Chronic Fatigue – Causes and Corrections

Posted on October 11, 2011. Filed under: Fatigue, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

By Dr. Gregory Steiner~

Tired woman yawningEvery single week a new patient enters my clinic, and we’re not talking about ordinary “pain the neck” patients. These patients are suffering in a particularly difficult way, with a combination of extreme loss of energy and pain in multiple areas of their bodies.

The foremost symptom is never-ending, unrelenting fatigue. The second symptom is unending pain and stiffness, day-after-miserable-day. The fatigue and pain often appear together, but a person may suffer from one or the other. However, in my professional life I’ve never met a chronically tired person who didn’t hurt all the time, and I’ve never met a person who hurt all the time who wasn’t tired.

On the subject of energy, have you noticed that when you are energetic, there is no task that can’t be done, no problem that can’t be solved, and that pain – whatever the level – is tolerable. Have you also noticed that when you are not energetic that everything is difficult – – that slipping on your shoes becomes a major ordeal? These two syndromes are often confused, often ignored, and most unfortunately denied.

I’ll always, always remember the mountain of a man who became my patient in N. Ireland while living there a few years ago. He was a traditional man – strong, a good provider, a devoted husband and father, and he knew what is to gain and achieve through hard work. I’ll always remember the day he came to my clinic – dead tired and barely able to stay awake more than a few hours a day. He was unable to work, and had lost much of his self-esteem.

Up to that point in my career I was uncertain whether chronic fatigue (formerly called “Yuppie Flu” even existed. Some doctors thought it was a very bad reaction to viral infection; others thought it was depression under another name, and many didn’t believe it existed at all; after working with him I finally understood that chronic fatigue certainly does exist, and that in its harsher forms it can be debilitating.

The symptoms of chronic fatigue are physical, mental and emotional. A “typical” patient will tell me that usually everything feels heavy and sluggish to move. They often feel very stiff all over. Mental symptoms are quite interesting – patients tell me that that they their thinking is equally sluggish, and that they feel themselves in a state in-between sleep and wakefulness – not really awake, but not really asleep. Sleep quality is typically poor and these patients can hardly remember the last night of restful sleep they had. I’ve also had many say that they are unusually vivid dreamers, and that the dreaming seems to tire them out in an unusual way.

The condition can have dramatic effects on a person’s lifestyle. Some people are unable to work, and others underperform. People with mild but significant cases have enough energy to work, but usually come home, flop on the couch and have little energy for family or recreation.

In my experience there is no one cause for chronic fatigue, but there are several that appear with frequency. Post-viral syndromes do exist, but blood sugar handling issues involving poor carbohydrate metabolism are perhaps the most common cause or complicating factor. Some people have thyroid issues, and others are suffering form multiple allergies. Occasionally someone – usually a heavy person – suffers from sleep apnea. In Oriental medicine we look to the energetic function of the liver, spleen and kidney, as these organs and pathways are seen to be particularly influential in overall body energetics.

The real complicating factor is that several of these can occur together, and over time can lead to depression which makes correction harder yet again. Still, chronic fatigue is treatable and it is possible to regain lost energy. The corrections involve accurately figuring out where the pieces of the puzzle fit, and incorporating such nutritional intervention, acupuncture points, herbs, or medications as needed.

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One Response to “Chronic Fatigue – Causes and Corrections”

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Regarding, chronic fatigue, once I followed a Gluten free, reduced sugar & dairy diet, I can now function and move again.


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