Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen are folk-remedy experts and home tipsters based in New York City. They have spent decades collecting “cures from the cupboard” and are authors of several books, including Secret Food Cures.
Whether it’s a case of the doldrums after we get back to work from lunch, or our minds and bodies refusing to work after the day has started, we have all felt the effects of fatigue. Usually, when we least want to be tired. Instead of brewing another pot of coffee or chugging an energy drink both of which end in a crash you may try natural remedies for fatigue for a more lasting solution.
In the excerpt from Secret Food Cures that follows sisters and authors Joan and Lydia Wilen discuss their favorite natural remedies for fatigue.
If you’re sick and tired of being tired, then you need to figure out the reason for your fatigue. Too many late nights at the office? A crying baby? Poor diet? Check in with your doctor to make sure there’s not a medical condition causing your fatigue. Once you get a clean bill of health, try these remedies to help you perk up.
• We’ve read case histories in which, within a few weeks, the intake of bee pollen not only increased a person’s physical energy, but restored mental alertness and eliminated lapses of memory and confusion.
Suggested dosage: Take one teaspoon of granular bee pollen after breakfast, or two 500 mg bee pollen pills after breakfast. (Read more about bee pollen in the “Six Sensational Superfoods” section on page 258.)
Start by taking just a few granules of bee pollen each day to make sure you have no allergic reaction to it. If all is well after three days, increase the amount to 1 ⁄4 teaspoon every day. Gradually, over the next month or two, work your way up to three teaspoons of bee pollen taken throughout the day.
• If you’re tired the second you wake up in the morning, try this Vermont tonic—in a blender, put one cup of warm water, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey. Blend thoroughly, then sip it slowly until it’s all gone. Have this tonic every morning before breakfast and, within days, you may feel a difference in your energy level.
WARNING: People who are allergic to bee stings should consult a doctor before taking bee pollen. In addition, infants, diabetics and people who are allergic to honey should not use any remedies that contain honey.
• A quick picker-upper is 1 ⁄8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a cup of water. Drink it down and get a second wind.
• If you’re suffering from mental fatigue, try this Austrian recipe—thoroughly wash an apple, cut it into small pieces, leaving the peel on and place the pieces in a bowl. Pour two cups of boiling water over the apple and let it steep for an hour. Then add one tablespoon of honey. Drink the apple/honey water and eat the pieces of apple.
• If possible, walk barefoot in dewy grass— just watch out for critters! The next best thing is to carefully walk up and back in six inches of cold bathwater. Do it for five to 10 minutes twice a day—in the morning and late afternoon.
• If you have a bad case of the drowsies, puncture a garlic pearle (soft gel) or cut a garlic clove in half, and take a few deep whiffs. That ought to wake you up.
• A Chinese theory is that “tiredness” collects on the insides of one’s elbows and the backs of one’s knees. Wake up your body by slap-slap-slapping both those areas.
• You don’t have to depend on caffeine to stay awake. Mix one teaspoon of cayenne pepper to one quart of juice—any kind of juice with no sugar or preservatives added. Throughout a long drive, or a night of cramming, as soon as you feel sleep overcoming you, take a cup of the cayenne-laced juice to keep awake and alert.
• Tough day at the office? Need to get that second wind? Ready for a drink? Tired of all these questions? Add one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses to a glass of milk (regular, skim, soy or rice milk) and bottoms up.
• Call on your imagination for this visualization exercise. Sit up with your arms over your head and your palms facing the ceiling. With your right hand, pluck a fistful of vitality out of the air. Next, let your left hand grab its share. Open both hands, allowing all that energy to flow down your arms to your neck, shoulders and chest.
Start over again. This time, when you open your hands, let the energy flow straight down to your waist, hips, thighs, legs, feet and toes. There! You’ve revitalized your body. Now stand up feeling refreshed.
• A bunch of grapes can give you a bunch of energy. But grapes may be too perishable for you to carry around. If so, try dried figs. They sure can pack an energy punch! They’re delicious, satisfying, have more potassium than bananas, more calcium than milk, have a very high dietary fiber content and no cholesterol, fat or sodium.
Most important, figs have easily digestible, natural, slow-burning sugars that will get you going and keep you going, unlike the quick fix, fast-crash processed sugar in junk food.
Herbalist Lalitha Thomas, who lists figs as one of the 10 Essential Foods (in her book of the same name, published by Hohm Press), recommends making a serious effort to get unsulfured figs. Eat a few at a time—but don’t overdo it. Figs are also known to help prevent or relieve constipation.
• When you just can’t keep your eyes open or your head up and you don’t know how you’ll make it to the end of the workday, run away from it all. Go to the bathroom or a secluded spot and run in place. Run for two minutes—this should help you keep going the rest of the day.
• According to a study of American Indians, a pinch of chia seeds helped the braves brave their arduous round-the-clock days of hunting. Ground chia seeds, available at health food stores, can be sprinkled on salads or in soup for those on-the-go, around-the-clock days when stamina counts.
• Wake up your metabolism in the morning by squeezing the juice of half a grapefruit into a glass. Fill the rest of the glass with warm water. Drink it slowly, then eat the fruit of the squeezed-out half grapefruit. Now that your thyroid is activated, have a productive day!
CAUTION: Grapefruit can interfere with some prescription medications. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying this remedy.
• If, after a full night’s sleep, you get up feeling sluggish, it may be due to a tired liver. Stand up. Place your right hand above your waist, on the bottom of your ribs on your right side, with your fingers apart, pointing toward your left side. Place your left hand the same way on your left side. Ready? You press your right hand in, then bring it back in place.
You press your left hand in, then bring it back in place. You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn your—no! Sorry…we got carried away. Press your right hand in, then bring it back in place.
Press your left hand in, then bring it back in place. Do it a dozen times on each side when you get up each morning. In a couple of weeks, this liver massage may make a big difference in your daily energy level.
• Cutting out heavy starches and sweets from your diet can also go a long way in adding to your get-up-and-go.