If you want to avoid the jitters, your best bet is to put down that cup of coffee. The right combination of herbs provides a spark of energy without making you anxious, says herbalist Rachelle Robinett.
"If you're the type that is easily over-caffeinated or you get the jitters and you feel anxious but still need and want energy, herbs can be such a great option," says Robinett. "We can get the energy that everybody is after, which is calm energy."
On the latest episode of Plant-Based, a series on the Well+Good YouTube channel, Robinett explains why you should aim to re-energize you hit the dreaded midday slump, not when you wake up. Your body is already producing cortisol first thing in the morning. Lumping caffeine on top of your natural cortisol production can lead to too much energy.
"A best practice, as difficult as it can seem, is actually to ride that wave of cortisol up and into alertness in the morning and then later when it starts to plateau several hours after we wake up, if we want caffeine, then that's actually the optimal time to have it," says Robinett. "We get an extra cortisol and adrenaline spike from the caffeine and if it's first thing in the morning, our body's producing cortisol, we're drinking that caffeine, we're kind of doubling up, we shoot higher than we meant to and can get the jitters."
Robinett says dandelion root is a must for herbal coffee. "I just cannot say enough good things about dandelion root for gut health, for liver, kidney, lamps, urinary tract, digestive system," she says. "It's considered a bitter, so it's really good for digestion, but it doesn't taste bitter. It tastes really savory, dark—it's delicious. And if you don't like or you don't have dandelion root, you can use burdock root or chicory."
She also says cinnamon is a great addition. "I know a lot of you love cinnamon in your coffee or your herbal coffee, so you can definitely add that in while you're brewing it, you can add that in afterward," she says. "Cinnamon is really nice for stabilizing blood sugar. So that's another great way to help prevent any crashes."
Rather than giving up coffee cold turkey, Robinett suggests slowly introducing herbal coffee into your routine.
"If you want to ease into this, try this as your once-a-week coffee, or your weekend coffee," she says. "Or start doing half and half, where you have half herbal coffee, half coffee. [It's] such a great way to transition in and out of that dependence on caffeine."
Robinett's recipe for herbal coffee helps you stay alert without the jitters. "When we're using the herbs in this herbal coffee blend, we are not additionally spiking our cortisol," she says. "Our body is able to produce its own that is able to increase and decrease naturally, and that is what keeps us from getting the jitters and prevents us from crashing afterward."
Herbal coffee recipe
1 1-inch piece or 2 tsp powder of chaga
2 to 4 tsp of maca
1 tbsp of powder or 2 tbsp of chopped and sifted dandelion root, chicory, or burdock root)
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of cacao, carob, or cacao (optional)
2 tsp MCT or coconut oil (optional)
Makes two 6 oz servings
1. Put water in a pot
2. Add equal amounts of chaga, maca, dandelion root, cinnamon, and cacao to water.
3. Simmer for at least 15 minutes.
4. Before serving, feel free to add MCT or coconut oil to make it bulletproof.
5. Drink as is or add your favorite milk or alternative milk.
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