Published in the Winter 2014 edition of ‘The Bay’ Magazine.
Vitality is at the core of our wellbeing. It is our inner energy, which gives us the strength to overcome illness and bring us back to a state of balanced health. Your body has an intrinsic healing ability; it will naturally heal itself if you provide the right conditions for it to do so.
So what are those conditions?
We can liken the needs of the body to those of a car. If a car is to run well it needs to be cared for by using the correct fuel (premium if is to be high performance), regular oil changes and taking note of any signs of deterioration – clicking noise here or a dimmed headlight there. Addressing issues before they become a major problem.
Likewise, the human body needs quality fuel, regular cleansing (inside and out) and attention paid to the little clicks and crunches as they arise. There is an optimum level at which each of us can work; if we push ourselves beyond this the signs of wear and tear appear sooner and we start to flag. Energy becomes depleted.
It’s all about the balancing point
A balance between giving and receiving, exertion and rest, productivity and self-nurture. As a society we tend to be driven and rewarded for high productivity. The reward for paying attention to one’s own need of rest is plentiful and vital energy, deep within.
Tried and Tested Ways to Improve Energy
Drink more water – We depend on water to function. If your body is short on fluids, one of the first signs is a feeling of fatigue. Proteins and enzymes which are vital to life, function more efficiently in solutions of lower viscosity (more water). Waste in the body is diluted by water making it less toxic and easier to remove. Liven up your water with a slice of fresh lemon.
Exercise – Increasing the heart and respiratory rate gets oxygenated blood and nutrients pumping throughout the body and brain. If you’re struggling to concentrate try a burst of aerobic exercise – one minute of skipping or a brisk walk to get a fresh surge of energy.
Stand tall – Evidence has shown that body posture has an effect on mood and energy. Professor of Health Education Erik Peper found that when people consciously chose more open, upright postures that both energy and mood were improved.1 Sitting up straight was shown to increase frequency of positive thoughts and choosing to smile (without necessarily having reason to smile) produced feelings of happiness, all of which can bring renewed energy.
Breathe… When we feel stressed one of the first physiological responses is an increase in respiration, switching from slow, abdominal breathing to faster, shallower, chest breathing. When this response is triggered regularly, shallow breathing can become habitual and self-perpetuating – the brain interprets it as a sign of stress and we end up feeling stressed with very little cause. Rapid shallow chest breathing results in reduced oxygen transfer to the blood, fewer nutrients transferred to the tissues and subsequently lower energy levels. Learn to breathe using your diaphragm, as the benefits are numerous.
Adaptogens are a class of herbs which provide energy where required. They are deep acting with influence on the immune, endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems. Most cultures with a history of the use of traditional medicines include adaptogens in their daily lives after the age of about 60 years.
Panax ginseng (Korean ginseng): Originating from East Asia, this root is used for individuals with a delicate physique and weakened condition. It strengthens the adrenal cortex and therefore has a reputation as a longevity herb. It gives clarity and aids mental sharpness.
Matricaria chamomilla (German chamomile): This herb is a tonic with actions on the liver and digestive system, through which it can improve the appetite and vigour. It also acts on the nervous system calming and balancing energy. Chamomile is most commonly associated with its calming effects so it may seem strange to class it as an ‘energy herb’. However, anxiety and tension are energy wasting states so the relief of these can bring a more steady energy supply. Drinking chamomile tea has been shown to increase hippurate and glycine – biological substances associated with increased antibacterial activity and nerve relaxant properties2. Chamomile tea can be drunk daily and most therapeutic as whole dried flowers.
2. Wang Y, Tang H, Nicholson JK, Hylands PJ, Sampson J, Holmes E. A metabonomic strategy for the detection of the metabolic effects of chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) ingestion. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53:191–196.
The Herbal Clinic in Swansea provides natural healthcare with the use of organic herbs, acupuncture and iridology.