FATIGUE IS DANGEROUS
A NATUROPATHIC APPROACH TO CONQUERING FATIGUE AND EXHAUSTION. ADVICE FROM A HOLISTIC DOCTOR TO HELP YOU HEAL NATURALLY.
Fatigue and exhaustion is dangerous. Yes, actually dangerous for you, not just uncomfortable, really annoying, and making it hard to get through your daily. Why is that? Because the lack of energy means there’s something’s wrong in your body. And when something’s wrong, that means our immune system could be in trouble and we get every cold and flu that comes around. Our cellular energy and how we communicate with the cells takes a nose dive. Digestion could be off and this means you are malnourished. You could have major issues underneath the surface that you may not have a diagnosis for, often missed by conventional doctors, that are causing you to feel this lack of energy. Fatigue is major foreshadowing of many preventable health challenges that my be lurking.
My name is Dr. Jason McCammon. I’m a board certified licensed naturopathic doctor. Also, things I practice are functional medicine and clinical naturopathy.
What to look for
These are things that should resonate with you if you have trouble with exhaustion and fatigue.
Not resting upon waking up is a big one.
Relying on coffee and energy drinks to keep you going or get you up, and get you through the afternoon. If you have to rely on those, that’s a sign of serious exhaustion.
Crashing after you get home from work with no energy. Let’s say you get home from work after a normal eight or nine-hour day and the rest of the night you just can barely function. That’s not normal. That’s not good. That’s definitely another sign of exhaustion, burnout, fatigue.
If you are turning down social events, especially things like family gatherings, kid activities, and going out with friends due to being exhausted. If you find yourself saying, “Uh, I’m just not up to doing it” when passing on these important parts of life, that’s a problem. If you’ve turned those down, exhaustion and your lack of energy is a major issue.
And then we also have poor sleep. Lots of folks think “Well, I’m exhausted, I should be able to just conk out at the end of the day and get great sleep because I’m so tired.” Actually, just the opposite sometimes happens. When you get such fatigue in the body or such lack of support, our systems, our bio rhythm and things that help us sleep aren’t working. So, in fact, you may feel very sleepy maybe in the middle of the day, after work, and in the evening, but then when it comes to actually getting good sleep at night you just lay there, restless. Or you might wake up in the middle of the night, a lot on your mind, tossing and turning, maybe some aches and pains throughout the body.
What are some of the causes
Now, there are so many causes. I work through clients’ cases and help them understand what’s unique to their situation. But a lot of what I see in my clinical practice is low oxygen levels. So, it may seem weird if you don’t have a breathing restriction or major issue with breathing – we still get low oxygen levels. Because most of us breathe with our neck; take a deep breath and if your shoulders rise up to your ears. That’s neck breathing. That’s a very shallow breath by the way. And even when we focus on deep breathing, we’re often doing it wrong.
So a lot of times, stress being piled high on to our plate, we will end up in this sympathetic dominance, it’s called, and we’re just breathing with the short shallow breaths, and we’re not getting good oxygen levels into the body. And low oxygen means low energy – simple as that. You need oxygen to make energy in the cell.
Lack of minerals is huge. Minerals are our cell’s currency and help our body communicate. And you can’t just take gobs of minerals and expect them all to find the cell. It’s a whole other video. But, basically where our food is being grown nowadays, even organic soils, are very depleted in not just trace minerals but major minerals – calcium, magnesium, etc. Very depleted. And to make matters worse, often our body pH is acidic. An acidic cellular pH means you cannot absorb minerals, they just go right out of the body.
Lacking mitochondrial support. Fancy term, mitochondria. That’s the powerhouse of the cell. That’s actually where our body takes all the fuel we give it, reactions have to have the right nutrients to support them, and eventually ATP is made. When we make plenty of ATP, we feel great energy. When we are sluggish and tired, this whole system is not working.
Toxic and overworked liver is another big one. Our liver is the Grand Central Station for your body. Everything goes through the liver, whether it’d be your food, your blood volume for filtering, hormones are recycled there, and the emotions are often caught there. It is the anger and resentment organ in Chinese medicine. And if it cannot detox then not only does it back up with waste but it cannot do the 1000 other processes it must to help our body work. About every five minutes, your entire blood volume is filtered (or should be) through your liver. That’s a lot of work. If the filtering system is clogged, then the liver will struggle with converting things like hormones which are essential to give us energy. It will struggle breaking down proteins to build and repair our bodies. You will have trouble burning up excess calories which will turn into body fat.
Medications, there are so many that cause issues. And I’m not against medications when they’re prescribed correctly and as the last resort for a health condition. However, so many out there are just prescribed just because physicians are guessing and frankly their patients do not want to take full responsibility for their health, in many cases. One class is the statin drugs, like Lipitor. They purposely go after and shut down Coenzyme Q10, which, guess what? That’s the rate limiting enzyme in making ATP which I talked about earlier!! And you’ve got to have ATP to have energy, to have ATP you got to have Coenzyme Q10, and to have that, we have to be careful about being on statin, plus we must provide the raw material. Those are draining you of energy.
Poor gut health is a big one. Stress directly impacts gut health, psychological stress. Obviously, food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerances affect the gut. And just being able to have good motility, get things in, get things out, get things moving through there. A really poor gut environment is going to drag you down, because you’re not absorbing energy from your food. And, also, the microbiota down there, they actually make something that’s really neat called post-biotics are chemicals which support our body after the microbes digest our food.
As a naturopathic doctor, I have extensive training in GI health since as the gut goes, so does our health. You have prebiotics, which are like food for the little microbes. Of course, probiotics, which are microbes themselves. And then postbiotics are these microbes that make and manufacture things from our food and then they enter our body. So, believe it or not, and I know it seems crazy, what you eat is not necessarily what you get in your bloodstream. It’s a product of these microbial metabolism basically. They manufacture other substances and chemicals into our body. So, crazy as it sounds, your meals are transformed by these microbes. They can be, obviously, transformed into toxic, or they can be homeostatic and really healthy. It all depends on your microbiota. So, if those are healthy, you’ll probably have more energy. If they’re not, that’s another sign of fatigue and exhaustion from as far as the source goes.
And then let’s talk a little bit about energy drinks and stimulants as being causes. And I do mean a cause of exhaustion. They are so common now. If you don’t feel like you have a lot of energy, all too often, you are reaching for “fake energy.” Do you really know what that’s doing? It’s actually artificially stimulating your body, the beta receptors around your adrenal cortex on your kidney, and that’s going to try to manufacture stress hormones, which then trigger some glucose in your blood so you artificially feel more energy. But then you will have a net reduction in energy levels later on as what goes up must come down (and then allow proper recovery). It actually has a net loss of energy. In essence, energy drinks cause a stress response which perks you up. But after any stress response, you must lay low for a while and recover. The issue with modern life is that we do this on back to back days, with no recovery period to regenerate from the fake energy/stress load. And if you keep doing this to your body year after year, you get lower and lower levels of energy, even though your caffeine and stimulant usage is going up. It’s actually making it worse.
Yes, I know you feel better temporarily, I know you have to get through the day and have to work and get the kids to this and that, but it is making it worse.
Also energy drinks and coffee block adenosine receptors in the brain, which helps you, again, delay fatigue. The problem is the caffeine in energy drinks or coffee has about a 12-hour half life. That means a cup at 8:00AM is still active in the blood at 8:00PM. And a lot of people drink coffee all day and especially in the afternoon as a pick me up. That means you have circulating caffeine in your blood almost all day, 24 hours a day. So, those adenosine receptors can never really bind and calm the brain down and get you some good sleep. So, be careful with the energy drinks and caffeine as that can really make it worse.
So let’s talk about some facts about this condition. But let’s call it adrenal fatigue as that’s what is really at the heart of having zero energy, even though there are many other factors besides just your adrenal glands. It is a really huge epidemic; just a massive epidemic once you start researching. It’s just everywhere, especially with the post-C*VID modern world with all the things that have changed with stress and health and everything.
The danger comes into this discussion as the same underlying elements (the above items) which cause exhaustion and lack of energy are some of the same elements which increase our risk of weight gain, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, just to name a few.
Adrenal Fatigue (the underlying cause of low energy)
Sadly, adrenal fatigue is not even a condition that’s recognized by conventional medicine. It is a true syndrome but few doctors even recognize it. There’s not even a set of blood markers that says, “Hey, this is what we’re looking for in this patient. Few doctors are saying, “Let’s look for these things and then see what we can do about it,” despite the patient dragging themselves into the office, barely able to get out of bed in the morning.” Your family doctor or your conventional doctors don’t even have any sort of training to even look for this. So, when you keep going to these office visits and say, “Doc, I just don’t feel right. I’m tired all the time. I don’t feel good.” The brain fog. “I’m relying on coffee to get me up during the day.” They’re really not going to have a lot of answers to be honest with you, because their training tells them, “Well, if it’s not in the blood, then you’re good, right? You should be fine. I don’t know what your problem is.” You get a lot of that from a lot of docs. They mean well, they just don’t have the training to really deal with this. It’s very, very under diagnosed as far as this condition goes.
Let’s talk about supporting the body to try and reverse this
Now, first of all, patience, patience, patience – it takes time. You have to be patient with your body. The longer you’ve been exhausted and fatigued, the longer it probably takes to repair it. And it can be repaired quicker than you think if you do the right things. But we’ve got to be patient with ourselves and our body. So, let’s talk about some of the highlights here.
One of my favorite things with eating is to keep it simple, and it’s called jerfing. J-E-R-F, just jerf. What does that mean? Just Eat Real Food. Yes, there are lots of different protocols I put my clients on to help heal. Some of them are super effective and they can heal really quickly. But if we’re just getting started at the basics, let’s just try to eat real food and eat something that maybe 100 years ago your great, great grandmother would probably recognize as real food. Let’s get away from all the chemicals and process crap.
Hydration is really big. Distilled water. You hear me talk about this a lot in a lot of the videos I do. And distilled water is called hungry water. If this is a molecule of distilled water, it has a lot surface area to bind toxins. So, as it enters our body, it grabs minerals and takes it to the cell. And on the way out, it grabs toxins and takes them out. Tap water, even if it’s filtered, already has hard minerals bound to it around the molecule. And these minerals are not absorbed by our body, believe it or not. I know people will tell you that minerals, “Oh, yeah, I get them from my water.” No, you don’t. Those are hard minerals, they’re inorganic, we can’t absorb them.
Anyway, the surface area is diminished so that it can bind well to minerals and toxins. So, even though you may be drinking lots of water and feel like you’re hydrated, it may not be the right kind of water to really get you feeling better. So, whatever kind of distilled water, about half your body weight in ounces per day.
Movement. “I would love to workout, I’d love to train, I’d love to at least go for a couple mile jog or a 5K. But I just have no energy to even do that.” It’s a paradox. I know it’s crazy. But you have to move and expend energy to make energy. This supports the mitochondria we spoke about earlier. You have to start somewhere. So, start with some short little walks that you can accomplish on your own without a lot of strenuous movement to start; even five minute walks. Just start somewhere. And you can always increase it as you go.
Let’s talk about breathing. Again, I alluded earlier, we’re stuck into sympathetic dominance type mode. That means we’re fight or flight all the time, go, go, go, we’re always solving problems, always putting out fires. Do this – try it right now – sit still, close your eyes, and breathe in for four seconds, and then eight seconds out. Do 10, 3x a day. I really wanted to show you how long a really good breath is. That ramps down our sympathetic system and shifts our body into parasympathetic mode, which is calming. So, work on four seconds in through the nose, keeping your shoulders down, and eight seconds out through the mouth. Work on those breaths.
Your sleep routine. I can’t stress this enough. This is an absolute non-negotiable when I work with clients. You have to get good sleep. Create a routine to eventually get good sleep. It won’t happen night one, but you’ve got to work on it. And the non-negotiable means no screen time – I’m telling you – you have to put the screens down, the TV, that’s got to be shut off at least an hour before you want to be asleep. So, if it’s 11:00 bedtime, 10:30 it’s off but ideally, an hour before. I know that’s “crazy” in today’s world with streaming shows after work, hanging out with the spouse, whatever. But we’ve got to put the screens down. No exceptions.
Routine, routine, and more routine is key for sleep. Our body thrives with routine. I know it seems boring, but going to bed exactly at 10:30 every night, having that routine, tells our biorhythm, “Oh, I need to be sleeping right now.” If your bedtime varies from 7 pm because you passed out on the couch after work then the next night you are up until 2 am to finish a work task, your biorhythm is all over the place – it has no idea what to expect, and so it can’t secrete hormones and get you on a schedule. We’ve got to work on routine, routine, routine. And even if it doesn’t work at first, you have to stick with it. Again, this could take some time.
Stress response is super important. I want you to really think of the concept of responding to stress with calm and some thoughtfulness instead of a reaction. If somebody says something to you, the boss says something, the kids say something, unless it’s a medical emergency, you don’t need to react to that as if it’s life or death, unless it truly is. Take a second, process that, breathe, and then respond versus react. That’s really big.
Breath work and mindfulness. Mindfulness – there are so many things you could do out there, I would suggest you look that up.
Another really big one, because a lot of us have this internal dialogue that’s negative and toxic and cancerous, and we accumulate this crap throughout our life, it just happens to all of us – we’re human – I’ve had the same thing happen to me. I really want you to consider the book The Four Agreements. It is unreal how it can change your life. I recited these and worked to practice them in my life daily. I did this for over two years. Incredible. It’s outstanding. I want you to really work on The Four Agreements, to look up that book and consider what he’s saying in his book.
Self-care is big, especially for women out there who are the caregivers, the wife with the spouse or the partner, and then you’re depended on at work and all the deadlines and everything. Everybody’s depending on you, so you’ve got to take some time and schedule yourself for self-care. You’ve got to do that!! Schedule yourself. You wouldn’t have your kid missing an event, right? You make sure they get there. You wouldn’t miss work; you would make sure your spouse or husband gets to what they need. So make sure you get scheduled; you’ve got to schedule yourself.
What does that mean? If there are no hours left in the day for you, then something has to give. You have to put yourself first, even if it’s once a week for 15 minutes. Start somewhere. Schedule yourself, schedule some self-care time. And if something else has to go to make room for that, so be it, let it go. Doing a little less is better. You’ve got to do a little less, because, again, you’re exhausted, you can’t take on anymore. We actually have to unload our system.
Triumph over fatigue and exhaustion
There’s a really incredible story of a client, we’ll just call J to protect her privacy there. She could barely function, she could barely open her eyes to get out of bed, even after lying there for sometimes 10+ hours a night. And one reason is she had a chronic cough. We found the root cause of that cough and took care of that. But because she couldn’t get much oxygen due to the chronic cough – she coughed literally every sentence she spoke – her body could not make any energy. And this went on for years, I kid you not. So, her body was so low on oxygen that her brain couldn’t function. She couldn’t have an immune system, so she would get sick all the time. She had tremendous brain fog. And she was dealing with a brain injury as well, and concussion syndrome, and also had low oxygen into the brain. The brain was really struggling.
Once we helped her body by addressing gut health and got her on a good bio-rhythm and dialed in these things in her body that we knew were an issue, it was unbelievable transformation. She’s like a different person. I mean, it’s just incredible. I wish I could show you, but I can’t because of her privacy. But, she was a different person. Talking to her on the phone or in-person appointments, I had to keep telling her things like, “Wow, J, you’re just like a completely different person. I’m so proud of you.” And she was just like, “Wow, I didn’t realize all these things were going on and why my previous doctors were so clueless.”
I wrote an e-book, called Vibrant Health Breakthrough. You can find that on my website at DrJasonND.com. Check that out, it’s completely free. It’s 13 pages of pure content. I just want you to get you healthier, I want you to be well, I want you to be your best, I want you to go check that out and tell me what you think about it. And you’ll also be signed up for weekly updates on other really cool health topics. I’m just here to serve you, to help you get well. So, until next time, you’ll be well. Take care and God bless.