I regularly see patients who struggle with persistent tiredness and fatigue. As a consequence of our busy and stressful modern lifestyles, most of us will at some time experience tiredness. On most occasions, fatigue can be relieved after a good night’s sleep. However, this is not the case for everybody. Some people find that tiredness becomes a chronic problem which undermines their day-to-day functioning.
According to Chinese medicine, vitality and strength come from energy, which we call “Qi”. Fatigue, which is a lack of physical and/or psychological strength, is nothing but a lack of Qi.
In the Chinese medical system, the production of Qi has two origins. The first is air (heavenly Qi), and the second is food (the Qi of earth). Air Qi is assimilated by the lung. Deep abdominal breathing, walking outdoors, playing a sport, practicing yoga, etc. are means of acquiring this type of Qi.
Food is the second fundamental way to produce Qi. Before even thinking about taking vitamins, supplements or herbs, one must adopt a proper diet, which is the most effective way of boosting the body’s energy. This is the reason why the Chinese emphasize diet and proper digestion. If the correct foods are eaten and digested well, one will produce the necessary energy to stay healthy.
Try to eat fresh food, freshly prepared, not packaged, with a minimum of chemicals, preservatives, or additives. Avoid or minimize the consumption of dairy products, sugar and sweets, ice cream, fruit juices, and cold/iced drinks with meals. Eat warm, cooked foods such as soups and stews, which are easy to digest. Eat more frequent but smaller meals, which are easier to digest and will help stabilize your blood sugar.
In addition to a healthy diet, you can also address fatigue or lack of energy by getting enough water, rest and exercise, and considering these supplements and herbs:
1. Magnesium and calcium. Oral magnesium supplementation has been shown to help reduce symptoms of fatigue, especially for those with low magnesium levels.
2. Coenzyme Q10. This vital nutrient is involved in cellular energy production throughout the body.
3. Cordyceps. A traditional Chinese medicinal fungus that may help fight fatigue and boost energy levels. It is used as an energizing tonic and to help increase aerobic capacity and endurance.
4. D-Ribose. A five-carbon sugar used in the generation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), it helps maintain energy production in cells and can be especially beneficial for those with chronic fatigue.
5. Ginseng (American or Asian). Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) are used for their stimulating and adaptogenic (stress-protective) properties, respectively.
6. Vitamin B complex. B-vitamins act as cofactors in many metabolic reactions and assist in the metabolism of carbohydrates into energy.
7. Probiotic. These good bacteria help your digestion to turn your food into energy.
8. Quit sugar and coffee. Although these may give you the illusion of a boos in energy, they are actually like living on credit and robbing you of your energy.
9. Come in for acupuncture. Acupuncture can help with both emotional and physical causes of fatigue, balance the hormones, and regulate the Qi of the body. If you’re in Denver, I offer a free phone consultation to see if acupuncture is right for you.