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Why am I tired?

Published October 3, 2011

Why am I so tired? This question is asked of me by many if not most new patients.  Quite a few of them have already seen their regular doctors and have failed to get a satisfactory answer.

When I meet these patients the easiest way to answer their questions is to look at what causes us to be tired. We are tired because our brain or body is unable to provide the energy we need. The brain produces dopamine which actually boots the amplitude of our brain waves. Along with energy, dopamine gives us the motivation to accomplish our daily tasks and plan for new ones. The brain also produces melatonin, which helps us achieve a deep and restorative sleep. The adrenals produce our adrenalins, which give us mental and physical energy, ideally produced when we need it (daytime) and not when we don’t (bedtime). Our liver produces glucose, which, when added to what we extract from our diet, provides fuel to our cells. Our cells produce ATP which drives our metabolism, and protein.

Instead of seeking out a cause of fatigue, patients will often look for stimulants like caffeine. They may see their doctor who will attempt to assign a name for the fatigue, either by diagnosing a disease (sometimes one is found), or, in the absence of a proven diagnosis, calling it “depression” or chronic fatigue syndrome. A drug is prescribed and one hopes for the best. If the drug helps, the duration of its use may become indefinite.

Anti-aging physicians approach a tired patient the way an electrician approaches a power outage. Rather than sticking a penny in the fuse box as a quick temporary fix, the electrician assesses the circuits and whatever fix is needed is done. Specialists trained in anti-aging and functional medicine often start with hormone corrections, especially the adrenals, thyroid, testosterone and melatonin. We can optimize sleep in a variety of natural ways if that is contributing to daytime fatigue. Next we can assess and optimize blood sugar regulation, especially when fatigue seems to be worse a few hours after meals. We can evaluate the diet to see if it is adequate to provide energy. We can determine if toxicity is present in the liver or elsewhere, as this can greatly sap energy, or see if there is a hidden infection or inflammation in the body that is contributing to fatigue. We can test and correct brain imbalances with special tests and start a natural corrective plan to boost dopamine and other energy related neurotransmitters. We also can use specific supplements that enhance cellular and brain energy in most people without adverse reactions.

At BodyLogicMD of San Diego and other BLMD practices around the country, every tired patient is approached like a power outage in our house. Rather than cursing the darkness and being content with merely lighting a candle, we seek out the cause or causes of the “outage” and endeavor to fix it. This can take days, weeks or months to accomplish, but the outcome is well worth it. Once the energy is back to target the goal is to prevent what caused the fatigue from recurring in the future.

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