Korean ginseng, also known as Panax ginseng
Stimulants like caffeine that tend to give the body a “kick” of energy also tend to put heavy strain on the body’s adrenal cortex, which regulates stress, by causing it to work harder than normal to produce more energy. But adaptogens like Korean ginseng (Panax schinsen) actually feed the adrenal cortex the nutrients it needs to produce lasting, stress-resistant energy the way the body was meant to produce it.
Adaptogens essentially increase the body’s natural resistance to stress, which can subsequently improve energy levels by taking a large burden off the adrenal system. And this is exactly what Korean ginseng, and also other forms of ginseng, to a lesser extent, can do for you when supplemented on a regular basis. Dr. C. Leigh Broadhurst, Ph.D., from The Herb Companion recommends taking 100 milligrams (mg) of the standardized extract in capsule or liquid form four times daily (http://www.herbcompanion.com/health/Herbs-for-energy.aspx?page=2).
Eleuthero root, also known as Siberian ginseng
Though not technically a true member of the ginseng family, eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Acanthopanax senticosus) is also a powerful adaptogenic herb with multiple health-promoting characteristics (http://www.tasteforlife.com).
Besides containing powerful analgesic (painkilling), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, and immune-boosting compounds, eleuthero root and root bark is similar to Korean (Panax) ginseng in that it helps regulate key hormones in the body related to stress, endurance, and overall energy levels. When taken steadily over a period of time, eleuthero root can help lessen fatigue and stimulate the adrenal cortex to produce more cortisol, the key stress hormone in the body that is responsible for producing “get up and go” feelings after a normal night’s sleep.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), one of the most vital herbs in Ayurvedic healing, is another adaptogenic herb that actually works quite well when taken together with ginseng of eleuthero root. According to The Herb Companion, taking one to two teaspoons twice or three times daily of this shrub extract — or one 500 mg capsule of ashwagandha three times daily — is plenty to obtain its energy-boosting power.
The Chopra Center adds that ashwagandha can also help boost immunity; improve memory and learning capacity; reduce anxiety and depression without causing fatigue; stabilize blood sugar; lower bad cholesterol levels; protect the brain against degeneration; fight malaria; and reduce or eliminate inflammation. This group recommends taking between 600 and 1000 mg of ashwagandha twice daily (http://www.chopra.com/ashwagandha).
A powerful herbal tea with 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and 11 polyphenols and antioxidants, yerba mate, an amazing rainforest plant, is an excellent alternative to coffee for boosting energy levels naturally. Yerba mate contains low levels of caffeine, but because this is balanced out with a host of other nutrients, brewed yerba mate tea will not give you the “jitters,” and will not harm your adrenal glands.
Yerba mate tea also helps stimulate the immune system; reduce bad cholesterol levels; improve mental clarity; relieve allergies; and fight bad breath. Here are some helpful instructions for how to prepare yerba mate tea at home (http://yerbamatedrinker.com/how_to_prepare_the_mate.html).
Other energy-boosting herbs that you may wish to investigate further include licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), schisandra (Schizandra chinensis), raw cacao, and goji berries (Lycium barbarum).
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