When 8 hours of sleep and a healthy diet aren’t enough, some folks turn to herbs for energy. They can be a great way to give you a natural boost. We’re talkin’ science-backed supplements, not sketchy remedies of course.

Here’s the deets on 13 herbs linked to higher energy and better focus.

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Say hey to one of the most common ingredients in energy drinks!

Research suggests that ginseng can sharpen your focus and help ward off exhaustion. Athletes even claim it boosts physical and mental performance (though more research is needed).

Most research focuses on panax ginseng specifically, so make sure you’re reaching for the right kind at the drugstore. It’s the ginsenosides, eleutherosides, and ciwujianosides in this ginseng that might give it energy-boosting powers.

Ginseng dosing varies widely. Folks take anywhere from 200 to 1,000 milligrams per day. Experts say taking it daily seems safe for up to 6 months.

Ginseng fine print

Just remember that many supplements come with potential side effects.

The most common ginseng probs are:

There’s also a risk of ginseng messing with meds. Chat with your care provider before popping ginseng pills if you take medicine for diabetes or heart issues.

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What, you thought sage was just for smudging? This memory-sharpening herb packs in antioxidants like luteolin and quercetin.

Research indicates that supplementing with sage may improve your mood, attention, and memory.

In one study, 36 adults who took 50 microliters (uL) of sage essential oil performed better in memory challenges and felt more mentally energetic for 4 hours after dosing. That’s because sage is an AChE inhibitor, meaning it’s known to improve brain function.

But more research is needed, as so far, most of the research has been from cell and animal studies. Also, never ingest essential oils without your doctors instruction.

Summing up sage

Sage might make intense school or work projects less draining on your mental reserves. The result? More energy for the finer things in life!

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Research shows that guarana has four times the caffeine as coffee beans. It’s no wonder you can find it in so many energy drinks and powders!

This herb also contains saponins and tannins, which might boost energy and focus.

Research is mixed on exactly how much guarana is necessary to boost energy. A 2017 research trial suggested that taking guarana with a multivitamin before exercising could increase stamina and focus for a couple of hours.

Though, because the researchers didn’t test the difference between the multivitamin alone and the added guarana, it’s possible the effects were due to the nutrients in the multivitamin.

Potential risks

Guarana is generally considered safe. But like many supplements, high doses can lead to side effects like:

So if you’re sensitive to caffeine, this one’s not for you.

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Bacopa monnieri (known as waterhyssop) grows in the marshes of southern Asia. For years, it’s been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat mental health issues like memory loss, anxiety, and insomnia.

So, what does science say? Researchers say Bacopa monnieri is full of triterpenoid saponins — ingredients that can boost your brainpower and potentially protect against memory loss.

Dosage depends on the person, but your mantra should be: start low, go slow. In one research review, folks who took 300 milligrams of Bacopa monnieri extract daily for at least 12 weeks reported faster reaction times and clearer mental processing.

Mind your dosage

Bacopa monnieri is usually safe. But too much can cause:

  • digestive probs
  • negative interactions with prescription meds
  • some issues with preexisting health issues
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Wanna perk up in under 5 seconds? Grab a bottle of peppermint essential oil, close your eyes, and inhale deeply. No, seriously, try it. We’ll wait.

… ⌛ ⌛ ⌛ …

So what just happened? Well, on top of cleared sinuses, you probably experienced a baby mood and brain boost.

Science backs this up. In one study, 144 peeps who inhaled peppermint oil aroma reported feeling more alert.

A PSA on EOs

Essential oils (EOs) are usually safe to sniff, not eat. Do not ingest them unless specifically directed by your doctor. Peppermint oil in particular can be toxic in high doses.

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Like peppermint, rosemary has a deliciously refreshing aroma.

Rosemary oil has special compounds called terpenes that can enter your bloodstream and directly influence your mental processing. Kinda neat, right?

In one study, 20 adults sat in cubicles with rosemary oil wafting from diffusers. They automatically got better at tasks that required speed and accuracy.

In another study, folks who drank rosemary-infused water scored better on computer-based tasks.

Reasons to rave about rosemary

We all know rosemary smells delish. But it may also help you concentrate and perform tasks faster.

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Research on Rhodiola rosea (on mice) shows that it could level up your:

One study (though not placebo-controlled) showed it might also:

  • calm anger
  • soothe stress
  • reduce anxiety
  • improve depression

In one 12-week study of 118 people experiencing burnout, 400 milligrams of Rhodiola rosea extract a day helped keep the exhaustion away. They also reported feeling more joy — and couldn’t we all use a little more of that?

Finally, some research suggests that Rhodiola rosea can help with chronic fatigue. Though, neither of these last two studies were rock-solid. More research is needed.

Rhodiola rosea rundown

It’s the perfect antidote to a hellish week (or year) that makes you want to poke your eyes out.

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Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Fans claim this little herb has the power to boost focus and energy in big ways. Here’s what the science says.

In one 8-week study, folks who took 600 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract each day reported better attention span and memory recall. Those who took the placebo pill experience no such thing.

A 12-week study of 50 older adults suggested that taking the same dose daily boosts sleep quality, alertness, and general feelings of wellness.

The results of another study indicate that taking 500 milligrams of ashwagandha extract could boost athletic performance.

Ashwagandha 101

This herb can potentially improve your:

  • sleep quality
  • memory
  • alertness
  • attention span
  • athletic performance
  • general sense of wellness
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Another herb used in traditional Eastern medicine, gotu kola is often linked to mood and focus improvements. Research is limited, but here’s what we know so far.

One 2-month study showed that taking between 250 and 750 milligrams of gotu kola extract a day can boost mood, memory, and mental clarity. Meanwhile, a 2011 study in the elderly suggested that taking 500 to 700 milligrams per day could improve physical strength and functioning. FTW!

Another study (albeit low-quality) found that taking 1,000 milligrams daily for 2 months improved attention span and reduced anxiety.

Why gotu kola is a go-to

Gotu kola might make you feel better in a lot of ways, though more research is needed:

  • less anxiety
  • mood boost
  • mental clarity
  • sharper memory
  • longer attention span
  • improved physical strength
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Maca has been having a moment for, like, years. There’s a lot to love about this powdered adaptogen.

First, there’s the whole sexual performance thing (an energy of its own kind, amiright?). In one study of folks with erectile dysfunction, taking 2,400 milligrams of dried maca for 12 weeks made them better, harder, stronger…

Second, research suggests that maca can improve overall energy and mood — and possibly athleticism. What’s not to love about that?

Make moves with maca

Maca might help #TeamPeen perform better. It can also help boost your overall mood and energy levels.

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Give it up for another adaptogen! This one’s a fungus rather than a leafy plant. It grows on insects — yep, you read that right — and is known for boosting energy and post-workout recovery.

In one study, folks who took a cordyceps and mushroom supplement for 1 to 3 weeks improved their workout stamina with each additional week.

Other research suggests that cordyceps may decrease inflammation (which leads to a whole mess of health probs) and has anti-cancer properties. Not bad for a fungus, eh?

We love a good fungus

Cordyceps might help decrease inflammation and can help you recover from your sweet sesh. It might even have anti-cancer properties.

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Mountain climbers, you’ll recognize this one. Shilajit is a sticky, powder-like growth that grows on rocks at high altitudes. It’s bursting with minerals and fulvic acid, an antioxidant that’s touted by natural medicine practitioners as an anti-inflammatory agent.

In one animal study, shilajit seemed to improve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

A 2019 study suggested that 500 milligrams a day could significantly boost muscle recovery and endurance. Shilajit could be a great energy-boosting supplement for athletes or anyone struggling to recover from HIIT workouts.

Ironing out the details

Shilajit is full of minerals, including iron. If you have sickle cell anemia or an issue with processing iron, you’re better off using another supplement for workout energy.

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While schisandra isn’t usually eaten as food, this berry’s been used medicinally for centuries.

This little powerhouse is full of lignans, which could boost antioxidant levels. That’s always good news for your health and energy.

One research review suggests that schisandra may supercharge your endurance and energy during workouts — but the same review states that more research in humans is needed to *prove* the connection.

What we know about schisandra

Schisandra has compounds that may boost brain function. And since it’s an adaptogen, it could relieve stress.

We also know it’s widely accepted as a supplement for leveling up general wellness and energy, though research is limited.

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Herbal supplements have the potential to boost your energy and focus, but they’re no substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re feeling exhausted on the reg, it’s essential to look at your health overall. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating healthy, nourishing foods? Are you moving your body and finding ways to relieve stress?

If you want to try one of these herbs for energy, check with your doctor first. Though they’re natural supplements, they can still mess with some meds and health conditions.