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Alternative Medicine

Fight Fatigue & Increase Energy, Part 3

The third and final part of our series about herbs and nutritional supplements that can substantially increase your energy and overall wellbeing.

Previously you learned about some basic and not-so-basic supplements you can consider to help reduce fatigue and increase energy.

In this, our final installment of supplements to increase energy, we’ll look at some herbal medicines that can help.

Part of the value of these substances is their long history of safe and effective use. But before we address these, you should also know about herbs to avoid when you want extra energy.

Avoid These Herbs for Energy

The most well-known energy-related herb in the West is Ephedra, also known as Ma Huang in Chinese medicine. It has been in the news in the past few years implicated in negative reactions and even some deaths.

I’m not convinced that the deaths were directly related to taking Ephedra, however it is possible to have unwanted side effects from taking it. Rapid heart rate, feeling anxious and restless and feeling overheated are all possible side effects.

Although Ephedra can be useful in a specific herbal formula for particular medical conditions, it is never used in Chinese medicine by itself, and it is never used as an energy-enhancing herb.

Other herbs that may cause similar reactions are those containing caffeine-like substances. These include Guarana, coffee and chocolate.

Now The Good News…

Here are the best of the herbal energy enhancers:

  • Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) – For thousands of years this herb has been used to help people increase energy and adapt to their survival needs. That’s one reason it’s in the category of herbs called “adaptogens.” It is used for building endurance & stamina, supporting the immune system and even lowering cholesterol.
  • Cordyceps – Another immune booster, this mushroom also helps people adapt to stress. It helps improve oxygen use and by some accounts also helps reduce tumors.
  • Astragalus – Often used by weight lifters and body builders, this herb supports energy, immune strength and endurance.
  • Ginseng – Among the most well-known Chinese herbs, ginseng is used in many formulas to support well-being. It powerfully strengthens core energy at the same time improving immunity and endurance. The only caution with ginseng comes if you are prone to high blood pressure. If so, avoid using it or at least carefully monitor your blood pressure while taking ginseng. If blood pressure goes up stop taking it.
  • Vinpocetine – Strictly speaking, vinpocetine isn’t an herb, however it is a extract from the periwinkle plant (vinca). It is shown to increase oxygen utilization by the brain and is therefore used to improve memory, mental focus and overall well-being.

For most of these you can take the amounts listed on the label.

Your Action Steps

We’ve covered quite a few energy-boosting supplements in this series. If you’ve felt drawn to one or more for your own use, I encourage you to consider adding them to your regimen.

As always, when taking anything new, check with your health care provider to make sure you won’t conflict with medications or other supplements you’re taking. And also be sure to notice how you feel from taking them. Your body’s responses will be the clearest indication of how they are affecting you.

4 replies on “Fight Fatigue & Increase Energy, Part 3”

Hi Dr. Bruce,

I noticed that you didn’t mention Gotu Kola. It’s included in some teas to promote mental clarity and relaxation. It’s also a mild adaptogen, similar to ginseng. I’ve been using it to fight fatigue and anxiety.

Hello Heidi,

It’s nice to hear from you!

You’re right, Gotu Kola is another mild adaptogen that has mental stimulant qualities. I’m glad to hear that you’re having good results with it. Thanks for your comment.

Dr. Bruce

Dr.Bruce, my name is kristi for quite some time now I have had many issues with fatigue.It is effecting things that are very important to me.Including keeping a clean house and doing well at my job. I never feel like going anywhere. All of my blood work came back fine. I would like some help formulating a regiment that would help my mental alertness as well as my energy. I have two children to raise and I most certainly want to be at my best. Thank you , Kristi

Hi Kristi,

I am sorry to hear about your fatigue issues. It must be very frustrating for you.

I am sending you a private email to discuss this further with you.

Dr. Bruce

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