As I researched and looked at natural treatments to enhance energy, an interesting fact began to emerge. I discovered that cultures around the world have identified unique herbal ingredients or other natural substances that help in dealing with fatigue. For example, ginseng is used in Asia and America, as well as numerous other places, while in South America herbs such as guarana and maté are frequently used as energy boosters. In countries like Scandinavia, Siberia and Tibet, a high-altitude plant known as rhodiola is frequently used. In addition, the mushroom, cordyceps, has long been used in Asia to fight fatigue; and in the United States, the amino acid taurine is common. Let's take a closer look at these.
The most common supplement to enhance energy is ginseng. This herb has been used for centuries to reduce fatigue and improve stamina by enabling the body to produce energy more efficiently. This is important because the greatest benefit is not simply in stimulating the body but rather in improving the ability of the body to produce more energy.
"Ginseng has been used for centuries to reduce fatigue and improve stamina by enabling the body to produce energy more efficiently."
Ginseng comes in several varieties, including American, Asian and Siberian – all of which differ slightly in how they work. Grown primarily in Wisconsin, American ginseng is similar to the Asian variety but doesn't produce some of the side effects of Asian ginseng, which can drive up blood pressure and cause heart palpitations. Siberian ginseng – also known as Eleuthero – has been shown to increase athletic performance. In fact, Soviet astronauts and some athletes have used this type of ginseng to enhance stamina. I have found that combining American and Siberian ginsengs is one of the safest, most effective ways of improving energy levels.
If you reach for a cup of coffee to jumpstart your day, you might want to try these very effective alternatives to caffeine. Guarana and maté can produce an immediate and noticeable increase in your energy level. These herbs are natural sources of caffeine, but tend not to produce the jittery-like effects of caffeine. People also do not get hooked on them like they can with caffeine. One reason they are better than coffee in providing an energy boost is related to the fact that they have not been as extensively cultivated and refined through hybridization as caffeine has. Coffee bean plants are also heavily sprayed with both herbicides and pesticides.
This is not the case with maté and guarana. Guarana comes from northern Brazil and other South American areas. Maté (also known as yerba maté) is an extract from an evergreen tree that grows in Peru and Argentina. Both maté and guarana are consumed as beverages (as a tea) and in various other forms in their native countries to help relieve fatigue.
Another interesting root extract comes from the rhodiola plant. This herb has been used for centuries by people in countries from Scandinavia to Siberia to help fight off fatigue and stay focused on repetitive tasks. This particular root extract has been shown to increase mental clarity and stamina, increase cardiac output and boost blood levels of beta-endorphin (a chemical produced by the pituitary gland that elevates mood, often associated with a "runner's high.")
The Vikings used extracts of this plant during their long sea journeys. Even today in Tibet, a high mountainous plateau in the Himalayans, people rely on the rhodiola herb for increased stamina to help them endure their rigorous lifestyle.
Research done in western countries and in Russia indicates that rhodiola shortens the recovery time after physical exertion by increasing levels of ATP, a chemical produced by the body that provides cells with fuel. Typically, there is a more immediate effect with rhodiola than with ginseng.
Looking to energize your exercise routine? A mushroom known as cordyceps has long been used in China for increasing energy and athletic performance. In fact, it made the news years ago when several Chinese athletes came out of nowhere and broke records in swimming and running events. The athletes were following a supplementation program utilizing cordyceps. But it's not just athletes that benefit from cordyceps supplementation. Chinese studies of elderly patients with fatigue found that those receiving cordyceps noted significant improvement in their levels of fatigue, in memory function and, interestingly, in their ability to tolerate cold temperatures.
"A mushroom known as cordyceps has long been used in China for increasing energy and athletic performance."
In the United States, a study presented by the American College of Sports Medicine found significant increase in the oxygen uptake in tissues for those using cordyceps supplements. This would explain the improved exercise capacity and resistance to fatigue noted in those taking this herb. In medical literature, the effects of using cordyceps are consistently described as "increased energy, increased stamina and increased endurance."
One of the most popular ingredients found in energy supplements – and in most energy drinks on the market today – is the amino acid taurine. Taurine is essential for proper nerve function as well as for skeletal and cardiac muscle activity.
IT WORKED FOR ME!
After much research, I put together a combination of these ingredients and experimented for myself to see what effects they would have. After about three days, the effects were amazing. Even though I exercise, maintain a normal body weight and typically have a great deal of energy, I noticed an improvement in stamina while running and an increase in concentration. This would certainly go along with the findings of numerous studies that have been done on these compounds and, of course, explain why these herbal preparations have been used for centuries by many different cultures.