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A Multidimensional Integrative Approach To Post-Viral Fatigue, Part 1

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Do you experience?……

  • Muscle and joint aches

  • Brain fog, a feeling that your head is full of cotton wool, memory issues

  • Recurrent sore throats

  • Headaches

  • Body heaviness

  • Low energy

  • Bloating, constipation, general sluggish bowels

  • Exhaustion

  • Poor sleep quality

  • Long recovery time after physical activity

Blood tests all within range

With the plethora of symptoms mentioned above the blood tests come back ‘within normal range’ (WNR). How is this possible?

What is classified as “within normal range” is based on levels in the general population…however, the health of the general population is not ‘healthy’. In nutritional medicine, we look at optimal ranges rather than ‘normal’ ranges. One can have within normal range ferritin but this can vary from 12-120. So if the reading is 20 or 99, both are considered ‘WNR’

Post viral fatigue & reasons

A case of Post-Viral Fatigue

Naomi was suffering from majority of the symptoms above, muscle and joint pains sluggish digestive system, low energy, heavy body, poor recovery time following physical activity for several months. She had been to the GP several times. Her iron levels (serum haemoglobin and ferritin) were within range, as were her liver function tests (ALT, ALP, albumin and bilirubin). Her thyroid function was ‘fine’ due to her TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels of 2.23.

No longer able to push through

Naomi considers herself a “strong” person, she works, has 2 kids, is involved in school, church and charities. She normally ‘pushes through'. But having caught 2 viruses within a short time of each other last year, and not fully recovering over the following months, she could no longer ‘push through’. When she tries to ‘get on with it’ she would end up back in bed. She booked several sessions to get her health ‘back on track’.

Gut health and its impact on post viral fatigue

Why is it that some people ‘catch a virus’, go to bed for a couple of days

……. then bounce right back, whereas others don’t? In nutritional medicine we are like health detectives, we look for clues, and there were plenty of clues in Naomi’s health history:

  • Gut symptoms: Tendency to bloat, occasional constipation, occasional acid reflux.

  • Blood sugar dys-regulation: A diet based around calorie counting, buying foods labelled “low fat”, “diet, etc. Frequent episodes of reaching a point in the day when she felt she would literally go crazy, “lose it”, if she didn’t have a chocolate biscuit or fizzy drink. This eating pattern is highly inflammatory to the body and acidic.

  • Hormonal issues: Peri-menopausal symptoms started when she was quite young (hot flushes, insomnia). Blood tests showed low sex hormones, and had been put on HRT patches for 8 years at the end of which she suffered a mini-stroke. The patches were removed immediately.

  • Nervous system dys-regulation: History of episodes of depression and anxiety.

  • Ignoring her body’s needs: She has the ‘push through’ mindset, to think of herself as “strong”, to get things done for the family business, for her kids, for her church, for the school, etc, She didn’t rest when she caught the first virus.

“Bank the energy and take the foot off the gas pedal”

Blood sugar regulation & post viral fatigue

First steps were to stabilise the blood sugar rollercoaster rides, by ensuring that each meal contains all 3 food groups, and getting as many nourishing, anti-inflammatory foods in there as possible.

Sugar is inflammatory and inflammation creates acidity. She was recommended some additional food ingredients such as spices like turmeric which is anti-inflammatory but also provides vital nutrients. Black pepper supports assimilation of nutrients from food.

Alongside her nutrition suggestions, she was ‘prescribed’ some nutritional supplements and most importantly, to start to listen to her ‘inner world’ and to slow down.

Once she felt stronger and more energetic from these changes, she was encouraged to ‘bank that energy’ and avoid “spending” it.

Sex Hormones in the form of HRT

HRT can be hugely helpful for some women and present issues for other women. Why did she react in this way? (Learn more about hormones HERE) Was it the length of time she had been on HRT? Was it her diet? Was it her ‘push through’ mindset? The integrative approach to mind body medicine would point to all the above. However, her strong reaction to the HRT indicates that potentially her liver

HRT & post viral fatigue

wasn’t detoxing the sex hormones optimally. Once sex hormones have been “used” by the body, they are detoxed, some people’s bodies are less than efficient in detoxing. Naomi most likely has issues with her phase 1 and/or phase 2 detox pathways and/or her folate cycle, including methylation.

Disease Begins in the Gut

We have heard this many times and it should not surprise you. The gut is the gateway to ‘health and dis-ease’. It processes food daily, it harbours up to 75% of the immune system . This immune system does it’s best to ensure no ‘toxin’ gets through that could put you in an ‘early grave’. The bloating and gurgling indicates some imbalance in her gut;

  • potentially some dysbiosis; imbalance in the gut microbiome

  • low stomach acid which reduces as we age but also ‘that push through’ mindset can reduce stomach acid

  • low gut immunity

  • Enhances intestinal permeability

It’s likely she wasn’t absorbing nutrients efficiently. We are working on her gut health alongside all the other measures.

The microbiome is also key in detoxing oestrogen, the gut is a key area to further investigate in relation to her reaction to the HRT patches.

There are many connections and reasons for Post Viral Fatigue, I will be sharing more in part 2. For now;

  1. balancing blood sugar levels

  2. taking time out

  3. taking the foot off the ‘gas pedal’

are all fundamental in ‘shaking off the after effects of a virus’.

To Wholeness!

From the team at the New School Of Nutritional Medicine

Learn about the Founder & Principal of the New School of Nutritional Medicine, Dr Khush Mark PhD HERE.

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