What You'll Learn Here:
~ by Dr. Jesse Hanley and Jo Jordan
Life can be exhausting. Many of us complain about a chronic lack of energy. But feeling tired can run the gamut from being a symptom of an immune disorder such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, to just plain weariness. Everyone gets exhausted from time to time, but is it normal to feel tired all the time?
Do we simply have to accept fatigue as part of the human condition, perhaps even rationalize it as natural…a stage of life, a mere symptom of getting on in years? Absolutely not!
What’s age got to do with it? Absolutely nothing!
“One of the definitions of aging is based on how quickly your body repairs itself,” says Dr. Jesse Hanley, M.D., public speaker, instructor, and co-author of Tired of Being Tired, What Your Doctor May Not Have Told You About Premenopause, Women’s Passages, and Attention Deficit Disorder.
Rather than think of ourselves in terms of an accumulation of years, we need to imagine ourselves in terms of how healthy we are. This will take us a long way toward winning the battle against fatigue.
What’s it all about, Dr. Hanley?
Fatigue, rather than being an illness unto itself, is a symptom that is often indicative of other more serious diseases. Or it can simply be your body’s way of telling you that something is amiss in your life. In many cases, the prognosis is good because fatigue can be a relatively easy problem to solve.
“‘In Tired of Being Tired’, there is an extensive questionnaire to help people identify where they are on the path to fatigue and burnout,” explains Dr. Hanley.
“Your body, depending on how many caffeine and sugar-laden substances are in your diet, will let you know how long you can continue. Whether it’s our car’s gasoline reserve, or our adrenal reserves, energy supplies dwindle, and you can actually wear out your organs, by straining them with a toxic diet.”
Fatigue – An early warning system
There are numerous lifestyle choices that contribute to making us tired, from the food we eat or a lack of fluid and fiber in our diets, to the toxins we ingest via plastics, herbicides, pesticides, and food additives…they’re all taking their toll.
“Some people find that their first warning is diabetes, cancer, and heart disease,” says Dr. Hanley. “These diseases are intricately connected. People who experience fatigue as an early warning system are lucky…they can make a few simple changes, and get back to being healthy.”
Some people may question the need for a list of fatigue symptoms; if you’re tired, you’re tired. Isn’t that enough? Well, no. Being fatigued can affect your body in a range of ways that may seem disconnected to the exhaustion you feel. It can sometimes be a complicated, ongoing, and involved process to determine the underlying cause(s) of a person’s fatigue. [Complete List of Fatigue Symptoms]
From the obvious to the extremely complex, the cause(s) of fatigue can be as varied and intertwined as the depleted individuals experiencing its affects.
From hormone imbalances, adrenal dysfunction, and toxicity, to sleep disturbances, lack of exercise, and a diet too high in sugar and carbohydrates, the fact is while some of the causes are rooted in more serious medical conditions, many more causes are self-inflicted and almost totally avoidable.
“Your colon’s job is to eliminate toxins,” explains Dr. Hanley. “If, for whatever reason, this process is impaired, the toxins are re-absorbed into your body. It’s a fact. The longer the waste is inappropriately retained in your colon, the more time there is for toxins to be re-absorbed. And guess what? It all goes back into our lymphatic system, our veins, arteries, uterus, ovaries, testicles and other organs.”
While constipation is technically an affect of other problems, rather than a direct cause for being tired, a colon cleansing speeds up your transit time, maximizing the elimination of stored toxins, and improving the quality of your blood.
What causes mild to moderate fatigue?
Dietary and nutritional disorders:
- Vitamin deficiency, particularly of thiamine, B12, B6, folate, and vitamin C
- Low potassium, magnesium, or sodium
Emotional and stress-related:
- Depression, loss of interest and/or ambition
- Stress, such as that brought on by an excessive workload and/or family considerations
- Insufficient exercise
- Too much exercise
For women only:
- Irregular hours, including shift work
- Not enough sleep
- Sleep apnea
What causes moderate to severe fatigue?
Adrenal and endocrine dysfunction:
- Low or high blood sugar (diabetes)
- Low or high cortisol, DHEA, and adrenaline depletion
- Low or high thyroid
Connective tissue disorders, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
Food and chemical sensitivities:
- Allergies and sensitivities
- Chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (GI)
- Contact substances (perfumes, shampoos, lotions, insect bites)
- Digestive problems
- Environmental toxins
- GALT (gut-associated lymph tissue)
- Crohn’s disease, colitis, constipation, and diarrhea of unknown causes
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Peptic ulcer disease (PUD)
General disorders, such as cancer and anemia
Heart and lung diseases, such as congestive heart failure and asthma
Infection and fatigue:
- Chronic disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Urinary tract infections
Medications, such as those for blood pressure, heart conditions, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety, pain killers, and muscle relaxants
Neurological disorders, such as stroke and multiple sclerosis
Specialized testing for people suffering with persistent fatigue is crucial. Each instance of fatigue is unique, so in order to unravel the individual complexities behind each case, it is necessary for fatigue sufferers to work within a relationship of trust with his or her health care partner or naturopath.
A lot of people simply accept being tired all the time as a normal part of life. Since it’s not a life-threatening disease, many of us simply slough it off as something that happens because we take on too many things, which in some cases may be true. Others who are seriously concerned about the daily battles they fight with fatigue do not believe it is just natural, a part of the aging process. Yet many complain that their doctors don¹t take their concerns seriously.
“Fatigue is often dismissed because physicians don’t know what to do about a problem if they don’t have a pharmaceutical to prescribe,” observes Dr. Hanley. “This is the standard of care in western medicine.”
For people who do not have medical problems to take into consideration, the easiest way to treat fatigue is to make lifestyle and dietary changes…bit by bit finding ways to eliminate toxins from the body and minimize the intake of foods known to contain toxins, as well as by incorporating regular exercise into daily routines.
Many in the naturopathic field recommend that fatigue sufferers begin with a seasonal herbal colon cleansing or colonic hydrotherapy cleanses. This helps to remove toxins from your system, and ensures that all your body’s systems are functioning at their peak.
Take a detour off the “Burnout” Highway
There are many little things, baby steps you can take to improve your overall health, and free up some of the energy that has been ebbing away from you. See how you score on Dr. Hanley’s Adrenal Burnout questionnaire: www.jessehanleymd.com/Burnout.htm
…As easy as 1,2,3 – Baby steps on the road to fatigue recovery
Start with one or two easy-to-implement lifestyle changes that will work toward long-term solutions to your fatigue. Simple things can make a huge difference…and if you start with changes that are within your reach, you will find yourself saying, ‘Hey, that was easy. I can do this,’ and you will be inspired to do more to keep your body from tiring out.
“According to Jeff Lemberg who was once the head of the National Institute of Health, every person needs anti-oxidants and vitamins,” says Dr. Hanley. “The very soil our food grows in is depleted; the only thing more depleted than the soil are the people trying to get sustenance. We have exceptional needs at this point in history, so you can’t get away without multiple vitamin and multiple mineral supplements.”
It’s vital to incorporate a rich, superior–grade multivitamin into your daily routine. Find one that includes calcium, magnesium, and essential fatty acids. This will help to make up for what may be lacking in your food, as well as work to nourish your cellular functioning.
“I recommend four to six cups of water per day,” explains Dr. Hanley. “When you’re hydrated, your colon doesn’t become so dehydrated that all the stuff is absorbed back into your body…a body that’s trying desperately to re-hydrate itself.”
“Another practice I strongly recommend is avoiding micro-waving food in plastic,” says Dr. Hanley. “Plastic becomes toxic when subjected to microwaves, and ingesting it is extremely unhealthy.”
“A systematic intestinal overgrowth of yeast causes fatigue, among many other things, because of the toxic waste product of yeast,” explains Dr. Hanley. “Ensure that the levels of yeast in your body are under control.”
Complete recovery program
Once you have taken care of medical considerations such as iron supplements for anemia, controlled blood sugar levels, supported your thyroid, and had antibiotics to treat any infection, it is crucial, as Dr. Hanley points out, to incorporate a vitamin and mineral regimen into your daily routine, as well as eating only sensible, “real” food, and implementing a daily exercise program.
Next, it’s important to look toward preventatives such as taking a proactive approach to colon health, and laying out a few long-term, fatigue-management goals:
- Avoid alcohol, especially after dinner as it interferes with sleep patterns.
- Butt out! Smoking robs your body of much-needed oxygen.
- Clean up your eating habits: Never skip breakfast. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Slowly eliminate any processed food from your cupboards and freezer. Healthy nutritional choices can help boost your adrenals and energy, as well as curb your cravings for caffeine and sugar.
- Consider natural ways to ease gastrointestinal inflammation: Probiotic supplements that sooth, balance your intestinal flora, and purge your system of excess cortisol may be indicated, especially if acne and/or rosacea are a problem.
- Detoxification: Regular cleansings help to rejuvenate your energy levels, especially if you suffer from heavy metal exposure or are sensitive to certain chemicals.
- Enjoy your sensuality: Safe sex is a great stress reliever!
- Establish a regular bedtime routine: Get seven to nine hours of sleep, and go to bed at the same time every night in a dark, quiet room – the dark triggers melatonin release, which regulates your body’s natural rhythm.
- Exercise: Start slowly by doing something you like three or four times a week. Consider finding a partner, and establish a suitable time for physical time-outs.
- Kick the caffeine habit; but be gentle. Gradually diminish your intake by one cup a day: Avoid caffeinated drinks after 6 pm.
- Manage your stress: Take time out for yourself. Don’t get overburdened emotionally.
- Monitor food sensitivities by tracking what you eat, as well as your reactions.
- Resolve workplace stresses, and consider a career change if your work life is not fulfilling/stressful.