Why Am I Still Tired and Hurt while Taking So Many Supplements?

by Harry Hong, Ph.D., L.Ac.

Kim, a 45-year old woman with main concerns of fatigue and joint pain, came to my office with two baskets of supplements. Her symptoms started two years earlier and she had to quit working. She complained of fatigue all day, from the moment of waking up with headaches and joint pain. She could not digest food well, with bloating and irritable bowel symptoms. Many foods bothered her when she ate. A complete checkup at her primary doctor revealed nothing of significance. She had two children to take care of at home and her husband did not understand her illness and blamed her for the inconvenience she created for the family. She also tried a few alternative health practitioners who gave her nutritional supplements to improve energy, immune function and digestion. The supplements helped her for a short period of time, but stopped working after a while. Not knowing if the supplements were still helping or not, she was afraid of stopping them. She wondered, “Why am I still tired and hurt while taking so many supplements?”

There have been many people like Kim, suffering from fatigue, pain and indigestion without any significant findings from conventional physical exams. They could be diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, food sensitivity or even chronic Lyme disease. Holistic medicine approaches to complex multi-symptom illnesses differ from conventional Western medicine. We believe that the human body is a whole system, with the ability to maintain its own balance and heal itself. When external and internal factors, such as stress and toxins, disturb the balance and confuse the immune system, disease occurs. Disease may affect multiple systems that lead to multiple symptoms. Only addressing one or two symptoms can’t possibly restore the homeostasis of the body. Thus, to understand the root issues of complex multi-symptom illnesses and know how to address them become the keys to resolve this complex problem.

Holistic medicine believes that chronic multi-symptom illnesses are the result of high inflammation caused by two main factors from modern lifestyle: stress and toxins. These two factors cause dysfunction of neuroimmune and neuroendocrine control of the immune system, which leads to dysfunction of various systems and causes high inflammation. The pathophysiology of the high inflammation may include the following:

Firstly, adrenal fatigue syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms caused by malfunction of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis due to prolonged internal and external stress in life. Dysfunction of the adrenal response results in various pathophysiological changes in the body and causes high inflammation and low energy production, which lead to pain, fatigue and insomnia.

Second, dysbiosis is a condition of microbial imbalances such as yeast overgrowth (Candidiasis), pathogenic bacteria and parasite overgrowth and the decline of the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Dysbiosis and associated toxin over-production often play the main role to increase inflammation level of the body. In the meantime, toxin over-production in the gut overwhelms the body’s detox system through Leaky Gut, a condition of increased permeability of intestinal mucus membrane caused by damage from microbial. Compromised liver and kidney detox function leads to further accumulation of the endogenous toxins that result in high inflammation.

Third, and also the most important, immune function is compromised due to malfunction of the adrenal system and accumulation of toxins. Compromised immune system leads to two parallel consequences: chronic infections and abnormal immune response including allergy and sensitivity. Infection is common for those who suffer from chronic fatigue. Common blood tests may not show anything positive because the infections are hidden. Immune markers sometimes show positive findings on antibody against specific virus and bacteria. Allergy and sensitivity are also common among those patients, especially food sensitivities, which may be the main trigger for irritable bowel symptoms and lead to intestinal dysbiosis in the long run.

Many doctors try to address the above root issues at the same time with nutritional supplementation, herbs and enzymes. However, the patient’s body can be overwhelmed by so many supplements every day, especially those who already have digestive issues. They can’t possibly digest, absorb and process such an amount of supplements, especially those with sensitivity issues, where everyday foods can trigger immune responses, and so do the supplements. Based on my experience, sensitivity cannot be resolved by supplementation, which may cause even more problems in the future. Once patients develop sensitivity to vitamins, minerals and enzymes, many physiological processes can be blocked by abnormal immune responses. Their inflammation and adrenal stress would be much worse.

Many patients come to see me with a similar condition that I call Chaotic Stage, an energetically chaotic condition characterized by high inflammation, high toxin, high sensitivity and autoimmune responses and low cellular energy. The energetic system is so chaotic that many pathways of the body’s healing mechanism are blocked and the immune system is attacking the body’s own organs, tissues, regulatory systems and many nutrients and enzymes. Without containing and treating the initial layer of the disease, the body’s overall function cannot reach an optimal condition and any types of therapies may not have an optimal result.

I checked Kim’s energy system using Electrodermal Screening technique and found many imbalances and blockages. I gave her two homeopathic remedies tailored to her body to recharge her cellular energy and open up her detox organs and channels. The screening also revealed multiple sensitivities to many nutrients and food items. The avenue was to desensitize her with an energetic technique that I call the Immune System Reprogramming, combining acupressure and homeopathy to calm down the immune system. She went home with homework for improving diet and sleep habits. I also evaluated her supplements and found she was sensitive to many. She stopped most and followed my dietary instructions and lifestyle changes.

After three months of treatment, Kim’s condition was not chaotic anymore and her symptoms were reduced. The healing process has to follow specific steps, peeling through layers like an onion. A detoxification protocol was started, including intestinal cleansing for Candida and parasites, liver and kidney support. Later on, a regeneration protocol was used to regenerate leaky gut, support adrenal system and repair damaged organ and tissue.

About one year into the program, with monthly visits, Kim became symptom-free and did not need many supplements besides some basics. Over-supplementation, especially in the beginning of the treatment, only overwhelms the body and causes more indigestion, sensitivity and detox response that result in more inflammatory symptoms.

Dr. Harry Hong is a licensed acupuncture physician specializing in holistic healing for the Highly Sensitive. He teaches highly sensitive people to listen to their body and take charge of their own health. With his systematic IBMT protocol that includes Chinese medicine, modern homeopathy, energetic testing and allergy desensitization, Dr. Hong helps Highly Sensitives gain back their immune strength and get their life back. He has offices in both South Florida and Chicago. Visit HighlySensitiveBody.com. See ad page 27.

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