Best Herbs to Boost Your EnergyKatolen Yardley, MNIMH – Medical Herbalist
May 23, 2017
Sometimes the demands of a busy life require immediate and additional support to get through the week. Prevention is always the best medicine – using daily tonics and adaptogens to build one’s reserves is a good approach – however, when life gets hectic there are specific herbs that can also be used for short-term energy enhancement and longer-term stress management.
Living in a fast-paced digital world can present stressful challenges that are difficult to avoid. We are constantly surrounded by stress stimulants such as; social media, television/news, competitive work environments, late nights at the office, traffic jams, personal demands of raising a family, juggling schedules and so on. It’s no surprise that these factors all attribute to cumulative stress and fatigue by the end of the week and it’s vital to take steps in aiding your body and mind to better manage these unavoidable stimulants.
Herbal adaptogens help to assist with the graceful manoeuvring through life’s chaotic times; however when our reserves are depleted- our adrenal glands may not be able to keep up with the demands of daily living- and like a domino effect, continual ongoing stress can impinge on the immune and endocrine systems homeostasis, secretion of reproductive hormones, even thyroid function; even impacting immediate responses such as wound healing, inflammation and pain sensations.
Most people are familiar with the benefits of adaptogens; in the simplest form, these plants help the body to harmoniously flow with the changing environment. Our green plant allies, take in nourishment from the sun and soil just like humans do – many herbs have adapted to changes in our environment over seasons and decades– as these plants have learned to adjust to harsh growing conditions or safeguard themselves from insects, they have developed means of protection and resiliency through production of certain chemicals which are similarly valuable for adaptation in humans as well; supporting our stress response, improving immune function and meeting requirements for both immediate energy and building the reserves, ensuring that there are extra reserves in our body to provide a buffer in times of extreme and extended stress or overload.
Herb for everyday energy
A recent study coined this herb as being a herb for all reasons. An adaptogen like no other, Holy Basil is known as an elixir of life and whole body tonic. Its sweet, warming nature can aid digestion, it offers antimicrobial properties for respiratory issues as well as adrenal support and cognitive enhancement. Many studies show that Holy basil can help to decrease the stress hormone, cortisol, thereby assisting with mental clarity and memory. Holy basil offers protection for people who work with industrial chemicals and heavy metals, and assists with normalization of blood glucose and blood pressure, conditions related to metabolic stress.
Herb for anxious energy
While there are over 50 species of Rhodiola, Rhodiola Rosea, contains well-studied phenylpropanoids: rosavin, rosin, rosarin; the thought to be the active ingredients responsible for its medicinal activity. Rhodiola appears to be dose dependent, small doses appear to offer a stimulating effect, increasing the bioelectrical activity in the cerebral cortex (stimulating neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin) while larger doses may have more sedative effects. More circulating serotonin may influence mood fluctuations and lessen anxiety.
Herb for multi-tasking energy
For individuals juggling a busy life, reach for Rhodiola for needed mental clarity, focused concentration and enhanced work capacity. Rhodiola can support cognitive function, specifically enhancing functions associated with focused attention, analysis, evaluation and memory; learning functions associated with the cerebral cortex are of the brain. The end result is enhanced mental performance while minimising the stress response; ideal support for those dealing with trauma, chronic fatigue, and an intense workload, both physical and mental.
Herb for a long-day of travel
For those who travel frequently, consider Rhodiola rosea which is also beneficial for those needing support for high altitude sickness, to counter jet lag and to help deter gastrointestinal ailments and minor infections.
Herb for beating stress
For people with high levels of stress, easy to anger and presenting with hypertension and, of course, insomnia; a calming adaptogen is indicated! Reach for Ashwagandha; an essential herb in Ayurvedic medicine used for over 3000 years. Known as an amphoteric or regulating herb, ashwagandha tends to have more of a sedative effect rather than being directly stimulating. The constituents, withanolides and sitoindosides are thought to exert their effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, decreasing cortisone, which plays a key role during stress.
Herbs for energy for the the big race
For those who are highly active, Ashwagandha offers analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. To enhance sports performance consider also Rhodiola to improve physical endurance and longevity and Ginseng for quick immediate energy.
Ginseng is a popular energizing herb and there are various types: Korean Ginseng is hot and energizing, most appropriate for short periods of time, for depletion and immediate pick-me-up whereas the Eleutherococcus (formerly known as Siberian ginseng) is ideal long-term nourishment for both men and women as a tonic, strengthening and building energy reserves and improved stress response. Reach for Eleutherococcus for its energy and stamina building effects, to enhance athletic performance and also providing some anti-inflammatory properties for muscle recovery.
Herbs for restoring when all your energy is depleted
An effective broad support formulation for both nervous system support, energy enhancement while providing needed antioxidant properties in times of stress is the Botanica Adrenal Support formula which contains a blend of Ashwagandha, Holy Basil and Rhodiola along with Schisandra, an energising, antioxidant herb and Milky Oat Seed, one of the very best herbs (or food) for a depleted nervous system and overworked adrenals. Use this formula for prevention of adrenal fatigue and short-term energy enhancement.
In short, there are many valuable herbal medicine options for those times of needed energy.