May started and it was suddenly summer here, with all the bounty and work that brings. We’re having lovely salads from our garden every night, and I’ve been busy planting the seedlings of summer veggies that I started months ago- tomatoes, eggplant, and squashes. I love working in my garden, and we really love eating from it, but it is a lot of work, and it takes some adjustment from the more sedentary, inward time of winter.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I rely on Spagyrics of herbs supportive to energy and physical health and vitality to support this transition- here are a few of my favourites in case you could also use a boost!

The first thing most people think of when they need an energy tonic is caffeine, and I find that a balanced amount of it in my day to be helpful and not harmful to my health overall, as long as I don’t overindulge. Besides tea of all kinds, which I greatly enjoy drinking, I like several of our Spagyrics for a little extra zip from the many plants that are sources of caffeine and related compounds.

Yerba Maté and Guayusa are related plants in the holly family, and both have a long history of use as tea by the indigenous peoples where they grow.

Yerba Maté is also called Paraguay Tea, named for the modern country of its origin place, but it is enjoyed throughout the world now and was an omnipresent beverage at the festivals and fairs we used to travel to. It was a welcome one, too- giving clearheaded energy and sharpening the mind for long days of talking and working hard both physically and mentally.

Some people find it less disruptive to sleep than coffee or tea, although others, myself included, avoid drinking it too late in the day lest it keep us awake. It’s an enjoyable tea, green and fresh tasting, and our Yerba Maté Initiatic is also tasty, with the added advantage of ease of use and more precise by-the-drop dosing.

Guayusa is less well-known than Maté, but it is related and shares some of the same chemistry. It comes from the upper Amazon areas of Ecuador and Peru, and is also used as an energy tonic drink. As a beverage, it’s smoother tasting than Maté, with a stronger stimulant kick.

An interesting property of Guayusa is its enhancement of lucid dreams. Traditionally, it’s drunk very early in the morning in small family groups as members sip and describe their dreams from the night before. Then, everyone heads back to sleep for a bit longer, to dream more lucidly for guidance for the day. Carrying the user in and out of the dream realm is enhanced in our Guayusa Initiatic, making it a good adjunct to other dreamwork herbs like Calea or Blue Waterlily.

One of the most commonly-consumed caffeine herbs is of course coffee, which has a mixed reputation among health-conscious people. It can lead to kidney and adrenal issues, especially if overused, but many use it daily with no issues.

Like many plant substances, it has good properties along with the bad, but taking it as a Spagyric Initiatic can help moderate dosage to a level that is helpful and not harmful for most people. This is also an excellent way to get important antioxidants and nutrients along with a mood- and energy-boosting spark from caffeine.

One good reason not to use caffeine is adrenal issues, as it can overstimulate them in ways that damage their healthy functioning long term. If this is a concern for you, or if you want a boost that also helps the adrenals, consider Schizandra.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the berries of this vine are called wǔwèizǐ,  meaning “five flavour fruit”, because they have all five tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. To me, sour is their most prominent taste, a bright sharpness not unlike citrus which is the first note in our Schizandra Essence.

After the sour subsides, salty and all the rest follow with a complex dance in the mouth, and at the same time, a brightening of the mood and increase in vitality is felt. The best part is that this energizing quality won’t come at the expense of your health or your adrenals, it’s a tonic to their overall function and balance.

Speaking of tasty fruits, we couldn’t leave out one of the tastiest- Goji! These little red berries were one of our favourite snacks during festivals, as they brought balanced energy, nutrition on days when we might not eat as well, and a cheerful mood, even when we were tired.

In fact, in TCM, the warning is given that overconsumption of Goji can lead to “excessive mirth”, something we have never experienced with our Goji Essence or Spiritualized Essence, although we can attest to the silly cheerfulness they bring.

For more grounded energy, it makes sense that we could reach for tonic roots, the plant parts that store energy for the plant which we can also tap into. Two of our favourites for energy are Rhodiola and Siberian Ginseng.

We work with two types of Rhodiola- the Tibetan which is a spiritual and mental tonic, and, related to this collection, the Russian Rhodiola Rosea, which is a more physical tonic. Rosea is used by weightlifters and athletes to boost performance and endurance, and because of its respiratory support, Our Rhodiola Essence has also been an ally for many during the covid pandemic and for more usual flu and cold season.

Another tonic root we have leaned on for years is Siberian Ginseng, which is not botanically a Ginseng, but which shares many of that famous root’s healing properties. Like its namesake, Siberian Ginseng is an adaptogen, helping the body respond in a healthy way to all kinds of stresses.

In our experience, Siberian Ginseng is better tolerated by people who are overstimulated by Panax Ginseng, which includes me! I find our Siberian Ginseng Essence mentally and emotionally calming, even as it builds my energy and helps me work hard even in the heat or cold.

Finally, when I do need to work really hard (like all the raised bed digging I did last week!), I find the best supportive Spagyric is our Moringa Spiritualized Essence. This tropical tree is a powerhouse of nutrition and healing, with edible leaves and seeds that contain significant amounts of calcium, vitamins A and C, B vitamins, potassium and protein.

As I wrote about in this post, our Moringa makes it difficult to sit still, increasing energy and motivation for difficult chores and labour, while making that work seem easier and more enjoyable even in the heat or other bad weather. So, even though overall I love working in the garden, I am grateful for the energy and attitude shift Moringa gives when it comes to the less glamorous tasks like weeding and moving soil. It helped me get my work done last week, and I know I’ll be reaching for it all summer long.

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