HERBAL CHANGES IN ENERGY LEVELS

Many people complain about lack of energy. Our capacity to maintain high energy decreases naturally with age, and it is unrealistic to expect the same levels of energy from a 60-year-old as from a 20-year-old. You must make allowances for such a decrease as well as for the fact that some people are genetically more energetic than others. However, a drastic change in your normal energy levels does not occur without a reason.

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COMMON CAUSES OF LOW ENERGY

• Overwork: this applies equally to a busy executive as to a mother looking after three young children.

• Prolonged stress: stress that continues for a long time can exhaust the adrenal glands, which help our bodies to respond to stress.

• Lack of sleep: this should be rather obvious, but many people expect to function well on an inadequate amount of sleep. A good night’s sleep is essential for the body and the brain to recuperate after each day, especially a day that has been physically and mentally demanding.

• Faulty nutrition: food is the ‘fuel’ for your body in a literal sense – our energy comes from oxidising (i.e. ‘burning’) glucose, which comes from the food we eat. However, to produce the molecules that are energy carriers, body cells need many vitamins and minerals. If these are lacking, which is often the case in a modern, highly processed diet, the body simply cannot maintain an adequate production of energy. One of the most common nutritional problems leading to lack of energy is drinking too much coffee.

• Depression: poor energy, perhaps better described as lethargy, is one of the symptoms of depression.

• Disease: many diseases result in low energy; even a bad cold can leave you exhausted for weeks. It is always worth checking whether your thyroid is working properly, as it is the thyroid that determines your basic metabolic rate, which in turn influences your level of energy.

• Lack of exercise: exercise stimulates the circulation in your body and the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your brain. If you don’t move much, such vital supplies will be sluggish and you will feel sluggish too.

IDENTIFY THE CAUSE AND TREAT IT

This is not an exhaustive list – there can be many more reasons or combinations of factors, and you need to identify precisely what the underlying problem is in your case. Some health problems causing low energy, such as depression, insomnia or post-viral fatigue, are discussed in other posts, so please refer to these as necessary and treat the conditions with the suggested herbs. Attending to the possible causes should be your first line of approach, before reaching straight away for energising herbs. Some ailments, such as low thyroid function, will necessitate seeing a health professional and taking appropriate medication, whether herbal or conventional.

HERBS AND LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS

The herbs discussed below are energy boosters, and are suitable for people who need an extra ‘oomph’ for a short period of time – say a few days to a few months.

However, there is no point in taking herbs to improve your energy if you do not make essential lifestyle adjustments – the herbs can prop you up for a while, but unless you deal with the cause of your tiredness the problem will come back.

I cannot stress enough that herbs are not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle, sensible working hours and a good diet. Energy-boosting herbs will work up to a point, but if you continually push your body to the point of exhaustion and give it no chance to recover, even the best herbs will stop working.

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