Healthy Q & A: Energy


I feel like I'm tired all the time.  Is there anything you'd say that could help?


Tiredness can be a complex issue that usually is rooted in having too much stress.  Stress often robs us of sleep, which makes us tired in the morning.  Depression can have a hand in it as well, since stress and depression can go hand in hand, and work well together to sap energy.


The first thing I’d recommend are adaptogenic herbs like ginseng or ashwaganda.  Adaptogens literally help your body to “adapt” to stress, while reducing its negative side effects.  Stress, in and of itself in not necessarily a bad thing, but when the stress goes on for prolonged periods without respite is when problems develop.  Adaptogens work to help to bring the body into balance, both calming you down and giving you energy without being overstimulating or jittery like the energy from coffee.  Research has also linked ginseng to increased brain function and both ashwaganda and ginseng to increased physical stamina.


If difficulty falling asleep or insomnia is an issue, there are a number of herbs which can help.  Herbs like valerian, passionflower, and hops are all wonderful for helping with relaxation and promoting sleep. For anxiety, the amino acid L-theanine taken at bedtime or during the day can be very helpful.


For people suffering with depression, SAMe or the amino acid 5-HTP can be helpful.  Boosting your mood often helps to reduce fatigue and lethargy.  Both have added benefits- SAMe can help with seasonal affective disorder (which I’ll write about in more detail in next month’s newsletter) and 5-HTP can help with weight loss.


Finally, don’t forget exercise.  Exercising (especially in the morning) can help with increasing energy, reducing stress, boosting mood, and helping with sleep.  The park districts in the area have lots of choices for exercise classes, and there are often membership deals at fitness centers in the surrounding communities.  Also, even though October mornings can be brisk, getting outside for a walk, bike ride, or run can be wonderful.