You may have heard of guarana and ginseng? Yes, they’re the herbal ingredients in those sugary energy drinks – but they’re in tiny amounts. The idea of naturally boosting your energy levels with herbal infusions and tonics has been around for ages. Qualified herbalist Leah Dooley offers up her top energy-giving herbs and the best ways to take them.
Please note that although these herbs are considered safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding – it is highly important not to consume ANY herbal remedies, or blends before the second trimester.
Maca Lepidium meyenii
This herb has been used for thousands of years, but has only recently hit the mainstream, originating from its fabulous medicinal properties. Much like Siberian ginseng, Maca contains adaptogens, which respond well to stressful situations allowing normal physiological functionality – meaning Maca helps to increase energy to meet demands when needed. Some clinical studies have had amazing results with Maca treating symptoms of depression, and improving mood in general – natural energy and happiness? Yes please! Be careful of the marketing though, as Maca has become ‘trendy’. Maca is a root, which generally comes in a powdered form. To get maximum health benefits from your Maca powder, mix one tablespoon into a cup of cold water, or smoothies. You can even bake with it! To avoid nausea, or feeling unwell, it’s best to start with only one tablespoon, and slowly increasing to a maximum of 3 per day.
Oregano Origanum vulgare
Yes, the one you use to sprinkle onto your pizza or into pasta sauce. This versatile herb has surprising effects on energy levels, by essentially fighting and reducing fatigue. As well as giving us an energy kick, oregano has healing properties for a variety of things, such as the digestive system, immune response, respiratory system, and even the reproductive system. You can get the most out of this hardworking herb in a tea form. However, don’t use the dried oregano that you use for cooking and make tea with it – it’ll be horrid! Buy your loose leaf oregano from your local health store. Place one teaspoon of oregano into your infuser, steep for up to four minutes, and enjoy!
Siberian Ginseng Eleutherococcus senticosus
Get the name right because there are many types of ginseng available , but Siberian is the only one suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. Siberian ginseng aids the recovery of mental exertion - aka ‘parenthood’- due to its adaptogenic qualities. It encourages damaged cells to bounce back at a faster rate, translating to higher energy levels, which is why it’s used by so many brands!
Now, this herb tastes terrible on its own; it’s super-bitter, and is also really pungent, so needs to be carefully blended with complimentary herbs. My primary energy tea blend is best steeped for up to 4 minutes, and get ready to GO!
Green Tea Camellia sinensis
You have probably heard of, or even tried green tea before. But have you tried it for energy reasons, and in loose leaf form? An amino acid within green tea, known as L-theanine, improves and encourages brain function. With less caffeine than coffee, there is no crash, and you won’t forget your keys! To maximise the effectiveness of this herb, drink up to two cups of loose leaf green tea a day. Infuse one teaspoon in boiling water, and let it steep for up to six minutes. Mix in a teaspoon of Manuka honey as a sweetener and for the added health benefits.
You can find Leah on Facebook at @charlottesapothecary at firstname.lastname@example.org