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Chronic Fatigue: What To Do About It

Chronic Fatigue:  What To Do About It
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Being tired all the time is no way to live. Especially in your high-risk job. Let’s break down what Chronic Fatigue is and how to fix it (including one method that has a 90% success rate).

What It Is
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) basically means that regular, everyday tasks make you tired. And resting doesn’t help. For example, do you wake up and feel just as tired and achy as when you went to bed?  Are you unfocused and fatigued in the middle of your day?

Some common symptoms of CFS include: sleep issues, joint pain, the sore throat that never goes away, headache, depression, achiness, bowel issues (aka hot belly), short-term memory issues and brain fog. “Chronic” means you’ve had these symptoms for weeks or more. Do you have a Costco-sized bottle of Ibuprofen in your duty bag? This may be a clue.

The Cause
Nobody really knows what causes CFS.  The speculation is it has many causes but one common ending: you feeling like dog crap. But what is known is that your immune system plays a big role in it. Think of your immune system as your body’s police force patrolling the streets. If your force is weak sauce, the streets are open to rioting.  This called “inflammation” which means you have an overactive immune system (your little Police force is fighting something inside. A LOT).  Chronic inflammation = disease like CFS.

What To Do
Here’s a strategy that has had a 90% success rate. It’s called the S.H.I.N.E. protocol: Sleep, Hormonal support, Infections, Nutritional support and Exercise.  It’s a simple and inexpensive method.  But yes, it requires some changes.

Let’s briefly touch on each.

 – Sleep
If you don’t sleep well you will obviously feel exhausted. The goal is getting deep, restorative sleep every night for 7-9 hours. Taking pharmaceuticals for sleep gives you the illusion that your sleep is improving. But it’s not. You won’t fall into that restorative phase (R.E.M.) plus they can be addictive.  Ditch the drugs and try natural supplements. They are powerful, inexpensive and more merciful to your body.

Some famously effective sleep supplements are: Valerian, Passionflower, L-theanine, Hops, Magnesium, Lemon Balm, 5-HTP, Vitamin B6 and Chamomile.

Don’t hit up Amazon and buy all these ingredients separately.  Try a reputable product like ‘Revitalizing Sleep Formula’ by Integrative Therapeutics, “Relaxing Sleep” by Herb Pharm (a great one if you wake up at night) or a favorite of many in the Law Officer audience “REST” by BluArmor. They contain very specific doses to help you fall and stay asleep.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements as they may interact with your medications. As you know, more is NOT better.  Herbs are extremely powerful (think ephedra) and need to be treated with respect like any other drug.

 – Hormonal Dysfunction
Thyroid, adrenals, estrogen and/or testosterone dysfunction are all factors that may contribute to CFS.  Hormones are too wide a topic to be covered here. But keep in mind that your hormone levels may need to be addressed down the line.

 – Immune Dysfunction
Infections (viral, parasites, candida) are a big factor in CFS. In fact, another name for CFS is ‘Immune Dysfunction Syndrome’.  Some infections may require treatment. But by fixing your sleep and diet, your immune system will strengthen and fight these infections. Thereby resolving itself. Let’s move on.

 – Nutrition
People with CFS or often nutritionally deficient. Have you heard the word “mitochondria” before?  They are in your cells and turn nutrients into energy for your cells. Which means energy for you. So support these guys with the right nutrition.

Make sure you take a high-quality multivitamin  to plug any gaps in your diet. Eat more nutrient-rich, less-processed foods.  Wean off the energy drinks. And break-up with sugar. It’s a direct road to fatigue.

Dehydration is an energy killer. Although drinking water is not sexy, it’s a game changer. Try using ’Waterlogged’, a free app that tracks your H2O intake and reminders to drink your daily quota.

 – Exercise
Balance people. Too much and you increase inflammation (I like Crossfit too). Too little and you become stagnant and even more tired.  A good rule is to get in that killer workout 3-4 days a week with active rest 3-4 days a week (walking, hiking, yoga, swimming).  You bought the Fitbit. So use it already.

When To See a Naturopathic Doctor
Two other causes of CFS are: food allergies or toxin overload. Both can be uncovered through lab testing and corrected with a targeted diet/supplementation plan.  Naturopaths can also check for hormone dysfunction.

If you feel these simple steps above didn’t make a difference seek professional help.  Remember the goal. To stay safe and alive, and have the energy to enjoy the things that are important to you.


references:

Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2012.

Murray MT, Pizzorno J. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Third Edition. Simon and Schuster; 2012.

Giloteaux, L., Goodrich, J. K., Walters, W. A., Levine, S. M., Ley, R. E., & Hanson, M. R. (2016, June 23). Reduced diversity and altered composition of the gut microbiome in individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. https://microbiomejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40168-016-0171-4

Mitochondria. (n.d.). https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/mitochondria-14053590

 

Janine Henkel Janine Henkel is insanely passionate about nutrition and is #1 fan of Police Officers. After almost 20 years in Law Enforcement and lecturing her co-workers about their eating habits, she retired and founded OnPointNutrition.Org, a nutrition consulting business designed with First Responders in mind. Janine holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition, is a Certified Personal Trainer and U.S. Marine Veteran. You can usually find Janine geeking out on technical books. Or enjoying the outdoors with her 5 year old son while trying to pull off the ‘cowboy hat with vibrams' look.