Chronic fatigue, Adrenal fatigue & Thyroid issues from a Chinese Medicine perspective

In Chinese Medicine, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, thyroid disease and degenerative disorders are commonly caused by exhaustion. However  it is not the usual exhaustion that most people experience after a big day at work, it is complete exhaustion of body’s essence (known as “Jing ” in Chinese Medicine).

Jing (Essence) is our bank balance of LIFE FORCE. It is inherited by our parents and ancestors. It is dependent on our parents health at the moment of conception, this determines the strength and abundance of our Jing (just as some children are born into financial wealth and big bank balance’s, others start with very little).

Once we have inherited our Jing at the moment of conception and during our time in the womb, we then supplement our life force with “Post Heaven Qi”  which is food, water, air and exercise after we are born.

Our life is much like a candle
One great analogy I use to describe to my patients that are suffering with the diseases mentioned above is: We are much like candles. The wax represents our essence (JIng) and the flame represents our activity (Yang ) state of being.

When we overwork, over-train, over-stress and we take things to extreme for long periods of time, we burn the candle at both ends. This excessive way of living melts the wax “Jing ” much quicker then it should and you experience burn out.

If your body has a good supply of inherited Jing, while having an excessive lifestyle and still somewhat looking after yourself, some people can make it to their 40’s or even 50’s with good health, depending on how well their diet and lifestyle is supporting their Post Heaven Qi.

However if your parents were not at optimal health when they conceived, and you choose not look after yourself these disorders can happen as early as teens or twenties.

Burnt out
Once the Jing is exhausted we become exhausted, this is when these diseases mentioned above manifest. The body has a self regulating mechanism, in which it starts to reduce the size of the flame (our active energy) on the candle, in order for the body to preserve itself from being completely extinguished and this gives the body a chance to recover before further injury.

When the flame has reduced, symptoms include a lack of vitality, cold limbs, depression, tiredness, digestive weakness amongst other symptoms.

Overheating
To describe further complication’s it’s best to use the pot on the stove analogy.

The pot is your body, the flames are your energy and inside the pot is a liquidy soup which is your body’s blood, jing and nutrient stores.

When you turn the heat up on the stove, the liquid evaporates to a gentle steam and the water levels drop inside the pot. Once you have reduced the water levels in the pot, the same flame you were using for a full pot becomes detrimental to a half full pot. It causes vigorous bubbling, steam and heat signs. Evaporation is happening too quickly, in order to preserve and not waste the contents of the pot, it is only intuitive to turn down the heat or run risk ruining the contents and burning the pot.

However we have three choices at this stage:

The first is we can rest and fill up the pot (our nutritive stores), the second choice is we can choose ignore the pot and function at a sub-optimal level, the third option (the common option) is where we ignore the tiredness and the emptiness and instead we muster up our strength with sheer will power or caffeine/stimulants turning the flame back up to normal heat or even higher and ignore the whole situation completely.

Once this happens, we then begin to get a new range of symptoms known as “Empty Heat”, the nearly empty pot with its contents bubble, splash and steam excessively.  The steam rises upwards and outwards effecting the outer parts of the body (skin) and the upper parts of the body, heart, brain, head, eyes etc. This is reflected in symptoms such as headaches, malar flush, night sweats, rashes, eczema, red eyes, high blood pressure, high intraocular pressure, irritability, anxiety, inflammation, palpitations and insomnia.

Digestive weakness
The other complication of these diseases is digestive weakness. This is because your body is lacking vital energy to perform digestion (the flame on the pot is too small to cook regular sized meals) and enzymes/hydrochloric acid/nutrients are insufficient (there is not enough liquid in the pot to submerge and evenly cook the food), which can lead the digestive tract open to foreign invaders.

Often it is frustrating for people suffering  with chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, thyroid and degenerative disorders because their body becomes a very delicate balance in the process of recovery. It takes time and consistency, their old ways of living are no longer sustainable and it can be a real struggle to change.

Diet, herbs, meditation and exercise become essential for the well-being of people with these disorders, as it is like they are walking on a very thin tight rope until they can build themselves back up to a level that feels good for them.

Additionally those with these disorders should get extensive parasite/bacteria testing to see if there are any parasites or harmful bacteria robbing the body as they are prone to foreign invaders because of their weakened state.

Jing is Responsible for:

  • Normal growth and development e.g growth of bones, teeth, hair, brain development and sexual/reproductive function. If there is a Jing weakness in children they may have crowded teeth, structural problems, developmental delay or deformities.
  • Reproduction – Jing is our life essence, often when jing is exhausted the patient finds it difficult to conceive, often completely exhausted people will experience menopause or andropause early.
  • Production of marrow : Marrow fills bones and is fundamental for building and strengthening bones, as well as producing red and white blood cells. Marrow is also considered the spinal cord and brain.
  • Vitality :  Jing is measured by libido and as well as the strength of your immunity, chronic low libido or immunity is sign of jing weakness.
  • Stored in the Kidneys – Jing is stored in the kidneys, the kidneys have a strong relationship with all the endocrine glands in the body including thyroid in Chinese Medicine.

Note: There can be layers and complications to these diseases it is advised to see a qualified health care practitioner instead of self diagnosing. This ensures the quickest path to recovery and avoid any complications of misdiagnosis.

What damages Jing

  • Stimulants : caffeine, stimulant drugs (speed, cocaine) some forms of ginseng and energy drinks.
  • Overwork
  • Excessive physical exercise
  • Sympathetic nervous system dominance –  always in fight or flight mode
  • Night shift work
  • Getting to sleep after 11 pm
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive sexual activity in men
  • Trauma or shock/ fear
  • Poor nutrition
  • Chronic illness
  • Parasites
  • Not being breast fed as a child
  • Antibiotics

Foods to strengthen Jing (in order of strongest to weakest)

  • Bone Broth/ Bone Marrow (preferably cow, pig or goat)
  • Organ meats: liver, kidneys
  • Seafood and sea vegetables
  • Meat (organic grass-fed)
  • Organic grass fed butter
  • Eggs (organic & pasture raised)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Berries

(include more fat and protein, no grains, no dairy, no gluten or processed food)

Supplements:

  • B12 ( High concentrations in organ meats and shell fish)
  • Vitamin D – If you can get healthy sun exposure use D- minder app
  • Zinc – (found in oysters and pumpkin seeds)
  • Selenium
  • Coconut oil – 2-6 table spoons a day
  • Curcumin – Degenerative disorders
  • Epsom salt baths – increases glutathione our master antioxidant
  • 2 AEP – strengthens the cell walls to absorb less toxins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin  E

Exercise
Depending on how depleted your body is, I often suggest starting slow with exercise. Daily brisk walks until you feel warm in the feet. After two weeks add some body weight strength training with high intensity low reps 2-3 times a week, sessions should last 30-40 mins. Avoid cardio in the early stages as it disperses Qi too much, exercise is important in the right amounts, just remember not to overdo it.

Meditation
Meditation is great to sooth the nervous system. Practicing the Qi Gong techniques of the microcosmic orbit meditation and gathering Qi in the lower Dan Tian can boost recovery speed and well-being. Check out introduction to meditation here .

Herbal Medicine
Chinese Herbal medicine is the best way to go, there could be multiple layers to the disease and seeing a qualified Chinese medicine herbalist can prescribe the right decoction for you. I.e Schisandra berry is commonly used for adrenal fatigue however it is not recommended if there is heat pathogen that is the root cause to the disease. Herbal medicine needs to be customized and is not a one size fits all.

Parasites
See a specialist to get a stool sample, to see if there is any foreign bacteria or parasites, as well as any beneficial bacteria missing in the digestive tract, get your digestion to an optimal state to boost your Post Heaven Qi and supplement your Jing.

Epsom Salt Bath
Increases glutathione helps your body detox and recover quicker.

 

Written by: Lee Smith | Acupuncture & TCM practitioner
Learn more about Lee: click here
Original posted: click here

 

 

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