By Mary Gorges for Back to the Roots
In a dramatic finish at the wee hours of the morning last night (4am Alaska time), musher Dallas Seavey pulled from third place to finish first in the 42nd Iditarod when howling winds stopped the frontrunner within 22 miles of Nome. It’s a testament to what our energy reserves can do for us.
Winning musher Dallas Seavey
Natural energy boosters
Increasingly, herbs are becoming popular as a way to boost our stamina, our mood and even our ability to cope w/ stress (ideal for the Iditarod …or that next big job interview. Here’s our list of five with special energy-boosting qualities. The first three are called adaptogens (not to turn you off!), and these are particularly good at helping us deal with stress.
1. Ginseng: This one is very popular among endurance sports athletes. Neil Bernardi-Wright, an acupuncturist in the Bay area, who often prescribes herbs to his patients, says, “Ginseng builds your chi (your energy) and nourishes your yang (warmth and vitality).” But adds not to take it if you drink lots of coffee. “It’ll overheat you because in Chinese medicine, it’s considered a ‘hot’ herb.”‘
2. Eleuthero: Pronounced e-lou-thro, this herb is a second cousin to ginseng (and formerly called Siberian Ginseng). It’s for anyone overstressed, undernourished but overfed, doesn’t get enough sleep or exercise, and has dark circles under their eyes — basically, anyone come Monday morning. It nourishes the adrenals, glands that regulate key hormones.
3. Rhodiola: This one’s pronounced rho-di-o-la and is often used by athletes to improve athletic performance and to shorten recovery time after long workouts. It’s an easy one for the mushers to find — it’s native to the arctic regions of Europe, Asia …and Alaska.
4. Ashwagandha: Try saying this one out loud. Ash-wag-an-dha is from India and is a very common herb used there for general health. Wright says it’s one of the few calming adaptogens and has traditionally been used for anxiety, bad dreams, mild OCD, insomnia and nervous exhaustion. He adds that it’s very easy to grow.
5. Ginger: This is particularly good at increasing your ‘inner warmth’ or middle (your digestion and stomach). Chinese medicine says you want to be in the middle — not too excited but not too calm.
You can bet Seavey and the other mushers ignored that advice on the Iditarod trail – it was all excitement. Leave us a comment below to let us know what herbs you’ve tried for an energy booster. Thanks!