By Michelle Schoffro Cook
Do you muster every ounce of energy you have just to lift your limbs out of bed, experience a daily afternoon crash that only lifts with a caffeine boost, or feel a general sense of fatigue throughout the day? According to researchers, you are not alone. Fatigue is the second most common complaint to doctors in North America.
Unfortunately, many people turn to caffeine to boost their energy levels. That approach provides short-lived energy at best. At worst, it may cause damage to your body in the form of caffeine addiction, blood sugar fluctuations, and adrenal gland depletion that makes you more vulnerable to stress. Since caffeine continues to work for about twelve hours, that afternoon coffee may leave you lying awake, counting sheep when you are ready to sleep.
Nature offers many natural, herbal energy enhancers. Some of the best include: bee pollen, royal jelly extract, Siberian ginseng, spirulina, gotu kola, ho shou wu, and cayenne.
1. Bee Pollen
Bee Pollen is touted as a source of perpetual youth in many of the world’s great books, including the Talmud, Bible, Koran, and scrolls of the ancient Orient, Greece, Rome, Russia, and The Middle East. Ancient Greek athletes ate bee pollen regularly to increase their strength and vitality. More recently, the USDA discovered that bee pollen even has anti-cancer properties.
Bee pollen is packed with twenty-two amino acids, natural antibiotic factors, DNA/RNA (the genetic coding of plants), eighteen enzymes (to aid digestion and other bodily functions), glucosides (natural sources of energy in the body), plant hormones, twenty-seven minerals, and at least sixteen vitamins, so it is no surprise that it increases energy and vitality. Avoid bee pollen if you suffer from pollen allergies or you are allergic to bees.
2. Royal Jelly
Royal jelly is the natural result when bees combine honey and pollen. It is a powerhouse of B-complex vitamins. It also contains many other vitamins, minerals, hormones, enzymes, eighteen amino acids, and natural antibacterial and antibiotic substances. It has traditionally been used to address bronchial asthma, pancreatitis, liver disease, insomnia, stomach ulcers, kidney disease, bone fractures, immune problems, and skin disorders, but royal jelly is also effective for increasing energy.
3. Siberian Ginseng Extract
As the name suggests, Siberian ginseng originates in Siberia. It also grows in Japan, China, Korea, and parts of Canada. It has been used medicinally for at least two thousand years. Siberian ginseng is one of only a handful of herbs that is an adaptogen, which means that it works to normalize bodily functions. It inhibits the adrenal stress response and works as an immune stimulant, particularly for fighting the effects of stress and depression. It aids the liver in detoxifying harmful substances, including chemotherapeutic agents and radiation. Siberian ginseng also stimulates the activity of several immune system components—B and T cells—making it excellent for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other viral infections. Athletes around the world use Siberian ginseng as a training aid because of its reputed ability to increase resistance to stress, increase performance, bolster the immune system during workouts, and reduce fatigue. It also helps strengthen energy levels over time.
The Aztec people knew a good thing when they saw it. They discovered spirulina, a single-celled algae that they called tecuitlatl and soon made it a staple of their diet. It is high in usable protein, a great source of Vitamin B-12 (often called the “energy vitamin”), eight minerals, and many vitamins, including seven types of vitamin A precursors known as carotenoids. It is also packed with chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives spirulina its color and its blood purification properties. And, of course, it boosts energy levels.
5. Gotu Kola
Gotu Kola is an herb that contains many nutrients and healing phytochemicals. As one of the primary energy herbs used by herbalists, gotu kola lessens fatigue and depression without the effects of caffeine. Actually, unlike caffeine that may keep you awake into the evening, gotu kola actually helps improve sleep at night.
6. Ho Shou Wu
Also known as fo-ti or ho she wu, the root of this native Chinese vine is a powerful tonic to increase energy and maintain youthful vigor, while still having a calming effect. It contains a natural form of lecithin that helps lessen arterial plaque and lower blood pressure. In laboratory studies, ho shou wu effectively reduced blood cholesterol and triglycerides and even prevented cholesterol from forming in test animals.
Cayenne works to boost energy by improving circulation. It is also effective to help ward off colds, sinus infections, and sore throats. It even helps reduce pain and inflammation.
As with all herbal medicines, it is best to consult with a skilled health professional prior to starting any herbal or nutritional supplement.
Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc, ROHP, RNCP is a best-selling and six-time book author and doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, and The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan. Learn more at: www.TheLifeForceDiet.com.
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photo by: ben