As with most health conditions in Traditional Chinese Medicine, tiredness can have many different diagnoses and therefore treatments. Your body’s energy or life force is known as ‘Qi’. It powers your organs and entire body to function correctly and give you vitality. If a person does not have enough Qi they will be tired. If a person has enough Qi but it’s not circulating well or has become ‘stuck’ they may also seem tired.
Qi also interacts with your blood by giving your heart the force to pump your blood around the body. In turn, the blood nourishes the Qi. So, poor blood quality or quantity can also contribute to low energy (eg. anaemia). Another factor to consider in the case of tiredness may be when an excess of fluids in the body accumulates creating the sense of heaviness and preventing Qi from circulating.
If you are prone to suffering from bouts of tiredness, here are some ideas applicable to some common types of tiredness that I see regularly in my clinic (which have no known cause eg. lack of sleep or other disease cause).
- Weakness, loss of appetite, loose stools and tiredness that is worse after eating
- Improving digestion and food intake is important. Eat well, that means consuming warm, cooked and easy to digest foods such as soups and stews (that are not too rich). Good foods to include are orange coloured vegetables (eg. pumpkin, carrot and squash), root vegetables (eg. sweet potato), naturally occurring sweet foods (eg. corn, figs) and some lightly pungent foods to aid digestion (eg. cinnamon, ginger, fennel and onion). Licorice tea is an ideal beverage.
- Breathing deeply helps to cultivate Qi.
- Practice exercise that helps to build Qi rather than use it up. Yoga, tai chi and qi gong would be more beneficial than running or an aerobics class.
- Pale face, lightheaded and dry skin
- Eating well is also important for this type of tiredness so follow the recommendations above. To boost the blood, increase naturally occurring dark coloured foods especially those that are red (eg. cherry, beetroot, dark leafy vegetables), iron rich foods (eg. molasses, dates) and adequate protein (eg. eggs, legumes, tempeh). Nettle tea makes a good blood nourishing drink.
- Often herbal medicine may be required to nourish the blood.
- Muzzy head, limbs feels heavy to move and fluid retention.
- Getting the body moving will benefit this type of tiredness. Increase cardiovascular exercise (eg. walking, jogging, cycling or aerobics). It may be hard to start but afterwards these people work up a sweat they will feel much more energised.
- Eat less. Only eat until you feel 80% full.
- Decreasing rich foods in the diet is the key here – eat light. That means reduce or eliminate dairy, fatty foods and cooking methods, excessive sweet foods and drinks (including very sweet fruits such as bananas) and fruit juice.
- Beneficial foods will promote digestion and loss of excess fluid. These foods include those that are bitter (eg. rocket and other greens), some fruits that aid digestion (eg. pineapple and papaya) and some pungent foods such as mustard, horseradish and those from the onion family. Drink green tea or dandelion coffee.
- Neck & shoulder tension, frequent sighing and moodiness
- Once again, getting the body moving is essential. Cardiovascular (eg. those listed above and martial arts) and stretching forms of exercise (eg. yoga) are perfect to promote a sense of more energy.
- Breathing exercises may be useful in moving Qi.
- Any activity that is useful for managing stress and alleviating emotional ‘stuckness’ is beneficial for this type of fatigue. Eg. yoga, massage, acupuncture, meditation, creative projects or counselling. This pattern often has an emotional cause such as frustration or anger that needs to be addressed.
To book in for acupuncture at my Launceston clinics (House of Prana or In-Balance) or for further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture). Sarah is an AHPRA registered acupuncturist, Chinese medicine practitioner and massage therapist.