7 Everyday Tonics That Help Your Body Adjust to Stress and Anxiety
By Tiffany La Forge
We've all been there — feeling like there's just some pep missing in our step. Thankfully, there's a natural (and tasty!) solution in your pantry.
So instead of reaching for that third cup of coffee for an energy boost or a nightcap to de-stress, we rounded up seven natural tonics filled with everyday ingredients that are known as powerful remedies for fighting fatigue, anxiety and stress. Think: apple cider vinegar, matcha, ginger and turmeric to name a few.
Keep reading to discover your new favorite flavorful drink.
Drink ginger to sharpen your brain and beat stress.
Ginger has benefits beyond flavoring your favorite stir-fry recipe or easing an upset stomach. This powerhouse plant contains 14 unique bioactive compounds and antioxidant properties. These compounds have been found to sharpen cognitive function in middle-aged women and may even protect the brain, per a study in rats, against oxidative stress-related damage.
- improved brain function
- antioxidant support
- treatment for stress
Brew this healthy ginger tonic (hot or cold) for a dose of powerful antioxidants. Fresh ginger is the way to go, but if you're planning on supplementing, recommended doses vary.
Possible Side Effects
Ginger doesn't have many serious side effects. Just make sure you're not overdosing (more than 4 grams) as it could irritate your stomach.
Brew maca to balance your hormones.
Maca root is increasingly popular lately — and for good reason. This native Peruvian plant has been shown to increase sexual desire in men (and possibly sexual function, too). It's also shown promising results for boosting exercise performance in male cyclists.
This hormone balancer is also a strong supporter against stress. Maca's plant compounds (called flavonoids) may promote a positive mood and reduce blood pressure and depression(as shown in postmenopausal women).
- increased energy
- balanced mood
- reduced blood pressure and depression
Simply mix maca powder into your daily smoothie, cup of coffee, or hot cocoa (here's a tasty recipe!). You can also try this Good Energy Drink featuring the root. To truly see an effect, you may need to drink about 3.3 grams every day for 8 to 14 weeks.
Possible Side Effects
Maca is generally safe for most people unless you're pregnant, breastfeeding or have a thyroid problem.
Need a new pick-me-up? Switch to matcha.
Sip matcha for a clean, jitter-free buzz. Matcha contains flavonoids and L-theanine, which is historically known for its relaxing effects. L-theanine increases the brain's alpha frequency band, relaxing the mind without causing drowsiness.
Combined with caffeine, L-theanine may have positive effects on mood and cognition. Considering matcha is also packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients, it can be a powerful tonic for beating fatigue and boosting your overall health.
- positive effects on mood
- promotes relaxation
- provides sustained energy
Possible Side Effects
Just as you can be over-caffeinated on coffee, it's possible to drink too much matcha. While it may be healthier, stick to just one or two cups a day.
Try reishi for natural anxiety relief.
Reishi mushrooms, nicknamed "nature's Xanax," are a great natural way to de-stress. This mushroom contains the compound triterpene, which is known for its calming properties. It also possesses anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant qualities.
This magic mushroom may also promote better sleep (as shown in studies on rats), leaving you more rested and focused throughout your day.
- promotes more restful sleep
- has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties
- possesses powerful calming agents
Possible Side Effects
While research around the benefits of reishi's is still lacking, what's available shows that they may be associated with liver damage. Other than that, the side effects are minor (such as an upset stomach). Talk to your doctor if you're considering supplementing with these mushrooms as people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those with a blood problem, or anyone needing surgery should avoid it.
Reach for apple cider vinegar to boost energy.
Apple cider vinegar has uses beyond that tasty vinaigrette. This vinegar can have a direct impact on your blood sugar levels, helping you maintain even energy and preventing fatigue. Apple cider vinegar also contains essential minerals like potassium, which has a direct correlation on our energy levels.
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
- controls blood sugar
- maintains even energy levels
- may help promote overall health
Possible Side Effects
Large doses of apple cider vinegar may cause some side effects, including digestive issues, damaged tooth enamel, and throat burns. It may also interact with your medications, so talk to your doctor if you're planning to drink it regularly.
Try turmeric for overall mental health.
Turmeric lattes are all over the internet, but are they backed by science or just trendy? We're happy to report that turmeric stands up to its popularity — especially in terms of mental health.
Curcumin, the bioactive compound found in turmeric, has been linked to treating anxiety, depression, and more — possibly due to it boosting serotonin and dopamine levels. Research has suggested that it may actually be just as effective as Prozac with far fewer side effects.
- boosts serotonin levels
- can help relieve anxiety and depression
- may be just as effective as antidepressants
Try this refreshing anti-inflammatory Turmeric Tonic for something a little different. The results may not be immediate, but if you drink it 1000 milligrams daily for six weeks, you may start feeling a difference then.
Possible Side Effects
For the most part, turmeric is safe to eat. But you may want to avoid too much of it and make sure you're getting it from a trusted source. High doses of turmeric may cause kidney stones, and untrustworthy sources tend to have fillers.
Ashwagandha: Your new go-to adaptogen
If you're not familiar with this adaptogen, it's a good time to learn. Adaptogens are naturally occuring substances that help our bodies deal with and adapt to stress.
- reduces body's stress hormone
- relieves anxiety
- prevents stress-related fatigue
Possible Side Effects
There aren't enough studies to say exactly what the side effects of this herb are, but those who are pregnant will want to avoid it, as it can cause early delivery. Another risk of taking ashwagandha is the source. Untrustworthy sources tend to have harmful additives.
As always, check in with your doctor first before adding anything to your everyday routine. While most of these herbs, spices, and teas are safe to consume, drinking too much in a day may be harmful.
So, with all of these amazing stress-fighting tonics to choose from, which one are you most excited to try first?
Medically reviewed by Natalie Olsen, RD, LD, ACSM EP-C.
Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Her blog focuses on real food for a balanced life, seasonal recipes, and approachable health advice. When she's not in the kitchen, Tiffany enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, organic gardening, and hanging out with her corgi, Cocoa. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Emily Grubert
Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.
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What RNG Is and Why it Matters<p>Most equipment that uses energy can only use a single kind of fuel, but the fuel might come from different resources. For example, you can't charge your computer with gasoline, but it can run on electricity generated from coal, natural gas or solar power.</p><p>Natural gas is almost pure methane, <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/" target="_blank">currently sourced</a> from raw, fossil natural gas produced from <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/where-our-natural-gas-comes-from.php" target="_blank">deposits deep underground</a>. But methane could come from renewable resources, too.</p><p><span></span>Two main methane sources could be used to make RNG. First is <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks" target="_blank">biogenic methane</a>, produced by bacteria that digest organic materials in manure, landfills and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants, landfills and dairy farms have captured and used biogenic methane as an energy resource for <a href="http://emilygrubert.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/eia_860_2017_map.html" target="_blank">decades</a>, in a form usually called <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/landfill-gas-and-biogas.php" target="_blank">biogas</a>.</p><p>Some biogenic methane is generated naturally when organic materials break down without oxygen. Burning it for energy can be beneficial for the climate if doing so prevents methane from escaping to the atmosphere.</p>
Renewable Isn’t Always Sustainable<p>If RNG could be a renewable replacement for fossil natural gas, why not move ahead? Consumers have shown that they are <a href="https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/green-power.html" target="_blank">willing to buy renewable electricity</a>, so we might expect similar enthusiasm for RNG.</p><p>The key issue is that methane isn't just a fuel – it's also a <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/ghg_report/ghg_overview.php" target="_blank">potent greenhouse gas</a> that contributes to climate change. Any methane that is manufactured intentionally, whether from biogenic or other sources, will contribute to climate change if it enters the atmosphere.</p><p>And <a href="http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar7204" target="_blank">releases</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2019.07.029" target="_blank">will happen</a>, from newly built production systems and <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-methane-emissions-matter-to-climate-change-5-questions-answered-122684" target="_blank">existing, leaky transportation and user infrastructure</a>. For example, the moment you smell gas before the pilot light on a stove lights the ring? That's methane leakage, and it contributes to climate change.</p><p>To be clear, RNG is almost certainly better for the climate than fossil natural gas because byproducts of burning RNG won't contribute to climate change. But doing somewhat better than existing systems is no longer enough to respond to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2923" target="_blank">urgency</a> of climate change. The world's <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/" target="_blank">primary international body on climate change</a> suggests we need to decarbonize by 2030 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.</p>
Scant Climate Benefits<p><a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab9335/meta" target="_blank">My recent research</a> suggests that for a system large enough to displace a lot of fossil natural gas, RNG is probably not as good for the climate as <a href="https://investor.southerncompany.com/information-for-investors/latest-news/latest-news-releases/press-release-details/2020/Southern-Company-Gas-grows-leadership-team-to-focus-on-climate-action-innovation-and-renewable-natural-gas-strategy/default.aspx" target="_blank">is publicly claimed</a>. Although RNG has lower climate impact than its fossil counterpart, likely high demand and methane leakage mean that it probably will contribute to climate change. In contrast, renewable sources such as wind and solar energy do not <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/" target="_blank">emit climate pollution directly</a>.</p><p>What's more, creating a large RNG system would require building mostly new production infrastructure, since RNG comes from different sources than fossil natural gas. Such investments are both long-term commitments and opportunity costs. They would devote money, political will and infrastructure investments to RNG instead of alternatives that could achieve a zero greenhouse gas emission goal.</p><p>When climate change first <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/global-warming-has-begun-expert-tells-senate.html" target="_blank">broke into the political conversation</a> in the late 1980s, investing in long-lived systems with low but non-zero greenhouse gas emissions was still compatible with aggressive climate goals. Now, zero greenhouse gas emissions is the target, and my research suggests that large deployments of RNG likely won't meet that goal.</p>
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By Charli Shield
When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.
Elephant Burial Grounds<p>Highly social creatures that form deep familial bonds, elephants have long been observed gathering at the site where a peer or family member has died — often spending hours, even days, quietly investigating the bodies or the bones of other dead elephants.</p><p>Although the popular idea that dying elephants are instinctively drawn to special communal graves — so-called "elephant graveyards" — is a myth, their tendency to go out of their way to visit the bones and tusks of the deceased isn't unlike human rituals at graveyards, says animal psychologist Karen McComb.</p><p>"They spend a lot of time touching and smelling skulls and ivory, placing the soles of their feet gently on top of them, and also lifting them up with their trunks," McComb, who's been studying African elephants for 25 years in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, told DW.</p><p>The most striking part of watching an elephant experience loss, Poole recalls, is the quietude. She still remembers one of the first elephant deaths she witnessed; a mother who birthed a stillborn calf. That elephant stayed with its baby for two days, trying to lift it and defending it from vultures and hyenas.</p><p>"I was so struck by the expression on her face and her body. She looked so dejected. It was really like, 'Oh God, these animals grieve…'. It was just so different," Poole told DW. </p>
Witnessing Emotions in Animals<p>Not all scientists are comfortable concluding that elephants grieve. Among the more than 30 reports of elephant reactions to death that Wittemyer co-reviewed in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10329-019-00766-5" target="_blank">a study published in November 2019</a> were accounts of "enormous variation and nuance" he says. "It can be incredibly involved and intricate for extended periods or can be relatively cursory checks."</p><p>In Wittemyer's own experience, it can be difficult not to attribute some kind of emotional experience to the more involved interactions between elephants and their dead.</p><p>He shares the story of an "extraordinary event" involving the death of a 55 year-old matriarch in Kenya in a protected area that happened to be near his place of work. She was visited by multiple unrelated families while she was dying, including another matriarch that exerted such enormous effort attempting to lift her to her feet that she broke her tusk, which Wittemyer says, is "like breaking a tooth." </p><p><span></span>"It was a remarkable example of this heightened emotional state, it was very clearly a very stressful interaction," he says.</p>
A Different Sensory World<p>One factor that limits our ability to fully grasp the way elephants process and respond to loss is our markedly different sensory experiences of the world.</p><p>An elephant's world is fundamentally olfactory — based on smell. Ours is visual. Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25053675/" target="_blank">research</a> has shown elephants possess the most scent receptors of any mammal, and can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17949977/" target="_blank">use smell</a> to discern the difference between different human tribes from the same local area.</p><p>That could explain why elephants exhibit such interest in sniffing the bones and tusks of others, as a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1617198/" target="_blank">2005 study</a> from McCombs highlighted. When presented with the skulls and ivory of long-dead elephants and those from other large herbivores, including rhino and buffalo, McCombs and her team found elephants approached and were specifically attracted to the remains of their own species. </p><p>Without access to the smells an elephant picks up on, Wittemyer says "an enormous amount of stuff" could be missed by humans when studying these behaviors.</p>
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