Fatigue or ongoing tiredness is one of the most common complaints that people ask me for help with. In fact, data shows that up to 25% of patients in primary care suffer from prolonged fatigue. These findings would be less concerning if conventional medicine had better tools to deal with this common symptom. Over half of the patients that present with fatigue undergo a bunch of standard testing procedures are told that there is nothing abnormal to report. As patients continue to suffer the physical, physiological and psychological impacts of ongoing fatigue they are often told that it must be “psychosomatic” - something to do with their minds…
There is growing evidence and research confirming the identification of objective, physiological differences in fatigue patients that are not typically seen in normal individuals.
What are the key drivers of fatigue?
Fatigue can accompany a wide variety of conditions and illnesses. While the latest research is revealing some pretty nasty ways in which fatigue (and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) can develop - stealth co-infections, mould toxicity, and various neurological shifts - it is important to first rule out the most common causes.
“If you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras”
Often, even if fatigue is being driven by a more exotic cause treating the common triggers first will help significantly. This is because whilst there are a large number of drivers of fatigue, many of the insults affect the same biological pathways. So irrespective of the actual driver building a good foundation for the body as a support to restore normal energy is vital.
Stress, nutritional deficiencies, inflammation and an inability to manage our blood sugar are the key primary drivers of fatigue. Infections, heavy metal toxicities, poor gut microbiome and allergies or intolerances (that are not well managed) might be some examples of the more specific drivers to fatigue.
Where does our energy come from?
Energy can be derived from various sources but in the body the most common are carbohydrates, fat and proteins. The digestive system breaks these macronutrients down into smaller units until we reach the energy currency in the body called ATP.
Inside our cells are important organelles called mitochondria. This is the ‘powerhouse of the cell’ as its primary responsibility is to generate energy. It is no surprise then that science has found widespread mitochondrial dysfunction in fatigued patients.
The brain is usually one of the most affected organs in ongoing fatigue. Symptoms of brain fog, poor memory, word recall and executive function are commonly reported. Fatigued patients have been shown to have clear differences in their brain function and even structure!
The brain is the key regulator of our stress response so even if your fatigue was caused by a period of psychological stress (money, job, relationship etc) the stress reaction may continue long after the stress has been resolved. This can make us feel stress inappropriately or more often than we should.
How can we reduce our fatigue and restore our energy?
Fatigue impacts multiple organs and systems in the body. The best approach to helping someone recover from fatigue requires a multi-factorial approach. Particularly with ongoing fatigue managing the physical, physiological and psychological elements is crucial.
As a Chiropractor, Kinesiologist and health coach with post graduate training in Wellness Science I am uniquely placed to help people experiencing fatigue. A common recovery protocol might go something like this;
Physically: Ensure neurological function between the brain and body can operate normally. We would use various Chiropractic and Kinesiological treatment protocols to assist in this. Neuro-Organisational Technique (NOT) is particularly useful.
Ensure appropriate exercise regime and sleep routines are implemented
Physiologically: Nutritional deficiencies and inflammation can arise during ongoing fatigue. Magnesium, CoQ10, B vitamins, Adaptogens, Curcumin and others can really help.
It is also important to assess whether there is the potential of any underlying infectious process occurring or unmanaged allergic or intolerance reaction.
Psychologically: Stress from significant emotional events or sabotaging beliefs can be assisted with coaching techniques and Neuro-Emotional Technique to minimise the impact stress is having on our mind and body.
While many people with ongoing fatigue are able to push on and complete most of what they need to do (ie keep their job, raise a family etc) it can be a particularly frustrating condition that impacts our ability to live with a zest for life. Fatigue can take time to heal particularly as we go about living in a busy world but it should not be something that we just accept as a ‘new normal.'
I hope you have found this newsletter interesting and if you have any questions please get in contact. Feel free to forward to anyone that you know who may be suffering from ongoing fatigue.
I look forward to seeing you in the clinic soon!
Dr Mark Symonds
CHIROPRACTOR / NET PRACTITIONER
NATURAL INTEGRATIVE HEALTHCARE
BChiroSc, MChiro, C.C.W.P., NLP Master Coach