Has a busy summer left you feeling tired and drained? Do you never feel rested, no matter how much sleep you get? Do you struggle to recover after exercise or training? Using Chinese medicine for energy throughout the day could be the solution you need to regain your spark.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used for thousands of years to restore healthy energy levels, vitality and overall well-being. In fact, a natural boost in energy and better quality sleep are common “side effects” of taking Chinese herbs for nearly any health complaint.
Let’s take a closer look at why we struggle with issues like chronic fatigue and how using tools that Chinese medicine offers can help us feel alive again.What Causes Fatigue?
To understand how to fight fatigue with Chinese medicine, we first need to understand why we struggle with fatigue in the first place.
In Chinese medicine, fatigue is most commonly linked to a “qi deficiency.” Qi is a concept that does not have an exact translation in the West, but it’s similar to what we call energy. It is our life force – an energy that activates every body function, from the movement of our muscles to our metabolism to our cells’ ability to regenerate.
When we feel tired or worn out, it’s often because we have a qi deficiency. We either spend too much qi or the body produces too little qi to fuel our body functions. This can happen after events that cost a lot of qi, such as illness, injury or childbirth. Or, we may have a constitution that tends towards having less energy than our busybody peers.
Even lifestyle choices can have an impact on how much qi we have. Here are some of the most common factors that can plummet our qi and energy levels:
Lack of sleep – or poor quality sleep – is one of the most likely reasons you may be struggling with low energy. In fact, over 70% of Americans don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep they need regularly. Not only does this make you feel groggy during the day, but it can also reduce your mental clarity and focus, making you feel even more tired.
A lack of sleep also means your body doesn’t get enough time to heal and replenish your qi. As a result, your body’s efficiency plummets. More energy is required for your basic body functions like keeping your heart pumping and maintaining the immune system. You’re left with less qi to spare for critical thinking, exercise or simply feeling awake.
Food is fuel. But not all fuel is created equal. While nutritious whole foods provide the nutrients the body needs to function and feel energized, other foods can drag your energy down. Avoid foods high in sugar, saturated fat and artificial ingredients.
In Chinese medicine, the Spleen organ system turns food into qi. Unfortunately, the Spleen is easily bogged down by heavy, cloying or raw foods, which limits its ability to create energy. Avoid heavy foods, fried foods, dairy and large amounts of cold or uncooked foods to give your Spleen the best conditions to create qi and energize the body.
Stress and Mental Health
It’s no surprise that many people who struggle with chronic stress or other mental health concerns (like anxiety and depression) also report low energy levels. Stress takes a toll on the body both mentally and physically. Hormone imbalances caused by surging cortisol levels, increased heart rate, poor sleep and even stress-induced physical pain can all drain your energy and leave you feeling exhausted.
Chinese herbs have been used to restore energy naturally for millenia. Here are a few of the most commonly used Chinese medicine herbs and formulas for energy:
For Balanced Energy: Huang Qi
Huang Qi is a qi-boosting herb, much like ren shen (ginseng). But, its more balanced and gentle nature makes it a wiser choice for most people. Huang qi is used in many herbal formulas to support the body’s natural defenses and enhance overall vitality.
For Energy and Immune Support: Hong Jing Tian
Hong jing tian, or Rhodiola rosea, is a powerful adaptogenic herb that supports the body’s natural energy levels and immunity. Like other adaptogens, it helps alleviate the mental and physical fatigue caused by stress and improves your ability to focus and stay alert. If you are active or an athlete, taking this herb can also support your endurance and promote good energy during and after training.
For Qi Deficiency: Si Jun Zi Tang
When a lack of qi is at the root of your low energy levels, you may also have sluggish digestion, weak muscles or shortness of breath. If that sounds like you (or if you want to prevent qi deficiency while undergoing heavy athletic training), this classic herbal formula is a great place to start replenishing your resources. It contains four key herbs used to build qi: codonopsis, poria, white atractylodes and honey-fried licorice.
For Stress-Induced Fatigue: High Spirits Mood Support Formula
This Plum Dragon Herbs tincture blends both Chinese and Western herbs for energy. Inspired by the classic formula, Xiao Yao San (Free and Easy Wanderer), High Spirits boosts your natural energy levels by reducing stress, promoting the free flow of qi through the body and encouraging efficient digestion and qi production.
Lifestyle Tips for Better Energy
Along with Chinese medicine for energy, there are a few simple lifestyle habits that help you conquer each day:
Exercise in moderation.
Both too little or too much exercise can cause fatigue. Find a balance that helps you regularly build strength and endurance without depleting your resources. If you are heavily training for martial arts or other sports, balance your training schedule with more yin-type exercises like tai chi or yin yoga.
Try energy medicine.
Acupuncture and other energy-based therapies (such as reiki or light therapy) can be powerful ways to boost energy naturally. Acupuncture helps improve energy by relieving issues that drain your energy while triggering the body to create more qi. When used in conjunction with herbal medicine, you can expect better sleep, improved digestion and an overall sense of well-being.
Make meals your medicine.
Food is medicine – especially when you cook with Chinese herbs. Along with the nourishing power of chicken, bone broth and vegetables, our Chinese Herbs for Chicken Soup kit is formulated to boost your body’s ability to make qi and build strength. Consider adding other qi-boosting ingredients like sweet potato, carrot, spring onions, garlic, ginger and parsley.
Whether you want to fight chronic fatigue, prevent weakness from over-training or simply want to wake up feeling energized, Chinese herbs can help. Shop our collection of qi-boosting herbs to restore your natural energy and take on each day with ease.