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Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Fatigue Symptoms

Published | 4 min read

Living with fatigue symptoms is tiring, but there are some things you can do to gain more energy!

A woman lying sideways on the sofa while covering her yawn.

Who hasn’t experienced fatigue symptoms? For some of us, feeling exhausted is so normal that it tends to be overlooked. Fatigue might turn out to be a way of your body asking for your attention to address an imbalance. Sometimes, it appears simply because you need more rest. However, in some cases, a feeling of tiredness may indicate other underlying conditions.

How do you know when your tiredness is not normal? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are several signs you can observe. TCM also provides holistic tips and treatments to fight fatigue.

The Signs of Fatigue  

Before fatigue hits, your body would show indications. TCM suggests keeping on the lookout for these signs: 

  1. Lethargy
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Pale complexion
  4. Breathlessness
  5. Irregular stool shape
  6. Insomnia
  7. Memory loss
  8. Increased susceptibility to diseases

If you’ve been feeling the above symptoms lately, it’s best to figure out the cause.

The Origins of Fatigue Symptoms  

There are three common causes that cause fatigue: Psychological, lifestyle and physical. Psychological causes include stress and anxiety, which could lead to insomnia and therefore, fatigue.

In the fast-paced world that we live in today, your lifestyle might also cause you to feel exhausted. Working night shifts and abandoning exercise can deplete your energy. New mothers are also prone to fatigue because they have to alter their daily routines to match their newborn baby’s.

If you think your fatigue symptoms stem from either a psychological or lifestyle cause, you can try managing your anxiety and insomnia or adjust your working and sleeping schedules. But if your exhaustion doesn’t go away after two to three weeks, the origin of your fatigue may lie elsewhere.

An Asian mother sleeping while holding her newborn baby
New mothers are prone to fatigue symptoms after having to adjust to their baby’s schedule.

Physical Causes of Fatigue Symptoms  

The following eight diseases are known to cause fatigue: 

  1. Mononucleosis or mono 
  2. Anaemia 
  3. Diabetes 
  4. Thyroid problems 
  5. Sleep apnoea 
  6. Rheumatoid arthritis 
  7. Depression 
  8. Chronic fatigue syndrome 

Additionally, in TCM, fatigue may be the result of disharmonies in the body. This condition can be found often in overweight or obese people because TCM believes that they tend to have excess Dampness. Moreover, TCM also considers a weak digestive system as another risk factor for fatigue symptoms. It’s a good idea to visit your doctor or physician to get the right diagnosis. 

3 Tips to Fight Fatigue Symptoms  

Following these three tips will see an increase in your energy levels: 

Get good quality sleep  

The most obvious strategy to decrease fatigue is to sleep. Getting good sleep is about quality sleep, so if you can, don’t stay up late and go to bed by 11 pm. Reducing stress is also a way to prevent insomnia and other sleep disorders. 

Eat an energy-filled diet and take herbal supplements 

If you work night shifts or are unable to get to bed by 11 pm, you can try making up for your sleep deprivation with a healthy diet and supplements.

It is recommended to consume foods in smaller portions frequently, instead of eating three big meals a day. Doing this can keep you energised throughout the day. 

Ensure you drink plenty of water. A 2013 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information has shown that dehydration leads to negative effects on the mind and body, including fatigue. Try moderating your alcohol and caffeine intake because the two substances can disrupt sleep quality.

A woman drinking a glass of water.
Drinking water can contribute in fighting fatigue symptoms.

If you’d like to add some supplements to your diet, you can try Chinese herbs that can improve fatigue. One example is cordyceps sinensis (dong cong xia cao, 冬虫夏草), which has been proven to boost stamina. A 2011 study conducted by researchers in Delhi, India, has found that it promotes endurance by regulating the metabolism of the skeletal muscle, whose role is to rapidly increase energy production.

To remove Dampness, herbs like white Atractylodes rhizome (bai zhu, 白术) and raw barley sprout (da mai ya, 大麦芽) can be used. Herbs like black atractylodes (cang zhu 苍术), patchouli (guang huo xiang, 广藿香), eupatorium (pei lan, 佩兰), coix barley (yi yi ren, 薏苡仁), poria (fu ling, 茯苓) and tangerine peel (chen pi, 陈皮) are able to strengthen the Stomach and Spleen functions.

It’s best to consult a TCM physician to find out which herbs to consume based on your condition because the cause of fatigue will differ in each person. 

Get more exercise 

Instead of tiring you out, incorporating some exercise daily has been shown to increase energy. Multiple studies have revealed that regular workouts increase the levels of energy-promoting neurotransmitters. 

It’s common to dismiss fatigue symptoms as a consequence of living and working in a stressful day and age. If you listen to your body, it may be a sign that it’s telling you to slow down and find out if there is a more serious underlying cause of the tiredness you’re feeling. 

This is an adaptation of the articles, “Tired of Being Tired” and “TCM Treatment Principles For Lethargy”, which first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website.


  1. National Health Service. 2022. Why am I tired all the time? [online]. Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-am-i-tired-all-the-time/> [Accessed 2 June 2022] 
  2. Pubmed. 2011. Cordyceps sinensis promotes exercise endurance capacity of rats by activating skeletal muscle metabolic regulators [online]. Available at: <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21549819/> [Accessed 2 June 2022] 
  3. Science Daily. 2006. Regular Exercise Plays A Consistent And Significant Role In Reducing Fatigue [online]. Available at: <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061101151005.htm> [Accessed 3 June 2022] 
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2013. Influence of progressive fluid restriction on mood and physiological markers of dehydration in women [online]. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3553795/> [Accessed 2 June 2022] 

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