Q: I can’t get into spring. I just don’t have the energy. Are there herbs I could try to get my energy level up? Thanks, Sam
Oh yeah Sam. I revisited an article I wrote a few years ago and gave it a spring cleaning and update so give it a spin and see what you think.
It’s spring! Are you filled with energy and vital life-force (Qi)? If not, cleansing the liver and giving it a boost usually adds to your energy level and may be just what grandma ordered! You can buy a liver cleanse, however, you could also just go outside and pick dandelion leaves and make a dandelion salad (or add them to your regular salad), make dandelion greens, sauté dandelion leaves in olive oil or juice the leaves and add it to your morning “green” drink. For the next few weeks until the dandelion gets bitter from the heat, use it every time you get a chance. I even make a dandelion omelet, however, I have found that the easiest way to get enough dandelion is in salads and my morning shake.
FYI: Although a liver cleanse/tonic just like grandma used to say you needed every spring is a wonderful idea, when you are recovering from an illness or are in a weakened condition, work on rebuilding your system before you do a cleanse and check with your health care professional before cleansing if you have any health issues–especially if you are in a weakened state.
There are also many herbs, flowers and other plants which may help boost your energy levels. I have broken them down into categories for you so you can zero in on the plants for your particular energy issue. And remember, we are talking about traditional and historical uses.
Caution! Always do your homework and research any herb/plant you want to use. Are you allergic to the plant family? Are you on pharmaceutical drugs or over-the-counter drugs that don’t mix with the particular plant you wish to use? Anyone on medication(s) should have a book that lists medications, herbs, vitamins and contraindications. Check online for information or look for contraindications books at Amazon or your local book store.
Maybe you just feel “out-of-whack” (technical term). Winter can be hard on us and especially this past one because it was so up and down. Maybe we just need to rebalance and settle into spring. If so, check out these herbs:
Energy Imbalance Herbs:
Astragalus is a classic energy tonic for younger people and may be even better than ginseng for energy and endurance for those under 40. In Chinese medicine, it is said to warm and tone the protective energy that circulates just beneath the skin and helps the body adapt to external influences such as cold temperatures. Astragalus also raises immune resistance and improves physical endurance. After a round of flu this spring, I added astragalus to my routine for a few weeks to rebuild my strength.
Other herbs for energy include damiana which among other things aids the nervous system and helps very with nervous exhaustion; gotu kola which supports brain and memory, balances hormones, and increases energy and vitality. Licorice supports the adrenals and may help with that exhausted, weak, feeling but may also help spring asthma. However, keep a close watch on your blood pressure because licorice can cause BP to spike in some of us. Schizandra helps with energy and is also considered a vital energy tonic (chi or qi). Holy basil balances stress hormones for zen-like, calm energy. Sounds like the perfect state for spring!
Just feeling tired all over and don’t have any “get up and go”? Check out these herbs, but first, it’s also a good idea to check with your health care professional to make sure there is not a physical ailment causing your fatigue.
Herbs for Fatigue:
Alfalfa, American ginseng, angelica, astragalus, barley grass, blackberry leaves, blue vervain, borage, capsicum, club moss, cordyceps, dong quai, evening primrose, fungus, gentian, ginko, ginger, ginseng (Chinese & Siberian for chronic fatigue), gotu kola (strengthens nervous function and memory) (mental & physical), guarana, Iceland moss, kava kava, kola nut, licorice root, lycii berries, mahuang, maple, mirabilis, olive leaf, pine, prickly ash, pulsatilla, raspberry leaves, schizandra, spruce, St. John’s wort, strawberry leaves, suma, thyme, yellow dock root, plantain. A long list, but you may pick and choose and if one herb doesn’t work for you, try another. Just keep track of the ones that you like so you won’t have to test each one again. And a little more on ginseng: Ginseng is an adaptogenic which means that it helps the body adapt to stress, fatigue, hunger, any extremes of temperatures (especially cold) and mental and emotional stress. It also produces a sedative effect when the body needs sleep, however, you should take it no longer than six weeks. Also used for nervous exhaustion.
If you are the classic weekend warrior or gardener and end up exhausted, or you are suffering from nervous exhaustion, you may want to check out these herbs.
Herbs for Exhaustion:
Angelica, ginko, hawthorn for helping heart strain due to overexertion, lemon balm (nervous), rose hips, rosemary (mental exhaustion), skullcap (nervous) sea berry (with weakened immune system). Lemon balm and hawthorn are two of my favorites from this list and I have used them together for a very soothing blend. In fact, they are in my “Sweet Sleep” blend.
Another energy sapper is fear and/or anxiety. Lemon balm tea with honey is a delightful way to calm fears and anxiety. Just holding a warm mug in your hands and smelling the soothing aroma of the tea as it cools enough to drink is an exercise in relaxation in itself. I am still using dried lemon balm from last fall’s harvest, and as I sip this tea, I close my eyes and picture the lush leaves of lemon balm and guess what, I can even catch hints of the sweet fresh scent of lemon balm. Now that I am full of energy and Spring enthusiasm, I think I’ll hit the herb bed and clean out the winter’s debris!