Spring is coming. Okay, for those of you in the Northeast, it may not feel that way at the moment, but we really are beginning that countdown toward the Spring Equinox. Even if the weather outside doesn’t agree, we may begin feeling that spring itch—to move, to lighten our diets, to get outside, to bask in the sun. I’m right there with you.
One of the hardest things, though, in this seasonal transition, is the low energy we all seem to experience. There just doesn’t seem to be enough to get us going and to get as much done as we want to do. Well, the first thing is to look at that to-do list. Is it reasonable? Does it have some fun stuff woven in here and there?
If the answers are yes and yes, and you still don’t have enough energy, it’s time to take a look at what you can do, herb-wise, to boost those stores (without turning to caffeine, by the way). Most of us spend our winters eating heavier diets, and for good reason: it’s cold out there.
Those heavier foods use up more of our digestive fire, leaving us a little lethargic. So, first thing’s first, lighten the diet a bit. Include lightly steamed and/or raw fruits and veg and back away from animal proteins. Go slowly; it’s a process.
The second thing to do is to boost and heal our adrenals with some of the herbs listed below (caffeine taxes adrenals, leaving us with less energy as well as a weakened immune system in the long run). Third? For those suffering from chronic fatigue, the culprit may very well be a virus lurking, unidentified, in the body. There are some herbal suggestions for that as well.
Okay. Let’s get herby, people.
1. Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus):
Eleuthero not only helps boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain, it is a powerful antioxidant and helps the body adapt to stress (herbs in this category are called adaptogens). Eleuthero boosts energy, stamina, lessens fatigue, and helps the body use what energy it has more effectively. Feel free to take eleuthero twice a day, just not too close to bedtime, as it could cause insomnia.
NOTE: if you have unregulated high blood pressure, it’s best to avoid this herb.
2. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera):
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb which pairs well with eleuthero. Like eleuthero, ashwagandha is an adaptogen, lessening the effects of stress on the nervous system, which cuts back on the adrenaline, ‘fight or flight,’ response, leaving us with more energy for daily use. It also helps relieve depression (a big drain on energy), stabilize blood sugar, and reduce inflammation. When the body isn’t using resources to combat these early stages of illness (i.e. inflammation and blood sugar issues), then there’s plenty left over for us. Try 600-1,000mg twice daily.
3. Oil of Oregano (Origanum vulgare):
Sometimes, dormant viruses can be the cause of chronic or acute fatigue; you may have no other symptoms, or you may have symptoms you wouldn’t normally identify with a virus: skin eruptions, rashes, unexplained pains, and achy joints. Cleaning out the liver with some detoxing herbs is a great place to start.
Add to that a twice daily dose of oil of oregano (1-2 drops in 8oz of water twice daily—for a bonus healing infusion, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the water for its healthy bacteria and its reputation for internal healing and detoxifying). Oil of oregano also has extremely high levels of antioxidants which help protect the body from chronic conditions. It boosts the immune system, aids in digestion (good digestion=higher energy as more nutrients are absorbed), and helps rid the body of parasites (yet another potentially hidden cause of chronic fatigue).
And then there’s just general common sense:
Get lots of sleep. Eat only when you’re hungry and try not to overeat (a taxed digestive system=sleepiness). Cut back on coffee and, instead, try green or black tea or yerba mate. Exercise, but don’t exhaust yourself if you suffer from chronic low energy. Just do what you can. What you can do is enough. Take breaks. Have fun (have fun!).
Finally, laugh a lot and drink water (well, preferably not at the same time…)