- Do you have a hard time getting going in the morning?
- Struggling with low energy throughout the day or in mid-afternoon?
- Are you ready for bed at 7:00pm?
Fatigue and exhaustion is a common symptoms of many patients coming into Crossroads Naturopathic Clinic. Fortunately, modern laboratory testing combined with ancient therapies may help to support your energy naturally.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) fatigue or tiredness is called Xu Lao (pronounced shoe lao) which literally translates as a tiredness (Lao) from deficiency (Xu). A TCM Classic, the Simple Questions (Su Wen) says, “excessive use of the eyes injures the blood & Heart, excessive lying down injures the Qi & the Lungs, excessive sitting injures the muscles & the Spleen, excessive standing injures the bones & the Kidneys, excessive exercise injures the tendons & the Liver.” Common causes of fatigue, tiredness or exhaustion include having a weak constitution, overwork, excessive physical exertion, poor diet for your constitution, excess sexual activity, childbirth and recreational drug use.
The human body releases hormones in a cycle-the circadian rhythm and abnormal production can alter the ability of cells to produce energy for the activities of daily life. Difficulty rising in the morning or low energy during the day is often due to an abnormal adrenal rhythm and poor blood sugar regulation. Abnormal adrenal function can alter the ability of cells to produce energy for the activities of daily life. This is equivalent to the Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis of Kidney yin, yang qi and/or essence deficiency.
Evaluation & Testing
In addition to taking a verbal survey of your symptoms, your Crossroads practitioner can also offer you laboratory testing to identify imbalances in daily energy rhythms. The DUTCH test or the Adrenal Stress Index test can evaluate your energy production, measure stress hormones and insulin levels to help find the cause of fatigue. Additionally, abnormal adrenal health may also affect and be affected by muscle & joint function, bone health, immune health, sleep quality, fertility, memory and skin regeneration.
Ancient TCM Doctor Zhu Qi Shi, author of Discussion on Exhaustion, says “to treat exhaustion, treat the Lungs, Spleen and Kidneys. Lungs are the heaven of the internal organs, Spleen is the mother of the body and Kidneys are the root of life”. Crossroads practitioners use a comprehensive approach for addressing fatigue by identifying the likely cause of your fatigue based on your symptoms. Combining this information with your individualized test results creates a definitive plan for restoration. Treatment plans may combine acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, lifestyle & diet recommendations to create a plan to support your energy.
Eating Habits – Eat meals at regular times during the day to support your natural circadian rhythm. Irregular eating directly weakens the Stomach & Spleen and leads to tiredness. According to TCM, food is what gets transformed into qi & blood, which equals energy. Choose moderate portions as eating too much can also strain the Stomach & Spleen. The digestive organs prefer when you are sitting to eat and focusing on relaxation while eating. Try to let go of eating in a hurry, discussing business, reading, standing, watching TV while eating, eating fast or when you are upset. Once a day, clear the table, set it with some candles, nice napkins and even flowers and sit and deeply enjoy your meal.
Food Choice – Reduce or eliminate your intake of dairy, refined sugars and processed flour products. Dairy, wheat and processed foods like breads and muffins have a heavy quality which taxes the Spleen. This is the primary digestive organ in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Refined sugars and processed carbohydrates may increase your blood sugar and lead to rebound fatigue. Focus your diet on whole grains, organic meats or legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts & seeds for optimal energy.
Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is essential. Shut off electronic devices, TV, computers and bright lights at least 1 hour before bed. If you have challenges falling asleep or staying asleep, talk to your Crossroads practitioner for guidance.
If you are experiencing extreme fatigue and difficulty waking in the morning, your thyroid may not be producing hormones at an optimal level. You can have your MD or ND take a blood sample for lab testing to test important markers for thyroid function. From this information, your Crossroads practitioner can develop an appropriate treatment plan.