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Fatigue, fatigue syndrome

The word fatigue has several meanings. In ordinary speech, it means mostly subjective fatigue given by our feelings. This is generally not the same as the objective limit of exhaustion . Subjective fatigue may be lower (we feel tired even if we still have strengths) or even higher (we overestimate our forces, even if it does not physically have it) than our objective limit of exhaustion. Fatigue syndrome is, in turn, a chronic disease state, with a high degree of fatigue (lethargy, drowsiness, lack of energy) unjustified with an objective burden.

Fatigue and stress

Stress is related to fatigue, but it is a completely different concept ( alostatic burden ). From a hormonal point of view, there is a big difference between stress and fatigue. Stress occurs with so-called generalized adaptation syndrome associated with activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, excretion of catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline) and subsequently glucocorticoids (cortisol). Fatigue, however, correlates with immune molecules such as interleukin 1 and 6. Fatigue is related to inflammation and fever, which is related to the fact that the damaged body needs peace of mind to regenerate. After physical exercise (sport, manual labor), mild or greater inflammation of the muscles and binders (muscular fever) causes a feeling of fatigue over interleukins and other immune signaling molecules. However, stress is the opposite. Mental stress gives us the ability to suppress fatigue, and hormonal stress (due to increased corticosteroid levels) even suppresses inflammation itself and postpones the repair of damaged tissues for a later period of rest. Stress and fatigue therefore act oppositely. The stress response allows us in short-lived situations, up to several days of stress, which must be followed by a longer period of rest and increased fatigue.

Chronic fatigue

After physical recovery, the feeling of fatigue will normally disappear. Fatigue, however, does not disappear when

  • there is persistent (chronic) inflammation affecting a larger volume of tissue
  • constant cell damage (chemotherapy, autoimmunity , chronic intoxication, radiation ...)
  • is a morbidly elevated level of interleukins (IL-1, 6, 10 ...) or other inflammatory molecules

It is clear, therefore, why the inexorable feeling of fatigue is the attribute of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and often autoimmune diseases. In these cases, we are talking about chronic fatigue. The term chronic fatigue syndrome is used mainly when the cause of fatigue is not known and it is assumed to be the primary imbalance of immune molecules. However, it is often a hidden infection (such as an inadequately behaving pulmonary chlamydia or a malformed relationship with the Epstein-Barr virus ) or another hidden disease process, often autoimmune.

Adaptogens are significantly helpful against fatigue

Phytotherapy of the feeling of fatigue is closely related to the category of classical adaptogenes, which were originally selected mainly from the group of so-called chi- strengthening plants of TČM and the so-called rasajajana of Ayurveda herbs. For these reasons, phytotherapy of chronic fatigue syndrome is also associated with anti-inflammatory effects that are not seldom used in classical adaptogens. Known plants with documented effect against some form of fatigue or fatigue syndrome include:

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