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The 24-Hour Pharmacist
Advice, Options, and Amazing Cures from America's Most Trusted Pharmacist
From Stupor Woman to Super Woman
The most frequent question I get as a pharmacist is "What can I take for more energy?" The answer isn't two cans of Red Bull or a NoDoz tablet! C'mon, ladies, we're only fooling ourselves if we think these temporary pick-me-ups will cure us. They won't, although I confess my personal favorite is a caramel macchiato with whipped cream. But seriously, coffee, caffeine tablets, soda pop, and energy drinks all eventually worsen your condition because they lift you temporarily but further exhaust you in the long run. If you're tired, your body is telling you something—so let's figure out what it's saying.
Drained or Depressed?
If you tell your doctor that you're tired and overwhelmed, you may be found "Zoloft deficient." I've taken to calling "depression" a Pez dispenser diagnosis because it's dumped out so frequently. Maybe you're just spent, not sad. Of course, sometimes fatigue and depression go hand in hand—but not always. In a moment, I'll outline the many faces of fatigue so you can see who you identify with.
But most importantly, don't let your doctor prescribe antidepressants until you've ruled out other causes of fatigue, particularly low thyroid hormone, adrenal burnout, imbalanced hormones or side effects from medication.
If you are already on antidepressants and don't think you need to be, don't stop taking them abruptly; work with your doctor to taper off. You could face serious withdrawalreactions if you stop suddenly.
The Many Faces of Fatigue
Working Wanda—She stays up late, works too much, and simply has to cross off every single item on her To Do list—no wonder she's tired! Though her general health is still fine, she's headed for trouble if she doesn't learn to curl up like a noodle sometimes. She needs to put the word "no" in her vocabulary sometimes.
Morning Mary—She's almost always tired in the morning (and maybe other times, too). She holds onto weight because there's a breakdown somewhere in her thyroid gland that lowers circulating hormone levels.
Juggling Janet—This busy lady has run herself ragged, and now her adrenal glands just can't pump out any more of the "stress hormones" that used to rev her up and help her meet life's challenges. She's tired in the morning and okay by midday—but crashes hard between 3 P.M. and 5 P.M. Some Juggling Janets catch a second wind at night, but the true hallmark of this type is that fatigue is unrelieved by sleep or rest.
Stupor Woman—She's tired morning, noon, and night—the result of low thyroid, imbalanced hormones and low adrenal hormone! Her fantasy? To hook herself up to an IV drip of amphetamines! All kidding aside, many gals with all-day fatigue (and of course people suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia) have both thyroid and adrenal imbalances.
Sleepy Sally—This poor woman is tired because she suffers from insomnia, which could be the result of low thyroid, low adrenals, medications, depression, anxiety, or diet. She should finish this chapter just in case, then jump to Chapter 8 on Insomnia.
Did You Get Mugged by a Drug?
Hundreds of popular medications are "drug muggers," stripping your cells of the energizing nutrients you need. As a result, you turn into an exhausted "medication mummy." The good news: When you know which nutrients are depleted by medications, you can replenish them and start enjoying your life again!
Oral Contraceptives and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Drugs that contain estrogen mug your body of precious B vitamins, magnesium, tyrosine, vitamin C, and zinc, turning you into a Morning Mary or Juggling Janet because of the thyroid and adrenal compromise. This is so common, I can't tell you how frequently I dispense a birth-control pack along with a 30-day supply of thyroid meds. Incidentally, you could be dealing with low testosterone because birth control pills deplete this hormone too. You won't get pregnant while on birth control, but without testosterone, you don't feel like doing it! Other drug-mugging effects of contraception and HRT include: fatigue, cervical dysplasia, PMS, skin problems, moodiness, gastrointestinal (GI) problems, cardiovascular problems, weak bones, depression, and infections. See Chapter 11 (Monthly Madness) to find out how to feel better while taking these medications.
Statin Cholesterol Reducers
Medications in the "statin" class work by blocking an enzyme that creates cholesterol in the liver. Unfortunately, it also robs you of a powerful antioxidant and energizer called Coenzyme Q10, also called CoQ10, which you need so that your heart can beat, your muscles can work, and your energy can flow. So when cholesterol meds mug your CoQ10, you get those terrible muscle aches. You may feel fatigued, weak, and short of breath, and, ironically, you may develop heart problems—even though these drugs are intended to fight heart disease! To be on the safe side, take a minimum of 100mg of Coenzyme Q10 every morning and check out Chapter 2 for more on this wonder supplement.
Blood Pressure Medications
These drug muggers also steal CoQ10, as well as potassium, magnesium, and melatonin (a hormone that helps us sleep and maintain mood). The result? Fatigue, muscle weakness, water retention in the hands and feet, asthma, cramps, and insomnia. The remedy? Take Coenzyme Q10 (100mg every morning), magnesium chelate or glycinate (200mg twice daily), and melatonin (about 1mg at bedtime). You can also add potassium to your diet in the form of bananas, orange juice, figs, bran, apricots, raisins, squash, beans, baked potato with skin, watermelon, or spinach. (Don't take the liquid laxative form of magnesium sold in the green bottles unless you need a laxative; you'll find lots of brands of "magnesium oxide" sold in most pharmacies, but I think another form is better tolerated—"magnesium chelate or glycinate"—and that's why I suggest that you pick up this supplement from your health-food store.)The 24-Hour Pharmacist
Advice, Options, and Amazing Cures from America's Most Trusted Pharmacist. Copyright © by Suzy Cohen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.