The last decade has seen a successful and masterful effort by beverage companies to sell us energy drinks. They promise to provide us limitless energy to power us through our busy schedules or party all night. But, what is their hidden cost to our health? What should we know about the dangers of these drinks before we pop the top on our next bottle? A recent study hopes to shed a little light on this question and you can find it here.
Fundamentally, when we turn to stimulants we need to realize that we are asking our bodies for something they cannot easily provide. Extra energy does not appear out of nowhere. Some system of the body is taxed when we make this unnatural demand and the system that takes the biggest hit is our endocrine system and the delicate balance of our stress hormones.
Chinese medicine has always recognized the concept of excess or deficiency of a system. It always documented how a system could become run down and then lose function. It’s only been in recent years that modern medical science has caught up to this concept by creating lab testing of hormones. When we habitually turn to stimulants we over tax the cortisol of the body and the catecholomines (adrenaline, dopamine, etc). This will give a rush to a non depleted person and to someone with adrenal insufficiency it will pull their lagging cortisol to a level that makes them feel functional.
If we feel as though we need coffee or energy drinks to function in the morning it is a dead give away that we our stress hormones have become dysregulated. The answer is not to demand more of the system, but rather to treat the body with respect and honor its natural rhythms. If improving sleep, nutrition, and relaxation do not restore the pep to your step then testing and correcting the hormone output of the body may be required.
As you can probably tell I’m not a huge fan of energy drinks or how they are overly marketed to an already exhausted population. If you are opening your wallet every morning for a 20 oz Monster Energy maybe it’s time to devote your resources to fixing the root cause of your exhaustion! If you need us we are here to help.
Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac