Chances are you may be one of millions who is suffering from fatigue or trying to maximize their energy levels. Searching for the holy grail of energy is somewhat of a personal quest as the right answer for you will be based upon your unique body and chemical make-up. More than likely you have experienced the negative consequences of other forms of energy supplements. Caffeine can initially shock your adrenals into a frenzy of energy but there’s the crash as well the strength of effects diminishing over time, while your body craves more and more. Maybe you’ve experienced jitters, anxiety and irritability from caffeine pills. Perhaps you’ve jumped on the energy drink roller coaster and experienced being sling-shot into super orbit only to be violently torn back down to earth in a depressing crash.
Caffeine can be very taxing on the adrenals. Your adrenal glands look like little hats that sit on top of your kidneys and respond to stress by regulating cortisol, adrenaline and other chemicals. Shocking the adrenal glands into overproduction mode causes imbalance and a cascade of other ill effects. In moderation, caffeine can be a wonderful thing but more often than not its use becomes abused and a series of negative consequences manifest.
Everyone is looking for that extra pick-me-up to make it through a tough day and otherwise just be on their A game. Of course a proper diet and exercise will naturally help boost your energy levels but most of us want something we can easily supplement with.
These are 5 wonderful herbs that can give you a steady, no-crash, reliable stream of energy. These will provide clarity of mind, increased mental and physical performance but not shock your system into what feels like an artificial adrenaline shot to the heart. Many of these herbs are “adaptogens.” Adaptogens are named such as they have the ability to allow people who ingest them to adapt to stress in a balanced fashion. They are able to provide your body a level of homeostasis while providing calm and reliable energy. They help the body work together in a concerted effort rather than kicking one work horse into a frenzy only to leave it collapsing in exhaustion.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthro Root)
Siberian ginseng is technically not ginseng and is more properly referred to as eleuthro or eleuthro root. Its scientific name is Eleutherococcus senticosus. It received its ginseng nickname because its believed to work very similarly to Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng). It’s an excellent replacement to those Red Bulls, Rock Stars or whatever other energy drink may be your drug of choice.
Eleuthro root is an adaptogen and works to balance the body. In addition to providing excellent mental and physical energy it also provides pain relief to many. Here are well-known and scientifically researched pharmacological effects of eleuthro root.
- Increased mental and physical energy
- Increased endurance and reduced fatigue
- Enhanced cognitive performance (learning and memory)
- Mood enhancement with an anti-depressant effect
Korean Ginseng (Panax Ginseng)
Korean ginseng, also known as Panax ginseng (Panax vietnamensis), is a root that is also an adaptogen. Korean ginseng will help you stay alert and focused during the day while leaving you feeling less exhausted at the end of the day. In addition to providing mental and physical energy it has many other powerful health benefits.
Korean ginseng enhances your immune system and circulatory system. People report a significant decrease in sickness after regular use. In regards to circulation, people who suffer from cold extremities and other ill effects from poor circulation find it relieved by enhanced blood flow provided by supplementing with the Korean ginseng. Another interesting effect of this root is its historical attribution as an aphrodisiac. That’s right, it has the ability to enhance sexual arousal and is one of the most popular herbs used to treat male sexual dysfunction. So to recap ginseng has the following abilities:
- Increased mental and physical energy
- Enhanced circulation
- Immune system booster
- Enhanced sexual performance
Yerba mate is a powerful energy herb that is derived from a species of holly tree (as in boughs of holly). It is a rainforest plant full of 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and 11 polyphenols and also contains antioxidants. It does contain caffeine but at about 1/3 the dose of a typical cup of coffee. The nutrient and chemical composition of yerba mate is such that the caffeine and energy supply is provided in a way that does not disrupt the balance of your body. It provides great energy without the crash. It also is reported to help you “stay regular” in bathroom terms.
Many have successfully switched over from coffee to yerba mate and were surprised to experience just as much or more energy, focus and stamina but without the jitters, anxiety and crash. You can buy a bag of loose yerba mate and brew it like coffee or buy it in tea bags as the product to the right provides. It has a slightly earthy taste that isn’t unpleasant but notable. Many will add a little milk and honey or other sweetener to taste.
Ashwagandha is another adaptogen and has been referred to as Indian ginseng. It is a powerful herb and one of the most highly regarded within ayurvedic medicine. This herb is like a super adaptogen and seeks to balance the body from both sides of the energy spectrum. While it provides calm reliable mental energy, focus, lack of fatigue and physical vitality it also is commonly used to treat insomnia. The caveat being while using it as a sleep aid you should only take it when you are ready to go to sleep. If you take it prior to bed and provide your mind with any sort of stimulation then the herb can keep your mind happily awake for some time. Here is a great research paper on Ashwagandha discussing its health properties and claims.
- Increased energy and focus
- Balances the adrenals
- Ability to reduce anxiety and promote calm energy
- Balances serotonin levels
- Rheumatism alleviation
- Anti-flammatory and pain reliever
- Anti-cancer properties
- Neuroprotective against Alzheimers, dementia or other mentally degenerative conditions
Green Tea & Green Tea Extract
Green tea has been highly regarded in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and is known in contemporary times for its antioxidant profile, immune boosting effects, ability to increase energy, fight cancer, provide mental clarity and promote weight loss. With modern science we can extract the most powerful agents within the green tea leaf to achieve more pronounced health benefits in the convenience of an easy to consume source.
The green tea leaf contains a host of super health enhancing polyphenols, catechins and flavonoids. The catechins in particular are scientifically validated to provide weight loss and improved triglyceride and serum cholesterol levels [1,2]. If you drink the tea you also get the benefit of a little caffeine. Usually one bag of green tea will contain about 1/3 the amount of caffeine the same amount of coffee will contain.