Long hours at work, lack of sleep and busy lifestyles leave many people feeling drained of energy. At any given time, one out of five adults feels unusually tired. Cultures around the world have discovered plants with a natural power to reinvigorate. If you often feel worn-out or run-down, why not try supplementing with one of these eight boost your energy herbs?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a plant in the nightshade family. Its roots have been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Ashwagandha combats stress to simultaneously energize the body and calm anxiety. Rodent studies have shown that the herb increases physical performance. When rats were subjected to a swimming endurance test, those treated with ashwagandha swam for almost twice as long as the untreated control group. A systematic review of studies on the use of ashwagandha for treating anxiety in humans found that it was significantly more effective than either a placebo or psychotherapy.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous) is a type of flowering pea related to the American milkvetch. The root has been used by Chinese herbalists for over 2,000 years to help the body build up energy and ward off disease. A clinical trial of patients suffering from chronic fatigue found that those given an astragalus formula experienced significantly less tiredness than a control group. Astragalus is also valued for its ability to improve immune system function. Research indicates that the herb can elevate levels of anti-bodies in healthy people and prevent white blood cell counts from falling in cancer patients.
Ginseng is a plant with a fleshy root that has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. Varieties of the herb include red ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), and Korean ginseng (Panax schinsen). Ginseng reduces the effects of stress, enhances vitality, and improves mental and physical performance. It contains a class of substances known as ginsenosides which help to regulate hormone activity and boost metabolism. A placebo-controlled study of cancer patients found that treatment with ginseng supplements reduced fatigue and improved their overall well-being. A Korean study of men over the age of 55 found a significant reduction in overall death rates among those who used ginseng compared to those who did not.
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a woody shrub that grows in Northeast Asia. It has a long history of use as a rejuvenating herb in Korea and Russia. The root helps to lessen fatigue, boost stamina, and improve mental alertness. In one study, male college students were given either eleuthero supplements or a placebo for eight weeks and tested on a cycling task. The researchers concluded that eleuthero enhances endurance and elevates cardiovascular functions. A study on elderly people found that those who supplemented with eleuthero for four weeks had better mental health and social functioning than those who took a placebo.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is one of the oldest living tree species. The leaves and seeds are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat blood disorders and improve memory. Ginkgo enhances blood circulation by dilating blood vessels and making blood platelets less sticky. Increased blood flow to the brain and body helps to improve overall energy levels and reduce mental and physical fatigue. Ginkgo is often used to improve memory function in Alzheimer’s patients. A study of 761 middle-aged adults showed that it also enhances memory in healthy people. Those who took ginkgo Biloba for six weeks performed significantly better on a task involving recall of learned material than those who took a placebo.
Guarana (Paullinia cupana) is a plant in the maple family native to the Amazon basin. The Guaraní Paraguayans ground the seeds to make a revitalizing tea. The herb contains a stimulant called guaranine, which is chemically identical to caffeine. The interaction of guaranine with other substances within the plant is thought to make guarana a safer, yet more potent, alternative to coffee. The herb is a source of theophylline and theobromine, which stimulate the heart and central nervous system. A four-phase study on rats found that guarana increased physical endurance, memory retention, alertness, and mood. Researchers concluded that these results could not be attributed to caffeine alone.
7. Guto kola
Guto kola (Centella Asiatica) is a small swamp plant native to Asia and South Africa. The leaves are used in Chinese, Ayurvedic, and traditional African medicine. In Asian folklore, Gotu kola is associated with energy, stamina, and longevity. King Aruna of Sri Lanka is supposed to have used it to provide him with the virility to satisfy his 50-woman harem. Gotu kola strengthens the walls of blood vessels and improves blood flow. Like Ginkgo, it is thought to improve memory by boosting circulation to the brain. In one study, rats given Gotu kola extract for 14 days were at least three times better at retaining learned behaviors than rats in the control group.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea) is a flowering plant that grows in cold climates. The root was traditionally used in Siberia and Scandinavia to keep people healthy throughout the harsh winters. It lowers stress levels and boosts mental and physical performance. Rhodiola reduces fatigue by increasing or maintaining levels of ATP, a coenzyme necessary for energy production at the cellular level. It also enhances mood and motivation by boosting levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. A study of 56 physicians on night duty showed that those who took Rhodiola extract for two weeks performed better on mental function tests than those who took a placebo.