Naturopathic Strategies for Managing Chronic Fatigue
AUGUST 2023 | Dr. Ashley Southern
Chronic fatigue is a condition characterized by persistent and often debilitation exhaustion that persists no matter how much sleep or rest you get. Chronic fatigue is overwhelming and can greatly impact quality of life as it can interfere with daily activities and prevent you from living the life you want.
Conventional medicine typically prescribes pharmaceutical sleep aids to help promote sleep, however these therapies can come with risks and side effects that only worsen symptoms. These can include:
- Daytime drowsiness, sedation, and dizziness
- Light headedness
- Memory impairment
- Motor incoordination
- Nausea, vomiting
- Sleep paralysis
- Respiratory suppression
- Sleep walking, driving
- Rebound insomnia if discontinued
Naturopathic therapies take a more comprehensive approach in order to address the underlying causes of fatigue. They work with the patient to get to the root of symptoms instead of suppressing them, and utilize natural and effective means to help recalibrate your body’s innate functions in order to restore balance, improve energy levels, and help lift the haze of fatigue so that you can get your life back.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue?
While the exact cause of chronic fatigue is still unknown, research has shown that there are many foundational factors that can play a role in chronic fatigue. These include:
1. Low Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiencies have been significantly linked to fatigue and muscle weakness. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) can test vitamin D levels and help get them back on track through supplementation. Also, getting outside and safely increasing your exposure to sunlight and fresh air has also proven to be an effective mood booster while naturally increasing vitamin D.
2. Thyroid Dysfunction
Hypothyroidism and other conditions where the thyroid isn’t producing sufficient levels of hormones can contribute to chronic fatigue. You can read more about the impacts of thyroid dysfunction here. Studies show that people who experience chronic fatigue often have abnormal thyroid hormone levels. NDs can conduct comprehensive thyroid testing in order to determine how your thyroid hormone levels may be impacting your health and energy, and may recommend dietary changes, stress management techniques, and targeted supplementation to best promote and support well-balanced thyroid function.
3. Autoimmune Conditions
Fatigue is a common symptom of many autoimmune conditions, including systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Naturopathic therapies focus on identifying and addressing the foundational factors that may be causing immune dysregulation and fatigue. They work to restore proper functionality through dietary modification and supplementation in order to reduce inflammatory responses and support the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
4. Viral Infections
Chronic viral infections like Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), human herpesvirus 6, Ross River virus (RRV), and rubella virus have all been studied for their connections to chronic fatigue. Studies show that 1 in 10 people with EBV and RRV will develop symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Further, people who experience chronic fatigue often have suppressed immune function, making them more susceptible to infections. Naturopathic therapies like herbal supplementation aim to boost the immune system, reduce viral load throughout the body, and help improve energy levels.
5. Imbalanced Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is the stress hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands. In states of chronic stress, cortisol levels can become imbalanced and significantly impact your body’s functionality. Studies show prolonged exposure to chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue and low cortisol levels. Insufficient cortisol and adrenal dysfunction have been linked to causing brain fog, low energy, fatigue, and depression. Naturopathic therapies emphasize stress management techniques, relaxation exercises including mindfulness, and herbal supplementation to help support adrenal function and balance cortisol levels.
Naturopathic Tips for Managing Chronic Fatigue
Including nutrient-dense whole foods in your daily diet can do wonders for combating fatigue. Emphasizing a balanced diet that consists of lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs can help regulate metabolic function and improve energy. Honour your body and eat when you are hungry, and avoid skipping meals to help manage your blood sugar levels. Eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods rich in healthy omega-3 fats, and incorporate colourful vegetables and fruits. Avoid nutrient-deficient foods high in processed fats and sugars, and avoid drinking caffeine later in the day.
While stress is unavoidable in life, there are ways we can help control our reaction to and how we respond to it. It’s important to establish techniques, activities, habits, and routines that can help mitigate stressful triggers or provide an outlet for built-up stress. Invest in yourself by taking time to find out what you need in order to recharge your batteries. Meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, and spending time in nature are great ways to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and help decrease stress. Schedule routine joy days in your calendar and make sure you consistently treat yourself with whatever ways that serves you best, be it spa days, traveling, establishing boundaries with work or relationships, taking a class, or spending quality time with friends, pets, and loved ones.
It is important to establish effective sleep patterns that work for you, even if you wake up feeling unrested. Establishing and maintaining good sleep hygiene habits can help retrain your brain. Maintain a regular sleep schedule and routine wake-up times in the morning. Set the mood in the evenings with nighttime lighting that promotes melatonin production, including dimming overhead household lights and using lamps with softer, incandescent warm white lightbulbs. Put down your phone or cut back on screen time 2 hours before bed to cut back exposure to blue light. Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and nicotine intake closer to bedtime.
Natural supplements can play a vital role in managing fatigue. Common supplements that help support fatigue and boost energy include B vitamins, magnesium, CoQ10, iron, ashwagandha and rhodiola. Valerian root is effective at helping you fall into a deeper more restful sleep. Phosphatidylserine works to lower elevated cortisol levels and helps you stay asleep. It is important to work with an ND to determine customized targeted supplementation that best supports you and your symptoms.
Alternative IV Therapies
There are many alternative naturopathic IV therapies available that offer significant support for decreasing the affects of fatigue. Ozone therapy has proven to boost the body’s natural detoxification processes and help boost energy. IV treatments like high dose vitamin C (HDIVC) promotes improved immune function, blood oxygenation, decreases inflammation, and improves energy and mood. You can read more about the combined benefits of ozone therapy and HDIVC here.
Nascent Health we are honoured to provide both ozone therapy and HDIVC, as well as countless alternative therapy options that can support chronic fatigue symptoms and help you regain your life back. If your health has been impacted by chronic fatigue, don’t hesitate to book your free consultation with us today, so that we can work together to get you back to feeling your best.