Natural stimulants can lend you energy without the caffeine.
The topic of stimulants is a rather hot button. So many people depend on them to get through the day that any time someone mentions their negative health effects the conversation becomes heated.
The truth is that stimulants on the whole should be used sparingly and only occasionally. The reality is that many of us are burning the candle at both ends and are no longer using stimulants as they were intended to be used. They are now a necessity for getting started in the morning, for not falling asleep in the afternoon, and for keeping awake at night.
When we look at herbal stimulants, some of them are worse for us than others in this new model of habitual use. Some of these herbs contain caffeine and are among the worst that are abused. Some of them don’t contain caffeine at all and provide stimulation in an entirely different way. These non-caffeinated herbs work to quicken our metabolism, to boost our vitality, and energize our nervous system. They too can be over-used, but if you are looking to get away from the caffeine they are a great first step away from the edge.
Natural Stimulants: No Caffeine Herbs for Energy
Here are some of my favorite herbs to invigorate when I need a little help in my day:
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Most people are aware of peppermint’s energizing qualities. In a drink or in aromatherapy, just being around peppermint can lift our mood and quicken our metabolism. Peppermint leaves have a decidedly settling effect on the digestive tract, so when using a tea as an afternoon pick-me-up at work you don’t have to worry about your digestion shutting down on you like you do with caffeinated herbs. (Find organic dried peppermint leaf here.)
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Whether you are using true cinnamon or C. cassia, which is what you will find in most grocery stores, these bits of inner tree bark are a gentle stimulant that will give you a delicious lift. Steep 1-2 cinnamon sticks in a quart of water (covered) and you won’t even need sugar. Cinnamon is the subject of a lot of internet chatter. It really does live up to the hype. It can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and it reduces inflammation in your body, helping with painful conditions in which inflammation is present. (Find organic cinnamon sticks here.)
Cayenne (Capsicum annum)
I have a bit of cayenne most mornings. Usually I add it to my morning cup of bone broth in the form of a shot of my Homemade Fire Cider. Sometimes I go ahead and add a pinch of the red powder instead. Cayenne is a stimulant that starts in our digestion. It’s not just that it’s hot, it’s also filled with vitamins and minerals (high in iron and vitamins A, C, E, K, and several members of the B Complex) that make us feel awake, refreshed, and mentally excited. In the winter months when the cold outside threatens to shut down my digestion, I can’t imagine going without my daily cayenne! Note: Cayenne is best used in moderation for those on blood thinner medications. (Find organic cayenne powder here.)
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Many people know ginkgo because they have used it in combination with gotu kola (Centenella asiatica) for memory. Ginkgo is a great stimulant for those who are tired and need their brains to be at their peak. If I’m heading into a meeting where I need to shine and I’ve been up all night, I would reach for ginkgo. The leaves of this prehistoric tree have the ability to encourage blood flow in our brain. Increased blood flow means more oxygen and more oxygen means more energy and “smarts.” Note: If you are on blood thinner medications or are preparing for a surgery, ginkgo is not recommended. (Find organic ginkgo leaf, ginkgo capsules, or ginkgo extract.)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is another stimulant that awakens our circulation and digestion. There is a reason many teas that contain ginger are called “zing” as that is exactly what it adds to our food and our energy levels. There are so many benefits to using this rhizome either fresh or dried in our food or medicine. Chief among them is the office flu that you would like to avoid. Drinking ginger as your afternoon pick-me-up can fight off anything your office mate may be trying to pass on to you. Note: Ginger should be used sparingly if you are pregnant.