Herbs and Botanicals That Help With Stress, Low Energy, Sleep ,Sugar Cravings and Weight Loss
Before we list some supplements that may help you with your condition, please be sure to see a qualified practitioner who knows your specific case and has run some labs on you to see where you are out of balance. I never give out supplements or hormones unless I have seen the patient in my office and have run the required labs. Health is not a game and should be looked at with the utmost care. Below are simple recommendations that have worked for my patients who have shown these symptoms.
Energy and Stress
This is probably the one area almost everyone struggles with. People have so much stress in their lives from finances, children and personal issues to career considerations. I see executives, doctors, teachers, business owners and just about every profession all day long in my office to deal with these chronic concerns. They are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Two of the most common herbs for low energy are licorice root and ginseng. Licorice root contains compounds called flavonoids and the herb’s key therapeutic benefit is found in glycyrrhizin. I have personally taken licorice root and I noticed an increase in energy almost immediately. It has many beneficial effects on the body but it should be noted that it is not to be taken by individuals who have high blood pressure. Consult your physician or practitioner before taking it. Ginseng is also used to increase energy and it is plant based and comes in a variety of forms (American, Asian, Siberian, etc.). I typically give this to patients who need a boost but cannot tolerate the licorice root.
From a stress perspective, when my clients have high cortisol, we can use Rhodiola and low cortisol equals Licorice Root or ginseng as mentioned above. Rhodiola is known as Rhodiola rosea (other names include Arctic or Golden Root). It is generally classed as plants and fungi which are also named adaptogens. An adaptogen just means that it helps the body adapt to physical, chemical or environmental stress. Rhodiola rosea relieves stress by balancing the body’s stress-response system. The Russians have also used it over the years for strength, endurance and to fight off depression. It is grown in the arctic areas of Europe and Asia.
PMS and Sex Drive
PMS is an issue for both women and men. Women experience the physical, physiological and emotional issues while the men just experience the emotional ones. I am being a little facetious but it is a serious concern for many people. Chasteberry and saffron are two excellent herbs at helping women deal with menstrual cycles. Chasteberry is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and it is a fruit that grows on flowering shrubs. You can get it in supplement form or from dried fruits. Saffron is another herb and it is also a very expensive spice. It is produced from the saffron crocus flower. A herbal saffron supplement can help induce menstruation as well as help relieve the pain that many females feel with periods. Another benefit is that saffron can also help to reduce chronic uterus bleeding. As always, do not use if you are pregnant and keep out of reach of children.
Sex Drive is very important and I see many patients who have lost their sex drive usually due to being stressed and the subsequent depleted hormones that follow chronic stress. Their libido is very low and they don’t even want to be around their partner. This is heartbreaking as intimacy is very important in relationships. Maca is a plant that grows in Peru and Maca root contains many chemicals, including fatty acids and amino acids (protein) , natural sugars, potassium, iodine, iron, magnesium, fiber and calcium. It has been shown to increase libido and this is due to the high nutritional content of the root.
This is a very loaded word and most people underestimate how important it is. You simply can’t function optimally without it and it becomes a major problem for people as they age. I must get asked this question five times a day. How can I sleep better? What can I take to help me sleep? The answer from an herb or botanical point of view is Valerian Root or Ashwagandha. Valerian Root is a perennial plant and is native to Europe and Asia. The dried root part is most beneficial and it contains acetic acid, ascorbic acid, magnesium, calcium, manganese and quercetin. It has been used for over 2000 years in assisting with sleep. Ashwagandha is also very popular in the herbal community and is an adaptogenic herb popular in Ayurvedic medicine. It is plant based and its constituents consist of phenolic compounds, flavonoids, saponins and alkaloids. I recommend you look into these two supplements if you are looking for herbs to assist with sleep.
Sugar Cravings and Weight Loss
I would say these two go hand in hand. Most people in 2016 are following a heavily weighted carbohydrate based diet. This means they are eating breads, pastas, cereal, pizza and other wheat based carbs. Their brains now crave these kinds of food and they will get headaches, anxious, jittery and moody if they don’t eat more carbohydrates. This is exactly the opposite of what you are supposed to do. I won’t repeat what I said earlier but eating more protein and healthy fats as food is always my number one antidote to stopping the cravings. That said, there are two great supplements that you can take and they are l-glutamine and resveratrol. L-glutamine is an amino acid found in the body. It helps stabilize blood sugar and alleviates the need for sugar consumption. One of my favourite supplements is also resveratrol and from a food perspective it is found in the skin of red grapes. An amazing antioxidant as well but is also known for its ability to improve insulin sensitivity, which means that your body is better able to upload glucose into muscle tissue for storage energy.
I could write an entire chapter on supplements for weight loss and many people would buy all of them. I understand human psychology quite well and that most people want a quick fix for their health concerns. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. I will provide you with a couple of the best herbs and botanicals that can move you in the right direction. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is an Omega-3 fat derived primarily from organic grass-fed beef and dairy products. I prefer getting it from these sources but you can also get CLA in supplement form. I have seen patients do well with it as it has been known to reduce fat, increase muscle tissue and lean out the midsection. I have clinical experience with it and the benefits have been quite pronounced. The second supplement is Relora. Relora is a proprietary blend of two plant extracts (Phellodendron amurense and Magnolia officinali) and works on the central nervous system to relax you. In curbing stress and cravings, it will invariably help you lose weight. The therapeutic benefits are a big contributor to an optimal weight.
Mike, FDN, PT
Mike Daciuk is a Functional Health Practitioner helping patients with weight concerns, autoimmune conditions (lupus, crohn’s, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, celiac, etc.), gut discomfort, anxiety, depression, infertility, sleep issues, chronic stress, thyroid problems and many more debilitating conditions. He also coaches clients on mindset and eliminating their limiting beliefs by focusing on lifestyle, nutrition, physical fitness and stress reduction techniques. He has authored the popular self-help book titled “The Transformation From Within”, a functional medicine book ” How To Restore Your Health”, and hosts the highly ranked ITunes Podcast called Interactive Body Balance. Please feel free to reach him at www.mikedaciuk.com or [email protected].