1. A Natural approaches to the treatment of Fatigue.
Imagine drifting off to sleep, tired after a hard day's work and waking in the morning to feel as if you haven't slept at all. We all look forward to a good night's sleep at the end of each day with our bed seemingly having magical restorative properties. For people suffering fatigue, their tiredness is inescapable.The prevalence of fatigue lasting longer than 6 months among patients attending primary care practice has been reported as being over 20% and this prolonged fatigue is mostly occurring in the absence of a chronic medical illness.
We all get tired, but when does tiredness become fatigue? When it impairs our ability to live our life to its full potential.
Our Western diet is acid forming, our traditional diets were much more alkaline. During human evolution the usual diet, even those including abundant animal protein, mostly contained a surplus of base equivalents. However, after the invention of agriculture and animal husbandry, alkaline rich fruit and vegetables were more and more replaced by acid forming animal foods and cereal grains.
When looking at the acid/base balance, it's important to consider that it is a balance , like yin and yang. Acid forming foods do not need to be avoided but need to be balanced equally with alkaline foods.
Fatigued patients should be tested for pH balance and one of the best ways to assess your acid/base balance is by simply measuring urinary pH.
The traditional 8-9 hours per day of sleep, common at the turn of the century has been replaced in many adolescents and adults with sleep durations between 4 - 6.5 hours per night. Recent studies reveal that these sleep durations result in neurobehavioral impairments and metabolic deficiencies. In the face of a pandemic of chronic sleep loss in modern societies, widespread complaints of fatigue are hardly surprising.
Our autonomic nervous system, the part of our nervous system we have no conscious control, controls the basic functions of the body, like breathing, eating, heart beat and sleeping. The sympathetic branch also known as the fight or flight division is often overstimulated in patients suffering stress and anxiety thus creating chronic fatigue in these patients.
If you have never felt quite the same after a chronic viral infection, a recent Australian study, performed in Dubbo, has finally clarified the real and significant role that chronic infections such as Epstein-bar, Q fever and Ross River Fever play in chronic fatigue. The ongoing inflammatory stimulus of the virus is favoured as the primary mechanism for the devastating effect these infections have on energy production. Defeating the virus and restoring immune defense is paramount in treating this situation.
Obesity may promote fatigue via the production of inflammation as it is well known that inflammation impairs the body to produce energy. Fatigue is a frequent complaint in obese and overweight patients as excessive body fat and high blood sugar levels will overload an organelle in our body's cells called the mitochondria. These little powerhouses of our body are responsible for the production of all our daily energy requirements. It's quite simple - if 35% of your mitochondria are not functioning, you will be lacking around 35% of your daily energy production.
Some other reasons why patients are suffering mitochondrial insufficiency include; insulin resistance, low testosterone, food allergies, heavy metal toxicity, low thyroid status and poor digestion.
As we can see, there are many causes of fatigue and patients will always present with their own unique combination of factors. Naturally, treatment needs to be individualized to address the major underlying factors for the individual patients.
Significant fatigue should not be taken for granted as a part of getting older, or having children or being busy, energy is our birthright.