodium to potassium inside your cells is 1:16.

That’s an issue for most people because the typical American diet contains much more sodium than potassium. A large study in the US showed that most people consume about half of the recommended daily potassium dose. This affects you as more sodium leaves your cells with water.  That causes your cells to get dehydrated and become deficient in sodium and stop functioning adequately. Your adrenal cells also become affected due to electrolyte depletion, leading to insufficient aldosterone levels that, in turn, cause fatigue.

People often feel it coming on and reach for sugar and caffeine. I used to personally reach for an afternoon iced coffee. However, these cause a spike and crash in blood sugar that can worsen fatigue and further harm your adrenals. I can vouch for that. An adrenal cocktail, on the other hand, hypothetically would work to restore the balance in minerals, not make them more unbalanced.

At certain times of the day, typically between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. or between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., your body’s supply of adrenal hormones will naturally run low. If your mineral levels also run low, your body can not make more of the needed hormones. This results in that afternoon slump we all know so well and why adrenal health proponents suggest that 10am and 2pm are ideal times to drink Adrenal Cocktails.


The main health value of the adrenal cocktail and the shining star of the recipe is potassium. It contains the building blocks required for potassium to work at its optimum and helps with cell absorption.


Orange juice (make sure it’s REAL orange juice and not full of sugar and other stuff) provides the vitamin C needed to help your body heal your body from stress-related damage. It also supports the liver in absorbing glucose, which it needs for its regeneration. Your adrenal glands can store and use vitamin C to make their hormones. When you are under extreme stress, the adrenals use vitamin C to make more cortisol and other hormones. This is a critical vitamin for your body.

When your adrenals become fatigued, they actually strive to produce more cortisol. Consequently, with your body making more cortisol and flooding your system with it without sufficient vitamin C, you may begin to experience problems with your blood sugar, out-of-balance blood pressure, and an accumulation of body fat around your abdomen.


Sea salt does not contain iodine and contains trace minerals that your body needs for electrolytes. Table salt with added iodine carries a key mineral that is important for thyroid health. Both types of salt are important electrolytes that your cells need to process fluid throughout your body.


Cream of tartar, the common name for potassium bitartrate, is high in potassium, containing 14% of your daily value in a teaspoon. It comes as a white powder that dissolves in water and acid. It dissolves well in citrus juice. When you make the adrenal cocktail, make sure you mix it completely so the cream of tartar doesn’t stick to the bottom of your container.

** Side note: Cream of Tarter is a byproduct of winemaking and has trace amounts of sulfites in it. If you are allergic to sulfites, this drink isn’t for you. But since the levels are so low, even I didn’t have an issue and I am sensitive to them.


This recipe for an adrenal cocktail is simple and easy. It involves three simple ingredients.

  • 4 oz of orange juice, fresh squeezed and organic preferred

  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

  • ¼ teaspoon of sea salt

Drink the adrenal cocktail once or twice a day. Some people say drinking it an hour before or after a meal works best. Others suggest drinking it at those times when your mineral levels are naturally low, either in the morning at about 10 o’clock or afternoon at about 2 o’clock.

You can start with one adrenal cocktail per day to see how your body reacts. Be aware that people with adrenal fatigue tend to be more sensitive to adding new foods or supplements compared to others, so start low and go slow. and pay attention to how your body feels. If you have any negative reactions, stop right away.


Many people add other ingredients to make variations of the adrenal cocktail and you can modify yours to meet your specific health needs. There are low sugar options, energy options and even an actual cocktail version. Find the right fit for you and spice it up a little bit with 7 Ways to Upgrade Your Adrenal Cocktail.

After 6 months of drinking my variation of an adrenal cocktail every morning, I can tell you that my energy levels, especially in the afternoon, have improved greatly. For full disclosure, during that same time frame, I also added liver capsules in to my supplement regime and those are also very high in minerals. My body and thyroid clearly needed them because by some miracle, my thyroid has started working on it’s own again! My functional medicine doctor was shocked with my blood work. After over 20 years, I literally kick started my thyroid. While this is only my personal experience and I have also worked hard on de-stressing my life, I count it as a huge win.


Here’s the thing. Most people (if not all) people in America are highly deficient in critical minerals. This is mostly because of our processed American diet, our modern day agriculture practices that have stripped our soil and food of nutrients and the disappearance of mineral dense organs like liver from our food culture. Those minerals are necessary for your thyroid, adrenals and entire metabolic system to function properly…. on a good day, and even prior to the modern day bombardment of toxic hormone disruptors in our products. Instead of reaching for more coffee or a soda as a pick me, make yourself an adrenal cocktail instead, your body will thank you.

If you truly suffer from true AFS or you have other health complications, this cocktail may be beneficial, but it won’t heal you all by itself. Find a Functional Medicine doctor or Naturopath that can help you to reduce your stress levels, balance your diet and nutrition and investigate possible additional culprits like heavy metals in your water, PUFAs in your diet, fluoride poisoning, mold, phthalates, synthetic fragrances or a host of other issues.

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