Fatigue is one of the most common health complaints we hear about in the clinic. It’s a symptom with many possible sources, and once serious illnesses have been ruled out, finding the reason for your fatigue boils down to a process of elimination.
The good news, however, is that there are safe and natural solutions you can try for just about every possible cause for fatigue.
Reason #1: Adrenal burnout
Adrenal burnout is one frequent cause of fatigue. The adrenal glands are often referred to as our ‘fight-or-flight’ response organs, as they help us prepare for and deal with stress. They do so by boosting production of a hormone called cortisol.
Normally, when stress subsides, so does our body’s production of cortisol. However, with prolonged stress, the adrenals will continue producing cortisol, leaving them exhausted. Eventually the adrenals can’t keep up and cortisol levels drop, and so do your energy levels.
The result is excessive fatigue. In a recent study, researchers measured daily cortisol variations in a group of 78 subjects. Morning cortisol levels were significantly lower in the exhausted subjects than in subjects without fatigue1. Incidentally, morning cortisol levels also happen to be lower in female patients with chronic fatigue2.
If you suspect adrenal exhaustion, you might want to test your cortisol levels with a simple saliva test. Alternatively, you could try a formula such as Adren-All to help restore your energy levels. If you feel very anxious of have trouble sleeping, AdreneVive may be a better alternative.
Reason #2: Sluggish thyroid
Fatigue is also a common symptom of a sluggish thyroid gland; it is often accompanied by weight gain, hair loss, coldness, and depression. In this case, several studies have shown that a high-quality iodine supplement, such as Thyrosol, may help3. If you need additional support, T-100 is a great choice.
Reason #3: Depression
Depression often causes fatigue and is often caused by imbalances in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Giving your body the building blocks it needs to rebalance these neurotransmitters (NeuroReplete is the place to start), along with vitamin D (Bio-D-Mulsion Forte is a great option) could help to boost your mood, and your energy, significantly.
Reason #4: Food sensitivities
An often under-recognized cause of fatigue is delayed food sensitivities. Recently, Georgetown University Medical Center researchers noted there is emerging evidence to suggest that food allergies appear to be an important triggering event in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia4. Taking a food intolerance test (email us, as there are many options) can help pinpoint whether this is a cause behind your exhaustion.
Reason #5: Poor quality sleep
Lastly, difficulty getting to sleep, or staying asleep, is probably the most obvious cause of excessive fatigue. More often than not, this problem is due to a reduction in your body’s levels of the hormone melatonin. Clinical studies have shown that melatonin supplementation can improve several measures of sleep quality, from sleep initiation to duration5. It’s also delivered noticeable benefits to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome6.
When trying to determine the reason for your fatigue, the only approach a layperson has is to begin eliminating potential causes. By playing detective and looking at all the factors mentioned above, the reason why you are fatigued will likely become apparent and you can then take steps to regain your energy.
1. Lindeberg SI, Eek F, Lindbladh E, Ostergren PO, Hansen AM, Karlson B. Exhaustion measured by the SF-36 vitality scale is associated with a flattened diurnal cortisol profile. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2008 May;33(4):471-7.
2. Nater UM, Maloney E, Boneva RS, Gurbaxani BM, Lin JM, Jones JF, Reeves WC, Heim C. Attenuated morning salivary cortisol concentrations in a population-based study of persons with chronic fatigue syndrome and well controls. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Mar;93(3):703-9.
3. Abraham, GE. The safe and effective implementation of orthoiodosupplementation in medical practice. The Original Internist. 2004; 11:17-36.
4. Bellanti JA, Sabra A, Castro HJ, Chavez JR, Malka-Rais J, de Inocencio JM. Are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome allergy related? What is fibromyalgia? Allergy Asthma Proc. 2005 Jan-Feb;26(1):19-28.
5. Pawlikowski M, Kolomecka M, Wojtczak A, Karasek M. Effects of six months melatonin treatment on sleep quality and serum concentrations of estradiol, cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and somatomedin C in elderly women. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2002 Apr;23 Suppl 1:17-9.
6. van Heukelom RO, Prins JB, Smits MG, Bleijenberg G. Influence of melatonin on fatigue severity in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and late melatonin secretion. Eur J Neurol. 2006 Jan;13(1):55-60.