Fatigue, anxiety & sleep

COVID-19 has heightened fatigue and stress problems. You know you can help.

Many thousands of people worldwide who contracted COVID-19 have reported severe fatigue and related symptoms, often continuing for months. This is referred to as long-haul COVID.

A Financial Times article in August reports the condition is associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), and that analysis by the COVID Symptom Study suggests that as many as one in 10 people with COVID-19 have been sick for more than three weeks after symptoms first emerged.

“Some of the most pernicious problems faced by the group of long-haulers are chronic fatigue, high temperature, insomnia, headaches, brain fog, tingling sensations and dizziness,” said the report.

Paul Garner, a professor of infectious diseases and a blogger, wrote a month after contracting COVID: “I am unable to be out of bed for more than three hours at a stretch, my arms and legs are permanently fizzing as if injected with Szechuan peppercorns, I have ringing in the ears, intermittent brain fog, palpitations, and dramatic mood swings.”

Worryingly, he added: “Health services are largely institutionally prejudiced against people with chronic fatigue and ME.”

Meanwhile, lockdown itself has caused issues with fatigue and sleep even in those who haven’t contracted the virus.

“Recent research and reports from doctors and nutritionists has shown that lockdown, self-isolation and social distancing has led to an increase in people experiencing fatigue, which can sometimes be quite severe, poor sleep and a lack of energy,” says nutritionist Shona Wilkinson, who works closely with energy supplement company Unbeelievable Health (Bee Calm and Bee Energised).

Stress & anxiety

Shona adds: “Stress and anxiety play a major role and, if unchecked, can impact our sleep and wellbeing. Anxiety and inadequate sleep have been well documented as a major contributor to illness, poor health, unhappiness and have even been shown in studies to weaken the immune system.”

For stress, anxiety and depression, she recommends:

  • Rhodiola, an adaptogen that works with the body to balance its functions, and may increase resistance to physical and environmental stress, which can lead to improved anxiety and moods
  • Lemon balm aids with relaxation and decreases tension
  • Magnesium contributes to normal psychological function and to the normal function of the nervous system, which is especially beneficial in periods of stress and depression
  • Passion Flower increases the body’s resistance to stress
  • Royal Jelly is a nutrient dense substance and has been the subject of studies on its use for anxiety and mental health with positive results

Sleep issues

For sleeplessness, Shona recommends:

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  • Griffonia seed extract provides 5-HTP which converts into serotonin and then melatonin – the hormone which is required for sleep onset
  • Hops (Humulus lupulus) has a calming effect leading to good sleep
  • Magnesium to contribute to the normal function of the nervous system as the body needs it to make GABA – the calming hormone, essential for good quality sleep
  • Montmorency cherry, a precursor to melatonin
  • Chamomile extract contributes to relaxation and helps to maintain sleep
  • Saffron – evidence shows it helps ease tension and improves sleep

Energy & focus

Nutritionists and health store staff report an upsurge in enquiries about tiredness, lack of energy and the inability to focus.

“There’s no doubt that we’ve all been living under an enormous about of stress since the pandemic began, and worry and anxiety have been shown to increase feelings of fatigue and can leave people feeling rundown and unable to focus,” says Susan Alexander, a nutritionist who also works with Unbeelievable Health. “Many are finding it difficult to complete even simple tasks. Extreme tiredness can also be accompanied by a low mood and lack of motivation.

“Simply staying active throughout the day can help boost energy levels, even if you just run up and down the stairs, walk around the block, or do jumping jacks while waiting for the kettle to boil.

“For many, healthy habits have slipped during lockdown and problem drinking is reported to have nearly doubled. Alcohol is hugely draining and can exacerbate fatigue. Reducing intake of sugar and refined white carbs (which turn to sugar in the body) will also help. Foods which are shown to help improve energy are lentils, bananas, avocados, fatty fish, brown rice, eggs, apples, oatmeal, and hummus.”

Susan’s list for energy and focus includes:

  • Bee pollen, which contains the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It also has a wide range of health-enhancing plant metabolites, known for yielding energy
  • Matcha Green Tea has also shown positive effects on energy levels and clarity. Matcha is rich in l-theanine which has a calming effect, and ensures the caffeine in the matcha improves attention, but without the jitters and crashes
  • Vitamin B6 and B12 contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism, reducing feelings of tiredness and fatigue, while B12 is also essential for brain function
  • Rosemary extract has been shown to improve memory and cognition
  • Ginseng has also been shown in recent studies to be a promising treatment for fatigue and to help support cognitive function
  • Vitamin C helps ensure the adrenals are nourished – Acerola cherry is one of the most potent sources of vitamin C to be found.

A well-stocked health store with assistants who care and understand is astonishingly well placed to meet the needs of troubled customers.

The power compound

It’s not just older people who can be deficient in CoQ10 (production of this compound decreases with age) and as a result, energy-producing cell mitochondria cannot do their job properly. Deficiency can also be caused by poor nutrition, oxidative stress, disease consequences and taking statins.

CoQ10 is involved in making adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is involved in energy transfer within cells. Its other crucial role is to serve as an antioxidant and protect cells from oxidative damage.

Given that ATP is used to carry out all the body’s functions and oxidative damage is destructive to cells, it is not surprising that some chronic diseases have been linked to low levels of CoQ10.

Clear thinking

The amino acid L-theanine is present in green tea and some mushrooms, and research suggests it may have nootropic tendencies when combined with caffiene. Nootropics have been associated with supporting normal cognitive function, mental speed and alertness, improving memory and verbal recall, and reducing brain fog.
Source: Solgar

CBD anti-depressants

CBD works to balance homeostasis in the body by stimulating the endocannabinoid system, and has proven benefits for relieving stress, anxiety and insomnia.

Alix Woods, working in association with CannabiGold, says: “Studies show that CBD oil has a stabilising effect on mood as it works on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in physiological processes like sleep, pain perception, memory, mood, digestion, cognition and immunity.

“In this case, CBD oil acts upon cannabinoid receptors within the body to produce potentially positive results. For its mood enhancing effects it indirectly stimulates 5-HT1A serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’, and exerts an anti-anxiety mood effect.

“The cannabinoid receptors targeted are the same receptors that anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications target but without the side effects.”

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