Herbs for Energy + Focus

Lack of focus can make everyday activities a struggle. This is something I find to be very important in our modern world. When thinking of mental clarity, memory, and focus - in our modern day, this is a very important aspect of our well-being! When we are experiencing cognitive dysfunction our minds feel foggy and scattered. We are less productive ultimately, effecting our performance at work, our presence with our friends and family, our community, and overall connection to ourselves and the world around us. If our minds aren’t clear on what is in front of us then we’re not present, and for us to finish tasks and really achieve our dreams we must be in the now moment and focus, in order to accomplish things and bring our desires into our living reality. So, the question is how do we get more energy, mental clarity, and live more productive lives?

From a holistic perspective for supporting our mental clarity, there’s a few things to consider. There are plants that are very effective in helping us improve cognitive function. However, when working from a holistic perspective we want to elaborate on a few more things. So first, I find it important to take a closer look into lifestyle factors. Things that we do everyday, such as, what we’re eating, activity levels, how we’re sleeping, and even how we think and feel. When we only look straight at the herbs were missing an important part. People aren’t sick because they’re deficient in a certain medicinal plant. Herbalism isn’t just focusing on addressing the plants as the only source of vitality. They help, for sure, but if someone has an imbalance from a nutritional allergy, nutrient deficiency, or just lack of sleep, it doesn’t matter how many herbs we throw at the person. If we dont address the foundational elements of health; diet, sleep, exercise, etc. Ultimately, we’re not achieving our goal to heal.

So, the first element to consider is lack of sleep. On average in our modern day, we are only getting 4-5 hours of sleep. Compared to the past, this significant decline is the amount pf sleep is effecting our mental function, reaction time, clarity, ability to adapt to stress, and more. So, the first question to ask is, “Do you need a herbal formula that will help you get a better quality of sleep instead of the neurotropic herb?” In the American culture, we go to the plant based stimulates, like coffee of green tea, or energy drinks that give us energy and keep us going in the moment but over time these caffeine stimulants can lead an even deeper level of fatigue and burn out. Not ideal. Since the goal of herbal medicine is to look at the long term picture and reach goals based on reguvinating the health, improving quality of life, and further extending our life.

Bringing us to the next lifestyle factor, exercise. Thus, the lack of, considering many of us tend to live sedintary lifestyles. We are sitting at a desk all day, sitting while driving, sitting at home. What really gets our mind clear is vigorous exersice, specifically, cardiovacular exercise. We’re getting the circulatory system working, blood flowing and in effect, an increased level of oxygen to the brain. Even a brisk walk can boost cognitive function, so get up and get moving!

The next subject for discussion is nutrition. Many factors are important here and may vary for some, but in general our brain uses glucose for energy. Glucose has sort of gotten a bad reputation that it is bad for us but in some ways we need it! In some cases, such as people who follow the paleo diet where they are low carbohydrates, like grains or fruit, the brain will begin to convert other molecules into glucose for fuel but eventually (drastially speaking) will starve the brain and may lead to brain fog or fatigue. This is a more extreme dietary factor but another component to consider is food intolerance, such as gluten, soy, or diary. The main symptomatic picture that we notice is in our mood and energy. When we eat a cleaner diet we are changing our hormone levels and shifting our internal chemisty and internal energy manufacturing power. Fewer refined carbs, more fat, and more plant nutrients, will lead to high levels of energy, mental clarity and less brain fog.

Thus, bringing us into how herbs can help! When identifying the personfirst we must know their energetics and the symptoms their experiencing, this helps to understand how to approach the herbal remedy. Essentially, there are two categories that we will notice: Category 1. Someone is groggy, tired, lower energy state- in a relaxed state or sensation of heaviness in mind. Ayurvedic dosha is associated with kapha, the earth element, and typically have a body constitution that is cold and damp. Cateogy 2. High energy state, the mind is scattered, unfocused, spinning out of control. We want to work to refine their consciousness. Typically, this person has an Ayurvedic dosha of vata, the element air, and a dry body constitution.

Herbs categorized by energetic constitution.

Brain 1-

Calamous-Sweet flag- ayurvedic herb meaning the point of the word (the power to speak) enhances and krisps the senses. Aromatic warming bitter, stimulates digestion and revs up the fire in the gut, the bitterness brings the vital energy down. Helps with damp stagnation, draining the fog and groggy and then stimulating with the aromatic qualities. Teacher explains it’s effect as, “scraps the mucus from our brain”. Cleanses the lack of clarity. Brings the nervous system in to the parasympathic state.

Bacopa- Bramine

More of a stimulant. Not recommended for the scattered brain because the energy is already there. This herb is increasing blood flow to the brian. Stimulating the senses and the mind and is great for brain fog. Also supports memory and learning retention, while also assisting with stress relief, anxiety, and depression. This herb also is an antioxidant and benfits GI Tract. This cerebral circulation can affect sleep so be conscious of this!

Gotu kola- yogi’s herb to attain deeper states of meditation. The properties of this herb have the balance of alertness, focus on one side of the coin and awareness with calmness on the other. It perks the foggy mind but also calms the scattered mind. Its a mild herb and is ideal for both energetic categories because its not stimulating. Dr Visant lad, a chinese practitioner says, 1oz of tea per day to assist meditation practice.

This pair (Calamous root & Gotu kola) are known as the “Universal mind tonic”. Working better together, the total is greater than the sum of its parts.

Cordyceps- This herb came to our Western world when they began to do studies on Olympic athletes. We see this mushroom benefit the lungs, kidneys, glands, and cardiovascular system. Bringing more energy to the body assisting the uptake of oxygen which assists in metabolic processes.

Ginko- The herb for longetity! Especially for protecting the nervous and cardiovascular systems. This is a vasodilator, meaning it improves blood flow to the brain and peripheral circulation. Beneficial in situations like, tinnitis, vertigo, and dizziness.The antioxidant properties protect the brain cells from damage. Note, it takes consistent use to achieve best results, for improving memory and reduce anxiety.

Rosemary- The herb mentioned by Shakespeare, fantastic remedy for psychological therapy. Very aromatic, and essentially increases the blood flow to the brain. Delivering more nutrients, glucose, and carrying away any metabolic waste products. Energetic are warming and pungent, stimulating the nervous system but not similar to caffeine.

Lions Mane- This mushroom is known for its neutropic effects. Improving memory, concentration, and retention. It’s antioxidant effects stimulate healthy brain cells and protects them from degeneration. Studies show it significantly reduces neurological degeneration.

Brain 2

Skullcap- Nerve tonic and known for its calming effects. It does what it says it helps with closing the cap of the head and brings the vital force down and in. Great for empaths or sensitive people.

Holy Basil- Ayurvedic herb improves circulation to the brain, increasing memory, concentration and acuity. Lifts you out of bogged down place. Stabilizes blood sugar levels, helping sugar cravings, as well as supporting the body to process sugar and carbohydrates. Supports endocrine system and improves mood.

Lemon Balm- great for that over stimulated mind. Gentle and calming to the nervous system. Works equally in the brian, heart and the gut. Which is unique and very effective for allowing the high energy brain to settle down into the heart, helping us focus.

Ashwaganda-This Ayurvedic herb is an adaptogen that helps the body to adapt to stress, supporting the adrenal glands, promoting energy and vitality.

We can continue this list, really this is only scratching the surface on herbal options, not to mention lifestyle strategies. Understand the impact and importance of lifestyle when considering energy levels and brain function. This information was for educational purposes and is not meant to treat or diagnose.

If you would like further guidance or to get a tincture of your own, connect with Paige, Clinical Herbalist.



Sourced from Sajah Popham, founder of Organic Unity and The School of Evolutionary Herbalis

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