by Kristin Henningsen
There’s nothing quite like that first cup of coffee in the morning. You get that rich, earthy scent, the quick energy boost that gets you out the door and the laser-beam focus to tackle the task at hand. But by 10 a.m. the crash comes, leaving you thirsty for more. Luckily, there are options to get you off of the coffee and into a healthier morning ritual that will give your brain a boost and still taste amazing.
The long taproot of Cichorium intybus has long been roasted as a coffee substitute, dating all the way back to ancient Egypt. The rich texture and flavor come from its high inulin content, as well as coumarins, flavonoids and vitamins. These not only give it the characteristic earthy flavor, but they also serve as a potent prebiotic that can help to regulate blood sugar. Say goodbye to that mid-morning crash!
Taraxacum officinale also has a long taproot that can be roasted into a coffee alternative. Its characteristic bitter flavor mimics that of coffee and has a similar effect. Stimulating the liver, this delicious herb can jump-start the digestive process and help keep things moving, so you can keep moving.
While you (or your dog) may have tangled with the characteristic burs of burdock, the root of Arctium lappa is a whole other experience. Also rich in the prebiotic inulin, this long taproot tastes a bit bittersweet, adding some complexity to your morning beverage. It not only helps to regulate digestion, but it also provides a steady energy throughout the day. Studies praise its anti-inflammatory action, as well.
Unlike coffee, and it's after effects from caffeine, Rhodiola Rosea gives you all the zip with none of the crash. A powerful adaptogen, Rhodiola has an earthy flavor with a hint of rose that will make your morning a delight. A bit drying, it pairs well with burdock for a smooth flavor or can be used in vegan vitamins to support energy without the caffeine.
Of course there is a time and place for both coffee and rhodiola, it's worth giving Rhodiola Rosea a try as a substitute for mentally demanding activities, or a tiring work day.
If you reach for a cup when you lose focus, then Bacopa monnieri is for you. Long used in Ayurvedic medicine for mental clarity and focus, Bacopa is a great alternative to caffeine. Studies show its ability to support memory retention and support the overall nervous system.
How Do You Take It?
These herbs can be blended into a delightful beverage for the morning if you need to have a hot cup of something waiting for you in order to get out of bed. If you’re totally crunched for time or are looking for a quick mid-morning boost, we suggest taking them in the form of a supplement stack like FOCL Day. This vegan supplement combines the best coffee alternatives with CBD, allowing you to stay more steadily focused for longer. Your to-do list (and your body!) will thank you.
Kristin Henningsen MS, RH (AHG), RYT, is a clinical herbalist and educator who first fell in love with plants in the Southwestern desert. She’s passionate about bringing plant medicine back to the people, integrating Western herbalism, TCM and Ayurvedic practices to empower folks in their healthcare. Currently, she serves as faculty and clinician for the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, and faculty for several university programs.