Monthly Archives: January 2014

Functional Medicine as a Primary Intervention for Fatigue


It’s shocking how many people complain of being fatigued.. I cannot tell you how many times my patients have told me that they are tired. And it’s not like thy are saying it because they exerted themselves and now they are tired, no they are indicating that this is ongoing from morning until night. The people that do not permanently feel lethargic, can at least pinpoint exactly in day day when they start feeling fatigued. And typically I will hear of these times being mid morning or mid afternoon. There are too many people complaining of fatigue for this not to be a real problem. there has to be a reason.

How is Fatigue categorized?

In reality, there are many reasons for fatigue. If you look at the symptoms for many diseases, fatigue is often in that list. The people walking around with fatigue don’t have a named condition. Named conditions often have medications associated with them. There is no medication for fatigue. As much marketing as pharmaceutical companies place on their product, they don’t advertise for a medication to address fatigue. Fatigue can be elusive. It falls into the gray area of healthcare as a subclinical condition. You know something is wrong, but standard methods can’t define it.

Functional medicine can help pin point fatigue

In situations such as this, functional medicine has its merit. The idea is that regardless of whether dysfunction has manifested into a named condition or not, the abnormal metabolic activity needs to be addressed. In doing so, normal function returns and symptoms abate. In the case of fatigue, functional medicine is the gold standard approach. When I apply functional medicine to patients looking for more energy, I am looking for what might be impediments to energy production. The more common findings include such things as nutrient deficiencies, increased inflammation, blood sugar disturbances and hormonal imbalances.

To get to the cause of fatigue, it has to be thought about in a functional manner, not as a symptom. When we trace energy production through specific pathways, breakdowns in these pathways are quickly isolated using functional medicine testing. Once testing isolates the area of concern, action can be taken to enhance metabolic function. A good example of this would be a nutrient deficiency. Let’s take B5 as our example. To push carbohydrates from our diet, in the form of glucose, to become an energy molecule, B5 is needed at many points. Repletion of B5 is necessary in cases such as this and often energy levels are regained. But how often would a non-functional medicine doctor order such tests? They probably would not. Furthermore, would they ask the question of why you had the B5 deficiency? It could be any number of reasons from infection to an increased need for hormone production.

What you are feeling is real, don’t ignore it.

The bottom line when it comes to addressing fatigue is that if you are not going to find the answers you seek without functional medicine. The standard approaches are going to leave you with more questions than answers. I see this with new patients routinely. Fatigue is a real thing. You are not imaging what you are feeling and have confidence when I tell you that there are many others out their dealing with the same exhaustion that you are feeling. However, take comfort, there is hope and there is a solution to feeling more energetic and it begins with functional medicine.

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