TGIF: Fighting Fatigue with Functional Medicine

Getting through a long day at work and balancing your household duties is hard for anyone, but is particularly difficult for those dealing with chronic fatigue. If you continue to hustle and bustle as you find yourself weak, tired and irritated, then it might be time for you to find natural ways to perk yourself up. Caffeine only lasts for so long and energy drinks have more sugar than they do beneficial nutrients. When it comes to finding ways to muster up more energy to power through the day, you are better off taking an all-natural route.

Functional medicine looks at fatigue differently than traditional medicine does. How? Functional medicine focuses on the prevention and treatment of chronic disease by finding the cause of the imbalance or symptom the person is experiencing. It is holistic medicine, with a whole-person view, and yet also molecular medicine, with tools and testing to evaluate the biochemistry of cells, tissues and organs – and how they are all interconnected. Is there something in your body that isn’t functioning right to explain it? What else is going on in your life? Because everything is interconnected, there is usually more than one thing out of balance to cause fatigue and any other symptoms.

The culprit may be hormones. Hormones together create an orchestra, with each hormone necessary for the harmony that is the human body. If one is out of balance, it throws everything else off. Therefore, a thorough evaluation is required that includes the whole orchestra of hormones. These include the thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones.

Functional medicine is personalized medicine that deals with primary prevention and underlying causes instead of symptoms for serious chronic disease. It is a science-based field of health care that is grounded in the principles of biochemical individuality, the web-like interaction of physiological factors, and health as vitality, not simply as lack of disease.

The thyroid gland is the organ most often blamed for weight gain and low energy. Functional Medicine expanded blood testing includes TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Total T3, Reverse T3, and anti-thyroid antibodies. With these additional tests done through a standard lab, a functional medicine physician can diagnose forms of a low functioning thyroid that are often missed and not evaluated by your endocrinologist or internist. One example is low T3, something often overlooked because traditional physicians aren’t testing for it.

If results determine a low functioning thyroid gland, further detective work to figure out what is causing the problem will be conducted. Are low in the vitamins and minerals the thyroid needs? A vitamin deficiency can cause the thyroid gland to be stressed and not work properly. Therefore, a mufti-faceted treatment plan of a prescribed multi-mineral and diet modification would be proposed.

Sometimes, there are other reasons why the thyroid gland is sluggish. Heavy metals, especially mercury, can damage the thyroid tissue, causing low thyroid hormones. There is also an autoimmune disease, called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, where the body’s immune cells attack the thyroid gland, causing inflammation and damage. This is a common cause of hypothyroidism.

The good news? Functional Medicine offers tools to treat both these conditions. There are specially designed treatment plans to remove mercury and to cure the autoimmune disease. Using this approach, the thyroid can recover and begin to function normally again, reinstating the hormone harmony that is so important.

While you are pursuing medical treatment and discovering the underlying cause of your fatigue, take the time to implement new ways to give yourself a much-needed boost now and again. These all-natural methods are by no means a replacement for your physician’s recommendations, but when implemented in supplement to your existing treatment plan, they might just put a bit more pep in your step:

  • Take a breath: An ancient form of yogic breathing called alternate nostril breathing is known to give a brief energy boost. To do this breathing exercise, hold your nose like you’re about to jump into a pool. Release your finger from your right nostril and breathe in for a count of four, and then out again for a count of four. Then repeat, but this time with your left nostril only. This form of breathing is still practiced in India as a natural way to boost energy.
  • Manage your blood sugar: If your blood sugar levels are spiking and falling all day then it will be no surprise when your energy levels mimic that. Eating a healthy diet with a balance of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats can do a lot for your blood sugar levels, and keep you from getting too tired during the day. Eating smaller snacks throughout the day instead of larger meals can also help.
  • Aromatherapy: If you are in need of a brain boost, take a walk outside and try to find a rosemary plant. Even Shakespeare recognized the mental benefits of rosemary, as the plant is known to boost memory and cognition and can often get your mind out of a rut and back in action. Other scents that are good for energy include grapefruit, almond and bergamot.
  • Improve your posture: Our bodies tend to mimic our minds, so if you are tired and all you are thinking about is a nap, chances are you are going to start to slouch at your desk. Combat the feeling by sitting up straight at your desk. If you need more of a boost, stand up and walk around for a few minutes. A brief walk out in the sun may give you all the energy you need to power through a long afternoon.

Tired of feeling tired? Call our office at (304) 263-4927 to schedule a consultation. Blood testing may be done the same day with results available in as little as one week.



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