It’s happened to all of us - working overtime, stress in the family, saying ‘yes’ to one too many functions. Whatever the case may be, we stretched ourselves too thin and now we’re exhausted.
But when does fatigue go from normal to a sign of something else?
And can we use herbs for fatigue to help pull us through?
Let’s take a look.
Causes of Fatigue
Fatigue is perhaps one of the most common medical terms there is and is a symptom associated with several different health conditions.
To put it simply, fatigue describes the general feeling of tiredness and reduced energy.
Despite being a symptom on its own, fatigue also manifests with other symptoms such as excessive sleepiness and occasional headaches.
Many factors can cause fatigue, most of which can be subdivided into three general categories:
- Lifestyle factors
- General physical health factors
- Mental health factors
These include your daily activities and the choices you make every day. In some cases, lifestyle factors can contribute to the onset of a disease process. Some of these include:
- Extreme exertion
- Inadequate sleep
- Regular drinking of alcohol
- Reduced physical activity
- Being overweight
- Poor diet
- Certain medications such as sedatives and antidepressants
General health factors
Health factors that cause fatigue occur when some sort of disease has already taken root in the body. These diseases may be acute with sudden onset symptoms or chronic conditions that can affect you for a long time.
These can include:
- Infectious diseases such as flu and cold
- Sleep disorders
- Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
- Thyroid disorders
- Heart failure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Mental health factors
Fatigue is a common manifestation of mental breakdown. Some of the mental health factors that can cause fatigue include:
- Seasonal affective disorder
One way to get rid of fatigue naturally is with herbs.
Which herb you use depends largely on why you’re feeling fatigued in the first place, but many of the most helpful herbs for fatigue fall in the category of adaptogenic herbs.
Actions and Benefits of Adaptogenic Herbs
For centuries, adaptogenic herbs have been growing in popularity in natural medicine. They really shined around the time of World War II when scientists began looking for booster supplements to increase the efficiency and ability of pilots.
According to a study published in 2008, Russian scientists have been at the forefront in carrying out pharmacological research on adaptogenic herbs since the 1960s.
Studies on animals have shown that adaptogenic herbs can increase the working capacity of an individual, giving them the ability to better manage stress.
Just as their names suggest, adaptogens are those ingredients that support the body’s ability to accommodate and cope with various physical, emotional, and lifestyle stress factors.
The actions and benefits of adaptogens can be summarized based on the findings of this study that was published on Chinese Medicine:
According to the study, a substance is only considered an adaptogen if it meets the following three criteria:
- It must be nonspecific and able to assist the body in resisting a wide range of adverse stresses.
- It must help maintain homeostasis in the body. This means that they should be able to resist or offset changes in physiological processes due to external stress factors.
- It must not affect, alter, or harm the normal functions of the human body.
From these criteria, it is clear that adaptogens work to strengthen all systems in the body, including the central nervous system, the endocrine system, and the immune system.
Now let’s look at some of the “best of the best” to help you enjoy more energy and better manage the stress of life.
7 Best Herbs for Fatigue
1. Panax Ginseng
According to The Mayo Clinic, high doses of American ginseng (Panax quinqufolius) when administered over a period of two months can effectively reduce fatigue associated with cancer. These findings were presented in 2012 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago.
The researchers studied a total of 340 patients who were being treated for cancer or who had completed their cancer treatment.
In the study where 60% of the participants had breast cancer, the participants either received a placebo or 2000 mg of ground pure American ginseng.
It only took 4 weeks for the participants taking ginseng to start manifesting beneficial results.
By the 8th week, fatigue symptoms were significantly improved and by the 20th week, symptoms of general exhaustion were alleviated with no apparent side effects.
The researchers of the study concluded that both American and Asian ginseng have great potential when used in the management of fatigue due to chronic illnesses.
Studies have shown that there are specific ashwagandha root extracts that can improve stress symptoms when taken twice daily after meals for a period of 60 days in 300mg doses.
A 2013 study published in PubMed sought to explain the effect of ashwagandha on fatigue induced by chemotherapy in patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer.
In the study, the patients were administered ashwagandha root extract at a rate of 2 grams every 8 hours during the course of their chemotherapy.
The study concluded that ashwagandha root extract not only improves the quality of life in patients with chronic illness, but also alleviated the fatigue attributed to these chronic illnesses.
3. Eleuthero Root
According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Current Clinical Pharmacology, eleuthero is helpful in improving mental performance in individuals who have mild to moderate stress-induced fatigue.
Although this herb is often referred to as Siberian ginseng, it is not classified under the family of true ginseng.
4. Rhodiola Rosea
In 2007, a clinical trial study was done to assess the effect of rhodiola rosea on subjects with prolonged or chronic fatigue.
The subjects were given two 200 mg daily doses of the supplement over a period of 8 weeks.
What’s amazing is that the researchers started observing beneficial results within 1 week of administration.
Symptomatic relief was gradual in nature and significant recovery was achieved after 8 weeks with no adverse side effects.
5. Yerba Mate
Yerba mate tea is one of the best known natural remedies for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
A study done in 2017 explored the metabolic, satiety, and mood effects of yerba mate.
The results showed that yerba mate supports metabolic processes in the body, nourishes the endocrine system, stimulates muscle activity, and enhances both psychomotor and appetite control.
Guayusa is an herb native to the Amazon rainforest. The characteristic feature of this herb is that it has high caffeine levels between 2.8% and 3.28% in dry weight. For this reason, it is widely used as a natural stimulant.
Its energizing effects are what make guayusa an ideal adaptogenic herb for managing mild fatigue.
Currently, there is limited research that explains why or how guayusa is so effective in managing fatigue.
However, customer reviews and recommendations from people who have achieved success with guayusa are evidence enough for some to support the use of this adaptogenic herb.
Nowadays, most people use maca to treat anemia or chronic fatigue syndrome. It is also used to enhance physical performance, improve stamina, and boost memory.
Maca is helpful in providing symptomatic relief in patients who experience persistent fatigue in the presence of an underlying medical condition such as the cause of anemia.
By boosting memory and enhancing physical performance, maca can be helpful in both restoring good mental health and maintaining muscle tone to help keep you fit.
Several factors can cause fatigue. While some of these factors are easy to manage, others such as illnesses may require close monitoring by your doctor.
It’s important to note that adaptogenic herbs are not curative for fatigue - they simply help support your body through it while you work on its underlying cause.
That's exactly why we created Awaken - an organic energy supplement crafted with some of nature's most potent adaptogenic herbs to give your body the support it needs to effectively manage stress and fight fatigue.