Across the globe, more than a billion cups of coffee are consumed on a daily basis. Some people drink coffee for an energy boost to make it through the day, while others drink it simply because it tastes good. While coffee can be an effective substance for providing energy, too much caffeine can lead to some severe and unwelcome side effects. Symptoms of caffeinism include nervousness, sleep disturbances, headaches, heart palpitations, depression, and muscle tremors. Caffeinism is an increasingly common and often overlooked condition. Caffeinism may lead to chronic health conditions when it goes unaddressed.
So how do we wake up and stay focused throughout the day with no coffee or caffeine-filled energy drinks? The simple answer is found in nature. There are many natural and safe substitutes to caffeine. Herbal teas and supplements can offer an effective energy boost, with few to no side effects. Being someone who often turns to herbal alternatives, I have compiled a list of 5 herbs which I have personally found to be effective energy enhancing and uplifting herbs. The herbs on this list have a variety of other medicinal uses, many of which I’ve included.
Dandelion root (Taraxacum Officinale)
Dandelion root tea is an excellent alternative to coffee. The tea is dark and bitter, and it will provide you with a healthy boost to start off your day. While it is often referred to as a common weed, dandelion has been used in natural medicine for hundreds of years. Dandelion’s are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to cleanse the liver and rid the body of toxins.
The root of dandelion contains valuable constituents, including phenolic acids (polyphenols which work as antioxidants). It also contains several minerals, such as potassium and calcium. Dandelion is also an excellent prebiotic, as it supports healthy gut flora. Those who are suffering from type 2 Diabetes may find dandelion useful in balancing blood sugar levels. It is a potent diuretic and may relieve water retention. Dandelion may also aid in alleviating the symptoms of conditions such as arthritis, gout, acne, and chronic constipation.
This herb is available in tea and capsule form. Do not take dandelion if you have a strong allergic reaction to plants in the asteraceae family. Do not use with a history of acute gallbladder or gastro-intestinal inflammation.
Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense)
Red clover is one of my favorite herbs. This hard working little perennial belongs to the pea family (Fabaceae, also known as Leguminosae) which is native to Europe and grows abundantly in many parts of North America. Clovers have been used medicinally for centuries; even as far back as ancient Egypt. It’s an excellent blood purifying, alterative herb with an affinity for cleansing the lymphatic system and stimulating the liver. Due to the isoflavones (phytoestrogens) that are found in red clover, it may be beneficial in relieving menopausal symptoms. Clover is full of valuable vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. So along with being a steady energy booster, clover can also provide significant supplemental nutrition.
My preferred way to ingest this herb is by making a strong tea (infusion); I would recommend using 1- 1 ½ tbls. of herb for every 8 oz. of water. The taste is sweet and salty, it may also leave an almost metallic taste in the mouth. I have experienced no side effects when taking red clover, however, it can have some blood thinning properties so be sure to use caution and consult a physician before consuming.
Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
This is a wonderful vitality enhancing herb! Ginger is an outstanding circulatory tonic with numerous other uses. It is an herb which is a diuretic, antioxidant, cardiotonic, and a strong anti-inflammatory.
Ideal for treating digestive ailments, ginger increases the secretion of bile and stimulates the activity of digestive enzymes. Ginger has also proven to be a useful pain reliever. Studies have shown it may treat pain associated with migraines, menstrual cramps, and joint damage. Recent research has also exhibited potential antitumor effects in ginger, with the herb possibly being able to cause apoptosis (targeted cell death) in cancer cells.
When it comes to deciding how it is best to consume this spicy herb, I prefer to drink ginger tea. However, it is also available in both a capsule and tincture form. If you are pregnant, consult with your physician before taking ginger. Do not take ginger in medicinal doses if you have a history of peptic ulcers.
Ginseng (Panax Ginseng)
Ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for an estimated 7,000 years. In China, it is known to be a valuable stimulant and is used as a tonic herb for athletes. Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps the body to adapt, both physically and mentally, when under extreme stress or fatigue.
It is a powerful, endurance enhancing herb which is packed full of antioxidants. Ginseng supports the nervous and endocrine systems, and also increases immune function. It is helpful in reducing LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (good cholesterol). Ginseng has been commonly used as a tonic to support brain function and aging; this is due to ginseng’s ability to increase the metabolic activity in the brain.
While this herb is incredibly helpful in providing energy, use caution when consuming. Young, healthy adults should not take ginseng for longer than six weeks at a time. Do not consume caffeine when taking ginseng. Consult your physician about using this herb if you’re currently taking blood thinning medications.
Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)
This lovely, aromatic herb can provide you with a dose of vigor to make it through the day. Even the smell of peppermint oil may boost energy levels and increase focus. Peppermint is known to have antispasmodic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Peppermint is popular in treating a variety of digestive ailments. It has also proven to be an effective therapy in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). With peppermint’s anti-inflammatory capabilities, it can be a practical natural pain reliever.
Peppermint tea is widely available. The herb is also purchasable as a tincture or capsule. You may use peppermint essential oil externally to treat minor skin irritations and sore muscles. Do not give peppermint to children under the age of 5. Do not internally ingest peppermint essential oil without the supervision of a professional.
DISCLAIMER: Do NOT rely on herbs alone, there are many factors which go into correcting conditions such as chronic fatigue, caffeinism, and sleep deprivation. Personal research and experimentation is important in finding the most effective treatments. Everyone is different, and every health journey is dependant on the individual.
The best results will come from a well balanced lifestyle. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are crucial aspects of an optimally functioning body. Focusing on one’s mental health may also be key in providing beneficial results.
Sources: Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, written by: Andrew Chevallier; Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth, written by: Dr. Sharol Marie Tilgner