Herbal supplements help fight fatigue and that afternoon sleepiness that can make a work day drag.

10 Best Herbs for Energy: How to Fight General Fatigue

The world is what you make it—if only you had the energy! Low energy or occasional fatigue can be a drag on your day, especially if it takes away from your productivity at work, at home, or out at a social event.

If you're tired in the afternoon, the stimulation of an energy drink may not be the best choice—especially if you want to sleep well and wake feeling refreshed the next day. But certain herbs may help.

Rather than giving you a big push, herbs work in a more supportive way, promoting healthy energy without the big ups and downs of caffeine and other stimulants. And most of them are easy to add to your daily routine to give you the gentle boost you need.

What causes a lack of energy?

There are plenty of reasons you might be having a slow day. Some of the most common culprits for fatigue include the following:

  • Poor or inadequate sleep: Getting a good night's sleep gives your body a chance to recharge. Not only does a good rest help boost energy, but it also supports a healthy mood, sharp memory, stress management, a healthy weight and more! (Need some help falling asleep? These tips may help!)
  • Caffeine: The same "moderation" guidelines apply to caffeine intake. Too much caffeine, or drinking caffeine later in the day, can disrupt the healthy sleep patterns that are so important for energy the next day. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy your morning cup of coffee—after all, coffee has antioxidants, liver health benefits and more! But the caffeine in that cup can be an issue for some.
  • Unmanaged stress: Dealing with everyday worries in a healthy manner (such as regular exercise, yoga, meditation, etc.) not only supports your mental well-being but your physical well-being, too. If you have heard people comment that you are "running yourself ragged," it is no surprise that tiredness follows.
  • Lack of exercise: You might worry that going to the gym will make you more tired, but regular exercise helps you feel more energetic, not less! Regular exercise also supports the healthy sleep that is key for energy levels—as well as supporting mood (thanks to the release of endorphins and other brain chemicals), cognition, focus and stress management.
  • Unbalanced diet: It's hard to feel good on a diet overloaded with processed carbs, saturated fat and sugar. While an occasional treat that includes fried foods or sweet indulgences can flood our systems with happy hormones, a balanced breakfast will do a lot more for your daily energy levels than a donut or pastry will. (Setting up a healthy pantry will make it easier to "eat clean," which helps support consistent energy levels.)
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol in moderation is key. Not only for your liver health, but also for your mood and energy the next day.
  • Personal health: If you feel you are more tired than you should be on a day-to-day basis, talk with your doctor or healthcare provider. There are many reasons you may feel sluggish, and your doctor can work with you to help determine a cause.

Why do I experience a midday slump?

For most, that after-lunch lull is a natural part of your body's rhythm. Your sluggishness may be even more pronounced after a heavy meal, as your body diverts energy for digestion and your blood sugar and hormone levels change in response to the meal.

If you are feeling fatigued, check your sleep, diet, exercise and hydration levels first. One or more of these might account for that grogginess. You may also want to try the gentle energy-boosting of herbal supplements.

Not sure where to start? This energy health quiz might help you decide which nutrients and supplements work best for you.

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What are the best herbs for energy?

If you are over feeling tired, these science-backed nutrients may help.

  1. Ashwagandha. This powerful herbal nutrient has been used for thousands of years. Ashwagandha helps maintain already-healthy cortisol levels and fight fatigue. Studies show this herb also has potential benefits for memory, stress management, hormone function, weight management and healthy sleep. Ashwagandha may help your workout as well! Research shows ashwagandha improves physical performance and promotes muscle recovery.
  2. Rhodiola rosea. Support physical and mental energy with this adaptogenic herb. Rhodiola has a long list of health benefits, such as helping to manage stress, fight fatigue, maintain brain function and support athletic performance.
  3. Green tea. You can both relax and recharge with a warm cup of lightly caffeinated green tea. This herb has powerful anti-aging polyphenol compounds that support cellular and cardiovascular health, brain function and much more.
  4. French oak wood. In studies, French oak wood extract helped relieve general fatigue and encourage healthy energy levels. It also promotes refreshing sleep and a healthy mood and helps relieve occasional discomfort in the head, joints and muscles.
  5. Asian ginseng (aka Panax ginseng or Korean ginseng). Ginseng has been extensively studied and found to support healthy energy, stress management and more. Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps the body better "adapt" to stressors and maintain homeostasis. These herbs support energy production, cognitive health and a healthy inflammatory response.
  6. Maca root (Lepidium meyenii). This well-known herbal favorite also has adaptogenic properties. Sometimes called Peruvian ginseng, maca supports endurance and may fight fatigue. Maca is most popularly used to support libido and relieve menopausal discomforts.    
  7. Holy basil. Holy basil supports metabolic function and endurance, as well as promoting healthy stress management. Like many herbs for energy, holy basil is considered an adaptogen.
  8. Eleuthero root (Siberian ginseng). Also an adaptogen, this herb also helps promote stamina and endurance.
  9. Forskolin. This extract from the Coleus forskohlii plant helps activate a process that is integral for cellular function. Forskolin also promotes cardiovascular health, metabolism, healthy skin cell division and more.
  10. Schisandra. This adaptogen may help support energy and endurance.

Herbs for cognitive function

Sometimes your afternoon slump feels more like a brain fog than sleepiness. In that case, other cognitive-enhancing herbal supplements might be useful for helping you to feel more alert.

Along with herbal superstars ginseng, ashwagandha and rhodiola rosea, try bacopa monnieri, sage, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, peppermint and spearmint. These herbs support focus, memory and overall brain health, which may help you power through that 3 PM daze.

Other herbs, such as lemon balm, support a calm mood and healthy stress levels, which may help you keep an even keel rather than feeling drained. Enhanced Stress Relief's formula combines lemon balm with L-theanine to help support peace of mind as well as mood, memory and attention.

How can I boost my energy fast when I am feeling tired? 3 Hacks

In addition to vitamins and supplements for energy, these tips might help energize your day: 

  1. Eat a healthy snack: Whole grains or whole foods are best. Nuts and nut butters are also healthy. Meanwhile, ignore those TV commercials telling you to break out a candy bar—all that sugar will have the opposite effect!
  2. Drink some water: Now is not the time to reach for coffee. Instead, hydrate!
  3. Bust a move: Yoga or a brisk walk can help restore your energy levels and get you through that midday slump.


About the Author: Jennifer Jhon graduated from Auburn University with a degree in journalism and communications. She established her career as an editor, designer and writer at several newspapers and magazines. She has been writing about wellness, health and nutrition for 10 years.

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