If you had a superhero name, what would it be?
Me? I’d be a villain – the Salt Bandit.
Ask anyone in my house, and they’ll tell you that when the salt shaker goes missing all eyes turn to me.
It’s no surprise, really. As I mentioned in 15 ways to be kind to your adrenals, salt can be helpful in supporting optimal adrenal function, which is something I’ve been working on for the past year.
Today I’m going to share an adrenal support tonic tip from Dr. James Wilson’s book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. I can’t really call it a recipe since it’s so simple, but I’ve found it incredibly helpful in my journey. Are you ready? Here it is: Lightly salt your water. Yep, that’s it.
I also add vitamin C and will explain why later, but for now let’s stick with the salt. You see, “one of the main functions of the adrenal glands is to retain salt,” and that’s an important job because, historically, we didn’t always have easy access to it. (source) These days, though, we can provide the body with a steady supply, which keeps salt levels in the blood at the proper levels while reducing the workload on the adrenals.
Update! If you don’t want to DIY . . .
Jigsaw Health is now making an adrenal cocktail that is very similar to the recipe below. I’ve been using recently and I love it. Here’s where to find it.
So how much salt, and when?
Here’s what Dr. Wilson has to say:
“Water poses a specific problem for people with adrenal fatigue because they tend toward dehydration but can easily over dilute the circulating electrolytes (sodium, potassium and [chloride]) in their blood by drinking too much water. The balance of sodium and potassium significantly affects the symptoms experienced by people and drinking plain water alters this balance . . . To help balance the ratio of water to sodium try adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (sodium chloride) to every glass of drinking water. You will probably find that the lightly salted water actually tastes better than regular water if your adrenals are low because the salted water is more beneficial to your body. If you are feeling especially draggy or fatigued, add more salt to the water. If you have an aversion to salted water, then you probably need less salt or no salt in the water. Too much salt in the water will make you nauseated so adjust according to taste.”
As you can see, a lot of it is based on your body’s response. When I began my healing journey I put a heaping 1/4 teaspoon in just about every glass of water, but over time I intuitively started using less. These days, I typically drink salted water or bone broth first thing in the morning and around lunch time, plus a pinch when I happen to remember.
What about potassium?
With adrenal insufficiency, potassium tends to be high while sodium tends to be low. The adrenals have to work to keep these two in balance, so practitioners such as Dr. Michael Lam, author of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, suggests avoiding high potassium foods.
While certain electrolyte-rich drinks – coconut water for example – are wonderful in general, they are not generally recommended for individuals with adrenal insufficiency due to their high potassium content. Other foods that are high in potassium are bananas, dried figs, raisins, dates oranges and grapefuit. (source)
Why Himalayan salt?
Unlike table salt, and even sea salt that is produced by evaporating sea water, Himalayan sea salt contains trace minerals that act as “spark plugs” for the adrenals.
“Many trace minerals act as coenzymes, so-called catalysts in chemical reactions. That means they function as spark plugs, getting chemical reactions going without actually being changed in the process. That’s important, because our bodies are giant laboratories, where billions of chemical reactions are taking place all of the time.
Trace minerals play roles in your body’s production of neurotransmitters, biochemicals that send messages through your nervous system; in the production of major hormones secreted by your thyroid and adrenal glands; and in your body’s ability to burn carbohydrates and fat for energy.” (source)
Other varieties that also contain trace minerals, such as Celtic sea salt or Real Salt, are good options as well.
Optional Add-In: Vitamin C
“Of all the vitamins and minerals involved in adrenal metabolism,” writes Dr. Wilson, “vitamin C is probably the most important.”
Though they don’t necessarily have to be taken simultaneously, I’ve personally found it convenient to incorporate Vitamin C into my Himalayan Salt Adrenal Tonic.
But not just any vitamin C. “Vitamin C, as it occurs in nature, always appears as a composite of ascorbic acid and certain bioflavinoids. It is this vitamin C complex that is so beneficial, not just ascorbic acid by itself. Bioflavinoids are essential if ascorbic acid is to be fully metabolized and utilized by your body.” (source)
Opinions are split on how much is optimal – some recommend mega doses for those who need adrenal support, while others suggest that excessive doses could deplete other nutrients in the body. Conservative recommendations usually run in the 500-600 mg range, which is what I take. In times of stress or illness I may increase my intake for a few days, but most of the time it’s in that range.
What kind of vitamin C?
As I shared in my post on making creamsicle gummy snacks, many vitamin C supplements that claim to be “derived from sago palm” or something else may sound like they’re natural, but often they contain at least some synthetic C.
For a truly food-based source, I rely on dried fruit powders, preferably those that have been dried at low temperatures to preserve vitamin content. One of my favorites, acerola powder, has substantial levels of vitamin C and bioflavinoids plus naturally occurring pantothenic acid and magnesium, which aid in absorption. However, because I feel it’s important to rotate supplements every once in awhile, I also use baobab fruit powder and a few others. You can find the brands I buy on my shopping page.
Now, as I said at the beginning of this this is pretty much an UNrecipe, but here’s how I pull all these recommendations together in my daily life.
Himalayan Salt & Vitamin C Adrenal Support Tonic
- tall glass of water about 8 ounces
- ¼-½ teaspoon Himalayan or other unrefined sea salt adjust to taste, less is fine
- Whole food-based vitamin optional (you can find the dried acerola powder I use on my shopping page)
- Combine all ingredients in a glass and drink. Many practitioners suggest lightly salting every glass of water, which I did in my early days of healing. Now I typically add salt and vitamin C in the morning when I wake up and at midday, plus a pinch throughout the day when I remember.
Looking for more adrenal nourishing drinks?
Adaptogens are herbs that help the body adapt to stress by supporting the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis – usually called the HPA axis. Here’s a list of some of the most often used ones, along with safety information for pregnant and nursing mamas.