Natural health: I'm tired all the time. What can I do? 

Megan Sheppard answers your natural health questions.
Natural health: I'm tired all the time. What can I do? 
A tea made from liquorice root can be restorative. Picture: iStock

Q. I’m in my early 40s and juggling childcare with working from home. I’m tired a lot. Is there a tonic I could take?

A. There are a number of herbal options to restore your energy.

Herbal teas can be a simple, powerful pick-me-up. One of my favourite herbs for stress and exhaustion is liquorice root. This makes a delicious tea and will also prevent and treat respiratory ailments, particularly coughs and colds.

Liquorice root contains glycosides, which are essential for the relief of adrenal exhaustion and muscular fatigue. It also provides natural cortisone, which is nourishing for the adrenals.

Liquorice is a source of nutrients, and it contains vitamin E, phosphorus, the B vitamins, manganese, iodine, chromium, and zinc.To make a herbal infusion using dried liquorice root, add a teaspoon of the root per cup of water and steep for as long as you like.

You can also reinfuse the same dried root three to four times throughout the day, for additional cups. It does get quite sweet, so can stave off sugar cravings, which often occur when we are low on energy.

You should not take large quantities of liquorice tea if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or heart disease.

If you prefer to take a commercially prepared tonic or elixir, consider Weleda’s range.

The organic blackthorn elixir, in particular, is formulated to enliven the body and mind during pressure at work, home, and school. It is made from ripe sloe berries, biodynamically grown lemon juice, and sweetened with organic raw sugar, maintaining the natural benefits of the blackthorn. Take as directed.

If you still feel as if you need something to stimulate your brain without interfering with nerve function and sleep, then Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a great alternative to coffee. Yerba mate stimulates the brain by aiding understanding, recall, and clear thinking, while soothing nerves and balancing the immune system. The taste is bitter, but you can add citrus, spice, or mint to balance the flavour.

Q. I often experience indigestion after eating my main meal. Eating slowly makes little difference. I eat protein — meat, fish, poultry — with every meal. Do I need to change my diet?

A. It may be that you need to make a few adjustments to the way you combine your foods at each meal, rather than change your diet.

The theory is to combine foods with similar digestion requirements. Proteins need an acidic environment for digestion, while carbohydrates and fats are broken down in alkaline conditions.

A meal that requires acid and alkaline enzymes can result in compromised digestion, which means that it is also wise to avoid combining obvious acid and alkaline foods.

Fruits are digested very quickly, so can ferment while sitting in the stomach waiting for slow-digesting foods to leave, resulting in flatulence and indigestion. So it is best to eat fruit on an empty stomach, and always eat melons by themselves. Avoid combining fruits with dairy or cereal.

By eating either proteins and vegetables, or carbohydrates and vegetables, but not both proteins and carbohydrates, you will avoid combinations that disrupt the digestive process. Turmeric is used to strengthen the digestive system and it stimulates bile flow and encourages the production of digestive juices. This makes it a very useful remedy in treating indigestion and intestinal inflammation.

Turmeric also strengthens the intestinal flora, while being a powerful remedy in the elimination of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, fungi, and parasites. Include turmeric powder or the freshly grated root to curries, rice, smoothies, soups, and other foods —sweet or savoury — on a daily basis.

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