Chronic fatigue is one of the most common symptoms that my patients complain about. I like to refer to this as chronic fatigue syndrome because it usually has some other signs and symptoms associated with it—the most common of which includes headaches, fever, muscle aches, insomnia, mood disturbance, weight gain, sore throat, poor exercise tolerance, and joint pains. Obviously, the most common symptom is fatigue.
The causes of chronic fatigue are somewhat vague and include viral infections and fibromyalgia. Most health care providers are in agreement that chronic fatigue is directly linked to some type of immune dysfunction. In my opinion, chronic adrenal weakness is usually what lies behind chronic fatigue. The adrenal glands are two almond sized organs that sit on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands help with blood sugar regulation, hormone production, and the maintenance of the “fight or flight” stress response.
The adrenal gland secretes hormones like adrenalin and cortisol which allow us to cope with stressful events. When the adrenal gland becomes weakened from chronic or acute stress, the exact symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome become manifested. I have found that by supporting adrenal function, your fatigue can remarkably improve.
Your diet can really make a difference in managing chronic fatigue and it should consist of whole grains, whole fruit, lean meats, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, yogurt, legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
This diet is important because it stresses good, nutritious food without the sugar, white flour, caffeine, alcohol, and snack foods normally heavily relied upon. This diet is also excellent for blood sugar regulation which is the key point to manage fatigue. Keeping your blood sugar even and regular throughout the day will keep your energy levels stable.
There are a few supplements which can also make a difference for you:
- Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for muscle contraction, blood sugar regulation, and adrenal function. During periods of chronic stress and immune dysfunction, you require this mineral even more. The best dosages taken daily are between 400-600 milligrams (mg) of magnesium citrate or oxalate.
- Vitamin C is vital for adrenal function. During times of chronic stress, this vitamin is used in large quantities by the adrenal cortex. I recommend taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C three times per day if you have chronic fatigue.
- Korean Ginseng is classified as an adaptogenic herb which can enable the body to cope with stress in a more favourable light. Ginseng has been used for centuries to improve energy, athletic performance, concentration, and endurance. It is also very good for improving the immune response and staving off viral infections. If you have chronic fatigue, I recommend that you take the equivalent of 2-4 grams (g) per day of dried root in a tea every day.
- Russian Rhodiola is also considered an adaptogenic herb and also has a long history of successful use as a tonic to treat infections, fatigue, and improve energy. Rhodiola has also been previously used to enhance athletic performance in athletes. The standard dosage recommended is 200 mg of the standard extract taken gradually 1-3 times per day.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Murray, M., et al., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Prima Publishing, 1998): 359-370.