If a person has adrenal fatigue, and the adrenal glands are unable to function properly, taking Licorice will promote their health, and once healthy again, they will be able to function properly again.
This is just saying "it's good for your illness" without saying how. I prefer to know how things work.
For example, SSRIs improve your mood (putatively) by making your serotonin more potent by keeping it from breaking down. When you know this, you know you don't want to take SSRIs at the same time as trying to increase your serotonin levels with, say, 5-HTP. You end up with too much serotonin.
Turns out that licorice improves your cortisol effectiveness by making your cortisol more potent by keeping it from breaking down, too.
But what happens if you already have high cortisol and try to make that cortisol more powerful?
Well, I've been doing some thinking about that recently and I'm wondering if maybe there's one particular way it may not be so bad after all.
Take a look at the following diagram:
There's a feedback mechanism in there. The presence of cortisol inhibits the output of CRH and ACTH. Something with "Adrenal Fatigue" sufferers is broken and causing runaway cortisol, though. I'm guessing it's coming from the area in the diagram labelled "stress", but it's not external in most people. I'm guessing it's hyperactive limbic systems in most people. Or hyperactive limbic systems plus other stressors (like infection or toxicity). (So, since the limbic system is probably a big part, mindfulness meditation, relaxation exercises, light exercise, physical touch, and breathing exercises should be really helpful.)
If you have AF and it runs your cortisol really high, it could be that the feedback inhibition is still working, but the incoming signal is just so strong. There's a lot of feedback inhibition from high cortisol levels, but the incoming signal is so strong that you still end up with high cortisol. But, still, the feedback inhibition is effectively limiting the cortisol levels, albeit only at a high degree.
Could it be that if you made your cortisol linger with something like licorice, that the feedback inhibition would still work as it has been working, and that the cortisol levels would still be limited at their usual abnormal high? No substantial change in cortisol levels. Maybe.
If that could work, what's the point? You'd still have high cortisol. Well, this would reduce the amount of cortisol that would need to be created. That could relax the adrenal gland effort, which is generally thought to be helpful, and maybe even the pituitary and hypothalamus.
You'd still have to find a way to lower your cortisol levels. (Again I refer to the relaxation practices mentioned earlier.) But this could ease up the pressure on your adrenals.
The question I have is whether the cortisol feedback inhibition would still set the max cortisol level at its usual abnormal high, or whether making cortisol more potent/longer lasting would just further amplify the effectiveness of the freaked out Limbic-Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal system regardless of the inhibition.
I think whether the feedback inhibition could cap the cortisol at the usual abnormal high depends on whether the limbic system is asking for a particular high level of alarm, or whether it's just (mis)calibrated to put out signals at a certain level without regard to feedback to itself. I suppose it all comes down to this. If the limbic system can itself get feedback (via sensing cortisol and cortisol's effects), it would only send as much signal as required to reach the particular level of alarm that it wants. Which would mean that the rest of the LHPA would be less pushed around.
There's some theory. The only way we can know for sure is to have people test.
If you have high cortisol, try taking a tiny amount of licorice and gradually increasing the dose over the course of a few weeks. If you don't notice an increase in cortisol, then this theory pans out (and arn was right all along).