It is estimated that around 1.5 million Americans report a lack of energy and feeling tired regularly (1), and 25 percent of those who seek advice from a doctor do so complaining of never feeling rested enough. (2)
Many choose the short-sited route, masking their symptoms with caffeine, nicotine, sugar, energy drinks or other stimulants.
In a 2015 study of over 2600 high school juniors and seniors, 67 percent were using energy drinks to get the energy they needed for school, sports or study. (3)
Today, vaping with nicotine for an energy boost is out-pacing cigarette smoking, with many thinking this is a healthier alternative. Research on the safety of vaping is finally emerging, and the results are not good.
Vaping creates nano-particles that drive nicotine, propylene glycol and heavy metals deep into the body’s tissues, exposing users to a plethora of health concerns. (4)
If you are tired, stimulating the body will, at best, only offer temporary symptomatic relief. In this article, I want to introduce a better way to address your energy problems.
We RecommendSafe Alternatives to Energy Drinks
Is Caffeine the Answer?
A whopping 75 percent or 154 million Americans drink coffee and 49 percent of them drink it on a daily basis. (5)
While many coffee-drinkers will say they “just like the taste,” the boost in mental clarity, better bowel movements and the peppy energy cannot be denied.
Caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks and endless health products promising to boost energy, is a stimulant that is very addictive.
Caffeine has serious side effects and can present significant withdrawal symptoms. (7) Cleary, an occasional cup of coffee presents little risk—unless, of course, you are genetically more sensitive to caffeine.
Here are some of the underreported side effects of caffeine consumption. Published data has stressed that caffeine consumption increases the risk of:
- Coronary heart disease
- Arterial hypertension
- Arterial stiffness
- Elevated cholesterol and homocysteine plasma concentration
High consumption of caffeine may also: (6)
- Alter insulin sensitivity and glucose blood level
- Abnormally stimulate the central nervous system
- Decrease the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter (linked to heartburn)
- Increase risk of miscarriage and intrauterine growth retardation
Top 5 Herbs to Stabilize Energy and Nourish your Adrenals – 5 Herbal Energy
From the Ayurvedic perspective, it is important to bring awareness to when stimulants, such as coffee or chocolate, are controlling your thoughts and desires.
It is true that America is tired and, for many, caffeine appears to offer a healthy boost with little risk.
The tendency to reach for stimulants is natural, but instead of stimulating the body to make energy it doesn’t seem to be able to deliver naturally, Ayurveda suggests to rebuild the body’s energy reserves, instead of further overstimulating and depleting.
The following five herbs combined offer a synergistic, safe, and healthy delivery of stable, non-stimulated energy while rebuilding the body’s energy reserves.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is known as one of the most effective adaptogens (anti-stress agents) in the world and a rasayana, or longevity tonic, in Ayurveda. (9) Named after its ability to help support sleep, numerous studies have also shown it helps boost energy without depletion. It is one of the few herbs that can support deep sleep in the evening and better endurance and stamina in the morning during vigorous exercise. (8) For the adrenals, ashwagandha supports healthy cortisol production during stress and endurance exercise. (9) Ashwagandha is a well-known tonic for mental clarity, cognitive function, mood and energy support. (9)
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
Rhodiola is an herb that has been used for boosting mental clarity and physical energy for thousands of years all throughout Europe and Asia. It is the herb said to be responsible for Viking strength and stamina. (10) Much like ashwagandha, rhodiola has been found in numerous studies to support energy and endurance after hours of endurance exercise and stress. (10) Once again, much like ashwagandha, rhodiola is one of the very few herbs that can boost physical energy and mood during the day, but also support deep sleep at night. (11)
Eleuthero Root (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
Eleuthero root is a classic Asian adaptogenic herb that supports the body’s response stress and physical exertion. In one study, a group of cyclists were given eleuthero root for 8 weeks, the results showed supplementation enhanced endurance capacity, supports cardiovascular functions, and altered the metabolism for sparing glycogen during exercise and stress. (12) In China, eleuthero aka Siberian Ginseng is considered one of the safest herbal adaptogens to support healthy energy levels. In one study with elderly adults complaining of fatigue, eleuthero supported better mental energy and social interaction, suggesting support for healthy energy levels with no reported side effects. (13) Eleuthero has also shown to support healthy lymphatic function. (14) The lymphatic system is responsible for delivering baseline energy in the form of fats to every cell of the body. Without a healthy lymphatic system, we would all feel fatigued!
Shilajit (Asphaltum punjabianum)
Shilajit works by enhancing the natural production of the body’s primary energy source, adenosine triphosphate, commonly known as ATP. (16) ATP is manufactured in the mitochondria, where food is converted into energy. ATP delivers about 95% of the cellular energy that fuels the lion’s share of the body’s energy needs. It is involved in almost every one of the body’s physiological functions.
Unfortunately, as a result of stress, chemical toxicity and oxidative damage, mitochondrial production of ATP declines with age.
Studies have linked longevity to the amount of ATP produced as you age. Studies have shown that shilajit can boost ATP production, supporting healthy mitochondria throughout the aging process. (15-19)
The secret ingredients that make shilajit such a powerful agent for ATP production are the naturally-occurring fulvic and humic acids. These are natural compounds found in soil that convert the minerals from the earth into bio-available nutrients for the plant, and then us!
Specifically, fulvic acids stimulate the transfer of energy in the mitochondria, making the energy production of ATP in the mitochondria more efficient. (15,18)
Humic acids, on the other hand, speed up the transfer of electrons along the electron transport chain, in turn boosting energy production. (19)
Both of these natural acids feed the mitochondria with the fuel it needs to continually deliver ATP and ward off the oxidative stressors linked to aging.
Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. While it is well-known to support digestive, joint and muscle health, it is also one of the classic herbs used for supporting healthy energy levels. (20,21) In this formula, I use ginger to act as a driver to boost the absorption of the other herbs in the formula. This a classic way Ayurveda formulates whole herbs to be more bio-available and more effective. (22)