“Rev up” naturally with herbs for energy and mental focus
(NaturalHealth365) Whether we call it exhaustion, burnout, tiredness, or fatigue, most of us experience low levels of energy from time to time. Many people turn to high-sugar, caffeine-laden foods and drinks to fight fatigue, but unpleasant side effects – such as the well-known “sugar crash” or jangled nerves from too much coffee – make these remedies far from ideal.
Fortunately, studies suggest that certain herbs and nutrients can spur flagging concentration and boost energy. For instance, a recent review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology highlights the ability of Panax ginseng to increase fatigue resistance. The following natural solutions may help you restore mental sharpness and physical stamina – and turn your energy from “fizzling” to “sizzling.”
Adaptogenic and antioxidant herbs like ginseng, sage, and goldenroot can improve energy and attention
A time-honored herbal remedy for fatigue, ginseng contains antioxidant compounds called ginsenosides, which have been shown to improve exercise performance, boost mental alertness and lift mood. A 2020 scientific review showed that ginseng helped decrease fatigue and reduce malondialdehyde levels (a marker of oxidative stress) while increasing antioxidants such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase. The scientists concluded that ginseng could be recommended for “routine use” against fatigue. To bolster concentration, increase energy and brighten outlook, natural healers typically advise amounts from 200 mg to 1,000 mg of ginseng a day. Check with your integrative doctor before supplementing with ginseng.
Botanically known as Salvia, sage is packed with potent antioxidants, including luteolin, rosmarinic acid, quercetin, and apigenin. This fragrant garden herb and cooking spice has long been associated with knowledge and learning. In fact, the word “sage” literally means “wise.” Studies have suggested that sage inhibits a compound known as acetylcholinesterase, which breaks down acetylcholine, a brain chemical important for healthy cognitive function. Researchers believe that this allows sage to help improve concentration, promote alertness and even enhance word recall. Natural health experts typically advise dried, powdered sage leaf in amounts of 300 to 600 mg a day – but get the thumbs-up from a physician before supplementing.
Rhodiola rosea, also known as goldenroot and artic root, is classified as an adaptogen or substance acknowledged as helping the body adapt to physical and emotional stress. Native to Siberia, northern Europe, and Asia, rhodiola is treasured in herbal healing for its ability to improve physical stamina and improve alertness. In fact, it has traditionally been used by mountaineers in the Himalayas to enhance physical stamina and sharpen reflexes. Nowadays, rhodiola is believed to be particularly helpful against fatigue and “burnout” (emotional and/or physical exhaustion resulting from chronic occupational stress). In one study, 400 mg of rhodiola rosea a day significantly improved energy level, concentration, and mood. Consult with your integrative doctor before supplementing.
Other herbs believed to have an energizing effect include gotu kola, maca, Siberian ginseng, and ashwagandha.
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Renew energy with essential oils
For many, the warm, spicy fragrance of peppermint is linked with a sense of increased well-being and renewed energy. Studies show that using this essential oil through aromatherapy can brighten mood, spark better athletic performance and increase alertness. A hybrid of spearmint – botanically known as Mentha spicata – and water mint, or Mentha aquatica, peppermint essential oil can be ingested by way of a diffuser.
You can also use peppermint oil topically by mixing a few drops in a teaspoon of carrier oil, such as olive or coconut oil, and massaging it into the skin. Peppermint oil shouldn’t be taken internally and is not for use on children. Check with your doctor before using peppermint oil. (Pro tip: Other essential oils thought to boost energy include rosemary, lemon, cinnamon, and lavender).
Boost energy with common-sense solutions
Although it may seem counterintuitive, the truth is that sometimes you have to expend energy to boost energy. Taking a brisk stroll promotes healthy blood flow, which can help to restore a sense of vitality. In addition, an appropriate exercise program also supports a calm, stable mood, helping to reduce the anxiety that can drain energy.
Restful sleep is also a “must.” The act of sleeping increases levels of ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, also known as the “energy” molecule. Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, a night appears to be the sweet spot for optimal energy for most adults. Sleep hygiene experts advise sleeping in a totally darkened room, free of intrusive outdoor light and “blue” light from computer screens and cell phones.
Being dehydrated can cause energy to plummet. Most authorities recommend that a 150-lb person consume about 75 ounces of water a day. Pure, filtered water flavored with lemon is a great choice for staying hydrated. Remember, liquid-rich fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, can also help you reach your fluid quotient for the day. Keep sweetened and caffeinated beverages to a minimum.
Of course, maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is the key by eating nutritious, organic meals with good quality fats and protein. Stay away from processed sugars – especially if you suffer with blood sugar problems. If you need help, seek the advice of an experienced health coach.
Hopefully, you can enlist these solutions to help you fight “the blahs,” banish brain fog – and refresh and restore your energy levels naturally.
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