Are you one tired mother?
Last year the National Safety Council did a survey and found that up to 97% of Americans had at least 1 major risk factor for fatigue. That’s not surprising at all to us, one of the most common complaints we see on our intake forms is fatigue. In fact 46% of our patients report it as a top health complaint. As someone who has dealt with severe fatigue issues on and off over the years, I know how it can affect every area of your life. When you wake up already exhausted and realize all you have to get done it can really be depressing.
Helping people who are struggling with fatigue is one of our specialties. Our whole focus when we work one on one with clients is getting to the root cause or underlying issue rather than using a bandaid approach. Sometimes it’s as simple as a single food intolerance but often it is much more complex than that. With fatigue there are quite a few possibilities that we look at but today we are going to focus on Hormonal Imbalances.
One of the most common underlying causes of fatigue is because of a dysregulation in the HPA axis. The HPA axis includes the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenals. These glands work together to regulate the body’s stress response, energy, digestion, your mood, and metabolism among other things. Any time you’re under stress the hypothalamus produces a hormone called CRH which then sends a signal to the pituitary to release ACTH, this hormone then triggers a response in the adrenal glands to produce Cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that triggers the fight or flight response of the body. It will suppress digestion, the immune system, and reproductive system as well as flood the body with glucose in order to prepare the body to have the proper energy to fight or flee. This is a great mechanism if you are being chased by a bear! In a healthy individual once the body is aware that the high levels of cortisol have been produced it will signal back to the hypothalamus and pituitary to stop producing the CRH and ACTH so that the adrenal glands will stop producing cortisol. This negative feedback loop really is amazing.
This works wonderfully in a normal healthy individual however the dysfunction can often occur when the body is under chronic stress. The feedback loop gets stuck in an endless cycle and gets desensitized over time. This dysfunction can manifest as issues with fatigue, sleep problems, brain fog, thyroid problems, weight issues, anxiety, inflammation, blood sugar dysregulation and a whole host of other symptoms. You may have heard the term Adrenal Fatigue but the problem is not just the adrenals getting worn out, it’s an issue with the whole feedback loop.
So many people have tried to self treat their “adrenal fatigue” with supplements they read about online but you really need to know where the actual breakdown is occurring. We don’t think it’s ever a good idea to try and treat this without taking a look at what is actually going on in your body. If you’re serious about finding out if this is your root cause we recommend completing a DUTCH test in order to get the full picture about what’s occurring in this cycle. You may have read our blog on this test, if not go here for more information. The DUTCH test is a urine test that’s done in the comfort of your own home and gives us all kinds of great information about how your Cortisol levels are and if there is an imbalance going on. Using the lab results and your unique health history is the only way you can you really decide which supplements are right for you. Unfortunately we’ve seen people mess themselves up worse by taking a supplement that they thought would help them feel better because they read about it on the internet. Depending on your cortisol levels and more importantly your ability to metabolize the cortisol can make a big difference on which herbs and nutrients will be beneficial.
However, there are many diet and lifestyle changes that can be made in order to help regulate the HPA axis that can benefit everyone so if you want to start there go for it!
Here are some diet and lifestyle changes that can be helpful:
Get Acupuncture- there are all kinds of studies that show how helpful acupuncture is at helping people who are suffering from fatigue. Your treatment will be customized just for you and can help boost energy, get better sleep, and generally help you feel better all around! Seek out an Acupuncturist who is well trained, not a Physical Therapist that does dry needling.
Make sure you’re getting enough protein especially in the first part of the day. This can help your blood sugar stay regulated which is important for people who are dealing with the HPA dysfunction.
Keep your carbohydrates lower- depending on which type of diet you are following this number can vary greatly but you definitely don’t want to be overdoing it on the refined carbs for sure!
Avoid caffeine- this can be super hard for people especially since most people who feel fatigued are using the caffeine to get through the day! Caffeine is a stimulant and isn’t a good thing to have if you’re wanting to correct the underlying HPA dysfunction.
Get good sleep- obviously key for anyone suffering from fatigue but it can be really hard to correct too because sometimes the dysfunction in the axis can cause sleep issues. This is where knowing what’s actually going on can make a big difference. Click here to download our sleep tips if you need help in this department.
Practice gratitude and mindfulness- this can be in the form of meditation, journaling, prayer, however you’re comfortable. All of these things have been shown to be beneficial for anyone dealing with stress which is usually the cause of the HPA dysfunction in the first place.
Exercise- this one is also difficult for many people suffering from fatigue. Often people will feel worse after they make themselves workout and you really need to be careful not to over do it. Try things like walking and yoga not the high intensity exercise that can make you feel more burned out afterwards. Take it slow and listen to your body.
As far as supplements go you have to be careful. We use a lot of adaptogenic herbs because they can be great for helping with not only the fatigue but other symptoms that often accompany it. Having the results of the DUTCH testing helps because some herbs are more stimulating and others are more calming depending on what your actual cortisol pattern is. This really is why you get your best results when you’re able to work with someone who’s well versed in treating this.
That being said, we do have some favorite fatigue fighting supplements. Keep in mind these are not necessarily getting to the root cause of your fatigue however they may provide some relief as you’re working on improving your health by getting to the root cause.
The number one supplement we recommend is D-Ribose.
Ribose is a naturally occurring sugar in the body but it is not easily made and is not available in food. Ribose is an actual building block of ATP which is the energy molecule in our bodies- pretty important if you want to feel good! You have to have adequate amounts of ATP if you want to have energy. Research has shown that taking D-Ribose can increase your energy by up to 65% in 2 weeks or less. While many early studies were looking at use for endurance athletes and muscle recovery, it is now being looked at for health benefits for non athletes too. In one study on people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue there was significant improvement in energy levels, sleep, mental clarity, reduction of pain and most participants reported feeling better all around. All of those improvements from a single supplement is really amazing.The dose you take is super important and most people need to take 5 grams three times a day. Give it at least 3 weeks to see if it will work for you. After that initial 3 weeks you can often decrease the dose down to just twice a day. If you start to feel too energized or buzzy you can always lower the dose or take it with food. Most people who feel like it helps will notice an improvement in the first 2-3 weeks.
The second supplement we use often with our patients experiencing fatigue is Mitochondrial NRG by Designs for Health.
Mitochondrial NRG™ is a formulary blend of nutrients, nutraceuticals, botanicals, and Krebs cycle intermediates designed to support efficient mitochondrial metabolism and energy (ATP) production for increased vitality.*
Mitochondrial NRG™ was designed to support the function of the mitochondria, “the powerhouse of the cell.” This formula may be appropriate for anyone wishing to promote overall cellular and tissue vitality and health, including those wanting to increase energy output for athletic performance. Typical dosage is 4 capsules a day total, 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. You may start with 1 twice a day and work up to 2 if you tolerate it.
And finally the third supplement we often use with our patients is an adaptogenic blend called Adreset from Metagenics.
Adreset is designed to build resilience and enhance stamina in individuals who are feeling weak and fatigued due to stress.*
Helps address feelings of physical fatigue associated with prolonged stress*
Features herbs that support an adaptive response to stress through their influence on the HPA axis*
It features concentrated adaptogens, including ginseng root, cordyceps, and rhodiola extracts, used to address multiple body systems involved in the stress response*
Typical Dosage is 4 capsules a day, 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. You can start with 1 and work your way up slowly to make sure you tolerate it.
These are all Professional Grade supplements and are from companies that we know and trust. We encourage you to use brands that are formulated for Professional use. If you’re interested in creating a FullScript account through us that allows you to purchase high quality supplements from companies we trust click here and you will be taken to a page where you can create your own account.
We hope you find this information helpful. Give these supplements a try to increase your energy naturally.
Remember that just taking these by themselves will not address the root cause of your fatigue but sometimes ya just gotta feel better quickly- we get it!
If you’re exhausted all the time and have never looked at your hormones you definitely should! Chronic stress leads to hormone dysfunction and is a big cause of fatigue for a lot of people.
Got more questions?? Feel free to reach out- we’re here for you!