What Is It?

Many people drag themselves around every day feeling like something the cat brought in. On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 is full of beans), how would you rate your energy? Anywhere under 7 is just not good enough. Defining fatigue is difficult as it can be hard to put your finger on whether you feel mentally or physically tired, and sometimes, it is a mixture of the two.


  • Lacking physical energy and psychological motivation.

What causes it?

  • Fatigue can be due to a flotilla of causes. Depression, post-flu or some other infection, over-work, insomnia, anaemia, stress, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, low thyroid function, liver disease, hormonal imbalance, cancer, a side effect of medication, persistent pain and many other reasons.
  • If you have been pushing yourself too hard for too long or burning the candle at both ends, you could be experiencing what naturopaths call ‘adrenal exhaustion’. The adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys (ad = near; renal = kidney), handle stress by pumping out the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. After a period of time, the adrenal glands tire of the incessant strain and exhaustion sets in.

What to do

If your fatigue has been with you for more than a couple of weeks and the cause is not obvious (ie lack of sleep, exams etc), then it is vital that you have a check-up. A cause must be found. For more detailed information on how to treat the cause, see the relevant chapters in this book.


  • When you are fatigued, you can’t risk having a poor diet. Eat fresh food, preferably raw, including sprouts, seeds and ‘live food’ that has not been excessively processed or cooked. Fresh vegetables and fruit are to occupy the main part of your diet.
  • Avoid sugar, alcohol and white flour products.
  • Avoid caffeine. Although it may give you an immediate lift, ultimately, it will leave you more tired. A sure sign of adrenal fatigue is when you ‘need’ a fix of caffeine to keep going. Caffeine causes the adrenal glands to squeeze out a precious few drops of adrenaline, something they can ill afford to do if you have been stressed and fatigued for some time. Avoid coffee, chocolate, cola, guarana and tea.
  • Eat every 2 to 3 hours to keep your blood-sugar levels constant, ensuring that every meal or snack contains some protein.
  • Juices are an excellent way of obtaining lots of nutrients in a single glass. Drink a daily juice based on raw carrot with beetroot, wheat grass, parsley and a touch of ginger added.


  • Take a B complex each morning and another at lunchtime.
  • Spirulina, wheat grass and other ‘green’ supplements containing chlorophyll can add a little pep to your day.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is required to make energy within cells. Although you naturally make CoQ10 in your body, sometimes giving nature a helping hand is required.
  • Herbs for energy include Siberian and Korean ginseng, rhodiola, damiana and oats.
  • Royal jelly, with its readily available vitamin B5 and other goodies can be a nice pick-me-up. (Note: avoid royal jelly if you are allergic to bee stings.)
  • The Bach flower, olive, is excellent for debilitating fatigue of mind and body, whereas Hornbeam will suit if you have that ‘Monday morning’ feeling all week long.
  • If your blood tests show you are deficient in iron, B12 or another nutrient, then supplement with this until your levels return to a normal range.


  • Sleep well. You can’t possibly feel energetic if you don’t get enough sleep.
  • Exercise increases circulation, allowing more oxygen to get to the brain and the muscles. If exercising gives you more energy the next day, then make exercise part of your routine, especially if it improves your sleep quality. However, if exercising makes you more tired the next day (not just tired muscles), this is a sign you really are exhausted. Rest is your best medicine. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome .
  • Take time out of your normal routine. Put the children into the loving arms of someone else or give yourself some mental health days away from work – whatever is needed. When you have some time to reflect, perhaps the underlying reason for your fatigue will become clear.
  • Meditation will give you more energy. Make it part of every day.

At a glance


  • Even though you are tired, a poor diet is not an option now. Food must be fresh and as unprocessed as possible. Think vegetables, think fruit.
  • Avoid sugar, alcohol and white flour products.
  • Although you might be hanging out for a double espresso, it is expressly forbidden. Caffeine will only add to your woes, creating a false illusion of energy.
  • Every 2 to 3 hours, eat a meal that contains a little protein. This will keep your blood sugar levels steady.


  • Take a B complex each morning and another at lunchtime
  • Make it green. Spirulina, wheat grass and other ‘green’ supplements will increase your energy levels.
  • Herbs for energy include Siberian and Korean ginseng, rhodiola, damiana and oats.


  • Exercise improves energy. Make it part of your routine.
  • Clear your mind; practice meditation. The skill of being still can bring subtle improvements in your day-to-day energy levels.