Herbs for Athletes

I miiiight have a splash of hippie blood in me, but people of all radicalities can rally behind the simple and true potencies of herbal teas. Like heroes of the Avengers or X-Men, each plant in the team of medicinal herbs offers its own unique set of super powers. 

I drink a cup o' tea each night. It helps me unwind. Usually taste guides my choice. Sweet chamomile, yummy peppermint. Sometimes I use bagged tea, but in recent years I've been buying herbs in bulk. When I started doing this, I realized how many freaking herbs are out there. So began my herbal education. 

Still in its very preliminary stages, this education led me to wonder what herbs could help my body when fatigued. As an avid climber, I often come home exhausted from a day out or training in the gym. It was the same way when I played basketball: athletes of any sport can relate to adrenal fatigue and muscle soreness. I want to share some of the herbs that I've discovered can help soothe the body after we kick our own asses.

**If you have any serious medical conditions, are using any medications, are nursing or pregnant, please check with your doctor before using herbs.**

Nettle

Although nettle hurts if it brushes bare skin out in the wilds, as a tea and tonic it is esteemed as a famous longevity herb in Chinese medicine. Nettle works as its own multi-vitamin, offering, among other minerals and vitamins, zinc, calcium, potassium, iron, silicon, magnesium, and chromium--all important nutrients for muscle growth and health. It can stimulate metabolism, help with achy joints, as well as strengthen the kidneys and liver. Wowzas! All this in those stinger, mint-look-alike weeds growing alongside the trail.  

Marshmallow Root

Yes, there is a herb with the same name of that childhood campfire staple. In fact, pioneers would cook the root of the marshmallow plant with honey and make sore throat-soothing candies for their children. Marshmallow offers many of the same healing qualities as slipper elm. It's a great soother for internal and external inflammations, including digestive issues. Sometimes inflammation in joints comes from an imbalance in the GI system; common wisdom holds that anythings that helps the stomach helps the whole body. If your muscles are sore and tender, marshmallow root to the rescue!

Chamomile

We all know chamomile is good for the tumtum. But did you know it can also help with muscle spasms and soreness from overuse? The cute little flowers work as all-round de-stressers. As a tea or oil, chamomile relaxes muscles and soothes anxiety. It's also common knowledge that it helps you fall asleep. Sometimes, if I workout late in the day, my adrenaline spikes and I have a hard time going to bed. A cup or two o chamomile later and I'm more able to get the zzzs necessary for recovery. 

Lemon Balm

Kin to mint, lemon balm tastes numnums and helps the body chill the f out. It's great for general exhaustion, and as an added bonus, it assists memory retention and can help you fall asleep. Plus, it has no known potential adverse affects, so if you're feeling beat down, bottom's up on the lemon balm.

Licorice Root

This sexy little number tastes like candy. But unlike consistent consumption of cupcakes, when used regularly licorice root can help relieve adrenal gland fatigue. With the stresses of modern life and widespread use of adrenaline-releasing caffeine, most people probably have AGF to some degree or another. As with all things, more is not necessarily better--large quantities of licorice root daily is not recommended, and it's important to take a break from licorice root every four weeks. I usually have licorice root three to four times a week, and then I'll go a couple weeks without it. 

*Important: licorice root is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, heart, liver or kidney disease; it also shouldn't be taken before or after surgery, nor if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Please see this link for a complete set of potential side effects and for other cases in which it is not recommended. 

Well that got real for a minute. When used with knowledge and respect, herbs can prove revolutionary in your health routine. They work fine alone, but like those super heroes, they work even better in concert. Enjoy!


More from Heath & Fitness