When you type ”best herbs for energy” into Google, you will get a whole list of different herbs to boost your energy levels. But here’s part they’re missing… there is an art to herbalism. To find the right herbs for your needs, you need to understand not just the ailment, but also the person who is taking the herbs.
This week, Dr. Lori Valentine Rose, who is a holistic herbalist, will share what the most important factors are when choosing the right herbs for energy. She will share some of the science and uncover some of the misconceptions there are around herbs.
In this podcast, you’ll learn:
- The right way to prepare your herbs to boost your health
- How to find the best herbs to heal your ailment (it is not what you think)
- The right dose of herbs for energy and health benefits (this is a huge mistake that most people make when taking herbs)
- How using herbs differs from medicine (and why it is often misunderstood)
- Why knowing your lifestyle and core problems are crucial to identify the best herbs for energy
Download or listen on iTunes
Listen outside of iTunes
The Best Herbs For Energy (And How To Use Them) – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey everyone! This is Ari Whitten and welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. Today I have with me a very special guest, someone I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to numerous times now and who has been a member of the Energy Blueprint program and is also a health expert and nutrition expert in her own right. Her name is Lori Valentine Rose, PhD. Dr. Lori Valentine Rose. She’s a board certified nutrition professional, board certified holistic nutrition consultant, a registered herbalist, a wellness coach, a teacher, a wife, and a mom. She is a passionate student of nutrition, herbalism, spirituality, and pretty much anything that makes our minds, bodies, souls, and the planet a better place to inhabit. I love that. Welcome Lori. It’s a pleasure to have you on.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Thank you. I’m so honored to be here.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, awesome. Can you talk just a little bit about your background as far as how you got into this and kind of the path that you took to get here?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Sure. It’s been a really windy road, right? I’ve just always been passionate about everything, but I really love the earth, and life, and biology. So I went to school to be pre-med actually. Then I took organic chemistry and I immediately switched majors. So yeah, it happens.
Ari Whitten: Organic chemistry tends to have that effect on people.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah. What’s funny is now I wish I could back and really take it ’cause I’m really into biochemistry now.
Ari Whitten: That’s funny.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: But yeah, it’s like-
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I loved biochem, but organic chemistry was just painful.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, if they would’ve only told me I ended up in biochemistry. But who knows?
Ari Whitten: Yeah, once you get past all that.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: But yeah, I happened to land in environmental science, which really got me on fire for the health of the soil and how interconnected our physical health is to our planet. I went and got my PhD in biology just through another windy road. Really went I got pregnant with my first child, I got super interested in nutrition. I was always kind of like exercising and eating right and paying attention to food, but it was always in a body manipulation kind of way as opposed to “I want to feel awesome” kind of way. So then my passion really became nutrition. I went and I studied that. I’ve been teaching nutrition for about 10 years at a local community college. Then I became a gardener because apparently I have trust issues and I can’t buy food from local farmers and that [inaudible].
The best herbs for energy: How conventional organic produce can be harmful to you
Ari Whitten: I’m with you on that, yeah. You know, one quick digression as I’m interrupting your bio, but one of the misconceptions that people have with organic farming is that people often think of organic as that they don’t use any pesticides or herbicides or things like that. That’s actually not true. They can still spray lots of chemicals on it as long as they’re accepted within the organic pesticides, organic herbicides, the list of chemicals that are accepted within the organic regulations. So a lot of people don’t realize there’s still some stuff which in certain cases may potentially cause harm, even on the organic stuff. So I’m with you on being a gardener and I have my own big organic garden, which I know you saw the video that I posted the other day. Yeah, it’s a pleasure to get stuff from right in your backyard that you know has no nasty stuff on it.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: It is. It’s amazing. You get exercise and you get sun. I really think it’s the one element that would solve all the world’s issues because we would clean up the planet and we’d clean up the environment and clean up ourselves. But yeah, I digress too. So once I started gardening I had all of these herbs that I was using just as companion plants. I was like, I really kind of want to learn how to use these herbs, but my fear of conventional medicine sort of spilled over into that. I was like, I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t know what tea to make with this and what herb not to mix with this herb. So I went to herb school just to learn how to make herbal teas from my backyard. I was lit on fire. I just kept going to herbal schools and kept going to herbal schools. Now I’m a registered herbalist and I actually created a holistic nutrition and herbal school at that community college where I’ve been teaching.
Ari Whitten: That’s awesome.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: So that’s where I am now and it has been a winding road, and I had no idea this is where I would end up but it’s super thrilling and fun, that’s for sure.
Ari Whitten: Very cool. So I want to talk to you in this podcast all about herbs. And herbs for energy in particular.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Awesome.
The best herbs for energy: How choosing herbs is different from choosing medications and supplements
Ari Whitten: I know that’s a passion of yours and it’s an area that is complex and is powerful, and yet at the same time I think so many people have this… Especially kind of evidence based folk who I generally identify with often kind of look at herbs as, “Oh, these are silly new age-y things that don’t really work from these alternative types and granola types. They’re maybe just placebos at best.” I think a lot of these people would be shocked to learn as I was many years ago when I first started studying all the science around the herbs that there’s actually a huge body of scientific evidence supporting that a lot of these things actually have really powerful effects. There’s really no shortage of scientific evidence, which is pretty cool.
So as kind of an entry point to get into this, how is choosing herbs different from choosing medications and supplements?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: That’s a really good question. What’s funny about your anecdote is I actually used to be one of those people. For a decade I was teaching food as medicine and your food can heal you. Eat the right foods. Someone would bring up herbs and I would roll my eyes. Whatever. Then I got into herbalism again just to make tea from my backyard and I realized the same thing as you. I had this realization that oh my gosh, herbs are plants. Food is plants. Where was my barrier?
Ari Whitten: Right.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: I really already believed in food as medicine as the plant world, the gift it was giving to us and herbs were just doing the same thing. So it’s sad that there’s this huge disconnect between that reality. One of the areas that that disconnect kind of shows up is how we… If we just personally dabble in herbs, we can think they don’t work because we choose them wrong and we use them wrong.
Before conventional medicine really came to rise in America, traditional herbalism was how people healed themselves. For the majority of the world, they’re still using herbs. But once conventional medicine took over, we kind of got into this… Everyone, no matter who they are, has this symptom. You take the same medicine. You suppress that symptom, and it works automatically and instantly, and we’re fine. We’re happy with that choice.
So that mindset… When herbalism resurged kind of in the ’60s, that mindset stuck around. Instead of choosing herbs holistically for the person as most traditional herbalists do, we sort of allopathically viewed herbs as what herb can I take for this? What herb can I take for that? In fact, I just had some Facebook message me today: “What herb is best for hypertension?” I’m like, you can’t answer that question because different people with the exact same disease have different causes and have different manifestations. The same herb for one person with say fatigue is going to affect someone else with fatigue completely differently.
The best herbs for energy: Why it is better to know the person than the disease
As Hippocrates said, “It’s better to know the person that has the disease than the disease that has the person.”
I can sort of explain that with an analogy. Let’s say two people show up in Energy Blueprint and they both have extreme fatigue. That’s their issue. One person… I’m gonna describe myself here. I’m person is super type A and they’re driven. They never sleep and they work during the day and do their passionate night and take care of their kids in the evening. They are fatigued because they don’t sleep and they’re sick all the time ’cause they work through eating. Maybe they also happen to have dry skin, dry nasal passages, and they get frequent illnesses. They have fatigue, right?
Then another person shows up and they have extreme fatigue, but they get 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night and they really just can’t find the motivation to get off the couch. They are cold and damp, and they also get illnesses but it’s more congestion and allergies. They have fatigue as well, but it’s a different root cause fatigue.
If the type A person took a stimulating energetic fatigue herb, that’s gonna exacerbate them, right? Versus that same herb might help that second person who really just needs a kick or needs a boost to get things going.
Ari Whitten: Mm-hmm.
The best herbs for energy: How energetics determine your type and what herbs you need for energy
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: So what I was just describing is something that traditional herbalism calls energetics. Energetics sounds all woo woo, right? But really it has to do with how is that personal wired just constitutionally. Are they super type A? Are they more chill type B? Are they-
Ari Whitten: That’s the technical term, right? Chill?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Oh yeah, chill.
Ari Whitten: Super chill.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, that’s Ayurvedic. it can also deal with things that we’re more familiar with, like dryness versus dampness, tenseness versus laxity, coldness versus hotness. Plants also have energetics. I think people when they first hear about energetics and herbalism that it kind of scares them, but if you really step back, it’s something we really are familiar with because we know cucumbers are cooling. Cayenne is heating. Right? They don’t raise your temperature. You don’t put a thermometer in your mouth and your fever went up, but you feel hot or you feel cool from that cucumber. Plants all have energetics and instead of, as in conventional medicine, the same person with the same disease name is gonna take the same medication.
In herbalism, you really have to know yourself, your constitution, how your symptoms are manifesting. You wanna kind of find that herbal sweet spot. You want to match the plants’ energetics that are going to balance your energetics so that you bring everything back to center as opposed to cayenne sending that type A person more revved up or a more sedating herb sending that type B person with fatigue more lethargic, which they don’t need more of that.
The best herbs for energy: How to identify the herb you need for your condition
Ari Whitten: So everything you said makes sense, but at the same time, I feel you’ve introduced so many layers of complexity to this that the average person listening to this is probably like, “Well how the hell do I know what herb I need, then?” It’s simple if I can operate in a paradigm where I say, “Oh, I have high blood pressure. What herb do I take? Or I have pain in my knees. What herb do I take?” Whatever it is, that’s kind of a simple way of processing things that most people can make sense out of. What you’re talking about… Does someone have to go to a professional in order to figure out what herbs they should take, or can this be done at home? If so, how can they start to think about what herbs might be good choices for them?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah. I don’t necessarily think you have to go to an herbalist to do this. The way my herbal teachers taught me… Okay first of all, let’s say we know the herb is safe ’cause you don’t want to do what I’m about to tell you with just walking out in your backyard and picking something that you don’t know what it is. Let’s say that you know what this plant is. You know that it’s safe to consume and you taste it. Well some plants, when you taste it, it’s gonna create that fire heating taste in your mouth. Like, let’s play a game. When you bite into ginger, is that heating or is it cooling?
Ari Whitten: Heating.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: That’s heating, right? Versus if you bite into… Have you ever had… I’m trying to think of a common herb, right? Marshmallow root or… Let’s see. I can’t think of a cooling herb off the bat ’cause the heating ones are more prominent on the spice cabinet and more commonly used. But the answer here is you taste it. If you taste it and it’s not heating, then it’s either neutral or cooling. If you taste something and it’s dry and your mouth gets all dry, then that’s a drying herb versus if you taste something and your mouth starts salivating. Goji berry, for example, that’s moistening. So you can really taste the energetics of the herbs.
Ari Whitten: Hmm, interesting. So is there a system for someone kind of doing a self-assessment and saying, “Oh, I’m a hotter personality or I’m colder, or wetter, or drier.” How is that done?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: There’s lots of different ways you can do that. I mean, you can take semesters long of energetics. This is just one way to think about herbs, but think about your skin. Are you usually more dry or are you usually oily and damp? You can think about your hair. Is your hair dry or damp?
Are you always thirsty or is your mouth always salivating? Because you can be physically one energetic and mentally another energetic. For me for example, my skin is dry but personality wise, I’m cold all the time. If you walk into a room, I’m the one with the coat on and everyone else is fanning. Physically I manifest cold, but mentally and behaviorally, I manifest hot like a hot personality ’cause I’m always go, go, go, go, go.
You can definitely over-complicate this, but the important thing when picking an herb is just to choose something that if you’re dry isn’t gonna over-dry you. If you’re already sedated and lethargic, you don’t want to choose another sedating herb that’s gonna exacerbate you. That’s how you can start off with it a little more simple.
The best herbs for energy: The 5 body systems to be aware of
Ari Whitten: Okay, so break that down. Systematize it more for everyone listening. What are the four or five main traits that they would kind of do a self-assessment on and just to be aware of?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: You mean body system?
Ari Whitten: Yeah, so like cold versus hot, damp versus dry. What are the other ones?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Tense versus lax, and usually you know which one of those you are, right?
Ari Whitten: Okay.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Are your muscles usually tense or are you usually super hard to get moving and motivated? You’re limp and limbo. Personality wise, it’s really… It may be over simplistic to divide it into type A and type B, but you know if you’re more kind of… You’re the one who takes more to get motivated versus you’re the one who really annoys the people who it takes more to get motivated. So I would say that’s more of a hot personality versus a cold personality. As far as your temperature manifestation, are you always the cold one in the room versus the hot one in the room? If you’re not one of those people, you could be neutral, which is considered more balance. Then skin’s another one. Are you more dry versus damp? Hair, are you dry versus damp?
The best herbs for energy: How using herbs is different from using medications
Ari Whitten: Okay, cool. I know we’ll get into more specific applications of that later on. Got it. So next question, how is using herbs different from using medication supplements? You know, we talked just now about how is choosing herbs different from choosing medications and supplements. Now let’s talk about how is using them different.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, and that’s important too because I think that’s another way that our allopathic thinking sort of sneaks in to our using herbs that can make it seem like they’re not working.
Ari Whitten: Let me just interrupt real quick just in case anybody’s unfamiliar with that term allopathic. That’s like mainstream conventional medicine paradigm is allopathic. Anyway, sorry.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: No, that’s good. Yeah, so to me when I say that, it’s like you take a medication to suppress a symptom. Everyone takes the same thing. The symptom immediately goes away. Herbs just don’t work like that. If you come in thinking that’s the way it’s gonna work, then you’re gonna think, “Oh, herbs are phooey and they don’t work.”
One way that choosing an herb is different is that you really want to match that herb to yourself as opposed to matching the herb to your disease name, which is what we just discussed. This happened with me, too. I mentioned that sort of my skepticism from conventional medicine snuck into the way I viewed herbs when I first started studying them. I had this fear of them.
So with medication, when we take medicine if you take too much, that’s not good and you can die, right? We know you only take your dose and you only take it when it tells you to take it. You take it infrequently and your symptoms are supposed to be suppressed. Herbs are different. The dose matters and usually for most herbs, herbs are plants. Herbs tend to be food-like, so the doses for herbs are much larger than what we’re used to for medications. I know a lot when I start getting herbal clients, I’m like, “You need to put an ounce of herb in here. A whole ounce and then cover it with water and let it steep.” They’re like, “Are you sure that’s not too much?” If anything, that’s not enough. You need these herbs, right? Don’t be scared to take the recommended, if you’re working with an herbalist, the recommended dose of herbs even though it’s much larger than mentally what we think.
In general, and there’s low dose herbs and that’s really not what I’m talking about. The really toxic herbs that you just take drops of them. I’m talking about the more food-like yet medicinal herbs. You take more of them and you take them more frequently. That’s one major difference.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, as a little example from my own personal life, I grow several herbs in my garden. I often make a tea at night using lemon balm and lemongrass, just a combination of those. I actually use a shockingly large amount of those things. I did it probably at the beginning just because I like to maybe overdo things to see what the effect is, which obviously is a trait that has potential for consequences. I wouldn’t do it with any particular drug or anything like that, but with herbs certainly. I took a lot of this stuff and I’m like, “I wanna see if I can notice any effect.” Sure enough, slept very, very deep and peacefully and got to sleep very, very fast from using a combination of lemongrass and lemon balm in very, very large doses. Anyway, I’m still alive everyone.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yay!
Ari Whitten: Even though I maybe quadrupled the typical dose.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Now you’re that Ayurvedic chill, right? Yeah, lemon balm is one of those herbs that I’ll tell people, “Take a whole ounce of it every day to help you really relax.” Versus if you would’ve taken a tablespoon of lemon balm, you wouldn’t have felt it, right? It would’ve been like, “This herb doesn’t work. Let’s go pull it up and plant something else.” Right?
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
The best herbs for energy: How research on herbs is done inaccurately
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: No, but that’s one of the reasons why a lot of studies testing herbs come up short saying this herb is ineffective or wasn’t as effective as the control. It’s because they use such small doses so infrequently that it’s like a control compared to a control. It was nothing compared to nothing.
Ari Whitten: Right.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah.
The best herbs for energy: Why dose and frequency is important
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. So as far as the specifics, is there anything beyond just the amount of the dose? Is there anything around frequency that is an important distinction?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Absolutely. Yeah, so dose and frequency is really important, especially if you’re in a healing protocol. If you’re just using these daily as maintenance, you’re gonna use herbs more like food whereas medication you’re gonna take every 12 hours or every 8 hours. Herbs are something you take three to six times a day. If you’re in an acute sort of issue like actual cold and flu infection kind of thing, herbs are something… Depending on the herb, you can be taking them every 30 minutes for the whole time that you’re sick.
Dose and frequency really, really matter when it comes to herbs. If you start an herbal protocol and you’re like, “This isn’t really working,” ask “Am I matching the herb to myself? Am I taking enough of it? Am I taking it frequently enough?” That doesn’t mean for every herb just up, up, up it because there are some toxic medicinal herbs. But again, those aren’t the ones I’m really focusing on.
Ari Whitten: Okay, and how common is what’s called a biphasic dose response, which is basically the idea that there’s a dose range where if you take too little, it’s not gonna have much effect and then if you take the right amount or within the range of the right amount, you’re gonna have good effects. Then if you take too much, you actually lose the effect. Is that common within herbal use? I would imagine that it is and that maybe you have to have some cautiousness with overdoing it, not necessarily in the sense that you’re gonna have serious side effects but maybe just that you would lose the effectiveness.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Here’s something. I haven’t really heard it put that way except again for those toxic herbs, but something that might happen is you might throw off your energetic balance. Right? If you’re a dry, cold person and you take a lot of a drying, cooling herb for a long time, that’s gonna exacerbate your dryness and your coldness. I think usually… The way I was taught with herbs, just to answer this question the way my education has trained me is if you get too high of a dose, you might get a headache or you might get a stomachache. You’ll know that it’s too much ’cause you’ll get a discomfort or an impact.
Ari Whitten: Okay.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: You just kind of… We call it titrating. That’s the chemistry term, but it’s not really right. Where you increase it, and increase it, and increase it until you get the effect you want and then you back off just a little bit.
Ari Whitten: Until you get the effect you want or maybe start to get side effects and then-
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Right, and then you back down a bit.
The best herbs for energy: The best natural herbs for energy boost
Ari Whitten: Okay, got it. Let’s get into some specifics. What are some types of herbs that people can use specifically for helping with fatigue, helping with energy levels? Since this is of course the Energy Blueprint, let’s talk about fatigue and energy.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Absolutely, and you know more than anybody that the first thing we have to ask here is why are we feeling fatigue, right? If we’re gonna choose an herb to help with our fatigue, we need to know is this a malnourishment issue? Is this a toxic load issue? Is this a lack of stress management? Do I just need to stop and sleep maybe? Do I have some emotional trauma that’s really manifesting in my body as disease? Knowing the source of our fatigue is the first place to start. Making sure we understand that an herbal protocol should always be combined with a nutrition and a lifestyle approach to addressing the actual cause of that fatigue, because otherwise really we’re just using herbs allopathically. We’re trying to bandaid something instead of actually address it.
Ari Whitten: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: But in light of those things that I just listed, there are herbs that can help in multiple categories. One, let’s say you have a malnourishment issue and you just have fatigue because your mitochondria isn’t getting the nutrients that it needs, right? Well you can take nutritive herbs. Nutritive herbs are these food-like herbs that are super high in vitamins and minerals. These are the herbs you’re really gonna be taking a lot of and daily. These are the herbs that you really can’t get too much of. Probably the issue is you’re gonna get too little of it. Load ’em up.
Nutritive herbs are things like nettles and oat straw and alfalfa, violet, linden. Hawthorn is another nutritive herb, chickweed. So for these herbs, what you’ll do is you’ll put an ounce of dried herb in a mason jar covered up with just boiled water. You’ll cover it and let it sit four to eight hours and then you strain it and drink it. You can do that as much as you can handle.
In lights of energetics… So you said we would bring that up again. So for examples, nettles are like cooling and drying, and violet is more moistening. That’s how you can match within that category the herb that’s gonna work for you. Doesn’t mean if you’re cold and dry, never have nettles. I drink nettles every day, but I also make sure I balance it with other warming herbs like ginger and moistening herbs like marshmallow.
Ari Whitten: That’s what I was just gonna ask. Let’s say you’re a balance. You’re not dry or moist. Could you use nutritive herbs as a mix of let’s say nettles and violet together?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Absolutely. Yeah, and energetics should never say, “Oh, I can’t use this herb,” because really our dryness and our tenseness and our laxness and our dampness versus dryness and hotness versus coldness. It’s a manifestation of everything, the foods we eat. Right? Fats and oils, those are moistening. So if I happen to drink a lot of nettles, I make sure I get a lot of fats and oils to sort of offset that. Herbs are never excluded. You just want to consider them.
Ari Whitten: Okay. So as far… What are the rules as far as mixing some of these nutritive herbs for example? Would you typically just use one or two together for a given day and you don’t want to go beyond that, or can you put like six of these different nutritive herbs all in the same jar and drink it all day long? How does that work?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: You can probably hear some very well known herbalists get into fun arguments if you ask that in a room full of herbalists. Rosemary Gladstar says the only thing herbalists agree on is not to cook in aluminum pans. Some herbalists say always only use one herb at a time so you know its effect on you and you can predict what’s gonna happen. Other herbalists say always, always, always use herbs in formulas so you can create the balance that’s specific to your body. So really, that’s both ends of it, right? Mix them how you want. Play with it. See what you like.
Here’s another thing. K.P. Khalsa says the best herbal protocol is the one you’ll actually do. So if you won’t drink nettles by itself but you’ll drink nettles mixed with oat straw, do it. Right? Those nutritive herbs, those are herbs that you’re really… They’re super safe herbs. I wouldn’t say there’s any way you can mess them up.
The best herbs for energy: The best herbs for sleep
Ari Whitten: Okay. Now what are some other potential things that people might want to use herbs for? We covered just malnutrition and getting more vitamins and minerals into the system to help with that. What are some other potential things that someone might use herbs for? I’ll just throw out, let’s say someone wanted to use it to help correct a sleep problem. What kinds of things would you recommend?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Right. If you have a sleep issue, this is all… It’s gonna depend, right? Are you not getting sleep because you’re not letting yourself get sleep and you’re just not making the time to do it? An herb’s not gonna fix that.
Ari Whitten: Right.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Versus are you not getting sleep because you’re in pain? Then an antispasmodic anidine herb might help. Are you not getting sleep because of anxiety? Then a relaxing nervine herb might help.
Ari Whitten: Okay, so let’s go into those two ’cause I think those are common. Talk to me about good antispasmodic herbs that will help with physical relaxation and maybe combat some physical pain.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, good herbs for that… One thing I want to say about this is these herbs are more acute. They’re not gonna be like the nutritive herbs that you use a lot of every day, frequently, all the time. These are more let’s get you over that hurdle so you can get some sleep, get some energy, and then go fix the problem of why you’re having a pain issue. Things like valerian, you can use that internally and externally. Cramp bark is a good antispasmodic herb that you can use internally and externally.
Ari Whitten: What’s that one called? Clamp bark?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Cramp bark. Cramp, like a cramp.
Ari Whitten: Cramp bark. I’ve never heard of that.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah. Ginger, even like a ginger compress mixed with cramp bark on the outside of a spasm or sore muscle. That can relax that muscle. Kava kava is another really important one. Another thing I want to mention about these herbs is a lot of them, because they’re more strong on the medicinal side versus the food side, some of them do have herb drug interactions. So you want to make sure about that, too.
Ari Whitten: Mm-hmm. Gotcha. So what about the nervine herbs? Someone’s stressed out. They’re type A. They just have a lot of anxiety. They have a hard time turning their brain off at night. Their mind’s racing and that’s disturbing their sleep.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Right. There are different categories here. There are some more gentle relaxing nervines that you can take during the day that are just gonna kind of make you chill out but not turn you off and sedate you and make you sleep. Like lemon balm, if you take it in lower amounts, that’s actually something you can drink in the morning or drink during the day. Camomile, depending on the amount, you can drink during the day to calm you down or you can drink a strong camomile tea at night to really sedate you. Milky oats… The seeds of oat grass, when they’re milky, when you squeeze them and the milk comes out… It’s not really milk, but that has a constituent that is relaxing but not sedating. That’s something that you can take a long time and it has an overall relaxing effect.
Ari Whitten: Say that one again. What is it? Milky oat?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Milky oats.
Ari Whitten: Milky oats, okay.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and that has a lot of research on it too versus let’s say it’s nighttime. You don’t care about not getting knocked out. You want to go to sleep, right. Valerian again can help with that. Passion vine can help with that. Catnip is a good one. That one’s also antispasmodic. Camomile, skullcap is a great one. California poppy. These are all good herbs that depending on the amount, some of them you can take during the day and then most of them you can take at night to put you to sleep.
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. So let’s actually delve into that a bit deeper, ’cause let’s say someone has chronic anxiety, which is something that is not infrequent among people with chronic fatigue. They just have debilitating anxiety. What kinds of herbs might they use during the day that are non-sedating that are not going to make their fatigue and kind of general tiredness feel worse? Then you know, at night… You mentioned the ones at night. Maybe valerian, lemon balm, camomile, some stronger doses of some of these. Kava kava, things like that. Which ones might be better for daytime use?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: I would say milky oats for sure for daytime, long term. That’s not gonna have an immediate effect. Depending on the amount of passion vine, that could be helpful. That might be more for an acute anxiety attack kind of thing, but lemon balm is a great gentle relaxing herb that’s not necessarily gonna knock you out. Now you say your lemon balm knocked you out, and that… I just don’t know how much you used.
Ari Whitten: Probably a lot, but I actually have-
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: More than an ounce? Like more than that much?
Ari Whitten: I didn’t do it in a jar, so it’s hard to know for sure.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Right. That’s how I mix everything.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I used a lot, but it’s also I used a lot of lemongrass too, so it’s hard to know. Lemongrass also has some of those… I don’t know. Is lemongrass considered an herb technically?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
Ari Whitten: Okay, but that also seems to have some kind of sedative hypnotic properties.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: I’ve not heard that.
Ari Whitten: Oh, really?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, that’s interesting.
Ari Whitten: I’m pretty sure that I’m correct on that, which is interesting ’cause I think lemongrass might also be a stimulating herb.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Mm-hmm.
Ari Whitten: I think it also seems to maybe have both effects, or maybe it’s dose dependent. I don’t know.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: See that’s the point I was gonna make, is maybe it was dose dependent. So that may be something like on a weekend where you don’t have to go to work, try an ounce of lemon balm in the morning. See if it sedates you too much and then take it down a notch to where you feel the calm and you can drink that daily every day. Then at night, you up the dose to your actual sedating dose.
Ari Whitten: Ah, okay. So you take it on an off day from work just in case you’re stuck on the couch all day and you can’t move.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: I’ve never heard of that happening with lemon balm, but you never know. Everyone’s different. Hey, valerian is the same way. Some people are extremely hyper-energized by valerian, so I don’t suggest taking that for the first time on a night before you have a big event or something and need actual sleep.
Ari Whitten: Gotcha.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Just putting that out there.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, but lemon balm is nice. I’ve used lemon balm during the day as well and I do find that it’s helpful and doesn’t seem to sedate, though I have read… I know that’s kind of the common thinking around lemon balm. I did read one study that I remember that did say that it does have a little bit of sedating properties which again, maybe just if you take too much of it. But what was I gonna say? Yeah, yeah I think… Oh, the other one that I want to mention here is kava kava that you mentioned before, which has really nice effects but I’ve also read some stuff around liver toxicity with that one.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: So the liver toxicity issues with kava kava… If you look at the source of that, it was actually mixed. It wasn’t kava kava. It was mislabeled or misidentified.
Ari Whitten: Really?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, that happens a lot now because with supplements and herbs are not as regulated, which has its pros and cons, right? But yeah, the source of the kava kava in those studies was not actually kava kava. That happened with several herbs, too. Eleuthero, same thing happened. There’s some negative studies on it. You look at the source of it, it was actually a filler, some other filler herb.
Ari Whitten: Oh, wow. Well it certainly makes sense to me. I’ve traveled in south pacific on a few occasions and I’ve been to places where they drink kava every night.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah.
Ari Whitten: They don’t seem to have any instances of liver disease, or at least I can’t… I certainly didn’t see it, but I’ve also never read anything to suggest that liver cirrhosis or liver disease is common because of kava.
The best herbs for energy: Why sourcing your herbs from the right vendor is important
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, so that’s an important thing for the audience, whoever’s listening to this to hear. Make sure you source herbs. Don’t buy your herbs on Amazon. You need to know where your herbs are coming from because with their increase in popularity, there’s definitely sources that are just stuffing stuff in bags and calling them things. There’s a lot of negative consequences of that. One, it gives herbs a bad name but two, it can help people.
Another thing while we’re on the topic of kava in the more relaxing nervine sedating herbs is they do tend to have herb drug interactions. So check that out. Usually it’s with other antianxiety medications.
Ari Whitten: Benzodiazepines.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, and then also a lot of them tend to be addicting. Make sure if you have an addictive personality or if addiction’s in your past, you be really careful with those herbs. Really make sure you’re either not going to use the specific ones that are known to be addictive, ’cause there’s so many others to choose from, or you commit to using it only acutely to get you over that hurdle and get you where you need to be to take care of what the real pain or spasm sleep issue is.
The best herbs for energy: The benefits of aromatic herbs for energy
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. So let’s talk about stimulating.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Okay, yeah. Something you mentioned and I wanted to sort of circle back to is you’re like, I don’t know if it’s both stimulating and relaxing and how does that happen. Here’s the cool thing. Aromatic herbs, which is just a fancy way of saying herbs that you can smell… This is really most of the herbs on the spice rack, right? These are all the really smelly, tasty, goody herbs. Aromatic herbs are known to be both relaxing because they relax smooth muscle, but they’re also stimulating because they increase circulation in the brain and they increase blood flow. It sounds contradictory to say relaxing and stimulating at the same time, but it’s really not because they’re acting upon different tissues in the body. That’s why someone can take lemon balm who tends to be tense and feel less tense, but also have more mental clarity and focus and memory, which have also been benefits shown for lemon balm. Lemon balm has been shown to be helpful for children with hyperactivity, ’cause it chills them down physically but helps them focus mentally.
Ari Whitten: That’s the Ayurvedic chill concept, the Ayurvedic chill theory.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: [inaudible]. Yeah, stimulating herbs are… So in my first example, that person who was really lethargic and really has trouble getting motivated, stimulating herbs are probably gonna benefit them. One thing I want to clarify is that stimulating does not mean caffeinating. Right? It’s not the same thing that stimulating means or has come to mean in our culture. Really, it’s more about awakening and livening, getting the circulation going. If you think about things like peppermint, rosemary.
This has gotten a lot of press in the essential oil group, but essential oils come from aromatic plants. You don’t have to buy essential oils to get the actual oils from the plant. You just smell the plant and you’re getting those aromatic oils. The cool thing with that too is you don’t have to eat them or drink them, which most of them are delicious, but let’s say there’s a kid who you want to give stimulating… Well, know your kid, right? A kid you want to get these stimulating aromatic oils into. You can put them in a foot bath. You can soak them in a bath. They can just smell them. There’s all kinds of ways to get aromatic oil. Oh, you rub them on your skin. There’s all kinds of ways to get them into your body.
The best herbs for energy: How to properly prepare aromatic and nutritive herbs
Ari Whitten: Okay, so let’s delve a little deeper into that specifically. I’m glad you brought up the essential oil thing, because I was gonna ask about that. I would imagine you’re also getting some of these aromatic oils by making the teas out of these herbs as well. They’re infusing into the water. Is that accurate?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yes.
Ari Whitten: Okay. Now is there a sort of, I don’t know, hierarchy of effectiveness as far as these delivery methods? Is for example drinking the teas the most efficacious method compared to inhaling, compared to transdermal delivery. How does that work?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: I would say that I’m gonna have my students do that experiment, because I want to know the answer to that.
Ari Whitten: Okay.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: I don’t think it really matters. I think as long as they’re getting it inside the body into your tissues, ’cause another way you can do it is just make a steam. Boil a pot of water with the herbs in it. Put a towel over your head and smell the herbs. They’re getting into your body. I don’t think there’s that sort of hierarchy.
Ari Whitten: Okay.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: One thing I do want to say. The nutritive herbs that I said put a quart in here, put an ounce in here and let it steep eight hours. You don’t want to do that with aromatic oils. That’s gonna be a much shorter steep time because the longer you steep an oil, the more they’re gonna dissipate out into the steam. That’s like 5 to 20 minutes covered for sure so they’re not dissipating. So I just wanted to make sure to-
Ari Whitten: Okay, I’m glad you brought that up. The nutritive herbs that are non-aromatic are ones you’d steep four to eight hours. The aromatic herbs like some of the ones we’ve talked about, lemon balm.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: They smell, yeah.
Ari Whitten: Lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, things like that. These are things that we’d want to do much shorter steep times with.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, absolutely.
Ari Whitten: Make sure they’re covered.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Mm-hmm.
Ari Whitten: Okay, got it.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, the thing about the nutritive herbs, the longer they sit in water, the more minerals are gonna come out of the plant and the more vitamins are gonna come out of the plant. With the aromatic oils, the more you let it steam, the more the oils will just shh, evaporate.
The best herbs for energy: What science says about herbs for energy and health
Ari Whitten: Got it. So back to stimulating herbs for a second, ’cause we kind of digressed there because of me. Peppermint, rosemary, I know those are two good ones I’ve read some really nice research on. I’ve read rosemary for example, they showed just by inhaling rosemary aromatic oils, you’re going to see almost an immediate boost in cognitive performance. I’ve seen peppermint used to enhance physical performance when used before exercise and things like that. What else is in this category?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: What other herbs?
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Things like… Let’s talk about the cold person, right? We mentioned when you bite into ginger, it’s automatically heating. You can feel… If you rub ginger on you, you can see your skin turn red because the blood is rushing to the tissues or dilating to the surface. So ginger is a really common one. Cayenne’s a really common one. I have a funny quote from herbalist KP Khalsa. Now I don’t know if this is rooted in science versus tradition, but he says cayenne is the number one herb for depression. He goes, “This is the best herb for depression. You give someone with depression cayenne every day, and they’re just gonna get up and move.” ‘Cause it’s such a circulatory stimulant. It’s so heating.
Ari Whitten: Very interesting. Okay, so cayenne you mentioned. Rosemary, cayenne, peppermint. I think you just… Oh, and ginger.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Ginger, mm-hmm.
Ari Whitten: Is there anything else that’s worth mentioning in this category here?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: As far as research, I’m not sure but if you think about the energetics of those herbs, those are all aromatic heating herbs. I would think really anything in the spice cabinet that’s heating and aromatic, you could take it, smell it, drink it and it’s gonna get your blood flowing. It’s gonna get your blood moving. It’s gonna invigorate.
Ari Whitten: Okay, got it. So I guess wrapping all of this up, how can someone make choosing the right herb for themselves a little bit easier? Understanding that there’s a lot of complexity and a lot of nuances here, but how does… Is there a system or a way of thinking about this that someone can use to guide their choices?
Why Dr. Google isn’t your best friend when you need to find the best herbs for you
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Yeah, so I would definitely get away from the question what herb is good for fill in the blank disease name. Instead, start asking what herb is good for me? Think about knowing yourself and your energetics. If you don’t want to use the herb energetics, be like, “Am I dry or am I damp? Am I cold or am I hot? Am I tense of am I relaxed?” Find the herbs that bring you back into balance. One way to not do that is use Doctor Google, ’cause there is so… Google’s great for many, many things, but herbs is not one of those things. I would go to the American Herbalist Guild list of registered herbalists and know those names. Then go to their websites, ’cause there’s tons of free information.
Learning Herbs is an amazing free website where you can learn about herbs, herbal energetics. Is this drying or moistening? Is this heating or cooling? Then match that with your system. Another really great website that dives deeply into herbs and the science and the energetics is herbalremediesadvice(dot)org. That’s my mentor’s website and she has a brilliant way of mixing tradition with science and also making sure people know how to match the herb to themselves instead of the disease name.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. Where can people learn more about you and what you do, and where can people go to get more information from you? If they want to work from you, where do you want to direct them?
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Great. There’s two different places. If you’re interested in becoming a holistic nutritionist/herbalist/wellness coach, you can go to hillcollege.edu/holisticwellness. If you’re interested in just reading my blog or working with me as a herbalist or coach or nutritionist, it’s loriroseholistic.wordpress.com. Right there on the first page you’ll see blogs and links to my podcast and all sorts of other stuff.
Ari Whitten: Okay, awesome. We’ll get those links on the show notes for this podcast as well.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Awesome.
Ari Whitten: Lori, thank you so, so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure and this has been a very fun, super Ayurvedic chill podcast.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Thank you so much. Yeah, I’m really honored to have had this conversation with you. Thank you so much for inviting me on.
Ari Whitten: My pleasure, Lori. Thanks so much. All right, take care.
Dr. Lori Valentine Rose Ph.D.: Have a good day.
The Best Herbs For Energy (And How To Use Them) – Show Notes
How conventional organic produce can be harmful to you (2:56)
How choosing herbs is different from choosing medications and supplements (5:05)
Why it is better to know the person than the disease (8:31)
How to identify the herb you need for your condition (11:46)
The 5 body systems to be aware of (15:25)
How using herbs is different from using medications (16:47)
How research on herbs is done inaccurately (21:11)
Why dose and frequency is important (21:38)
The best natural herbs for energy boost (24:30)
The best herbs for sleep (29:14)
Why sourcing your herbs from the right vendor is important (38:18)
The benefits of aromatic herbs for energy (39:33)
How to properly prepare aromatic and nutritive herbs (42:17)
What science says about herbs for energy and health (44:44)
Why Dr. Google isn’t your best friend when you need to find the best herbs for you (47:14)
For more information on herbs go to this site: Learningherbs.com
To get more information on herbs for energy and health, science and the energetics go here.
If you want to learn more about becoming a holistic nutritionist, herbalist, and/or coach, go visit this site.
To learn more about Dr. Lori Valentine Rose, her work, and how she can help you find the best herbs for energy and health go here.