Traditional Asian remedies act as alternatives to energy drinks

Ginger and chili peppers could be the new Red Bull for students cramming for exams.

Thu Van Pham, a senior majoring in business finance, said Tuesday at an Asian Students in America (ASiA) meeting that traditional Asian remedies offer the same benefits as energy drinks, without some of the side effects.

“Natural remedies such as ginger and ginseng root elixirs and seasonings provide plenty of energy for students while studying late at night,” she said.

Pham, who uses the ancient practices while staying up late, said Asian remedies lack many of the sugars and high levels of caffeine found in common energy drinks. The remedies are a good way to embrace Asian heritage, she said, but more importantly are healthier.

NOS energy drink, a beverage found in most vending areas on campus, contains 54 grams of sugar and 260 milligrams of caffeine per 16-ounce can. Red Bull contains 27 grams of sugar and 80 mg of caffeine in an 8.4-ounce can.

Amy Thomas, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, said even though she realizes the health risks of consuming energy drinks, she often does to stay awake.

“The high levels of caffeine and sugar offer an immediate rush of energy,” she said. “But it is followed by a nervous, jittery feeling. I know there are all kinds of chemicals in it, so I try to avoid it, but it helps me focus.”

Thomas had never tried ginseng or other Asian remedies to stay awake, but said she would be willing to try it because of the health value.

Other Asian remedies include food and aromatics as a form of therapy, Pham said.

Eating fruits, chili peppers can help students maintain energy levels and stay focussed, she said, though chili peppers may cause heartburn and indigestion.

“Asian sun tea is organically grown, naturally flavored and can help students maintain healthy weights, diets and also balances blood pressure,” she said.

Aromatherapy is an Asian practice with value that is often ignored, Pham said.

“Peppermint, jasmine or coffee beans can be used as aromatic therapies to help stimulate the nervous system and reduce drowsiness,” she said.

Pham said the remedies have been used for thousands of years.

“By avoiding bad sleeping habits and the use of energy drinks, students choose a healthier cycle to follow now – and hopefully after graduation as well,” she said.