There are times when we need a little pick-me-up; whether it’s to wake you up in the morning, to get rid of that midday slump or when you’re feeling just plain out tired. Naturally an energy booster would be the way to go, and for the majority this would mean coffee!
The surge of energy you experience from drinking coffee comes from the mild stimulant effect of caffeine on your brain. It activates the body to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline which gives you an instant surge of energy. Caffeine also gives mental focus and alertness a little boost. However, these effects are short-lived and you may actually feel more tired than you did before once they wear off. Your body can also get used to the caffeine fix and you’d need to keep upping your dosage – which isn’t a good thing as too much caffeine can bring about anxiety, insomnia and heart palpitations, just to name a few.
If you’d like to cut down on your caffeine intake without suffering from energy slumps, here are a few natural caffeine-free energy boosters!
Ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is known for its ability to promote health, increase vitality and prolong life. Studies have found that ginseng helps to improve mental performance, and boost both endurance and strength, and reduce fatigue in athletes. Research has shown that Ginseng may have the ability to act as an "adaptogen" – which means, it helps the body to better cope with mental or physical stress.
Make ginseng tea by steeping 3-4 slices of ginger root for 10 minutes. You can also take ginseng supplements. Caution: Ginseng is not suitable for kids under 12. Always take ginseng during the day, and start with a small dosage, as too much might disrupt sleep.
If ginseng is a little too pricey for your pocket then codonopsis root is an ideal alternative. Codonopsis, native to Asia, is a cheaper ginseng substitute, sometimes referred to as “poor man’s ginseng”. It is used to boost the immune system, reduce fatigue and stress, promote mental sharpness and memory, and it is very good for strengthening your lungs as well.
The stimulant effects of codonopsis is not as strong as ginseng, so you may require a larger dosage to achieve the same effects as true ginseng. Like ginseng, you can take it in tea form or supplements.
Another traditional remedy, astragalus is a sweet, warming herb that helps to increase the metabolism and is an excellent remedy for fatigue. Research has shown astralagus to not only be a natural energy booster but also helps to repair and heal. It is a great antioxidant and also strengthens the immune system.
You can purchase it in the form of a tincture, tea or capsules. It is extremely safe, but you should not take it if you have an infection or high fever because it may strengthen the virus instead of you. It can also be used with other herbs, like ginseng.
Peppermint is something that is easy to come by and offers a whole host of benefits. It increases mental alertness while relaxing your muscles at the same time – just sniffing it will give you a lift. Peppermint oil is also very effective in relieving headaches caused by muscle tension.
Just put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on your hanky and sniff it for a boost, or you could chew on a peppermint leaf or two, or take a cup of peppermint tea for a pick-me-up. If you do have a headache, just apply a drop of peppermint oil on to your temples with a little massage.
Maca, a root belonging to the radish family, is native to the high Andes of Peru. It is also an adaptogen and helps to regulate hormones that affect your moods, growth and tissue functions. The darker coloured maca roots (red, purple, black) contain significant amounts of natural iodine - a 10-gram serving of dried maca generally contains 52 micrograms of iodine.
It is highly beneficial for reducing fatigue and enhancing energy and endurance. Maca contains 55 phytochemicals that are known to have vitality-enhancing effects in the body, in addition to being incredibly mineral-dense and nutritious.
It is commonly available in powder form; you can put it in your smoothie.
Although fatigue is not a disease, it can have a negative impact on the quality of your life and may even result in physical and/or psychological illnesses. If you suffer from chonic fatigue, do see a healthcare practitioner.