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What is it, how can you avoid it, and what can you do about it?

I think of burnout as exhausted adrenals: when you've pushed those glands so hard for so long that they can't produce any adrenaline at all at all anymore, you crash. Totally, utterly and completely. It'll take you a day or a week just to get out of bed, and if you abuse your adrenals by, say, drinking caffeine-containing beverages or taking caffeine pills, by smoking, or by getting stressed about anything at all, you crash again. Caffeine, nicotine and stress are all adrenaline stimulants. (I'm sure that I've forgotten one or the other important adrenaline exhauster - please add them in the comments.)

Most of the people I've seen who have had burnout (you don't see them while they're at the bottom of the pit, as they don't have the energy to seek help then) had been overdoing caffeine for months or years before their crash. As their normal cuppa coffee (or similar) stopped working they switched to more coffee, and after a couple potsful a day stopped working they went on to harder stuff (like caffeine fizzies), until they finally popped caffeine pills, possibly by the dozen, just to stay on top of things one more day, one more hour ...

... you know, cemeteries are full of indispensable people.

So think things over: do you really need to be completely and utterly out of the loop for the three years or so that it'll take you to recover from a burnout? Or, er, forget about getting back into the loop. The people that I've seen with burnout have all switched to less draining work, as soon as they possibly could.

Three years is about the time it takes for your adrenals to recover, if you stop all caffeine, all nicotine, and all stress.

Herbs can help you: try licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), real ginseng root (Panax ginseng) (forget about ginseng products, they're usually just caffeine and sugar, and there are cheaper caffeine'n'sugar fixes: try a nice latte, or one of those disgusting caffeine fizzy drinks out there), ginseng leaf (Panax quinquefolius), nettle seed (Urtica dioica), codonopsis (Codonopsis pilosula and other species) (mmmm, codonopsis. Yum!), gotu kola (Centella asiatica), or any of the other adrenal-strengthening herbs.

But herbs won't help you if you don't change your habits. Michigan herbalist Jim McDonald (waves to Jim) said it very nicely: sure, you can put aloe vera on the blisters under the soles of your feet, but don't you think it'd be a good idea to also step out of that sizzling hot frying pan?

Here's a helpful list of caffeine-containing plants: guarana (Paullinia cupana), coffee (Coffea arabica), mate (Ilex paraguariensis), and cola nuts (Cola acuminata) (cola drinks contain caffeine from the cola nuts, and most have extra caffeine added), among others. Tea (Camellia sinensis) and cocoa (Theobroma cacao) contain related xanthine alkaoids. You might wish to go slow on these two, too, while you're recovering.


ahh, a combo of fresh nettle and fresh milky oat tincture sure is nice for this, I've found. Milky Oats, to me, is specific, since often these people want to use adaptogens to help them get back into the swing of extreme over-exertion (why stop at tapping out your adrenals when you can tap out your core/vital energy itself?). Stimulating adaptogens can be and are used that way: to stimulate peripheral energy while expending core energy.

I've had people say that starting on Milky Oats leaves them feeling tired, and they wonder since exhaustion (or, really, oscillating between nervous anxiety and exhaustion) is what they wanted to address. I tell em you can't skip over recuperation. You feel tired because you ~are~ tired. And you'll need to rest and avoid excess to get through it. I dont really think we can avoid all stress, but we certainly can choose to not cultivate more.

And, can you imagine if Milky Oats became the new "fad herb"? It might be one of the best plants I know of to get used by everybody...

Heh yes. Milky oats is simply cool.

so, milky oats. i don't use them because i'm celiac and a large majority of my clients (and the rest of the world) is gluten intolerant too.

but...there's not protein in tea, right? i mean, that sounds like such a stupid thing to say. but it seems to me that if you're making a tea or a tincture, actually, it shouldn't have any protein in it, so it shouldn't be a danger, right? i really hate not being able to use them...


There is protein both in the tea and in the tincture.
Try St. John's wort, or scullcap, or verbena, or ...

well thank you. i've been harassed by pretty much every herbalist i know for refusing to use oats because of gluten, and yeah, i just stick to the other nervines. but now i am vindicated! :P

Haven't been able to find any articles or a link between Ephedra / Mahuang and adrenal burn out. Any info here or research you are aware of? I'm burn't big time! I used ephedra based products probably since I was in my late teens. I'm now 47. Never had any issues with it's use, but now since it is highly regulated, and criminally costly, and liability riddled; it's hard to come by. For the last 2-3 years however long it's been since they pulled it - I've crashed & burned! Nothing works to get that jumpstart in the morning, and I'm pretty much just going through lifes motions as a zombie, watching years of hard work, and accomplishments just rot away, pretty much helpless to get involved, and change the course.

Get milky oats, that'll strengthen your nervous system, not deplete you further.

Thanks - seems to be working a little, after a week.

I am a researcher for a herbal manufacturer in Canada, St. Francis Herb Farm, Inc. and we tested our milky oats seed tincture at a 3rd-party (university-based) analytical lab and they found it to be gluten-free. Gluten was non-detectable. We also had milk thistle seed tincture tested and it came back with traces of gluten! Couldn't figure that one out but it was still nevertheless well below the limit to be allowed to be labeled as "gluten-free" according to EU guidelines.

We do use grain alcohol (from corn), which many celiacs have concerns about.

My own thought is that tincturing of course uses alcohol, which must be degrading the proteins. We also have a few products that contain liquid cow's milk whey and were tested for milk protein allergens (casein etc) and also found non-detectable. On further testing it was found that it took about 2 weeks of contact with the alcohol to fully degrade the proteins. Products that were simply mixed (with liquid whey) and then tested still had the protein but once left to macerate 2 weeks the proteins disappeared. Thought everyone might be interested in that.

Cool, thanks for that!