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Ask the Herbalist--Herbs for Energy

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QUESTION: I am so glad I have found your site. For about a year and a half I have not able to put one foot in front of the other and I am a very active person normally. In the early fall I started having headaches and nausea every day and noticed my vision and concentration was declining. I was about to make an appointment to see if I could find out what the problem was.

Unfortunately I was diagnosed with breast cancer about that time which of course took priority. I am one of the lucky ones and my cancer was caught very early and I believe it was rated a Stage 1.   I chose to have both breasts removed and it ended up that cancer was the other side as well but did not show up in the mammogram. The lymph nodes were biopsied on the one side before the actual mastectomy but of course not on the other. It had not spread to lymph nodes on that side but the other side was not checked. I am not required to have chemo but given Tamoxifen to put me in a post menopausal state to block estrogen for five years.

My headaches, nausea and fatigue had gotten much worse. Anytime I mentioned that I had the problem before I knew about the cancer it fell on deaf ears and they kept saying it was just from the surgery and constipation from it. I was honestly giving up hope and started a little searching the internet to find out about Tamoxifen and see if I could possibly do anything to put quality back in my life. I ended up finding out all about the liver and the need for detoxification.

I have always had trouble with constipation all my life and it was not unusual to go three weeks without a bowel movement and to tell you the truth I thought that was normal. I have never gone more than once a week my entire life that I can remember and I am 52. The doctors donít believe me and I honestly canít blame them. So needless to say is it any wonder I have cancer. I changed my eating habits two weeks ago and only eat organic foods focusing on eating tons of raw fruit and vegetables and drinking water. My cancer is estrogen fed so the oncologist says I have no choice other than to take the Tamoxifen which makes the constipation so much worse no matter how healthy I eat. Is there any remedy that would help to keep the estrogen fed cancer from returning other than Tamoxifen as well as ideas on how to get the liver going again? I am worried I have damaged it beyond repair all these years. I am sorry this is so long and my guess about the liver could be wrong but I have to hope something will help me. Anything at all you might suggest would be a blessing because if I am lucky enough to make it to work I have to take a shower the night before and still have a hard time. On weekends I donít even attempt to get out and donít have the energy to even do chores that are really piling up. I have missed worked without pay so I did not have the money to try this and that but would spend my last dime on something you thought might help.

ANSWER: My motto has always been: "Good health is not the absence of illness, but the presence of balance and harmony".  You're a survivor of a devastating illness, and I will do my utmost to help if I can.

Please be aware that our suggestions here at the site because of space and time are generalized, and due to your particular presenting problems I would encourage you to allow us do an individualized evaluation, which would determine the correct treatment plan, but more on that later. Let's try and get you well. 

It is extremely important to begin with a fresh canvas. I suggest a 48 hour fast. Drinking only infusions of Dandelion root tea. Your local herbal store should have it. Boil the root, cover for 15 minutes. Sweeten honey with a bit of honey. 

If you can find the extract so much the better, just add 25 drops to an infusion of Green tea and drink 4-5xs day during your fast. You need also to drink plenty of fresh water during this time. If hunger overtakes you you may eat Yogurt or crackers. Please continue to take your medicine during your fast. 

My next suggestion is to begin dealing with your constipation wisely, and I could suggest several remedies such as: Cascara Sagrada, Senna or Globe Artichoke, but better and by far healthier is fresh carrot juice. I would sincerely encourage you to buy a juicer, they are cheap enough about $30, and 1 hour before bedtime, juice 6 carrots and 1 stick of celery (to off-set any acidity). Before juicing the carrots cut the top and tip, scrape the carrots under cold water (we don't want hot carrot juice) scrape just enough to get the waxy film and any dirt off. You will see results in the morning. You may do this during your fast and continue after. 

Following your fast it is extremely important that you eliminate from your diet: Heavy red meats, pork, white sugar, all dairy and all fried foods. Avoid foods with preservatives and processed foods. Moderate your intake of coffee and alcohol. 

Enhance your diet with fresh fish (salmon, mackerel), honey, brown rice, nuts and grains, fresh garlic and onion (these two will help fight off illnesses). Eat lentils, and garbanzos often (these last two contain a lot of fiber), and plenty of fresh raw or steamed vegetables and fresh fruits. 

Continue drinking the Dandelion infusions 2xs daily for 14 days and the carrot juice as needed.  The suggestions above will begin helping your liver as soon as you start.  

As to the other end of your question regarding your cancer. Drink Green tea 2xs day. Add to all your broths, soups and stews a large Astragalus root. extract and discard when the dish is done. In the alternative add 25 drops of the extract of Astragalus to your meal 2xs day. Astragalus is tasteless and odorless.

Astragalus is by far the very best herb to supplement the auto immune system.  You may want to consult with your physician on the energy issue about taking 1 sublingual vitamin B-12 daily.  There are also several Traditional Chinese Medicines Lisa, and a few other exotic remedies that would more than likely be of help, but we would need to do an evaluation for you to determine the appropriateness, frequency and dosage. I sincerely recommend one, if you are interested you may email me directly at: clinician@doctor.com

QUESTION: I am 65 years old and don't have much energy.  I don't sleep well and wake up frequently and can't get back to sleep. I have fibromyalgia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (newly diagnosed).
I take Ultram for pain and some immune supportive vitamins. I need to build up my immune system as well as obtain more energy. My blood pressure is excellent and I am only 10 pounds overweight. I cut out all sugars and artificial sweeteners. I try to buy organic foods when I can. I don't eat red meat. Please advise me what herbs I can take for energy, immune support and better sleep. Thank you kindly,

ANSWER: Building up the immune system is a very important issue. In my view, the best way is by starting with a 48 hour fast drinking only Dandelion root tea. Drink 4-5xs a day and sweeten only with a bit of honey. Dandelion is perhaps the number one herb to help clean the system from toxins. If hunger overtakes you, you may eat yogurt or fresh fruits. After you fast eliminate from your diet all red meats, pork, white sugar, all dairy and all fried foods. These only serve to stagnate the system. Also avoid excessive coffee and alcohol. Enhance your diet with plenty of fresh oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), eat fresh garlic and onions daily, brown rice, honey, raw or steamed fresh vegetables and fresh fruits.  Garlic is by far the best antibacterial plant and will help support the immune.  I suggest you have blood work done to see where your level of vitamin B-12 is at. If low, I suggest one sublingual B-12 tablet upon awakening.  To supplement the immune system there's no other plant like Astragalus. I suggest 25 drops of the extract 1x daily.

You may add these to your foods or drinks, Astragalus is tasteless and odorless. If you have problems finding the extract or tincture I suggest you visit:  https://www.goldenlotusherbs.com/  They are a very reputable company.

For pain you may find the herb Devil's claw to be of some help, but as to a linament I would straongly encourage you to find Yin Tee, by far the best in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It comes in a small bottle, but just a little goes far.  Alternating heat and cold may also prove beneficial.

For sleep I personally do not suggest Valerian, its far too harsh on the body. I prefer to suggest Lemon balm tea and adding to it 15 drops of extract or tincture of Linden flower. Sweeten with a bit of honey and drink 1 or 2 cup and hour before bedtime.

QUESTION: My husband is ALWAYS tired.  He wakes up that way.  He has had a complete physical and other than being overweight with high blood pressure and high cholesterol he is fine.  He has controlled high blood pressure.  He takes Metoprolol er 50 mg and Lisinopril 25 mg daily and it controls the blood pressure.  I also give him fish oil.  Also, he gets colds very easily.  I wanted to know what herbs I could give him to help with immune and energy.  He is about 60 lbs overweight but doesn't work out because he is so tired all the time. 

ANSWER: In your husband's case the very best thing that he can do is watch his diet. He should (as well as you), eliminate all red meats, pork, white sugar, all dairy products, all products with preservatives, pastas, sodas and colas, alcohol and all fried foods. All these foods above stagnate the system and do not allow it to work properly. 

To enhance the immune system you should add a large piece of Astragalus root to all your broths, soups and stews. In the alternative you may add 30 drops of the extract or tincture.

Enhance your diet with foods that will help, such as: Fresh fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, these contain plenty of Omega-3), add fresh garlic and onions to all your dishes (they are anti-bacterial and will help support the immune system), eat brown organic rice, honey and plenty of fresh locally grown fruits and steamed vegetables.

You husband will find benefit drinking infusions of Dandelion root tea and adding to these 20 drops of extract or tincture of white Chinese ginseng and 25 drops extract of Passionflower. Sweeten only with honey and drink 3xs day.

Go to your local library and find videos on Tai chi or Qi Gong or Yoga. these are easy and there's not much strenuous work to them, but the benefits are great.

QUESTION: I am 46 years old and have been on Dilantin since 2002... I run/walk at least four times a week, but my energy this year has just plummeted--last year I could run 3 miles with no problem, now I can barely finish two. I know I don't eat well, but I am a very picky eater... I have no sense of smell, so eating is a chore already :) I take a multivitamin and also a B complex and vitamin D and E, and I eat a special K protein bar each morning.  Any suggestions?

ANSWER: As we age our energy decreases and diet plays a big role in this. Although you are taking a B-complex, I would suggest 1 sublingual B-12 in the mornings instead.  Avoid eating red meats and pork, avoid also all dairy, white sugar and all fried foods. 

Increase your intake of fresh fish, such as salmon and mackerel, eat plenty of fresh garlic and onions, brown rice and raw or steamed vegetables and fresh fruits.  Add a spoon of honey or bee pollen to your diet 2xs daily. 

The root of the Codnopsis plant would be very helpful in your case. I would find the extract or tincture and add 15 drops to a cup of Green tea 3xs day. Extracts and tinctures work better and faster. 

I can also suggest that you find the extracts of Gotu kola or Ashwagandha and of the Maitake mushroom they are great for addressing issues of fatigue. Ten drops 3xs day. 

The best ginseng for this is red Korean, but it may be too heating for you, so I would suggest the extract of white Chinese ginseng instead, 15 drops 2xs day.  Remember it is also important to keep a smile and a positive attitude.

QUESTION: I was wondering if you could give me any information or ideas on to what herbs to take. I am 22 years old and a mother of a 14 month old, My energy levels are not what they use to be. I could sleep all day, sometimes I do, I have been taking a B- complex vitamin but I am wondering what kind of herbs are out there to help with my severe exhaustion. I am not on any medications and am overall healthy. Please help as I feel as though I am missing out on my sons life.

ANSWER: I am glad you are basically healthy but before we talk about herbs, we need to talk about food. What are you eating most days? Is your son still breastfeeding? Are you at home or working away from home part of each day? The reasons for your exhaustion will lead us to the foods and/or herbs that will rebuild your stamina. Meanwhile, herbs used for cooking such as basil, rosemary, garlic, fennel seed, cinnamon, can be incorporated into morning oatmeal or evening pasta dishes to increase digestion, a beginning to better absorption of those B vitamins you are already on. If your sleep is disrupted, as many young parents find, drinking coffee in the morning is  a quick way to start the day but feel more exhausted as the day progresses, further making a night's sleep more fragile and unrestful. Another safe every day way to get some caffeine and antioxidant benefits is Yerba Mate. Many good blends are on the market as teas these days. It has a smoky flavor. Once you are used to it, a cup a few times a day can make a big difference to your endurance and stamina.

: HióI just bought some herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and they gave me your name.  I bought a big bag of gota kola because I read if a person is sleeping too much, this herb is good.  I am unsure how to use-do I boil the herb and drink the tea remaining.  Or just steep it like tea.  I found one site that said to use 1 TBSP per cup.  Thanks so much.

ANSWER:  You can use one tablespoon, per cup, or one teaspoon, some may find the one tablespoon, too strong. You could have one to three cups per day of the tea.  Or you could take the capsules, 3 in the AM, and 3 at 2 Pm, for energy, and brightness. You could do a cleanse, and take a close look at your diet, and put more seaweed into your diet, for the iron and minerals, and eat better, period.

QUESTION: I need help with finding something to increase my energy level.  I am 59 years old I take Maxzide (diuretic) and Aceon (High blood pressure) and Ultram ER  for pain for arthritis.  I have fibromyalgia and arthritis, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  We were recently blessed with the birth of our first grandchild.  At eight and 1/2 months she wears me out.  I seem to need at least 10 hours of sleep to get going and during the work week that is impossible as we usually get her from 4-8 and sometimes all weekend so her mom can work(she is a single mom).What can I take to get some energy I'm so tired of being tired.  I tried taking multiple vitamins and supplements but stopped because I wasn't getting better after two months.  I need help.

ANSWER:  A lot of the problem is like with  most North Americans, it is the wrong foods, for many years, and toxins, and drugs, stress, etc.
       Please read the downloads, I am sending you, if you can find out your blood type, that will help tremendously.
       You can have the blends of herbs made up by me to assist you in energy, arthritic pain etc. These are anti oxidant as well, and coupled with the right foods for your body, you will see a improvement, according to how far you want to go. Our formula, Thumper, is excellent for energy, as well as our Green Alkinalizing mix. I notice a real difference when I take the Green mix and Thumper two times daily.
        Take note of the nightshades, the group of foods most of us in North America eat which is causing hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol, arthritis etc. It has been researched and clinically proven, that certain chemicals in our foods, and the group of nightshades, are indeed culprits in the arthritic problems, that are epidemic.  Potatoes ( sweet potatoes are OK), tomatoes, eggplants, green pepper, red, yellow, tobacco, are all nightshades, and all are in the same plant family, as Solanacea, or as it was known anciently, deadly nightshades. Deadly because we consume them as food, instead of medicine, and they do cause arthritis, as above.

QUESTION: I have taken nearly a year off from work to do some traveling and generally
laze about, and am soon to return to a very busy, hectic job. Among my many responsibilities will be to travel extensively around Europe and from Europe to the US, visiting as many as three cities in three days on some occasions. Although jet lag is somewhat of a concern for the US trips, most of the trips are short-haul and the time difference is only an hour or two. I am
more concerned about general fatigue from flying and being constantly on the move. I am a generally high energy person but I sometimes find flying to be very drying and tiring, and I will be alone in various hotel rooms trying to eat right, hunched over my laptop. I wonder if you might recommend some herbs or vitamins that I might take to keep my immunity and energy levels balanced and to mitigate the effects of being a modern workaholic?

ANSWER: Well, you should be taking vitamins A, C, E and selenium as a regular course. I usually up the C to 2000 mg if I suspect situations that may attack my immune system, which adds stress and changing times will certainly do. Also, a sub-lingual vitamin B complex is a very good idea. www.trivita.com  has an excellent one that I highly recommend. As for herbs, acacia, cayenne, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, guarana and Siberian ginseng are all helpful in fighting fatigue. Also, bee pollen is very good, but it needs to stay refrigerated. Try to get all of these from a
reputable herbalist.   Lastly, workaholic or not, you need to eat well, avoid caffeine, white flour
and sugar. These things will sap your energy more than you know. Also, try to get a full 8 hours of sleep each night. It's very important. To reduce the jet lag, get yourself on the time zone of the country you're in as quickly as possible. Try chamomile, lemon balm or valerian to help you get
to sleep.  Enjoy your travels! I have lots of co-workers in London as well as family, so I've done the cross Atlantic traveling. It can wear you down if you aren't careful.


I am a 25 year old woman, with a 13 month old baby, it's hard enough trying to keep up with her, but recently my energy levels have gotten so low I just don't want to get out off bed until evening and even then I still feel tired.  I have been diagnosed with a lot of problems over the years, depression, hypothyroidism, reoccurring glandular fever, anemia and just recently I've found out I've had Crohns Disease for quite a while, as you can imagine all of these do no help with my problem.  I'm looking for something that could boost my energy, maybe even pick me up, that doesn't effect my illnesses or medication (it would be great if it wasn't too expensive either). Please can you help me, I'm at my wits end. 

ANSWER: Since I don't know what medications you're taking, I can't advise on that basis. I don't usually recommend mixing herbs with prescription medications. The interactions can cause more harm than good.  Aloe vera, burdock root, echinacea, fenugreek, licorice, marshmallow root, pau d'arco all support digestion, cleanse the blood stream and reduce inflammation. I would check with your doctor before taking any herbs for the possible interactions with your meds. I can make a custom formulation for you if you're interested, but would need to know what specific meds you are on and what they are for.


  my husband is a truck driver he needs to stay awake for long periods of time once in awhile i don't lie him to take the pills at the truck stops because i don't know what is in them can you tell me something that might help?

ANSWER: I am sorry I do not recommend herbs for this use, most of the no doze products out there will injure him whether herbal or natural.  My only advice is pull over and sleep to save his life and/or someone else's life.

I am 22 years old and in relatively good physical shape.  I take multiple vitamins on an almost daily basis and eat relatively healthy.  However, over the past year or two, I have noticed a decrease in my energy level. I would like to find some supplement and/or tea that I can take on a regular basis to increase my energy level.  This supplement should be reasonably priced (less than a couple dollars per day) and should be safe to take long term.

ANSWER:  If you are in good shape and eat well, take care of stress in your life, aren't on any medication or supplements which could cause this, I would be looking for a reason for you decreased energy. If everything checks out, I would try Siberian Ginseng, it is a tonic herb that can be taken every day and will give you a little energy.  You can take it as a pill, tea or extract or simply ingest it with oatmeal or on salad if you get the powder. For convenience I would suggest the extract.

Is there a better herb to take if you want to maintain or lose weight, gain energy; however, have been diagnosed with Lupus (about 10 years ago) currently in remission.

I am not currently taking any prescription medications, due mainly because I don't care for the side effects. I am looking for something that will help me gain energy so that I can exercise more frequently to lose weight; however, I don't want to take anything that will create difficulties for me in dealing with my Lupus.

Any assistance or suggestions you can give me are greatly appreciated.

ANSWER: Most of the Ginsengs are adaptogens and help the body deal with stress, including Siberian Ginseng which is not a true Panax Ginseng Species. These type of herbs can potentiate immune function, since Lupus is thought to be an autoimmune disease, these herbs could be contraindicated for you.

If you would like to try a herbal adaptogen which can be used with Lupus try Licorice, additionally the medicinal mushrooms, Ganoderma (Reishi), Maitake and Shitake are immune amphoterics, raising hypo immune systems and lowering hyper immune system responses such as in the case of the autoimmune disease, Lupus.

You may want to read my other answer on Lupus online.