Published May 10, 2008
QUESTION: I am 51. Several years ago I started to feel weak and fatigued; my lab work and tests are all normal. My doctor has prescribed dozens of medications and currently I take Provigil for energy, Alprazolam for restlessness and Zoloft for depression. But I was never restless or depressed to begin with. I don’t feel any better, just weird. What drugs or supplements can you suggest?
C.D., Denver, Colorado
ANSWER: Definitely, no more drugs. You’re already taking ‘uppers’ and ‘downers’ just to get through your day. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually nourish your cells and nurture your body so it can produce its own energy rather than drug-up each day?
Only you know what brought on this exhaustion. Do you realize your adrenal glands act like a pilot light and stay lit to help you cope with life’s situations? When you are overworked, not sleeping well, not eating well or stressed out, the pilot light dims and you feel tired. Then your thyroid gland misbehaves and your sex drive crashes.
No worries, though—there are natural solutions to correct hormonal imbalances in your body and re-ignite your pilot light so it glows beautifully again. The narcolepsy drug Provigil won’t do it, even though it temporarily speeds you up. Alprazolam won’t do it either. In fact, that makes people tired and sleepy but I suspect your doctor prescribed it to offset the effects of speedy Provigil. Taking an antidepressant when you are not depressed is equally ridiculous. This is exactly the type of poly-pharmacy that drives me nuts. It’s nothing against the medicines, they are useful to many people, but they’re not right for everyone who gets handed a prescription.
At this point, start thinking outside the pillbox. I cover natural solutions for fatigue in my book, “The 24-Hour Pharmacist.” Another wonderful resource is the book, “From Fatigued to Fantastic,” by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum (www.endfatigue.com).
Now this is important: Don’t abruptly discontinue any of your medications. Rather, find a holistic doctor who can test levels of thyroid, cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, testosterone and pregnenolone. Test kits are sold online if you want to self-test, but you’ll still need to find a smart doctor.
I will discuss the following natural remedies and much more in an upcoming column:
Whole licorice root (glycyrrhiza)—wakes up your adrenal glands and relieves pain and inflammation. Careful, too much can raise blood pressure.
Panax (Korean) ginseng—balances hormones automatically correcting imbalances.
Ashwagandha—helps you resist stress and minimize the damage done by a poor diet, lack of sleep and long work hours.
B vitamins—help support the nervous system by making happy hormones.
Chlorophyll—found in green drinks, veggies and wheat grass. It rapidly cleans your cells, creating energy, healing skin wounds and improving heart function.
Did You Know?
Boswellia extract can help relieve arthritis pain in a similar (but safer) way to anti-inflammatories.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.