Whether its the winter doldrums, heavy food, lack of sleep, or just apathy, if you’re feeling sluggish, devoid of energy, or otherwise lethargic, this post is for you. You’ll learn how to choose the right herbs to enliven your body and boost your energy.
All of the plants and herbs listed here are free of strong stimulants such as caffeine or ephedrine-like alkaloids. Unlike energy drinks, they don’t cause a sugar-rush, sugar-crash problem, and they’re free of preservatives and food dyes. Simply put, they’re natural, safe, and gentle on the system.
A word of note: The suggestions herein are not meant for persons suffering from chronic conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue, or other underlying systemic causes of low energy.
These herbs are meant for occasional low energy or perhaps the afternoon slump. You can make them as an herbal infusion (tea), add their whole or powdered forms to a juice or smoothie, or use a few drops of a tincture.
Hemp seeds (Chinese: Huo Ma Ren) and bee pollen are both packed full of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. They can help with strength and energy, particularly when taken before a workout. Add these to a smoothie.
Rosemary, Peppermint, and Citrus (lemon/orange) all have a similar refreshing, brightening, enlivening quality to them, particularly when you can breathe in their aroma. They can help you feel more awake and clearheaded. Pour hot water over any of these herbs, or just smell their fresh leaves (or citrus peel).
The cooking herbs Cayenne, Ginger, and Cinnamon are also very invigorating. Their hot nature and spicy quality will open up your nasal passages, stimulate digestion, and improve blood flow. If you take these in a shot of green juice, you may feel bolted awake from their spiciness.
Turmeric and Safflower (Chinese: Hong Hua) are both used to increase blood flow, warm the body, and reduce inflammation. Inflammation in the body often causes water retention and a feeling of stagnation, thus by reducing inflammation, things can get moving again, opening up passageways for energy to flow.
Chinese Medicine commonly uses the three herbs for energy: Ginseng, Gouji Berries, and Astragalus (CN: Dang Shen). Ginseng is used to increase energy and endurance and to reduce fatigue (particularly in the elderly). (Those with excess testosterone or suffering from adrenal fatigue should take caution with ginseng.) Gouji berries are taken to increase the presence of Qi (energetic quality in Chinese Medicine) and to encourage its normal flow, and in doing so can reduce edema, stagnation, and low energy. They’re also packed full of vitamins and nutrients. Astragalus is thought to increase metabolism and encourage blood flow; preliminary research suggests it may also reduce fatigue.
Any of these plants and herbs make a quick and safe pick-me-up, though some may work better for some people than others; their freshness, quantity, and time of day used may also impact the energetic boost you feel.
[A note on stimulants: Energy drinks, pills, and supplements will often contain stimulants such as guarana, Yerba Mate, cacao/coca leaves, or kola nut, and also possibly the well-known caffeine-containing coffee and tea. If you have a condition which makes you sensitive to caffeine, it’s getting near bedtime, or need to avoid stimulants take caution with any product containing these and instead reach for some of the gentler herbs listed above.]
Tell us in the comments below: what is your herbal remedy for more energy, to invigorate and enliven you and to help you feel alert and clearheaded?