In this blog we will discuss fatigue and its multitude of clinical manifestations at the level of body, tissue, organ system, energy flow, cellular level.
Fatigue is generally considered as a lack of energy, depletion of energy, sense of not fully feeling well and many other ways one may describe or try to relay its meaning.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is not a new disease but has been around for thousands of years. The oldest Indian medical science, Ayurveda, has described this condition and is known as balakhaya or energy depleted disease, which in fact is fatigue. To understand the fatigue, one needs to understand strength, as the opposite of strength is fatigue. To understand strength we need to understand its origin, its conversion, and manifestation.
The prana, which is the life force in the body is the source of energy that keeps the physical body, mind, and the soul in place. This is a subtle finding. It is the prana, which is the life force that gives rise to a series of physiological, biochemical, neurological, endocrine and many other pathophysiological changes at the level of body and mind. Energy in the body has a source from the food that we eat, the sleep we get, the breath we breathe, and from the cosmos, the universe, which includes solar energy, lunar energy, and more. The food, the breath and the sleep are the key forces. The type of food, the kinds of food, the time the food is ingested, the quantity eaten and the emotion while it is eaten all have its affect on the digestion of the food as described in Ayurveda. It is the food that eventually forms our body and keeps the body going. It is the food from which the mind is formed. Whenever there is a depletion of energy or prana that leads to the depletion of other physiological changes, like depletion in tejas or intracellular metabolism.
There is a relation between the prana, tejas, and ojas. In Ayurveda, the panchmahabhatu (five great elements) are space, air, fire, water and earth. The permutation combination of this gives rise to tejas, ojas, and prana to some degree but all are interconnected. All three has its relation for restoration of health in the body. Any imbalance in any of one will lead to imbalance of other. The prana which is the vital form of air and space which has a relation to the respiratory system again which has a relation to the governing all physiological and metabolic process in the body through oxygen; no breath, no life. With no prana, there is no life. The restoration of prana leads to gradual restoration or imbalance of tejas and the depletion of the ojas could be restored through the prana gradually over many months to years with regular breathing exercise called pranayama. This is the key principal in yoga. It is the prana, which governs the body and has a relation with mind and the subtle body.
In patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and/or fibromyalgia patients, there is imbalance in combination of prana, tejas and ojas based on the degree and severity of underlying disease. In the early phase, there is adequate ojas present which generally gets depleted with lack of sleep, increase worry, irregular eating habits, sleeping habits, insomnia, sleep interruption, and stress.
By understanding the depleting causes of the prana or the energy, the opposite of that may further help restoration of the energy, mainly regular diet, sleep cycle, relaxation, pranayama, graded exercise, etc.
The fatigue which is generally a vague symptoms has multiple different facets and it manifests differently from person-to-person and its understanding individually further helps to tailor its need for treatment, so patients with chronic fatigue and/or fibromyalgia needs an individual personalized treatment than general treatment as the causes for each patient is different.