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February 20, 2014

What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Fatigue + The 3 Diagnoses They Miss

You might not know this, but in conventional medicine, “chronic fatigue syndrome” is NOT actually recognized as a legitimate diagnosis because they can’t test for it nor treat it . And yet “fatigue” is the #1 reason why people go to see their physicians. 

And yet adrenal fatigue manifests in women all the time, and the symptoms can be debilitating. Especially those who have done crash diet after crash diet, or even full-time moms or women stressed the hell out from working and professional commitments. They wake up every day feeling exhausted, not rested at all, just to get into bed at night feeling wired. It’s almost as if their wake-sleep cycle is the OPPOSITE of what nature intended it to be. Restless and stressed at night, and exhausted at work, with the only option to drink a thousand cups of coffee to stay awake.

So many women are suffering from fatigue and just don’t know where to turn. And at JillFit, we’ve been getting this request for a long time: “Jill, how can I stop feeling exhausted? How can I have more energy? What’s WRONG with me??”

So. I thought I’d bring in the big guns to tackle this subject.

And so I am super-excited to bring you this amazing guest post from Dr. Amber Golshani, ND, who’s also a JillFit Ambassador. Dr. Amber specializes in natural medicine with a speciality in adrenal fatigue, exhaustion, energy management and sleep/stress management, all of which she covers in-depth in her Beat Your Fatigue program, an in-demand program that has already helped hundreds of women battling fatigue.

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 11.27.26 PM

Dr. Amber is a mom, a full-time physician and a online business-owner to boot. In short, girl knows what tired feels like! Which is why she’s the perfect spokesperson to bring the concept of fatigue to the mainstream :) Dr. Amber is going to share with you THREE commonly under-diagnosed causes of fatigue, plus the natural solutions for how to deal with them. Love, love, LOVE this post! And I know you will too! Enjoy! Ox, Jill 

Take it away Dr. Amber!


Almost every woman who has walked through my clinic door is carrying a stack of lab tests results and will tell me that, despite her low energy and fatigue, the doctor has told her “Everything looks fine”.

Energy crashes, tiredness on waking, low libido, weight gain, difficulty concentration and irritability top her list of complaints. Does this sound like ‘everything is fine’? 

There are actually several common, yet grossly under-diagnosed,
causes of fatigue that many doctors miss.

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Am I saying every doctor out there is missing something, no? But many are. And how do I know that? 1) Because their patients are coming to me for help and 2) I’ve been there myself. 

Even after I lost a bunch of weight and normalized some hormonal problems I had in my early 20’s, I still didn’t feel great. I’d often find myself sleepy and foggy-headed after I ate, or god-forbid if a meal was 20 seconds late, my food-werewolf would attack from the potent mixture of hunger & anger.

I’d slog through my day, then get a second-wind at night, stay up too late, wake up tired and repeat the whole thing over again.

And even though my ‘numbers’ looked fine, I felt far from it.

It took some research and experimenting with my diet, lifestyle habits and a few key nutrients, but I was able to discover the reasons I was so tired AND correct the underlying imbalances.

My energy improved, my mood balanced, and my head got clear. I actually have more sustained mental and physical energy now at 37 years old, than I did 10 or even 15 years ago.

Remember that comic strip above? You are probably wondering how that relates. I call the ‘story’ in the comic, the “streetlight effect”. It’s the natural tendency to look for answers in what we already know. And if we can’t find the answers here ‘where the light is best’, we tend to give up.

In an effort to shine some light (haha) on OTHER reasons we experience fatigue, here are the three most common over-looked causes of fatigue.

Three Commonly Under-diagnosed Reasons You’re Tired (+ Solutions!):

1) Food Intolerances:

These are also called “food sensitivities” or “hidden food allergies”. Hours to days after you eat an offending food you can develop a wide-range of symptoms—anything from fatigue and lethargy, to skin problems, bloating, headaches, hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating and more.

While they are a type of allergic reaction, they are different than the true food   allergy most of us are familiar with where even a small amount of the offending food can set of almost instant swelling in the mouth, lips and throat and be life-threatening. The offending food, in this case, is pretty easy to identify.

But in the case of a food intolerance, where reactions are not immediate or life-threatening, it is harder to identify what is causing it.

Most MD’s don’t know about of this type of allergy, nor is the testing for it very accurate.

Solution: During a food elimination/challenge “experiment”, you remove the most common problematic foods (grains, dairy, soy, eggs, citrus, alcohol, sugars, artificial food additives and colors, and any food you eat 3 or more times a week) for 3-4 weeks, then you reintroduce them one by one watching for a reaction.

2) Hypoglycemia:

Hypoglycemia means blood glucose levels that are dipping below the healthy, normal range.  Blood glucose is simply the concentration of sugar (glucose) in the blood. We need just the right amount to deliver energy to our cells. When the levels go too low we can suddenly feel tired, sleepy, dizzy, confused, shaky, and irritable. Your cells are starving! No wonder you feel tired!

This “low point” is usually when we crave more sugar or carbs, because they give us a quick-fix and our blood sugars rise again. The quicker the food raises your blood sugar, the quicker (and harder) it will fall. I call this the “roller-coaster effect.”

Why does hypoglycemia happen? There are lots of reasons including:

  • Certain medications (including birth control pills)
  • Over abundance of sugar and starchy, refined carbs
  • Too much caffeine
  • Lots of stress and/or adrenal fatigue
  • Alcohol (especially on an empty stomach)
  • Severe caloric-restriction (as in anorexia nervosa)
  • Rarely, certain types of pancreatic tumors and people with gastric bypass are at more risk

Solution: The ‘fix’ for hypoglycemia is to figure out what is contributing to it (as above) and work on that. The best type of nutrition plan will be one that focuses on protein and vegetables at each meal to stabilize blood sugar roller-coaster effects for more stable, lasting energy.

3) Hypothyroidism:

Your thyroid gland controls the metabolic rate of many processes in your body. It’s like the gas-pedal in a car. Pushing on the pedal (the thyroid) will give the body enough gas (the thyroid hormones) to go.

In people with hypothyroidism, or low functioning of the thyroid, their gland isn’t getting signal to push on the pedal, OR the tank is low and no matter how hard you ‘push on the pedal’, insufficient hormones are produced. So, people are likely to feel tired and run down, have cold extremities, constipation, slow or dull thinking, difficulty losing weight, low libido and more.

It is estimated that half of the people with hypothyroidism are not diagnosed!

This is no surprise because most doctors only use one blood test (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH) to determine the functioning of the gland. That’s like trying to put a puzzle together with only one piece! No wonder so many people are walking around like zombies!

Solution: Ask your doctor for complete testing, or find a better doctor.

There are a number of other lab tests which need to be looked at alongside TSH, so that we can put the whole puzzle together. Some of those tests include Free and total T4, Free and total T3, rT3 and auto-immune antibodies because it’s the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US.

In summary:

If you’re tired, have energy ups and downs, or other issues AND you have normal lab values, maybe it’s time to stop looking in the ‘best lit’ places and start looking elsewhere. The three causes above are some great places to start! And the best thing about the solutions are that you can start to implement them right away, there are no pills to buy AND no side effects!

I hope this info has helped you see some other reasons for lack of energy that have been hidden in the dark for too long and that you find some answers to your fatigue so you can elevate your energy and live your passion.

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Teach, Practice

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