Natural Remedies for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

man laying on sofa fatigued

Feeling tired? It’s normal if you’ve been doing some vigorous physical activity, like mowing the lawn, vacuuming the carpet, or walking up a steep hill. But, after resting for a short time, you should be well recovered. However, if you find yourself feeling tired for seemingly no reason at all and the feeling of exhaustion has been persisting for months, you may want to visit your doctor to ask about chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS.

The causes chronic fatigue syndrome are unclear, but there are many theories. Experts suggest that it might be due to a viral infection, as the symptoms of CFS viral infections are similar. For instance, headache, sore throat, muscle aches and joint pain are some common symptoms. Others symptoms include brain fog, impaired concentration or memory, irritable bowel issues and feeling unrested after adequate periods of sleep.[1]

Battling Fatigue as We Age

If you are a golden-ager, fatigue can be a severe problem, especially if you are suffering from physical ailments.

How serious is the problem?

Researchers conducted a survey of 199 residents at a residential care facility. In that study, almost all the seniors stated they had some fatigue symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Even more distressing, one in four seniors suffered from chronic fatigue (1-5 years), and some had suffered from fatigue for more than 5 years![2]

Many factors play a role in chronic fatigue: medication use, diet, activity levels, and certain diseases. If fatigue is setting in and you feel like your diet is adequate, your activity levels are normal, and your intake of water is at least 6 glasses daily, consider visiting your doctor.

How can you fight fatigue?

So far, no medication is available that can cure or even lessen the symptoms of CFS. Currently, the best way to conquer chronic fatigue syndrome is to strengthen your immune system by regularly taking vitamins, minerals, and other supplements, along with some lifestyle changes, like eating properly, exercising, and resting as needed. Here are some home remedies and a list of supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs) that may help you cure yourself naturally.

1. Drink water.

It’s simple to do and cost free. Many older people just don’t drink enough water because they don’t feel as thirsty as they used to. Dehydration can leave you dragging. It not only causes fatigue but also lowers cognitive function and depletes skin moisture, which causes wrinkling.

Drinking more water, even just 1 to 3 cups more daily, will help some. But ideally, you should drink 4 to 6 glasses of purified water each day to stay focused, stay energized, and prevent the long-term adverse effects of chronic dehydration.[3]

2. Take a nap.

A midday doze doesn’t make you old. It makes you smart. A University of New York study found that people who nap have sharper memories. Napping for just 10 minutes is ideal for restoring vigor, ward off fatigue, and boost brainpower. More or less nap time can have some adverse[4]

3. Eat a combo plate for each meal.

All carbohydrates and no protein or all protein and no carbs can make you feel tired. Make sure your meals include carbs, protein, and fat. For each meal, choose carbs that are higher in fiber and water, lean protein (2-3 ounces of fish, poultry, beans), and healthy fat (olive oil, nuts).

4. Opt for a variety of raw fruits and vegetables (preferably organic).

The nutritional perks of eating raw fruits and vegetables are excellent. They are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. Have a salad once a day that is mostly loaded with vegetables but also adds a fruit or two and a handful of nuts. Supplement with Acidophilus or consume raw yogurt (with live bacteria and no sugar added) to keep your digestive system functioning properly.

5. Include foods rich in iron and Vitamin B12.

You wake up feeling weary and sleepy, although you had a good night’s sleep. You may be lacking in iron (found in liver, lean beef, spinach, lentils, beans, and dark chocolate – at least 70%) or vitamin B12 (in beef liver, beef, wild salmon, and clams). They’re both essential for healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your body’s tissues.  It’s a bit harder for vegans to get B12 from their diet as it is not found in plant foods. So vegans need to opt for foods fortified with B12, like non-dairy milks (almond or coconut), meat substitutes, breakfast cereals, and Brewer’s nutritional yeast.

6. Don’t overeat.

Are you watching TV while you eat? If so, you may be mindlessly overeating, that is, you distracted and aren’t aware of how much food you’re actually eating. Another reason people overeat is stress, sometimes called “stress eating.” If stressed, you may crave high-fat, sugary “comfort foods.” They taste so good that you just keep eating them even if you’re full. But regardless of what or why you are overeating, it can make you sleepy. The hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) can induce sleepiness (referred to as postprandial somnolence, or drowsiness) following a (large) meal and can send you searching for a nap.[5] The key is to be more mindful of what and how much you are eating.

7. Avoid an overload of sugar.

Not only should you avoid overloading on candy, cookies, ice cream and other sugar-heavy goodies, but you should also avoid packaged foods that contain hidden sugars. Read the list of ingredients. It is easy to recognize words like corn syrup or corn syrup solids as sugar. But what about the words ending “-ose,” or the hidden sugars like sucrose, oligofructose, polydextrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, lactose and the like. Be wary of all the “-ose” words. Also, look out for words or phrases that contain the word “cane” (e.g., cane juice or cane solids), dextrin, malts, syrups, caramel, dates, juices, and so on.

Consuming these simple sugars is like opening the door to fatigue. They give you a quick energy burst, and then plunge you deep into fatigue. It takes only 30 minutes or less to go from a high to a low; then sugar cravings surge. It’s a vicious cycle.

8. Add seaweed to your meals.

Yuck! You may be thinking, but try it before you reject it. Seaweed abounds in healthy nutrients, much more so than other green vegetables – and we all know that green vegetables are impressively healthy. Seaweed is exceptionally high in chlorophyll and iodine. Chlorophyll has been shown to stimulate the production of hemoglobin and increase the amount of oxygen that your body can Iodine, when consumed in healthy doses, helps to maintain a healthy thyroid gland, which—among other things—can prevent muscle fatigue, thus allowing you to stay stronger, longer.[6]

Seaweed is classified by color—red, brown, or green. Some commonly available types of sea plants are nori, hijiki, arame, kombu, and dulse, which come in sheets, flakes, or powder. Your do not need to cook sea veggies, but you may need to soak the sheets in water for about 10 minutes to soften so you can chop them into smaller pieces. Then you can toss them into soups, salads, and stir-frys. Shop for seaweed at your local Asian store, specialty grocer, or health food markets.

9. Get regular exercise.

To help protect against chronic fatigue syndrome, you must keep your joints and muscles supple and your body strong. Ideally, you should do 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. If you don’t have the time for this, you may have to settle for a 15-20 minute workout 3 times a week. Be creative! Add exercise into your daily routine:

  • Make time for a brisk walk each day.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible.
  • Jog or speed walk with your dog or mow your lawn with more enthusiasm.
  • Do lunges while you brush your teeth.
  • Do triceps dips and abdominal crunches during commercials while watching TV.
  • Turn up the music and dance while cleaning your house.

10. Check your feet.

As we age, the fat pads on the bottom of our feet compress, creating fatigue and pain. So it’s a good idea to support the soles of your feet. Consider wearing supportive shoes or inserting foot pads for better stability and comfort or socks that have extra padding and a wicking agent to keep feet dry and comfortable.[7]

11. Drink tea

  • Green tea, popular for its potent antioxidant content, also provides an energy boost due to caffeine (about half the amount of caffeine as coffee). For those who don’t like drinking the tea, consider taking a green tea supplement.
  • Ginseng tea is known to increase focus, aid concentration, and cure fatigue. Try this tea first thing in the morning to wake up and stimulate your brain. The taste is sharp and earthy. Add a touch of raw honey for more flavor.
  • Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented tea that comes in several flavors. If you’ve never tried it, perhaps now is a good time to give it a try. It is known to have quite a few health benefits.It detoxifies the body, boosts the immune system, cures chronic fatigue, improves digestion and liver function, slows the aging process, and more. These are all good reasons you may want to start drinking You can find it in supermarkets and health food stores.
  • Matcha tea has caffeine to help you get going, and its l-theanine content allows you to feel alertly calm. Low-quality matcha tea can taste bitter, so it’s best to buy good quality, which has a mild, slightly sweet taste. This tea could help get you through a midday crash and adrenal fatigue.
  • Yerba mate tea not only tastes amazing if you like a robust flavor, but it is also stimulating. It is extracted from the dried leaves of the mate plant, a member of the holly family. The tea is popular in Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. You can enjoy yerba mate tea hot or cold. Yerba mate, a naturally caffeinated beverage, has been consumed as a traditional tonic for centuries. It helps alleviate fatigue, suppresses appetite, stimulates the body and mind, and boosts metabolism.

12. Take vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies lead to a wide range of problems spanning from anorexia to obesity, organ malfunction, confusion, depression, and fatigue.

Your cells, including brain and nerve cells, need B vitamins to work. If you aren’t getting enough B vitamins, you might not feel your best. For example, low levels of B6 (pyridoxine), B12, or folate can cause fatigue and anemia. B vitamins are quickly lost when you sweat a lot. The best results will come from taking B vitamin supplements every day.

Taking extra Vitamin C and zinc can help boost your immune system, which, in turn, helps reduce fatigue. Here some more information on these two supplements:

Taking essential fatty acids, such as Omega 3, 6, and 9 oils, are not only great for your brain and cognitive function, but they also lubricate your joints. If you are experiencing muscle pain and soreness, it can make you feel fatigued. Lessening the symptoms of aching joints can help you feel better all over.

If your magnesium levels are low, taking an oral magnesium supplement can help reduce the symptoms of fatigue.

13. Try a natural remedy.

Many natural remedies for chronic fatigue can be found in the power of herbs. Herbal therapies are safe, natural and effective if you allow them time to work and follow directions. Taking these supplements on a semi-regular basis is an excellent way to help protect yourself from CFS.

Everyone’s body is different, so if one herb doesn’t work for you, just move on to another. There’s certainly a lot to pick from! So, don’t reach for caffeine or sugar to combat the midday slump. Instead, consider taking one of these home remedies:

  • The Chinese team broke several world records at the 1992 Olympics. They credited their success to this medicinal fungus. No only does it improve athletic performance, but Cordyceps also combats fatigue, improves muscle weakness and helps soothe aching loins and knees. Chinese royalty cooked cordyceps and served it with duck,  meat,  and other poultry as well as adding it to soups.
    You can buy it in powder, capsule, and liquid forms. Some people break capsules open and add the powder to soup or tea. Recent research has found that cordyceps has many benefits, the latest being that an immune modulator. While certain compounds in cordyceps significantly boost immunity,  there are others that seem to modulate the immune system so that the body doesn’t attack healthy tissue.  This holds enormous promise for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.  Some tout cordyceps as a miracle fungus. [10]
  • It helps protect cells from infection and prevents pathogens, bacteria, and viruses from entering the blood. There are many examples of how echinacea has been successfully used in strengthening the immune system, warding off the EBS virus and providing relief to the user. Take 15-20 drops in liquid, three times daily for two days. Or, 300 to 325 mg three times daily.[11]

Try one of these ginsengs, not all.[12]

  • Korean ginseng is a renowned as an herbal energizer. Ginseng is an adaptogen, meaning it helps you adapt to stressful situations without crashing. It’s a stimulant-free way to promote sustained energy and a feeling of balance.
  • Like Korean ginseng, American ginseng supports physical and mental energy, fights stress and aids immune health.
  • Panax ginseng. This herb has earned its reputation as a leading natural cure for fatigue over the past 5,000 years. Research backs the fatigue-fighting claims of ginseng; studies have found ginseng has helped cancer patients battling severe exhaustion. Look for Panax ginseng available in tea, liquid, or supplement form.
  • Siberian ginseng. Often called Eleuthero, the root of this small, woody shrub is commonly used as a natural remedy for chronic fatigue in Chinese medicine. It is said to help improve energy levels and increase muscle function. Wholly different than Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng is made up of eleutherosides found in the root of the shrub. It is available in liquid extract, capsules, powder, and as a tea.

Gotu Kola, a subtle energizer, supports memory and mental performance. Gotu kola use is widespread around the world. This Ayurvedic herb promotes vitality and healthy circulation, too!

Guarana is a natural fatigue fighter has a high concentration of caffeine (about three times more than coffee), which makes it a favorite ingredient in today’s energy drinks. It helps promote mental alertness and aids weight loss efforts.

Licorice root. Licorice root has long been used as a natural remedy for chronic fatigue. It helps regulate normal system function and allows your body to cope better with stress by restoring cortisol levels. Licorice root has been used in India’s Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years. Look for standardized licorice root in extract or pill form.

Maca is another first-rate home remedy for chronic fatigue. This plant is part of the cruciferous family (think Brussels sprouts) and is known for giving a caffeine-like energy boost minus the jitters and shakes. People who use maca root continuously report feeling more alert, driven, and energetic. In some cultures, maca is prepared as a roasted or baked food or added to soup. Those seeking maca root as a remedy for exhaustion typically find it in powders, liquid extracts, and capsules.[13]

Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogenic, meaning it helps you adapt to physical and environmental stressors. It will help fight fatigue and stress simultaneously—score! Many people find that Rhodiola Rosea provides sustained energy and mood support for the day.

Royal Jelly. While Royal Jelly doesn’t fall into the herb category, it is another great example of a home remedy for tiredness. This milky-white substance produced in the glands of nurse bees is widely used in Chinese medicine for fatigue, depression, and many more ailments. Loaded with B vitamins, Royal Jelly can decrease fatigue and increase endurance by increasing oxygen consumption in those who use it. It is available for internal use via capsules or in a base of honey.[14]

Always check with your doctor before taking any supplement or herb. The information in this article is intended to educate, not medicate. It does not replace the need for you to see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.


[1] Natural Remedies For CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ketosisdiet.org/natural-remedies-for-cfs-chronic-fatigue-syndrome/

[2] Liao S, Ferrell BA. Fatigue in an older population. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2000: Vol. 48, pp426-30.

[3] Harvard Health Newsletter, http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/harvard_health_letter

[4] Brooks A, Lack L. A brief afternoon nap following nocturnal sleep restriction: which nap duration is most recuperative? Sleep. 2006: Jun;29(6):831-40.

[5] Skolnik, Heidi, MS, CN, FACSM, Nutrition Conditioning, LLC, Women’s Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery, 5 Tips to Boost Energy and End Fatigue, http://www.doctoroz.com/article/5-tips-boost-energy-and-end-fatigue

[6] Phillips, H. The Exhaustion Breakthrough, Rodale, 2015.

[7] Healthy Aging: 10 Tips For Growing Old Gracefully … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/17/healthy-aging_n_3768837.html

[8] http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/supplement-guide-zinc

[9] Ibid.

[10] http://cordyceps-sinensis.org/cordyceps/cordyceps-benefits

[11] CFS, Herbal Remedies, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://holistic-online.com/Remedies/cfs/cfs_herbs.htm

[12] The ginseng section was adapted from Herbal Remedies for Fatigue and Exhaustion | Reader’s Digest. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/herbal-remedies-fatigue/

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

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