The “doer” trend of the western lifestyle does not allow time to heal and regenerate the nervous system after prolonged stress, be it physical or mental. Instead, the expectation that we get back on our feet is trying and tiring for the body.
Chronic stress signals that your body needs a longer recovery time, patience, and loving care.
Remember, (I discussed it on the last blog post on fatigue) that the body is a balanced ecosystem, hence, all symptoms, including fatigue, are a manifestation of either an excess or deficiency in the system. When your cells either do not get what they need to produce energy or get too much of it, they struggle with energy production.
Chronic fatigue is a complex condition that is associated with
- Prolonged disease
- Trauma, physical or mental
- Thyroid imbalance
- Lifestyle choices that are not conducive to energy production
If fatigue is a long-term companion to your everyday experience and you can not link it to a temporary change in your life, it’s time to explore other root causes.
Imbalances in Energy production can come about in three ways:
- Excess induced fatigue
- Deficiencies induced fatigue
- Fatigue induced by medicine
Excess Induced Fatigue:
Even good things, when they are used in excess, become harmful. Here are some of the things that might be good for you in modest amounts but can cause fatigue when overused:
One or two cups of coffee a day might make you feel alert, but excess might cause sleep disturbance or push your cells to create all this excess alertness that depletes your resources.
Usually, I need to convince my clients to engage in exercise, but some people are doing too much. If you are an athlete training for a marathon or an iron woman competition, you know that rest days are part of the training. Those rest days allow the body to replenish itself.
Stress by itself could be very tiring as it puts strain on your cells, but stress can also keep you awake at night. Finding ways to reduce stress with meditation, journaling, gratitude practice, etc., can make a huge difference.
Even if stress is not the root cause of your fatigue, being fatigued constantly is a stressful condition. Make the practice of reducing stress a daily habit.
Excess immune function
The immune system is important in healing your body. But chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease are wearing your tissues down and can lead to chronic fatigue.
Excess food intake
Excess food intake, especially when the food is simple carbohydrates, can be the root cause of fatigue. Simple carbohydrates produce only small short bursts of energy but turning the carbohydrates into energy “costs” you a lot of nutrients and eventually deplete the energy production system. Conditions such as metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and diabetes are associated with chronic fatigue.
Your body needs nutrients to produce energy. Calories come wrapped in a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet. A woman’s daily caloric intake should be around 2000 calories, and a man should ingest about 2500 calories daily.
Anemia happens when there is a deficiency in B vitamins, iron, or copper. Anemia can occur either because you do not ingest enough protein or you have problems absorbing proteins.
Magnesium is a mineral essential for the chemical chain reaction that produces energy in your cells. Magnesium is also muscle and nerve relexant, so it can help reduce stress and allow better restful sleep.
what can I say? You need vitamin D for everything, including energy production.
Dha…of course, if you do not get enough sleep or if your sleep is disturbed, you will be tired. Sleep apnea is a condition that I encounter a lot. Many people are not aware their sleep is disrupted by sleep apnea. In sleep apnea, the shape of your jaws, mouth, and throat might cause an obstruction of the air to your lungs while you are asleep, causing a drop in oxygen. The body will react by waking you up with a burst of cortisol. If you wake up during the night or you snore, you probably do not get an excellent replenishing sleep.
movement increases circulation, so it will help deliver nutrients and oxygen to all the cells in your body. When you move, you stimulate the lymph, so it will help clear the “garbage” from your cells, reducing toxic overload.
Deficiencies in thyroid hormones.
If you checked out all the other root causes of fatigue, its time to ask your primary care giver for a thyroid function blood panel.
Some medicines are known to induce fatigue and drowsiness.
- Long acting antihistamines
- Antipsychotic meds
- Antiarrhythmic meds
- Antidepressant meds
- Antihypertensive meds.
Consult your primary caregiver if you think your meds’ side effects become debilitating.
This is only the beginning! You might find that you have more than one cause for your fatigue. You might have a pattern composed of both excess in some areas and deficiencies in others. For example, you might overeat carbohydrates but not enough protein; hence you have chronic inflammation and anemia.
Once you recognize the unique pattern that causes your fatigue, it’s time to go down the rabbit hole and put together the lifestyle choices and herbs to help your body regain balance.
In chronic fatigue conditions, you want to calm the body systems that are overstimulated and replenish the deficiencies. Nervine tonics such as milky oat can replenish a frazzled, overwhelmed nervous system.
Ashwagandha is the only adaptogen I consider calming, replenishing, and regenerative.
- Ashwagandha was shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the blood by up to 30%, substantially impacting insomnia, problem-focusing, anxiety, and social dysfunction.
- Traditionally known as a medhya rasayana, or nootropic herb, ashwagandha has long been used to enhance brain function and protect cognitive health. Research shows that by dialing down the stress response, ashwagandha can help prevent mental burnout, promote optimal brain functioning, and may even help protect long-term brain health.
- Ashwagandha reduces blood pressure and heart rate.
- Ashwagandha may reduce blood sugar and lipids.
- Ashwagandha increases testosterone production and fertility in men. Doing so increases muscle mass and strength.
- In women, ashwagandha improves sexual function. The administration of ashwagandha resulted in significant improvements in arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction.
The most significant benefit of ashwagandha is to calm my mind when I am exhausted, but worry and stress keep me from shutting down my nervous system and getting a good night’s sleep. I especially enjoy an ashwagandha cocoa warm oat milk with some cinnamon and a dash of salt.