Schisandra (mental & physical ability)
These berries can be both calming and stimulating. TCM practitioners use the fruit to remedy diarrhea and boost lung and liver health. Schisandra also stimulates the central nervous system, enhancing physical and mental abilities. A study in Phytomedicine showed that athletes who took schisandra before training had improved exercise performance and enhanced recovery when compared with athletes not given the herb.
How to take: Tincture (1:5): 40 to 80 drops three to four times a day. Capsules: one to two 400 to 500 mg capsules two to three times a day.
Panax Ginseng (vitality)
One of the more stimulating adaptogens, Panax (or Asian) ginseng root (shown) improves cognitive function and strengthens the body. In TCM, it's used to restore energy, boost a depleted immune system, and improve vitality. Winston recommends Panax ginseng for people who have chronic fatigue or who are frequently cold or sick. A Journal of Nutrition review says ginseng's anti-inflammatory properties may thwart damage to DNA.
How to take: Tincture (1:5): 20 to 40 drops up to three times a day. Capsules: two 400 to 500 mg capsules of the powdered herb two to three times a day; one 400 to 500 mg capsule of the powdered extract twice a day.
Occasionally called Siberian ginseng (though it doesn't belong to the same plant species), eleuthero was traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat swelling and spasms. Evidence shows eleuthero improves endurance and strengthens the immune system, reducing the incidence of colds and other common infections. In a Italian study of 20 elderly adults reported in Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, those treated with eleuthero experienced improved mental health and social functioning after four weeks, without negative side effects. A study reported in Psychological Medicine the same year showed eleuthero reduced the severity and duration of chronic fatigue in 76 individuals with the condition. Winston recommends eleuthero to people who are stressed and too busy to eat well or get enough sleep.
How to take: Tincture (1:4): 60 to 100 drops three to four times a day. Fluid extract (1:1): 20 to 40 drops three times a day.