Natural Energizers: A Better Boost
Other Stimulants: Best Of The Rest
Green tea contains certain important health-giving compounds. Its polyphenols or catechins are potent antioxidants, with cancer-protective and antiaging effects. Tea also has a blood-thinning effect, similar to that of aspirin. As it turns out, black tea, a fermented form of the same leaf, also contains these compounds, but with proportionately more caffeine along with them. Green tea contains only 20-30 mg of caffeine per cup, as compared to 50 mg in a regular cup of tea, and is consequently less stimulating, even relaxing to many people.
In fact, Asian monks have traditionally used green tea to help keep them awake, but calm, during meditation practice. This is likely due to its content of the amino acid L-theanine (gamma-ethyl-amino-glutamic acid). Mitigating the stimulation of caffeine, within 30-40 minutes of consumption, it produces an increase in alpha brain-wave activity, without drowsiness. The average cup of green tea contains 26-46 mg of theanine, which is available in capsule form as well, in doses of 50-200 mg.
Considering the health benefits, we can count green tea, in moderation (meaning no more than two cups a day), as an acceptable "natural stimulant."
How it works: Contains potent antioxidants, theanine, and caffeine.
Positive effects: Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure; increases HDL, the so-called "good" cholesterol; thins the blood; reduces risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer; enhances immune function; prevents dental caries and hypertension; aids weight loss by encouraging the body to burn fat; produces a state of alert relaxation.
Cautions: Contains caffeine.
Dosage: 1-2 cups a day.
NADH, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is a small organic molecule found naturally in every living cell. NADH is necessary for thousands of biochemical reactions within the body and plays a key role in the energy production of cells, particularly in the brain and central nervous system. It stimulates cellular production of the neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin, thereby improving mental clarity, alertness, and concentration. The more NADH a cell has available, the more energy it can produce, and the more efficiently it can perform. It also enhances physical performance and energy. We have found it very useful in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.
How it works: Stimulates cellular production of the neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin.
Positive effects: It is a good antioxidant; improves mental clarity, cellular memory, alertness, and concentration; enhances energy and athletic endurance.
Dosage: 2.5-10 mg daily, depending on individual requirements.
Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone)
No list on natural energizers would be complete without mention of Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10. Called "ubiquinone" due to its being so ever-present ("ubiquitous"), it is a significant cofactor in driving our engines on a cellular level. From our hearts to our brains, CoQ10 helps to convert the nutrients we eat into energy. It is also a potent antioxidant. Another side benefit: it has been shown to stop gums from receding. The recommended dose is 30 mg twice daily, or more if you are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs that deplete CoQ10. Being fat-soluble, it should be taken with a little fat-containing food, such as peanut butter. CoQ10 is expensive, but don't just shop price, since the quality is especially important. It is too valuable for your health not to have the most effective products.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
How it works: Stimulates cellular production of energy; antioxidant.
Positive effects: Is a good antioxidant; enhances energy and endurance; helps repair receding gums.
Dosage: 30-300 mg daily, depending on individual requirements.
Action Plan For Natural Stimulation
The first steps to maximizing your natural energy and motivation are to reduce your stress level, balance your blood sugar, and avoid or reduce your intake of stimulants to an absolute minimum. A good all-around multivitamin is key.
Adaptogens are the key supplements for natural, sustained, and healthy stimulation. Asian ginseng can, however, be overstimulating if you have very raised cortisol levels or are exhausted. The same caution does not apply to Siberian ginseng. Licorice can also be overstimulating, so don't supplement it if you are very stressed or exhausted.
The nutrients in the following table are worthy additions to a supplemental program designed to enhance your energy and motivation. Combination formulas are available. It you are taking the supplements individually, start gradually and add new ones only after you have given the products two to three weeks to begin working.
|Natural Energizers||Daily Dose|
|Siberian ginseng||100-200 mg|
|Asian/American ginseng||100-200 mg|
|Reishi mushroom||300-1,000 mg|
|D, L-phenylalanine||100-2,000 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)||100-500 mg|
So, to sum up, you should take the following to feel alert and energetic:
- A good all-around multivitamin supplying optimal amounts of B vitamins, especially pantothenic acid (vitamin B6) and vitamin C.
- A "stimulant" formula providing Siberian, Asian, or American ginseng, ashwaganda, reishi mushroom, DLPA, and tyrosine.
- Optional licorice, as needed, but only if you are not seriously stressed, and not at night.
From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright © Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.