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Hello, I’m Dr. Greg Fors from the Pain and Brain Healing Center here to talk to you about a widespread ailment that I see every week here at the clinic; Chronic Fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It’s a loss of vitality and one of the most common disorders that are present at the clinic, along with chronic pain. Chronic fatigue, fatigue syndrome, or chronic fatigue of any sort generally comes down to one thing: the mitochondria.
Mitochondria refers to little power plants in your cells that produce ATP. This molecule generates energy to allow you to do everything you do. Now, what can influence this ATP production? Many of us think of the thyroid as one issue. We have the thyroid producing something called Thyroxine – T4 – which converts into T3. T3 goes into the cell and stimulates the mitochondria to produce more energy, then cells can do the job they need to do.
People with low thyroid often end up with issues with fatigue and constipation – because the digestive tract isn’t working well – as well as chills, cold, and hair that doesn’t growing well. Thyroid issues can show up almost anywhere because all cells need the thyroid to stimulate the mitochondrial function. Many people with fatigue get a thyroid medication Thyroxine or Armour Thyroid. They still feel like they’re fatigued, as the medication did not do the job completely. Often the answer is that the mitochondria themselves are not working well. No matter how much you whip a dying horse, the abuse is not going to make it move. We then need to address the underlying mitochondrial issue.
Very few doctors look at this. However, we do! An organic acid profile, a lab test we commonly run, measures different substrates from the Krebs cycle within the mitochondria to see if the mitochondria are working well. If they are not, there are specific treatment programs, metabolic therapies, that can help restore mitochondrial function. That’s the big issue – looking at mitochondrial function. One of the things that can affect the mitochondria function is iron. An iron deficiency isn’t picked up by CBC in low hemoglobin; that’s the last thing to show up. We look at a complete iron profile here by looking at the percent of iron saturation ferritin. Ferritin is the only thing that tells you what your cellular iron levels are. So, many doctors are relying on hemoglobin or maybe an iron level, but you need to look at more.
So, if the cellular iron is deficient, the mitochondria won’t work well, then you’ll have fatigue. Of course, if your hemoglobin is low, you’re not going to carry enough oxygen; you’re going to have fatigue. However, that’s usually not missed. So we’re talking about fatigue that is being missed by the conventional approach and needs a more functional medicine approach. Along those lines, we also need to look at other nutritional deficiencies that could be affecting mitochondria function. We do a red blood cell magnesium to look at magnesium issues inside the cell since magnesium is essential to mitochondrial function. All these different factors need to be looked at.
Another of the issues is adrenal. Adrenal fatigue is a little bit different from thyroid and mitochondria, but it still feels the same: low drive, difficulty getting moving, just feeling very fatigued and drawn out. Usually, there’s a history of stress involved. The way to diagnose that is to do a cortisol twelve-hour salivary test along with other hormones to look at your adrenal function. Another thing I see a lot of and is overlooked is insulin resistance. One out of two Americans is either early diabetic or fully diabetic. It’s sometimes called pre-diabetes, but that’s early diabetes, and as much as 90 percent of those with early diabetes are undiagnosed.
A conventional doctor may run a SMAC panel with fasting glucose. For fasting glucose to get elevated to diabetic levels, you have to have been experiencing insulin resistance for 10 to 20 years. With insulin resistance, you’re not getting the glucose into the cell correctly. Without glucose getting the cell properly, you’re going to be fatigued. Makes sense? So, we need to see if your cells are becoming deaf to your insulin. If that is the case, the pancreas will pump up more insulin to try to drive the glucose into the cell. However, more insulin leads to weight gain and also leads to problems with inflammation. Insulin turns on inflammation.
So I hope I’ve illustrated there are many avenues to fatigue and many times conventional medicine may throw up its hands and put you on an antidepressant. However, that is missing the whole aspect of looking at the underlying metabolic issues contributing to your fatigue. If you’re interested, come by for a free consultation The primary issues we deal with are low energy, low vitality and chronic fatigue. Contact us today!