Natural Treatments for Low Energy
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
ARE YOU OFTEN TIRED AFTER THE SIMPLEST ACTIVITIES? Do the days drag on until you reach home, only to slump on the couch and crash, unable to enjoy your daily activities? If so, you are suffering from low energy. Energy normally fluctuates according to daily rhythms, which vary from person to person. In general, we have more energy in the morning and wind down toward the evening. However, many people suffer from chronic fatigue and low energy. They start the day tired and end the day tired.
The causes of low energy are numerous. But first and foremost, low energy is often a result of stressful living in our modern world. Coping with stressful situations requires a lot of energy, leaving the average person drained and at times depressed. Poor diet also contributes to low energy. Instead of eating foods with a sustainable energy content, most people eat too many foods made of simple sugars, which supply a rapid burst of energy, but burn out fast and furious, leaving us depleted. Lack of exercise is the final nail in the coffin. Exercise helps us deal with daily stresses; without it, the body is rapidly depleted of vital energy. Fortunately, with treatment in the form of diet, herbs, acupuncture and qigong the underlying causes of fatigue can be addressed.
Immune system malfunction - either an under-performing or hyperactive immune system - can also cause fatigue, contributing to low energy. Under performing immunity is often a result of an acute or chronic viral or bacterial infection. Hyperactive immunity includes autoimmune inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus. And the functional decline of organs that occurs with diseases like congestive heart failure, emphysema, hepatitis, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, and anemia can leave patients tired and exhausted.
Energy is qi. The level and quality of a person’s qi define how he or she feels. Chinese medicine recognized the concept of vital energy thousands of years ago and has developed a full understanding of the essential functions and role of qi in health and wellness. As a result, very effective means of addressing low energy have been developed. Once we’ve figured out the underlying cause of the fatigue, I work with internists to create a treatment plan specific to each patient’s needs. Treatment usually consists of acupuncture and herbal therapy for three months or more, depending on the condition. I then counsel each patient on a dietary, lifestyle, and mind-body exercise regimen. In the more than twenty years that I’ve been working with patients with low energy, I’ve helped the majority of my patients overcome their fatigue.
Related conditions: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia
Here are some simple steps to work on regaining your vitality.
DIET FOR LOW ENERGY
For sustained vitality and energy, the foods you consume must be wholesome, organic, and packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
A balanced diet based on organic whole foods with fresh vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and moderate amounts of organic animal protein is best. The foods you eat must also be easily digested and absorbed.
- Dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, spinach, dandelions, collard greens, carrot tops, Brussels sprouts, and beet tops, and various mushrooms, including shiitake, maitake, white, black, and reishi, contribute to a healthy immune system.
- Pearl barley, bitter melon, squash, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, yams, mung beans, black beans, and water chestnuts are also beneficial, as they nourish the organs and provide vital nutrition.
- Nuts, including pistachio nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, lotus root and seeds, and loquat help strengthen digestion.
- Green tea and daikon radish are good for digestion, too.
- Berries are rich in antioxidants and can also help remove toxic residues from the system, which is often the cause of chronic fatigue and low energy. Try blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, goji berries, hawthorn berries, and cherries.
- Foods rich in essential fatty acids, including olive oil, sunflower oil, and omega-3 fatty acids obtained from deepsea fish, can help improve cellular function. Chlorella, spirulina, wheat grass juice, and barley grass juice all contain chlorophyll and play key roles in energy metabolism and immune system.
- Water is important for properly flushing the system and hydrating the cells to prevent buildup of toxic waste products. Drink at least eight glasses of room-temperature water a day.
- Do not skip breakfast; always eat a nutritious breakfast including a high-quality protein like eggs, fish, or beans.
- Eat a snack at midmorning and another one at midafternoon to help you sustain your energy and prevent low blood sugar from setting in. Nuts, seeds, fruits, or a bean dip like hummus are good choices.
- Lunch should consist of vegetables and chicken or other protein sources but stay away from starchy foods.
- Dinner should be no later than 7:00 P.11., and keep it light, with dairy-free soups, vegetables and whole grains.
- Avoid all forms of processed sugar, including sodas, sweetened juices, and pastries. Sugar is extremely damaging to your energy levels, as the initial rush is followed by a spectacular crash, something we’ve all seen in children.
- Most dairy products should be avoided, as they tend to produce mucus and can cause digestive problems. They also contain lots of sugar in the form of lactose.
- Alcohol, coffee, deep-fried and fatty foods, and cold, raw foods should also be avoided, as they can injure the spleen and stomach and impair digestion.
HOME REMEDIES FOR LOW ENERGY
- Make your own trail mix- include almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, dried cranberries, prunes, and raisins, or any other combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits that are high in antioxidants, essential fatty acids and fiber to help sustain energy over a long period of time.
- Make a tea or broth from any combination of the following herbs and spices: dill, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, peppermint, ginger, garlic, parsley, cinnamon, onions, chives, garlic, and leeks. These herbs and spices contain volatile oils that stimulate your senses and increase alertness. Boil 1 tablespoon of the herb or spice in 3 1/2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Strain, and drink 3 cups daily.
- Jump rope for 5 minutes every hour throughout the day and drink a glass of water afterward to increase circulation and oxygenation and remove toxins from your body more frequently.
VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS FOR LOW ENERGY
- Chlorella (3 grams), spirulina (500 milligrams), kelp (100 milligrams), and other forms of chlorophyll are high-quality protein sources that enhance long-term energy.
- Vitamins B3 (100 milligrams), B6 (200 milligrams), and B12 (50 milligrams) are essential for energy metabolism. Vitamin C (1,000 milligrams) is also a good energy stimulator and helps reduce toxic cellular waste.
- L-carnitine (200 milligrams), coenzyme Q10 (50 milligrams), and lecithin (2 grams) promote energy metabolism, while chromium picolinate (300 micrograms) helps to balance blood sugar.
Herbal Therapy FOR LOW ENERGY
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation.
- Ginseng has been known as the king of energy tonics throughout history in Asia. Research studies have confirmed its energy-enhancing properties.
- Our traditional Chinese herbal formula for low energy contains Codonopsis Root, Polygonatum Root, Glehnia Root, Longan Fleshy Seed Cover, Japanese Apricot Fruit.
- Gotu kola, ashwagandha, and damiana are herbs used to promote energy.
- Other traditional Chinese herbs for low energy include astragalus root, ginseng root, ginger, licorice root, goji berry, red jujube, Chinese gooseberry, and schizandra berry to support abundant energy.
EXERCISE FOR LOW ENERGY
To have energy, you must promote its flow within your body. Exercise actually helps increase the energy metabolism pathways, making more energy available to you and improving your mood. I recommend a daily 30-minute cardiovascular exercise routine combined with stretching and flexibility training.
QI GONG FOR LOW ENERGY
Many of my patients learn qi gong exercises to help them gather, store, and properly use energy. Dao In Qi Gong, a qi gong exercise for energy metabolism, has been practiced for thousands of years by the Taoist masters of China. With these exercises and proper diet and lifestyle, these ancient masters were able to prolong their lives and enjoy abundant energy.
The fourth movement of the practice, called Immortal Tightening the Body Like a Bow, is included here to help get you started:
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms at your side.
- Bring your hands up and cross them over your chest, with your palms facing your chest.
- Inhale, and slowly raise your torso and both your legs, keeping them straight, so that your body forms a V. At the same time, touch your toes with your fingers. Your tailbone should be the only part of your body touching the floor.
- Exhale, and slowly return to the beginning posture.
- Repeat for a total of 3 times.
- Gradually work toward being able to hold yourself in the raised position for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times daily.
SELF ACUPRESSURE FOR LOW ENERGY
- Find the acupoint Arm Three Miles (LI-10), on the outer part of the right forearm, three finger-widths below the elbow crease on a line between the outer corner of the elbow crease and the tip of the index finger when the arm is bent at the elbow. Apply steady pressure with your left thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on the left arm.
- Find the acupoint Foot Three Miles (ST-36), four fingerwidths below the kneecap on the right leg. Apply moderate pressure with your right thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for s minutes. Repeat on the left leg.
Regular stimulation of these points helps strengthen the body’s resistance to stress, enhances immunity, and strengthens the vital organs.
LOW ENERGY: WHAT TO AVOID
- Avoid Smoking and taking drugs, as they are notorious for depleting the vital qi and weakening the body.
- Excessive sexual activity and physical and mental strain should also be avoided, as they drain the vital essence of the kidneys, leaving the body weak.
- Avoid stress, emotional upset, and other negative emotions, which are damaging to the vital qi and reduce your immunity.
- Remain optimistic and keep a positive attitude.
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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