We are currently experiencing a fatigue epidemic in Australia. Unexplained fatigue is one of the most common complaints to general practitioners. Unfortunately, preliminary blood tests often fail to provide an answer for these patient’s, leaving them more tired, stressed out and fed-up than ever. This desperate search for answers can often lead to a generalised diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), a debilitating disorder of unexplained, persistent and/or relapsing fatigue that results in significant reduction in occupational, social and personal activities. Other diagnostic criteria for CFS includes:
- Impaired memory or concentration that severely impacts daily functioning
- Chronic or recurrent sore throat
- Tender lymph nodes
- Muscle and/or join pain
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Increased levels of fatigue after exercise
Although CFS has no definitive, singular cause, chronic infections such as Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), also known as glandular fever, and biotoxin exposure from tick bites and exposure to mould are among the most commonly associated causes. These suspected infective agents trigger an immune cascade that leads to immune dysfunction, chronic inflammation, hormonal imbalances and oxidative stress, which in turn presents symptomatically with a wide range of symptoms from altered perceptions of fatigue and pain, as well as cognitive, mood and sleep disorders.
However, there are other contributing factors from our modern lifestyles that are having an impact upon our energy deficits:
- Nutritional deficiencies including iron, B vitamins (especially B6, B12 and folate), Magnesium and Zinc.
- Dehydration is a common cause of fatiguability, especially if you regularly consume coffee, tea and/or alcohol.
- An inflammatory diet high in refined carbohydrates i.e. take-out, sugar and ‘white’ foods.
- Chronic stress can offset a number of health conditions affecting the immune system, gut, mind and thyroid health.
- Thyroid disorders exhibit a wide range of metabolic symptoms including fatigue.
- Gut dysbiosis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) reduce nutritional absorption and are linked to a range of inflammatory and immune conditions.
- Exposure to environmental and household toxins i.e. chemicals in your skin care products, household cleaners, pesticides and fertilisers, mould, heavy metals etc.
- Electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure from mobile phones, telephone towers, Bluetooth devices, microwaves etc.
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
For most people, it is not one singular cause but an accumulation of these modern-day assaults that provides the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ when it comes to chronic fatigue symptoms. Considering the potential number of causative agents, as well as the multiplicity of symptomatic presentation when it comes to fatigue issues, is it any wonder that so few people are able to find a long-term resolution?
But there’s hope! From a Naturopathic perspective, there is a lot we can do to correct these imbalances. Such interventions may include:
- Identifying and removing the causative agent i.e. fungal, bacteria or viral infection
- Enhance the health and functionality of mitochondria, the energy powerhouses in our cells.
- Optimise nutritional intake and absorption for energy production
- Reduce inflammation
- Assist detoxification
- Restore gut health
- Normalise immune function
- Mediate stress and personalise some stress-coping mechanisms
- Provide natural pain solutions
- Improve sleep onset and duration
- Implement diet and lifestyle changes suited to the individual
If you or someone you know is suffering from the debilitating effects of chronic fatigue, book in for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to discuss how you can invest in your health for better energy, vitality and quality of life.