The stressors and hectic schedules of our time are wearing down many people who are looking for ways to feel more energized and alert.
While getting enough sleep, eating a nutrient-dense diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking care of yourself are the most important factors in feeling your best, it has been shown that certain supplements, especially herbal ones, can boost your energy and cognitive health. Remember that many herbs can interact with commonly prescribed medications and cause other side effects. It is therefore important to consult your doctor before using any of the following herbs.
Here are the top 10 herbs that can help boost alertness and energy levels, according to scientific research.
Ginseng is a popular herbal supplement, well known for its energizing properties. It has also been shown to boost brain function, making it a sought-after herb for improving athletic and mental performance. Panax ginseng is the most studied type in human trials. Ginseng contains compounds, including ginsenosides, eleutherosides, and ciwujianosides, which are believed to give ginseng its performance and energy-enhancing effects.
In a number of human studies, ginseng supplementation has been shown to improve physical performance in sedentary and active individuals, provide anti-fatigue properties, and increase mental alertness. Doses of 200 to 1000 mg per day have been linked to beneficial effects on energy levels, concentration and mood in adults.
Remember that the use of ginseng sometimes comes with potential side effects, including insomnia, diarrhea, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, this herb may interfere with common medications, such as those used to treat diabetes, depression, and heart disease.
Research shows that sage (Salvia) can have impressive effects on cognitive function in adults. It contains many powerful plant compounds, including luteolin, rosmarinic acid, camphor, quercetin and apigenin, which give it its impressive medicinal properties.
Sage, when used as a supplement, has been shown to improve mood, alertness, attention, memory, and word recall in healthy young and older adults. For example, a study in 36 healthy adults found that treatment with 50 microliters (uL) of sage essential oil improved memory and attention tasks. Additionally, it reduced mental fatigue and increased alertness over a 4-hour period (8Trusted Source).
Interestingly, sage acts as a powerful acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor. This enzyme breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in brain function, including memory, attention, and motivation. AChE inhibitors help increase the availability of acetylcholine in the brain, thereby improving cognitive function.
Guarana is commonly used as an ingredient in energy drinks and supplements due to its stimulating effects. It contains an array of chemicals, including caffeine, saponins and tannins, which are believed to have beneficial effects on energy and brain function.
Although human studies have shown mixed results, other studies have shown that supplementation with guarana extract, either alone or in combination with other nutrients at doses ranging from 37.5 to 300 mg, can help improve attention, alertness and memory performance.
A small study in 10 pentathlon athletes also found that supplementing with 300mg of guarana can help reduce perceived exertion and improve athletic and cognitive performance. Although guarana is generally considered safe, its supplementation can sometimes lead to side effects such as increased heart rate and anxiety when taken in too high doses.
4. Bacopa monnieri
Bacopa monnieri is a plant that grows in the humid and swampy areas of South Asia. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, insomnia and memory problems. The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri are attributed to its concentration of triterpenoid saponins, known as bacosides, which have neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing properties.
Studies show that the herb can help boost brain function and alertness. An analysis of 9 studies involving 518 people found that daily supplementation with approximately 300 mg of Bacopa monnieri extract improved brain function, particularly information processing speed and reaction time.
Bacopa monnieri is generally considered safe, but it can cause side effects like digestive issues in some people and react with certain medications.
5. Peppermint essential oil
Simply inhaling the pleasant aroma of peppermint essential oil, a hybrid of spearmint (Mentha spicata) and water mint (Mentha aquatica), can help boost energy, mood, athletic performance and alertness.
Several studies have shown that inhaling peppermint essential oil reduces fatigue and improves alertness, memory, and energy. A study in 144 people found that exposure to the aroma of peppermint essential oil increased alertness and improved memory.
Peppermint essential oil has a good safety profile.
6. Rosemary essential oil
Like peppermint, the aroma of rosemary essential oil can help improve cognitive performance. Inhaling rosemary essential oil allows compounds in the oil, called terpenes, to enter your bloodstream, from where they can have a direct effect on your brain.
A study in 20 adults found that exposure to rosemary essential oil diffused through the air led to improved performance on cognitive tasks, including those involving speed and accuracy. Another small study in 8 adults demonstrated that drinking 250ml of water containing rosemary extract improved performance on computer-based cognitive tasks.
7. Rhodiola rosea
Rhodiola rosea is an herb that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems around the world to improve memory, alertness and endurance.
It has been shown to reduce mental fatigue, boost brain function and mood, and increase exercise performance in human studies. Rhodiola rosea can be especially helpful for people who suffer from burnout. A 12-week study in 118 people with burnout found that supplementing with 400 mg of Rhodiola rosea extract daily significantly improved feelings of exhaustion, trouble concentrating, and lack of energy. of joy, compared to the initial situation.
Rhodiola rosea supplementation may also benefit people with chronic fatigue and improve athletic performance.
A number of studies have suggested that ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), an herb used as an Ayurvedic remedy since ancient times, has powerful beneficial effects on brain function.
An 8-week study in 50 people showed that supplementing with 600 mg of ashwagandha root extract daily significantly improved memory, attention, and information processing, compared to a placebo . An analysis including five studies found that ashwagandha supplementation was well tolerated and led to improved performance in cognitive tasks, attention and reaction time.
Additionally, another 12-week study in 50 older adults showed that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha root extract daily improved sleep quality, mental alertness, and overall quality of life, compared to to a placebo group. Research shows that ashwagandha may have beneficial effects on cellular energy production and be a useful tool for improving athletic performance.
9. Centella asiatica (gotu kola)
Gotu kola has been used in traditional medicine systems to help improve brain function, and has been studied for its beneficial effects on alertness and mood. A two-month study of 28 older adults who received doses of 250-750 mg of gotu kola extract daily found that those who took the highest dose experienced improvements in working memory, alertness and self-rated mood, compared to a control group.
Another three-month study in 80 older adults demonstrated that supplementation with 500 mg and 750 mg of gotu kola extract daily significantly improved strength and physical functioning, compared to a placebo group.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a plant native to Peru that is appreciated for its energy potential. Human studies show that consuming it in supplement form can help increase energy levels, reduce anxiety, and improve athletic performance. A study of 50 men with erectile dysfunction showed that treatment with 2,400 mg dry maca extract for 12 weeks significantly improved physical and social performance, compared to a placebo.
Maca has also been shown to improve athletic performance and have positive effects on mood and energy levels in human studies.
The best way to stay energized and focused is to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet, plenty of sleep, and stress-reducing techniques, such as engaging in enjoyable physical activity. Additionally, certain herbal supplements, including those listed above, may have the potential to boost your energy and brain function.
Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults
Monoterpenoid extract of sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia) with cholinesterase inhibiting properties improves cognitive performance and mood in healthy adults
Effects of Carbohydrate, Caffeine, and Guarana on Cognitive Performance, Perceived Exertion, and Shooting Performance in High-Level Athletes
Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract
Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang
Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma
Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study