( By Dr. H.K.Bakhru )

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Fatigue refers to a feeling of tiredness or weariness. It can be temporary or chronic. Almost every person has to work overtime on certain occasions, sacrificing rest and sleep, which may cause temporary fatigue. This condition can be remedied by adequate rest. Chronic or continuous fatigue is, however, a serious problem which requires a comprehensive plan of treatment.

Chronic fatigue can result from a variety of factors. A specific character trait, compulsiveness, can lead to continuous fatigue. Many persons constantly feel that they cannot take rest until they finish everything that needs to be done at one time. These persons are usually perfectionists, tense and cannot relax unless they complete the whole job, no matter how tired they may be.


The chief cause of fatigue is lowered vitality or lack of energy due to wrong feeding habits. Fatigue is an indication that the cells of the body are not getting sufficient live atoms in the food to furnish them with the constant flow of needed energy.

The habitual use of refined foods such as white sugar, refined cereals and white flour products as well as processed, tinned and preserved foods have a very bad effect on the system in general. Foods ‘denatured ‘ in this way are deprived, to a very great extent, of their invaluable vitamins and minerals. Such foods lead to nervousness, tiredness , obesity and a host of other complaints prevalent today.

Certain physical conditions can cause fatigue. Anaemia is a very common ailment leading to tiredness. It is known as ‘tired bold ‘ disturbance. In anaemia, very little oxygen reaches the tissues with the result that energy cannot be produced normally. This causes constant tiredness and mental depression. Anaemia usually results from deficiencies of iron and vitamin B12. Sometimes deficiencies of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also involved.

Insomnia or lack of sleep can be a cause of torturing fatigue. Sleep induced by sleeping pills and other drugs does not banish fatigue. In fact the longer sleeping pills are used, the more nagging and chronic the fatigue becomes. Besides causing fatigue, sleeping pills lead to nervous tension which increases fatigue still more. The harmful effects of wakefulness are indeed small compared with the effects of sleeping pills. Insomnia can be remedied by correcting diet and developing the will to relax.

Intestinal parasites can also lead to fatigue as they rob the body of good nourishment and gorge themselves on rich red blood. Other ailments which can cause fatigue are low blood pressure, low blood sugar, any kind of infection in the body, liver damage, a sluggish thyroid and allergy to certain foods and drugs caused by additives including artificial flavours, colours and preservatives.

Mental tension is one of the major causes of fatigue. The person who is tense and cannot relax has all the muscles of his body more or less contracted. This leads to needless waste of unusually large amounts of energy. Food is continuously burnt, lactic acid accumulates more rapidly than it can be carried to the liver for conversion to body starch. Persons who are high-strung, nervous and irritable usually suffer from this type of fatigue.

Unresolved emotional problems can also result in fatigue. Resentment to a situation, environment and even to a person can greatly contribute to the feeling of tiredness. It is better to express one’s emotions rather than store them. Other emotional factors like worry, a feeling of boredom and a defeatist mentality can result in fatigue.

Dietary Treatment

Nutritional measures are most vital in the treatment of fatigue. Studies reveal that people who eat small midmeals suffer less from fatigue and nervousness, think more clearly and are more efficient than those who eat only three meals daily. These midmeals should consist of fresh or dried fruits, fresh fruit or vegetable juices, raw vegetables or a small sandwich of whole grain bread. The midmeal should be small and less food should be consumed at regular meals. They should be taken at specified times such as 11 a.m. , 4 p.m. and before retiring.

The patient should eat healthy foods which supply energy to the body. Charles De Coti Marsh of London in his book ‘ Prescription for Energy ‘ prescribes foods to relieve fatigue and gain energy. He says, " Regenerating must begin with foods .. They must be taken in their natural state. These cereals are corn seeds. They must be freshly milled. In uncooked cereals we do have one perfect food for perfect health which contains the essential vitamins and energy creators. " In addition to cereal seeds, Marsh recommends fresh raw nuts taken directly from the shell and root vegetables. He says, " Any seed or root vegetable that will grow again will renew human vitality. "

The patient should take an optimum diet made up of seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits. Roughly, each food group should supply the bulk of one of the three meals. Sprouting is an excellent way to eat seeds, beans and grains in raw form. Sprouting increases the nutritional value of foods and many new vitamins are created or multiplied in seeds during sprouting. The patient should supplement the three health-building food groups with special protective foods such as milk, high quality cold-pressed unrefined vegetable oils and honey.

The patient should also take natural vitamin and mineral supplements as an effective assurance against nutritional deficiencies as such deficiencies have been found to be a factor in fatigue. Lack of pantothenic acid, a B vitamin, in particular leads to extreme fatigue as deficiency of this vitamin is associated with exhaustion of the adrenal glands. It should, however, be remembered that while taking pantothenic acid separately, the entire B-complex should be added to avoid imbalance of other B vitamins. In fact the entire B-complex protects nerves and increases energy by helping to nourish and regulate glands. The vegetarian foods rich in vitamin B are wheat and other whole grain cereals, green leafy vegetables, un-polished rice, milk, nuts, banana, yeast, pulses and peas.

Other vitamins play specific roles in fatigue in connection with various ailments. The fatigue will disappear by correcting deficiencies. Minerals are also important. Potassium is especially needed for protection against fatigue. Raw green vegetables are rich in this mineral. Calcium is essential for relaxation and is beneficial in cases of insomnia and tension both of which can lead to fatigue. Sodium and zinc are also beneficial in the treatment of fatigue.

Raw vegetable juices, especially carrot juice, taken separately or in combination with juices of beets and cucumbers, is highly valuable in overcoming fatigue. The proportions considered helpful in the combination juice of sixteen ounces are carrot ten ounces, and beet and cucumber three ounces each.

The patient should avoid depending on crutches for energy lift such as taking aspirin, tranquilizers and other drugs, drinking coffee or alcohol, smoking , eating some sugar or sweets. They give only a temporary boost and this is soon followed by a downward plunge of energy, leaving a person worse than before. Such crutches are very harmful in the long run and may result in diseases such as hypoglycemia or low blood sugar and alcoholism.

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