Author: Rhonda Bilsker Pearl, NCCAOM, LAc, CA
As a board certified herbalist and acupuncturist, one of the most common complaints I have heard during my years of practicing Chinese medicine is that of fatigue. In Chinese medicine, fatigue may be caused by many factors, two examples are a Qi deﬁciency (Qi is similar to oxygen/ energy) and/or dampness (a heaviness felt in the body). These imbalances can lead to chronic fatigue.
It seems that whether the patient sleeps well or not, they still battle with fatigue. First, we ask the questions:
Do you fall asleep easily? Do you stay asleep? Do you awake feeling rested?
Usually people battling fatigue answer "no" to one or more of the above questions. Chinese medicine is all about balance and treating the root causes of the pathologies, not just the symptoms. So, in the case of fatigue, we would determine, by means of examination, the pathology.
We should also take into consideration the patient’s lifestyle, including diet and exercise of the mind and of the body. If needed, patients may be required to change their diet and eliminate some foods. For example, those suffering from fatigue should avoid sugar, which depletes the nutrients, and also stop drinking carbonated beverages which harm the cells that supply our bodies with energy. A balanced detox should also be considered to help rid the body of toxins that cause fatigue.
The usual energy boosters like caffeine provide a short-term ﬁx but can be harmful in the long run. In Chinese medicine we say caffeine dries the blood, and since blood and Qi move together and Qi equals energy, no movement of Qi equals fatigue! So, those experiencing fatigue should avoid caffeinated products.
There are ways to naturally produce more energy and curb fatigue:
Meditation: A 15-minute-a-day "quiet time" for your brain equals a great night’s sleep! Just try focusing on your breath midday and see how rested you will feel for the rest of the afternoon!
Exercise: Exercising and/or stretching when you feel tired will move blood and Qi and provide an energy boost.
Herbal remedies: There are many herbal remedies available for improving energy and relieving fatigue. Just be careful to choose one that doesn’t contain caffeine.
Look for products containing rosemary or green oats, which are natural and beneﬁcial ingredients.
Another great ingredient for treating fatigue is olive leaf which promotes energy and is known to boost the immune system.
With a combination of proper nutrition and exercise for both our bodies and minds, as well as meditation and natural herbs, we can stop the problem of feeling sluggish and exhausted and resume enjoying our lives with the vitality and passion we were meant to feel!