Herbs For Increasing Energy
There are many herbs that are useful for increasing energy, but when selecting which ones to use, one should be conscious of which herbs are most appropriate for one's given condition. In Integrative Medicine we recognize several patterns of disharmony that are responsible for low energy and fatigue. The first pattern is characterized by weakness in the digestive system, and typically occurs with numerous digestive symptoms. The second pattern of fatigue is associated with the lungs and may occur with asthma, shortness of breath, or other respiratory conditions. Another pattern is associated with insomnia and anxiety; while the last pattern we shall discuss is related to the adrenal glands, and is very common in cases of chronic fatigue.
In order to better understand each pattern of disharmony that contributes to low energy and fatigue, lets look in greater detail at each of these patterns.
Fatigue with Digestive Problems
In this pattern fatigue occurs with digestive symptoms, and there may be numerous digestive diseases that are present. For the sake of simplicity we shall examine the most basic pattern, which occurs when there is weakness in the body's ability to process and assimilate food.
The most common symptoms of this pattern include:
Loss of Appetite
Bloating and Tiredness After Meals
Frequent Diarrhea or Loose Stools
Difficulty with Bowel Movements
Herbs for this pattern of fatigue include Ginseng, White Atractylodis, Astragalus, Wild Yam, Poria, and Licorice.
Fatigue with Respiratory and/or Immune Symptoms
Another common pattern of fatigue can occur when the function of the lungs is compromised, this is because getting sufficient oxygen is important in maintaining high energy levels. The air we breathe plays a major role in ensuring that the body can extract energy from the food we eat. Therefore, when there is a problem with the respiratory system it can greatly affect our overall energy levels.
In addition this pattern frequently manifests with a weak or compromised immune system, and as a result people with this pattern will get sick frequently.
In patterns of fatigue that are connected to an imbalance in the respiratory system common symptoms are:
Shortness of Breath
Frequently Catching the Cold
Low Immune Function
My favorite herbs to use for this pattern of fatigue include Ginseng, Astragalus, Cordyceps, and Reishi. Other herbs may also be used, but these need to be determined according to what secondary symptoms are present.
Fatigue with Insomnia
When one has a difficult time sleeping this will frequently result in fatigue throughout the day. Typically this pattern of fatigue with insomnia also occurs with other conditions that are related to one's state of mind. High stress life-styles and chronic worrying are also components of this pattern.
The main symptoms of this pattern are:
High Stress Levels
To increase energy levels with this pattern requires a skillful blend of herbs that will increase the energy in the day, combat stress levels, and help to induce better sleep patterns at night. To increase energy I like to use Ginseng, White Atractylodis, and Red Jujube. To calm the mind Zizyphus, Reishi, and Valerian are good choices. In cases of a blood deficiency, which is common in these cases, I will add Dang Gui and Logan Fruit. To help promote sleep I like using Valerian, Hops, Passion Flower, Skullcap, and Lavender.
Fatigue with Adrenal Weakness
The final pattern of fatigue we will discuss is related to the adrenal glands and is very common in cases of chronic fatigue. This pattern typically results from those that have long histories of overworking and high stress life-styles. Chronic long-term consumption of coffee with a poor diet can also be contributing factors. There are also some people that will manifest this pattern as a result of genetic patterns that predispose them to low levels of hormones.
Symptoms of this pattern include:
Chronic Fatigue or fatigue that has lasted for longer than 6 months
Feeling "Burned Out"
Lack of Interest, Motivation, and Drive
Extremely Low Levels of Energy
Low Sex Drive
Decreased Physical Functioning
This pattern requires using many herbs in combination to account for all the physiological needs that are present. Herbs I often use include Ginseng, Rehmania, Wild Yam, Cornus, Eucommia Bark, Morinda, Licorice, and Cinnamon. Other herbs will often be added depending on the specifics of the pattern and symptoms that are present.
The four examples described above are the most common patterns of fatigue and low energy, but there are also other possibilities. In complex conditions a person may even have more than one pattern. To understand what pattern you have it is important to have a consultation with an experienced health care provider.
For more information about how herbs may be used to treat fatigue and increase energy, feel free to contact me.
Jim Spears M.S.
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