Can Herbalism Cure Chronic Fatigue?

woman backpacking and at the top of a mountain, reduce chronic fatigue with the help of herbal therapy or herbalism

I’ve worked with a fair amount of clients with chronic fatigue. Given that a new CDC study found that 35% of those with COVID-19 have lingering fatigue, this is likely going to be on the public health radar in the future.

As an herbalist, I don’t diagnose or treat specific conditions. I work with tissue states in the body. Many times, these are the imbalances that are causing what we refer to as chronic illness. Based on the results I see with clients, this seems especially true when medical doctors can’t pinpoint a cause.

What is chronic fatigue?

Chronic fatigue is nothing new in the alternative medicine profession. It often is preceded by an illness that leaves a person with ongoing fatigue, but not always. Sometimes, the initial illness was either very mild, or the subsequent fatigue was barely noticed but worsens over time.

From an herbal perspective, I’m not always concerned with what caused the onset. Once the fatigue has set in, I’m looking for the same imbalances that I would have looked for prior to the fatigue. The reason for this is that most people recovered without any lingering effects from the same illness that triggered chronic fatigue in others. Differences in the ecosystem of the body vary from person to person, leading to different long-term consequences. As the famed microbiologist, Louis Pasteur, was reputed to have said at the end of his life, “it's not the microbe, it’s the terrain.”

Herbalism is the way to change one’s terrain in a medical-like way.

Here are some ways I would look at chronic fatigue:

  • Are the adrenal glands functioning properly?

  • Is there immune dysfunction that is draining energy from the body? Often, this would manifest itself with system inflammation.

  • Is the GI tract functioning properly? If not, the body may be malnourished even if the diet is clean. Poorly broken down food can also cause inflammation and fatigue.

  • Is the body excessively dry?

  • Are the tissues in the body excessively lax and unable to retain moisture properly?

  • Is the body in a constant flight or fight (sympathetic) state?

  • Is an adaptogen needed? Adaptogens are herbs that help the body to respond appropriately to stress, and to help the body more easily enter a rest and digest (parasympathetic) state.

There are certainly other causes of fatigue beyond what I have listed above. However, with foundational herbalism, we give the body the tools it needs to come into balance and heal. Think of the last time you had a splinter. It will fester and aggravate you until you remove it. It’s standing in the way of your body healing. In a similar way, if your body is experiencing excessive dryness, excessive laxity, poor digestion, anxiety, etc., these things can prevent your body from healing and lead to you feeling chronically ill.

If you’d like to personalize it for your situation, we can set up a time to meet for a complimentary consultation, either in-person or by phone or video chat. It takes about 15 minutes and I can get a pretty good overview of your tissue states fairly quickly. After that, you can determine if you want to move forward with a full consultation where I will determine which herbs seem most appropriate for your issues.

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Larry Leach, Herbalist, Evergreen Health Clinics

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