After more than a decade in practice, I can honestly say that “fatigue” is one of the most common reasons why people seek naturopathic care. I frequently hear people say:
“I am exhausted as soon as I wake up
“I can barely make it through
the morning with
out wanting another coffee”
“I crave sugar at 3 pm and need to have it”
Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone! Fatigue or “low energy” is fairly non-specific as a symptom, but there are many underlying causes that naturopathic medicine can address very well.
- Rule out various types of anemia: Iron deficiency, b12 deficiency and folate deficiency are the most common causes of anemia. Your family doctor can request blood work to test for these, and we can work together to determine the cause of the deficiency. Diet is the most common culprit, but changes in stomach acidity and certain gene mutations (ie. MTHFR) can make anemia more likely.
- Check thyroid function. Changes in thyroid function (up or down) can have a big impact on energy levels. While thyroid dysfunction is easy to test for, the results don’t always match the symptom picture. It’s common for screening tests (TSH) to be “normal”, but for symptoms to persist. A naturopathic approach to thyroid dysfunction looks at basal body temperature, relationships between estrogen and progesterone (i.e. estrogen dominance can suppress thyroid function) and cortisol (aka the “stress hormone”).
- Rule out adrenal dysfunction. Chronic stress? Feel like you’re running on fumes? You may be! We are designed to cope with the ups and downs of life, but adrenal dysfunction can occur if there’s been a period of prolonged stress (students, caregivers, young parents), especially if sleep and diet haven’t been optimal. Saliva testing which measures cortisol at 4 different points throughout the day gives us the best indication of how “out of rhythm” the adrenal axis really is.
- Optimize sleep patterns. If you frequently wake through the night, especially if you wake at predictable times, there’s likely a reason. Hormone changes, especially during the peri-menopausal years are a frequent culprit. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and adrenal dysfunction are the other two most frequent sleep disruptors (other than caffeine and alcohol). While treating “the roots” of insomnia, naturopathic medicine has a number of gentle herbs that can promote sleep without the potential for addiction.
- Choose the right foods at the right time! As always, food is medicine. The types and kinds of foods that you put into your body directly mirror the amount of energy you get out of it! Carbohydrates, protein and fat all factor into a healthy diet, but proportions (not just portions) do matter. Too much of one, and not enough of the other can upset the balance.
I think most adults can operate at a 9/10 most days. So, if you’re not feeling up to par, we can help.