Modern life moves at a fast pace, and we’re often juggling multiple priorities—family, work, health concerns, and our finances can all cause stress. Sometimes we struggle to deal with all of the ups and downs.
Constant stress can leave us feeling as if our energy has been zapped. Thankfully, there are lots of natural ways to help our bodies fight fatigue and reduce stress so we are better equipped to take on whatever life throws at us.
Adaptogens to Relieve Fatigue
Chronic stress can affect everything from hormones to cardiovascular function, and many of us are perpetually imbalanced. Reducing stress through diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques is a good start.
Supplements can also help. Adaptogenic herbs support the endocrine and immune systems and boost the body’s ability to fight stress. Here are a few to try:
Ginseng (Panax spp.) is a staple of traditional Chinese medicine and a first line of defense against sluggishness. Both Asian ginseng (P. ginseng) and American ginseng (P. cinquefolius) help boost energy levels, regulate blood sugar, and improve libido. Due to high demand, wild stands of both types of ginseng have been greatly reduced—look for brands that have been sustainably harvested.
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus), a “cousin” of ginseng, has been shown to boost energy levels. It appears to be especially helpful for those who work long shifts or odd hours. It may also boost endurance and stamina in athletes.
Another option to consider is codonopsis (Codonopsis spp.), also known as “poor man’s ginseng,” which is less well known. Research suggests that it may be an effective energy booster.
If you need a quick pick-me-up, consider fast-acting rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea). Research indicates that rhodiola can boost energy in the short term, and it also provides long-term physical and mental energy. Rhodiola may reduce symptoms of depression including insomnia and mood swings.
Adaptogens to Give Your Brain a Boost
If you find that you can’t focus or that your thinking has become cloudier than usual, you may want to try one of these brain-helping supplements.
Commonly praised as a brain-boosting herb, Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is a staple of traditional Chinese medicine. Contemporary research tends to focus on Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE), which appears to improve cognition, especially in young and middle-aged healthy people. Some studies indicate that GBE may improve memory in people with dementia.
Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) acts as a mild stimulant for the nervous system, supporting concentration, boosting mental activity, and improving work performance. It also helps to relieve anxiety and stress, allowing for greater mental clarity.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) works more slowly than some other natural remedies, but studies show that it has positive effects on mental function, including giving a boost to working memory.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract has been shown to enhance cognitive function and working memory. One study found that participants performed significantly better on working memory tests after supplementation with green tea extract. EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), a component of green tea extract, may also improve memory impairment and other cognitive defects triggered by a typical Western diet high in fat and sugar.
Other Nutrients to Boost Energy Levels
Other nutrients that may help boost energy levels include vitamin B12 which may boost concentration, memory, and mood; magnesium, which converts glucose into energy; omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha linolenic acid (ALA), that assist with energy generation and may help ease fatigue associated with depression; and vitamin D, which shows promise in reducing daytime sleepiness.
“Rosenroot (rhodiola): Potential applications in aging-related diseases” by W. Zhuang et al., Aging Dis, 2/19 l
Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston and Steven Maimes ($18.95, Healing Arts Press, 2007)
“Green tea extract boosts your brain power, especially the working memory, new research shows,” 4/7/14; Green tea ingredient may ameliorate memory impairment, brain insulin resistance, and obesity,” 7/28/17, www.ScienceDaily.com
“Vitamins for energy: Does B-12 work?” by Susan York Morris, www.Healthline.com, 7/28/16