I bet some of you who deal with chronic fatigue are feeling very misunderstood by others. Some of you have a genuine lack of desire to socialize and it’s nothing personal, but it can easily be misconstrued as such.
Maybe you have a fear of not being believed, or being perceived negatively? I have compassion for you. Fatigue is not something someone can see like a broken ankle; it’s something that they have to take your word for. A little make-up and a fake smile can conceal the problem for some of you, while others find even that too much to do!
If you fight with fatigue, I have help for you today. It is simply not possible to make a resolution to beat fatigue if you don’t know what the underlying cause is! What you can do is try energy-boosting mito-loving supplements and support GI health, which can help you produce energy. These will prevent you from dropping off like the girl in my graphic up above who reminds me of me. 😂 She is me! I can say that because I’ve never missed writing an article. I get tired sometimes. I research medicine and write brand new articles every single week, 52 weeks a year, since 1999! (Those articles are archived here if you’d like to use my search box). My point is, I laughed out loud when I downloaded that graphic, but chronic fatigue is no laughing matter! I’ve been tired in all seriousness myself, but I can usually ‘fix it’ with caffeine and my Yummy Greens (see below). I’m almost 55 and running short on hormones too, so hey, give me some latitude. And more estrogen, please!😂
How about you? Do you have serious fatigue, or the illness called “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”? I will help you today! Do you have profound fatigue from a medical condition, or from chronic pain and suffering? I am very aware that fatigue can have debilitating effects on the body, and it can have negative effects on relationships, job roles, and interactions with friends and family.
Before I get to the supplements which can help fatigue, let’s just talk openly about fatigue (and I don’t mean the temporary fatigue where you flop over onto your desk or laptop from overworking!) I mean the real kind!
If you don’t suffer with true fatigue, and you’re just reading this for educational purposes, it may come as quite a surprise how much chronic fatigue a person can carry in just dealing with relationships that are stifling, unfulfilling or difficult. Being a caregiver can cause profound unrelenting fatigue, if only due to the worrying. Dealing with difficult teenagers or spouses or ex-spouses can add a burden of exhaustion to the body that is unnatural. Running around and being part of the ‘rat race’ can, over time, lead to less gratification in life, and possibly disease. Even watching too much of the news, as it seems it’s just always something tragic. The mental weight of the news can bring you down. 😟
So this year resolve to fill your cup with new reserves of energy and if it is possible for you to disconnect from the stressful aspects of your life, then do so.
Fatigue is not always biochemical or physiological, and that’s an important thing to ponder. It is not always related to your thyroid, or adrenals; it’s not always tied to your digestion or even to worn out mitochondria. For that matter, it’s not always a methylation or other genetic SNP! Sometimes it’s just related to your life situation and the cards you’ve been dealt, or the choices you have felt were necessary to make. I am saying this because I want to be careful that I don’t medicalize fatigue. We live in a weird day and age where every symptom (including fatigue) could land you a lifetime of pills! So back to the mental and emotional stressors…
You’d be surprised how heavy it is to carry something or someone in your life and when you are free and clear of that, you have bounds of energy, enthusiasm and happiness. ⚡If someone you’ve been caring for with a chronic illness starts to feel better and make progress, you yourself feel more energetic. Likewise, if you’re in a relationship where you’re trying to change your partner… basically put a square peg into a round hole, then reconsider what you’re doing and how much energy you’re investing. Is it worth it? Is it going to end badly, or is he or she able to eventually fit into that round hole? This stuff can make you tired.
I think being tired is a symptom; it’s not a “disease” per se.
It is part of some bigger picture. The part you have to carefully discern is “What is this a symptom of?” So as you explore all the things in your life that you are “carrying,” make yourself a list and resolve to address those things, and set some boundaries. It’s good if you are well-supported by cherished true friends, or therapists and loved ones who allow you to lean on them. You don’t have to go it alone. Since I’m a pharmacist and love natural remedies, I’d like to move away from the psychological perspective and more into the medical background, treatment options and remedies.
Let’s Get into Medical Stuff Now.
According to the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (Dec. 19, 2019), researchers had an idea and set about proving their theory (termed a meta-synthesis article), and they published their theory in the December 19, 2019, issue of that journal.📕 According to the ABSTRACT, they theorized that fatigue is a symptom associated with various chronic conditions, however, they wanted clarity about whether fatigue is “similar across conditions.” The scientists wanted to better understand the underlying fatigue mechanisms for the 5 conditions listed below.
They sat down and poured over 34 different journal articles and studies they gathered from the past 10 years about patients with the 5 conditions (see below) who also suffered from fatigue. Mind you, they did not study any vitamins, minerals or nutrients, nor did they look at labs or clinical studies. They evaluated fatigue status across these 5 chronic conditions:
Chronic Kidney Disease
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
They found that fatigue was characterized by “severe energy depletion,” which played a very negative role on the patients’ lives, causing “associated symptoms that exacerbated fatigue.” I’m going to point out that depression, anxiety, insomnia, joint pain, headaches and apathy, among other associated symptoms that commonly go with fatigue. You probably thought of others.
There was no real usable endpoint to this article, at least as far as I’m concerned. All of us here already know that those 5 conditions are associated with profound fatigue, and we also know that when one is tired, worn out, and dealing with multiple symptoms day-in, day-out, there are “associated symptoms” that will exacerbate fatigue! It’s also common sense that people in each category above will experience fatigue differently than another.
I know I’m on a tangent💡 but I feel like the researchers should have included some other groups to gather more definitive data, such as groups suffering with hypothyroidism, cancer (or post-chemotherapy), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or CFIDS), lupus, post-radiation therapy patients, fibromyalgia, migraines, manic depression… even those folks with obesity, diabetes or serious digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease or IBS. Then and only then, I’d say we have enough data. The onset of fatigue and the associated symptoms (and duration) is different. The triggers are different in each case, as well as the treatment.
This is big. This affects a lot of people.
There’s a reason why coffee shops make billions of dollars each year, and a reason why we’re all willing to spend $5 to buy a cup of coffee. ☕
Hey, speaking of coffee, it’s a drug mugger of some minerals and it impacts your thyroid levels. If you have a minute or two, here’s a short VIDEO I made about that.
Did you know that about one million people in America alone have chronic fatigue and about 24 million people worldwide?
Whether or not you have CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as in the “syndrome”), or you have just plain chronic fatigue and exhaustion, this is a chronic, debilitating and nagging condition that impacts your memory, sex life, pain markers, mood and sleep! A triple shot latte only works for so long, then you’re down again. Most people use coffee because they have low energy or because it’s a natural antidepressant, but fatigue could be due to metabolic problems such as insufficient or flat-lined hormones, adrenal or HPA axis dysfunction, hypothyroidism, depression, insomnia and many more conditions. Caffeine is a great stimulant; that’s why some people rely on Vivarin or No-Doz.
This is big, and fatigue affects millions of people worldwide. But there is hope. And it doesn’t involve fecal microbiota transplantation!😳
Yes, fecal microbiota transplantation… and you do not need it! Don’t get talked into it.
This is the medical term for a procedure in which stool from a healthy person (the donor) is placed into another person’s intestine in the hopes that the donor’s microbiota (ie probiotics) will flourish and help re-establish yours. This is working off the premise that your gut flora is bad, hence a stool transplant. But it’s a little gross when you think about it, right? (Maybe just me; I am grossed out if someone sneezes on me, forget ‘stool’ implants!)
But the point of these transplants is for the receiver to effectively experience all the positive benefits that come with having a sound, healthy gut microbiome that has more useful bacteria compared to pathogenic bacteria or yeast.
Fecal transplants are something you should look up on your own if you have the desire, it’s not something I want to elaborate on today. I mention it because I constantly interpret new research articles, and while writing this article, I came across this STUDY showing fecal transplants can actually help perceived levels of fatigue. So unless you have recurrent episodes of Clostridium difficile or some other digestive disorder that requires this type of treatment, I don’t recommend it for fatigue.
How can someone else’s fecal matter improve fatigue in another?
It speaks to the profound requirement of a healthy gut and gut flora! It might even speak to thyroid levels since about 20 to 30 percent of thyroid hormone is activated in the gut, compliments of your microbiome. The better your gut flora, the more energy you have due to higher circulating levels of thyroid hormone.
For more on the topic of thyroid and chronic fatigue, CLICK HERE.
Your intestinal flora is important because these ‘probiotics’ are the organisms that manufacture B12 and biotin, two energy-producing B vitamins. It’s a head scratcher to me because you don’t need stool transplants… you could easily supplement with B vitamins and probiotics and change your diet before doing the stool transplant. All of those vitamins feed your batteries. I’m referring to your mitochondria when I say “batteries.”
Focus on your batteries.
Research has discovered now that the energy-producing batteries of your cells (termed mitochondria or mito for short) are critically important to fighting fatigue. There is an important research article from 2017 which you can read HERE that discusses the cross-talk between your gut microbiota and your mito during exercise. Diet is known to dramatically control the organisms (both good and bad) in your intestinal tract. That’s why studies targeting the gut microbiota can be used for managing mitochondrial-related problems in people.
These mito are in the cells that are part of your gut lining, so deep inside your stomach/intestines, you are making energy (assuming your mito batteries are working well). Never assume. People annoy their gut with all sorts of bad foods and drugs, sweets galore and at times, maybe too much beer or alcohol. That can and will impact your energy levels through the depletion of several energy-producing B vitamins. It is for this very reason (that I don’t trust your gut to convert B vitamins into their biologically active, methylated forms) that I formulated an awesome B vitamin called MITO B Complex.
Your mito help you recover from exercise and exertion. Without healthy mito, you will be tired for hours, if not days, after exertion. There is so much more to say on this topic. We are still in the infancy stages of understanding the bi-directional ‘crosstalk’ between your gut flora and your mito. Studies show that N-butyrate plays an important role as well as a healthy diet. DNA mutations can interfere of course, but they are not the be-all, end-all. I’ll cover this another day.
To explain the role of your mitochondria, think of it this way: Every five to 10 seconds or so, in order to fuel your body with energy, you convert a chemical called ATP into ADP within each of those energy batteries.🔋 The ADP then releases this energy into the body; think of it like a spark. The spark happens millions of times a day, all day, 24/7, even when you sleep. Something is always going on. The body is electric!⚡ This spark yields all the energy we need for your heart to beat, and for your muscle contractions, nerve impulses, thoughts, and other complex processes that keep you alive. A swimmer, skier, athlete or active person depends on the spark to fuel their body with energy. If you don’t have enough sparks, you’re tired. If your B vitamins aren’t converting for you, or you’re not making them from your stash of probiotics, you will also remain fatigued.
In short, this transformation of ATP to ADP in the mito batteries of your cells gives you the energy to do everything from reading this article, lifting your legs, breathing, to walking and driving a car. Your mito may be to blame if you’re diabetic too! Insulin resistance is associated with fatigue, and widespread oxidative damage which is tied to poor mitochondrial health.
If you get tired very quickly, your system gets depleted and it takes you a long time to recover. This could point to poor mito health. So the focus would be four-fold:
- Healing your body at a cellular level, which allows you to manufacture energy normally again within these energy batteries of our cells, the mitochondria.
- Healing the gut and avoiding food allergens, large amounts of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and medications that strip the gut. A probiotic could be great for some of you.
- Avoid setting off your immune system with known triggers which cause an inflammatory response. If you know you’re allergic to cats, dust mites, milk, soy or gluten, then avoid it. The body attacks its own tissues, which weakens it, depletes energy, and tires out your mito.
- Take methylated B vitamins because your body can’t convert the cheap brands into their biologically active forms.
First off, my article is widely distributed so to be clear, it’s just intended to offer some information, and is not intended as medical advice. So if I mention a supplement today that interests you, please ask your doctor if it’s right for you. Secondly, not everything works for everyone. In fact, some people praise one supplement for its miracle-like effects, while others react negatively to it. So take what I say under consideration rather than gospel, and hopefully this year will be filled with abundant energy, both mentally and physically.
There are many individuals who have been able to completely recover from years of feeling worn and weak with some proven strategies such as supplementing with mitochondria-healing supplements.
CoQ10 – Important for muscle contractions, this is naturally made in the body. It is a potent antioxidant. It’s not a stimulant, per se, it’s probably better for a person who gets short of breath very easily. It can support cardiovascular function. It’s sold nationwide at health food stores, and online. Somewhere around 100mg – 200mg per day might be useful to most of you, however you can go up or down from there depending on how you feel.
TMG – Derived from beetroot, TMG is short for trimethylglycine. It provides your body with three methyl groups (that’s why it’s called “tri methyl glycine”) and it helps run your methylation pathway, creating more folate and more SAMe, two of the body’s natural antidepressants. It’s breaking down homocysteine, too. You can read my ARTICLE by CLICKING HERE about Methylation, where I break it down pretty simply.
TMG may be useful for you if you have fatigue that includes shortness of breath (like taking a flight of stairs and feeling weak, etc). The dose varies according to person, so it’s hard to guess, maybe somewhere around 1500 – 2500 mg per day for most people. You can go up or down from there depending on how you feel, and what your practitioner advises you. “Ask Your Doctor What is Right for You.” Unfortunately as much as I want to, I cannot advise or approve over-the-counter herbals or vitamins too openly because online bloggers aren’t allowed to help people that much due to FTC rules. 😂 Worse than that, we are basically muzzled and have to ‘talk in code’ and use a lot of asterisks* because the FDA is tuned in to everything we say.😉 So suffice it to say that TMG is kind of amazing* if you have methylation difficulties* or high homocysteine.* Here’s a very good ARTICLE I wrote that about TMG and how your homocysteine is raised by Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs.
Phosphatidylcholine – This is an interesting molecule that is derived from natural choline, and it helps with energy and memory over time.* Moreover, it can help people with cholesterol ratios and fatty liver! I just wrote an ARTICLE, which you can read if you’d like, entitled Why You Might Need Phosphatidylcholine.
Hormones – You may feel chronically fatigued during peri-menopause or post-menopause due to the drop of estrogen. Furthermore, the reduction of progesterone that accompanies menopause may cause insomnia, exacerbating the fatigue. To evaluate your hormones, I highly recommend the DUTCH urine test, which is available through my store because I am a provider. CLICK HERE to learn more about this hormone testing.
CLICK HERE to view a sample report if you’re a man, and CLICK HERE to get a sample report if you’re a woman.
DHEA – This is a hormone you make in your youth, but it declines after the age of 40. It is known to increase stamina, libido and sexual desire because it forms testosterone in the body. It can help give you emotional and physical energy and stamina. It does eventually turn into estrogen, so for that reason you should not take it if you have estrogen-driven disorders or cancer.
Iron – Low levels of iron will cause iron deficiency anemia and lead to profound, intractable fatigue and dizziness. You can have your levels of ferritin and other iron biomarkers easily evaluated by a blood test. If you’re interested in ordering blood tests, you can do so yourself these days. Read this article of mine, You Can Order Your Own Blood Work and Lab Tests.
I don’t usually recommend iron supplementation, at least not beyond 90 days. It’s hard on the stomach, and doesn’t always work. You can try if you’d like, but get your doctor’s approval.
Creatine – These are easy to find at any health food store because this is a completely legal supplement. Creatine increases your phosphocreatine stores, which in turn helps a person produce more ATP! It gives an athlete more power, that’s why if you look it up, you’ll see a lot of buff guys in the advertisements.
So creatine is helping your ATP levels. That’s your energy molecule,. It’s your “spark” from your mito. The ATP is used to fuel your muscles💪 during exercise. Stay hydrated if you try this supplement otherwise you will get painful cramps. Do not take too much either, unless you’re a body-builder who is accustomed to high doses. 🏋️♂️
Low doses will be better to start off with, and like I always tell you, ask your doctor if any supplement is okay for you. Even these over-the-counter supplements… I’m not a doctor; I can’t be sure exactly what’s right for each of you reading this today. You can eat your way to better creatine levels too! It is most abundant in red meat, pork, seafood and poultry. There isn’t much creatine in eggs, dairy or shellfish.
Just in case this helps someone you know, some patients with ALS find muscular benefit from creatine. Studies suggest that in certain patients, the use of creatine may slow the progression of ALS by boosting ATP energy production to the weakened muscles and declining motor nerve function. Here’s the website for the organization that educates about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. FYI, in case you didn’t know this, Peter Frates recently passed away. He was the famous college baseball player whose brave battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) helped spread the ALS ice bucket challenges several years ago.
Greens – A boost of superfoods and super fruits can improve mental clarity and physical energy, while also detoxifying the gut. There are many blends on the market that you can evaluate, including my own Yummy Greens.
Zinc – New research suggests that zinc enhances cellular energy reserves. You can read about that HERE. Although zinc is important in terms of its antioxidant power, it is now thought to restore a pathway that involves energy production. More specifically, zinc supplementation may be conducive to mitochondrial energy transport. As an aside, zinc is important for eyesight, especially when combined with vitamin A. If you want to be kept up to date on the latest findings for vision and eyesight, CLICK HERE to get my notifications.
Betaine Hydrochloride – This is an ‘acid’ supplement that a person takes with food, but ONLY if they are short on acid. Sometimes that first pill you take is like an experiment! Because you don’t know if you’re going to get heartburn, or if you’re going to tolerate it perfectly. Some people have insufficient gastric acid, and betaine supplements provide the methyl groups for energy, and the acid to break down your meals. That’s important to your gut health actually, because better metabolism of the food you eat means higher extraction of nutrients from the food you eat! Please read this article I wrote about Supplements and Medicine That Should Always Be Taken with Food. In it I talk about betaine supplements (as well as other vitamins) and the connection to POTS, which is where you stand up and suddenly feel faint.
Thyroid hormone – Low levels of thyroid hormone will cause profound fatigue and can lead to weight gain. It’s one of the most important hormones in charge of your metabolism. Hypothyroidism can also cause a low, suppressed mood and mental fatigue (to go with physical fatigue). Medications or supplements that support the thyroid gland’s structure and function can breathe new life into a person who is dealing with this. I know a lot about this topic and have many resources for you including this FREE guide.
The trouble is the thyroid testing. It doesn’t always uncover it. That’s exactly what happened to me. You can read this article I wrote, How I Healed My Thyroid with Supplements.
Drug Nutrient Depletion – it’s what I call drug mugging! A drug that depletes a nutrient and leaves you tired. This could be behind your profound fatigue. It’s something you may not have considered until now. But statins can make a person very tired by ‘mugging’ their CoQ10 as well as DHEA, both of which are necessary for cellular energy. Oral contraceptives can wipe out B vitamins like B12 and B6, as well as selenium; this can lead to hypothyroidism, which causes weakness and fatigue. Antacids can deplete minerals needed to make your heart beat strong and rhythmically, and if you’re short on certain minerals, it leads to weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath. Same story with diuretics, anti-hypertensives and several antidepressants. This topic is covered in my book, Drug Muggers.
PQQ – PQQ stands for Pyrroloquinoline quinone and is similar to CoQ10; it is a vitamin-like compound that is extracted from plant foods. It’s a strong antioxidant and improves mito health. It has been shown to attenuate mitochondrial damage from oxidative stress and it can cause your body to grow more mito! More mito ‘batteries’ means more energy. The term for this is mitochondrial biogenesis. Studies have shown that giving rodents a supplement of PQQ may lead to increased muscle and liver mitochondria function. This is sold online and at some health food stores, call ahead.
A word about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
My article today is not geared to any one particular disease, but it would be a glaring omission to discuss fatigue and not cover a little on CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). While the etiology is different for each person, as well as the symptoms, it is probably fair to say that gastrointestinal health is key.
A damaged gut will cause systemic inflammation due to the proteins that leak into the bloodstream and fire up the immune system. It can go hand in hand with autoimmune disorders.
Studies have proven that CFS sufferers typically have fewer anti-inflammatory (good) bacteria in their intestines, and they less diversity of good bacteria as well. Gut health is directly correlated to a healthy immune system.
A STUDY I came across underscores the important link between gastrointestinal health and its relationship to fatigue. It showed evidence that 90 percent of CFS sufferers also suffer from IBS. This study was the first to prove the importance of balanced gut bacteria in avoiding development of CFS.
Licorice is interesting – the herb, not the candy. I wrote an article you might like called, Licorice Helps Chronic Fatigue and Heartburn.
Researchers have discovered that CFS patients typically share the same distinct gut bacteria profile, with certain bacteria categories associated with CFS, specifically. These include:
This highlights the importance of sealing a “leaky” gut, and avoiding any triggers that impact you as an individual. It’s hard to list everything, but many of you know what your sensitivities and triggers are. As a general rule, processed, boxed and refined foods are triggers; artificial ingredients, refined sugar and certain grains can alter the gut microbiome. Research shows that at least half of the people with FMS or ME/CFS get significant relief from symptoms—including pain, fatigue, headaches, bloating and breathing difficulties—by eliminating certain foods.
This makes sense because a food allergen sets off an immune response wherein the immune response floods the body with inflammatory cytokines. That sets off in quest of invaders, instantly triggering inflammation throughout the body, as well as symptoms like fatigue, malaise, depression, aches and pains.
The most common food allergens or ones causing sensitivities are:
- Wheat /gluten
- Foods laden with chemicals
- Artificial colors
You’ll need to try to keep a clean diet for at least ten days. See how you do and go from there.
For CFS patients, eliminating food allergens resulted in major energy improvement and in wiping out their CFS symptoms.
In short, the best way to reclaim energy if you have digestive issues is to start with your digestive process and heal your gut. So that means you would want to avoid food allergens and minimize your sensitivities. Studies have repeatedly shown that poor gut integrity from junk food diets only further sets off the anti-inflammatory response! This results in breaking down your gut membrane and leaching bacteria and toxins into the bloodstream.
Now you’re tired. Your body is weak from feeling attacked and inflammation is higher in the body. No amount of coffee will fix that, especially when it’s repeated every day with a poor diet that triggers the cascade again.
Perhaps it sounds silly in light of the fact that you’re tired. But if it is at all possible, do what you can. Exercise lightly if you’re able to and give yourself lots of recovery time. My rationale for this is the release of endorphins. We’ve learned that exercising for most people is great, but it’s not for those of you who have CFS. What we’ve learned recently about CFS is that even moderate exercise is linked to a worsening of CFS symptoms. So if you have CFS, don’t overdo it, maybe don’t do it at all. If you don’t have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS, CFIDS) then maybe you should exercise because Exercise Improves Memory and Enhances Mood.
Although researchers used to believe exercise was one key to recovery, today, the focus should be more on rest and repair of your body rather than on any kind of physical exertion, which can worsen CFS. People with CFS do not recover normally from physical exertion of any kind, not even performing simple tasks! This is because their batteries are not producing the spark of energy like it should. It’s sometimes called Post Exertional Malaise. Whatever the cause and whatever the underlying issue, the fatigue means that you would prefer to lay around in bed or hang around the house, and not have to dress up, go anywhere or do anything. It’s just too much. This is where people feel misunderstood and judged for being “lazy” or “anti-social” when in fact, they are truly suffering.
The cause, again, is mitochondrial dysfunction. You don’t have to have CFS to have mito dysfunction. Some of the nutrients I’ve listed above can help you, even if you don’t have CFS. The reason is that yout mito batteries are in charge of making the ATP, which is your body’s fuel. So the creation of more ATP can only benefit you, regardless of whether you have CFS or not.
Research in this field is interesting. One study found that out of 106 people with CFS, two-thirds of them had sadly suffered some type of childhood trauma. The type of trauma ranged from neglect to verbal or physical abuse, and in some cases sexual abuse. The relative risk for developing CFS for any type of childhood trauma was evaluated to be almost 6 times higher than that of a person who did not experience childhood trauma. Important to note how long-standing stress takes a toll on the body and how it may contribute to certain diseases, including heart attack, migraines and ulcers.
Trauma, whether it was major, or relatively minor, can actually trigger a relapse of fatigue, too. Reclaiming a happier, healthier life with more energy is difficult to do when your mind races in the past and deals with constant trauma, so you need support. If you have trouble saying no to people, and you’re worn out due to over-giving, over-providing and over-supporting others instead of yourself, I have an ebook that is a loving kick in the butt, and I can email it to you if you’d like it. Just let me know you want it by writing to [email protected] It is not for the faint of heart, it’s a strong defense that will hopefully catapult you to the top of the list so you’re not overdoing it for everybody else.