for those suffering from Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses

special guest

by Connie Strasheim

Piggyback Couple

ENERGY. WE SUFFERERS OF CHRONIC ILLNESS COULD ALL USE a bit more of the stuff, and every little blip in our internal and external environments alters how much we have at any given moment. Whether due to diet, climate, people, supplements, Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions or a symptom flare (to name just a few), it seems that sufferers of chronic illness are more vulnerable to reductions in energy than the average “healthy” human. We have less to begin with, so we must take precious care of what’s given to us in order to maximize the rations. Following are a few suggestions for keeping the energy flowing.

Addressing thyroid and adrenal function should be a foremost consideration, since hormone levels dramatically affect energy. Perform a saliva cortisol and thyroid hormone test and treat the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis with herbs, vitamins and natural or synthetic hormonal supplements (as described in my book, The Lyme Disease Survival Guide: Physical, Lifestyle and Emotional Strategies for Healing).

As much as possible, keep stress to a minimum, as this will help to balance your hormones. Then, examine your diet. I don’t know about you, but certain foods down shift my body into putt-putt gear, especially those containing gluten and sugar. Other foods, such as dairy and eggs, are less of a problem for me, but they don’t contribute to my energy bank, either. You’ll have your own list of such foods. Pay attention to what time of day you have the least amount of energy and have some Popeye greens or other brightly colored veggies along with a protein your body can deal with, and save the fruit smoothie or oatmeal for a time when your energy is greater. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many sufferers of chronic illness don’t look closely at how food affects their energy, myself included. For two years, I ate almond butter with celery in the morning and justified the post-breakfast fatigue with the half-truth that nearly everything I put into my mouth in the morning leaves me exhausted. I have since found that switching to brown rice and turkey sausage has helped to mitigate the fatigue.

Next, spend time every day doing an activity you enjoy and with people around whom you can feel relaxed and happy. Emotions have a tremendous impact on energy levels, sometimes more so than physical or mental activities. Stay away from negative television programs, limit your time with critical or whiny people and fill your mind with uplifting thoughts. Funny movies can be good energy-boosters, provided they don’t take your breath away because they make you laugh so hard!

Also, consider detoxifying your body on a regular basis. Keeping the organs working efficiently and the muck flowing outward with coffee enemas or toxin binders such as chlorella can provide you with an energy boost, as less garbage in the body means that everything functions better.

Supplements besides those that support the thyroid and adrenal glands can be helpful, but since the causes of fatigue in chronic illness are multiple, it may be difficult to discern whether additional remedies will provide benefit. Nonetheless, other supplements that have proven to be helpful include alpha ketoglutaric acid, co-enzyme Q-10 and cordyceps mushroom.

Finally, get some rest! Stop trying to do so much when you are ill and turn off that computer at least an hour before bedtime, since computer light stimulates the pineal gland and disrupts the sleep/wake cycle.

excerpted from: The Lyme Disease Survival Guide: Physical, Lifestyle and Emotional Strategies for Healing. Copyright 2008 by Connie Strasheim.

photo credits: Piggyback © Catherine Yeulet / iStockphoto

Connie StrasheimConnie Strasheim is an accomplished health care journalist and the author of The Lyme Disease Survival Guide: Physical, Lifestyle and Emotional Strategies for Healing. A Lyme disease sufferer, she maintains a blog on Lyme disease and other issues related to chronic illness called Lyme Bytes. Currently, she lives between Denver, Colorado and San Jose, Costa Rica.
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