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Dr. Fred Hui

Helping People Achieve Balance in Life

Are You Tired?

by Dr. Fred Hui M.D.

When a health survey was done on the general population, “Tiredness” always comes up as the most prevalent of concerns.

Most people have learned to accept it as part of our modern day demanding lives. When patients approach their physician about it, we, as a physician would try to do a screening examination and blood tests to look for the obvious causes such as anemia, a thyroid problem, any abnormal kidney and liver function. But most patients would be told “Everything looks alright!” “All your tests are negative!”

When being tired becomes long term and debilitating, patients are often labeled to have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This is not actually a disease really. It is more a descriptive term implying that the body is in fact bankrupt. When the “energy currency” of the central regulatory system is deficient, all parts of the body can become dysfunctional.  Depending on which specialist you consult, you will be labeled as having fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, psychosomatic or menstrual irregularity, to name just a few. 

An effective approach is to look at the body from all dimensions and adjust discernable aspects that can be normalized, hopefully.  If so, energy will return.

 The following are some useful approaches:

 1.Sleep is the time when we charge our rechargeable battery. The body rhythm has designated a certain time to be awake and another time to be desirably tired. Inappropriate sleep habits could result in gray days and gray nights instead of bright days and dark nights. Some people function for years with something akin to chronic jet lag.

 

Corrective tips: Wear an eye cover while you sleep to ensure darkness. Any light coming through the closed eyelids can decrease the effectiveness of one’s sleep hormone called melatonin. In the United States, melatonin is available in all health stores.  Supplementation would improve the depth and quality of sleep. Melatonin, is non-addictive and natural.  Herbs such as valerian can also be useful as another non-addictive aid.

Avoid daytime napping that is more than half an hour. Avoid caffeine in the second half of the day. For people who have bladder or prostate problems, restrict your fluid intake after dinner, so that frequent nighttime urination is not a constant nuisance. These are obvious, but still often violated aspects of sleep hygiene.

 

The waking part of the rhythm can be enhanced by natural light or having full spectrum light fixture exposure. Adrenal supplements such as adrenal glandular extract, or hormones such as DHEA (again, available over the counter in USA) can be useful.  Active exercises, hot showers, and Ginseng are invigorating during the wakeful hours. Many medications even when taken at night do not disappear from the blood completely even in the daytime and can cause daily fatigue.  Some such drugs are anti-anxiety pills, antidepressants, codeine or narcotic containing analgesics, anti histamines and anti-seizure medicine. Even prescription sleeping pills, can in fact, contribute to daytime lingering sleepiness. 

When a person does not experience fully bright days, a fully deep sleep will be harder to attain. Check and consider whether you are in a vicious cycle brought on by any of these frequently overlooked reasons mentioned here.

 2.Hormonal balance is another crucial aspect to investigate to reduce fatigue. Aging males realize their bodies are not as muscular as they used to be. Similarly their libido and stamina may have diminished. Physicians can prescribe testosterone supplementation taken orally, by injection or by using transdermal patches or cream. Bringing the body back up to a youthful level of certain hormones would contribute towards achieving optimal vitality at your current age.

Aging females used to get synthetic hormone replacement to help them preserve vitality and a younger appearance. Now, the realization of the long-term side effect of such an approach has made this medication undesirable. But supplementation by natural bio-identical progesterone cream is a safe and beneficial measure. Those patients that experience PMS, anxiety, breast tenderness or hot flashes may find natural hormone replacement re-balances them and gives back a state of well being.

 3.Body Temperature is another crucial factor that determines the metabolic rate of our body’s furnace. Anyone that has a tropical fish tank at home can witness the change of the degree of “liveliness” in his or her fish tank when the thermostat is set a minor degree higher or lower. Set lower, the fish slow down.

 Symptoms of hypothyroidism, a diminished thyroid hormone output, consists of sluggishness, cold intolerance, weight gain, puffiness and sometimes constipation. Doctors can detect deficiency of secretion of the thyroid gland by blood tests, but they tend not to realize that there are a lot of patients who have a normal blood test and yet have symptoms of thyroid deficiency. When the gland secretes thyroid hormone, the majority of it is in the form of T4. T4 needs to be converted into T3 before it can activate our metabolism furnace inside our cells. This may be due to lack of progesterone, or crucial minerals such as Selenium or Zinc. Or, when there is contamination by toxic metals such as mercury, all can contribute to the interference of the conversion of T4 into active T3, resulting in physical symptoms of an under-active thyroid while still providing a normal thyroid blood test. 

4.Adrenal hormone is also necessary to maintain our furnace temperature. Chronic stress can lead to adrenal gland exhaustion. These individuals tend to be thin, have low blood pressure, and cold intolerance. Increasing salt intake, or taking supplements such as licorice, adrenal gland extract, vitamin B etc can help to restore the function of such an important gland. An intravenous drip of a cocktail of such supplements can result in a dramatic energy boost.

 5. Digestive problems: If one has indigestion, think of using a digestive enzyme and a “good Bacteria” supplement such as acidophilus to normalize it. If one is constipated, use minerals such as magnesium to improve elimination.

 6. Food allergies or intolerance : If food that one is allergic to are being ingested, the body will look upon them as “intruders”. When the body turns on its immune system to get ride of the perceived enemy, one may feel the same tiredness while one is fighting a flu. The food may not give immediate symptoms in some case, but give rise to the “unwell” feeling that may be called “fatigue”. The immediate type of allergic reaction can be noticed easily. But, the delayed type of reactions that may last weeks or months after a food was ingested is called “delayed sensitivities”  A “delayed food sensitivity IgG test” would be helpful to detect and avoid food that is taking a toll on the body.

 7. Nutritional deficiencies of B12, B Complex, or various minerals can certainly cause fatigue. They act as catalysts for chemical physiological steps involved in cell function. Many patients should take a high potency oral vitamin and mineral to cover these possibilities. For quick results a series of intravenous drips called  “Meyer’s cocktail” can be very energizing. I often use this method as the corner stone for my treatment of patients with chronic fatigue.

 8. Low Grade Chronic Infection: Some worn out patients were well until they caught a “flu” that they never recovered from. They feel like they have a low-grade fever or chills at times. They may also experience an “achy” body, another symptom of a “flu”. For these patients, that may be harboring a low-grade infection as the underlying cause of feeling “under the weather,” I use an antibiotic, or a series of intravenous hydrogen peroxide treatments to clear out the infection. They may then suddenly snap out of their chronic fatigue.

 9. Heavy Metal : If a patient feels particularly tired mentally and experiences “Brain Fog,” one should explore the presence of toxic metals such as mercury, lead, or aluminum in the body. A procedure called a “Chelation challenge” can determine whether the body has such a “toxic load”. Some patient may recalled that they start being tired after they when to the dentist to have their mercury fillings put in or replaced. Mercury is one of the most poisonous substances on earth, but yet the dental profession is still ignoring and denying the concerns of using amalgam as teeth filling material. Mercury has special affinity for the nervous system and brain tissue. Gradual emission from the silver fillings may contribute to progressive “foggy” feeling of the patients’ mental functions. There are so many patients that would raved about the mental clarity that they regain after they received Chelation Therapies that clean them of such heavy metal poisons.  If one have occupational exposure to Lead, or other heavy metals, be aware of this possibility.

 10. Depression does dampen the driving force of the body. Feeling “ not enthused” certainly makes one becomes tired. Depression can be situational or genetic. Biochemical imbalances of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine can be helped by anti depressants or natural supplements such as St.John’s Wort, 5-HTP, or SAMe.

 11. Work Overload: Finally, this is one of the commonest reasons for tiredness in modern society. Taking on more than one can handles. Taking on a bigger mortgage than one can comfortably affords. Being a working mother with not enough resting time, etc. No amount of medicine can erase the fatigue until a person does some fundamental life style changes. Reorganizing ones affair, taking time to relax, meditate. All these are long term remedies to our chronic tiredness.

In conclusion, there are many ways to combat “fatigue” with an integrative medicine approach. Chronic fatigue may become no longer chronic and life can be enjoyed once again with a return to vibrancy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fred Hui