6 Natural Remedies for Fatigue and Exhaustion
Tired all the time? These remedies may be natural cures for fatigue.
Why are you so tired all the time?
If you find yourself sleeping through multiple morning alarms or wishing you had a place at work to secretly snooze midday, there’s a chance you suffer from fatigue or exhaustion. There are medical reasons you feel tired all the time, but fatigue not related to a specific medical issue could stem from a number of causes including inadequate or interrupted sleep, poor diet, stress, depression, lack of exercise, and jet lag, says Maura Henninger, ND, a naturopathic doctor in New York. Luckily, help for fatigue may be found in a natural remedy. “Herbal remedies are fantastic at supporting certain kinds of fatigue, especially to issues related to the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, which governs the body’s stress response,” says Dr. Henninger. “And who doesn’t have excessive stress these days? Herbs are great at modulating the body’s stress response.”
Next time you find yourself reaching for caffeine or sugar to combat the midday slump, consider these home remedies for your fatigue (and have a laugh at these funny motivational quotes, too).
If exhaustion has you functioning in zombie-mode and reaching for multiple cups of coffee per day, you could have adrenal fatigue. Although not considered a true medical diagnosis, adrenal fatigue is the name given to a collection of symptoms, including body aches, digestive troubles, exhaustion, nervousness, and sleeplessness.
Your adrenal glands, located on top of your kidneys, are responsible for the creation of cortisol. While this hormone plays a crucial role in the body’s stress response, ongoing stress can cause the glands to produce inadequate levels of cortisol, leaving you wiped out. Licorice root, in standardized form, is a commonly used natural remedy for this sort of constant fatigue, says Dr. Henninger.
This herb, which helps regulate normal system function and allows your body to better cope with stress, has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. To help restore cortisol levels, look for standardized licorice root in extract or pill form. If you take blood thinners, potassium, or blood pressure medications talk to your physician before taking licorice root because licorice—albeit large amounts—can create a blood pressure rise. (Tired? Check out these 3 causes of fatigue you may not know.)
In traditional Chinese medicine, Panax ginseng (aka, Asian ginseng) was taken as a tonic that was believed to replenish energy. Today, it’s used as a dietary supplement to improve general well-being, as well as health problems like cardiovascular disorders, depression, erectile dysfunction, menopausal hot flashes–and fatigue.
Research, including a review published in 2018, in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, backs the fatigue-fighting claims of American and Asian ginseng. Look for panax ginseng in tea, liquid, or supplement form. If you take antidepressants, diabetes, or blood-thinning medications, consult your physician first.
Plenty of research, including a study published in 2019 in the journal Natural Product Research and another in 2017 in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, shows that maca extracts have an anti-fatigue effect on animals. Part of the cruciferous family (think Brussels sprouts), this plant and is known for giving a caffeine-like energy boost minus the jitters and shakes. People who use maca root continuously report feeling more alert, driven, and energetic. In some cultures, Maca is prepared as a roasted or baked food or in a soup. Those seeking maca root as a remedy for exhaustion typically find it in powders, liquid extracts, and capsules. Anyone with thyroid issues should consult with their physician before taking maca. (Here are 13 thyroid facts everyone should know.)
While Royal Jelly doesn’t fall into the herb category, it is another great example of a home remedy for tiredness. This milky-white substance produced in the glands of nurse bees is widely used in Chinese medicine for fatigue, depression, and many more ailments. Loaded with B vitamins, Royal Jelly can decrease fatigue and increase endurance by increasing oxygen consumption in those who use it. A small study published in 2016 in Electronic Physician found that it even helped alleviate fatigue in cancer patients. It is available for internal use via capsules or in a base of honey. Consult with your physician first if you take blood thinners. Check out these tips to boost energy levels after lunch.
Often called Eleuthero, the root of this small, woody shrub is commonly used in Chinese medicine as a natural remedy for chronic fatigue. Although not a true ginseng, “Siberian ginseng is known to help manage stress,” says Jaquel Patterson, ND, a naturopathic physician in private practice in Fairfield, Connecticut. “It has been demonstrated to help improve athletic performance, energy, and physical stamina, as well as focus. It has additional benefits of supporting overall immune function and hormones.”
It’s available in liquid extract, capsules, powder, and as tea. Anyone who takes blood thinners or antidepressants, or who has diabetes or an autoimmune condition should speak with their physician before using Siberian ginseng. Check out these herbs that can help ease stress.
An animal study published in 2015 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that this medicinal mushroom, popular in Chinese medicine as a leading natural cure for combatting fatigue, improving muscle weakness, and increasing athletic performance, does, indeed, help combat fatigue. “It has both anti-aging and anti-tumorigenic properties and also helps to fight inflammation, which may be the cause of fatigue,” says Dr. Patterson.
Typically ingested in powder, capsule, and liquid form, some people break capsules open and add the powder to soup or tea. “It’s important to ensure the quality source of the product,” adds Dr. Patterson. “Cordyceps has been known to possibly increase symptoms of autoimmune conditions and may increase the risk of bleeding.” If you take immunosuppressants or steroids, speak to your physician before using cordyceps. (Here are 9 Vitamins and Herbs That Can Boost Your Sex Drive.)
- Maura Henninger, ND, a naturopathic doctor in New York, NY
- Mayo Clinic, "Adrenal fatigue: What causes it?"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, "Asian Ginseng"
- Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, "Ginseng as a Treatment for Fatigue: A Systematic Review."
- Natural Product Research, "Structure analysis and anti-fatigue activity of a polysaccharide from Lepidium meyenii Walp"
- International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, "Anti-fatigue activity of polysaccharide fractions from Lepidium meyenii Walp. (maca)"
- Electronic Physician, "Effect of Processed Honey and Royal Jelly on Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, "Ginseng"
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, "Studies on the Antifatigue Activities of Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body Extract in Mouse Model"
- Jaquel Patterson, ND, a naturopathic physician in private practice in Fairfield, Connecticut