happy couple Fibromyalgia

Chronic Fatigue
  • Psychic Energy & Fatigue

    Psychic energy is the really important stuff of existence. We expect to cycle daily through a sleep-waking cycle, characterized by fluctuating energy levels. As energy levels drop, we feel fatigue and then sleepiness. Normal fatigue develops as the waking day proceeds and promotes sleep preparations after 14-16 hours of waking consciousness. Abnormal fatigue stretches through the day and interferes with daily activities. Abnormal fatigue is a multifaceted problem and is difficult to evaluate. When you are very tired, you cannot localize the problem very well. Patients often make the distinction between physical and mental fatigue. With physical fatigue you want to be active and have ambitious plans but cannot implement them. With mental fatigue, you just want to rest, you withdraw and sleep rather than seek activity.

    Freud and Libido

    Psychic energy is discussed metaphysically in the psychoanalytic literature. Freud introduced the hydraulic metaphor "libido" to describe psychic energy. In his metaphysics, libido was a fluid-like energy distributed through three compartments in the psyche. The source of Freudian psychic energy is the sex generator of the ID. Sexual desire and drives are the Freudian absolute energy and all other human activity borrows from this wellspring to accomplish other things.

    Freud would explain depression as trapped libido. If the animal impulses in the ID compartment pour libido into your censoring Superego during some hidden battle within your "mind," there would be a deficiency of libido to energize the ordinary Ego transactions of life. As a metaphor, Freud's idea can be fun, but for practical purposes, it is absurdly out-of-date. In other psychoanalytic traditions the unconscious was viewed as the source of psychic energy with a variety of primitive instincts fueling consciousness with drives and ideas. Esther Harding, a Jungian psychoanalyst, wrote a book on psychic energy, stating, for example: "Beneath the decent facade of consciousness with its disciplined moral order and its good intentions lurk the crude instinctive forces of life, like monsters of the deep - devouring, begetting, warring endlessly."

    This metaphor of psychic energy as the subconscious volcano full of the dark energy of instinctive forces refers to brain structures which determine our feelings and behavior at a primitive and unconscious level. The old brain has species memory built in and read out like read-only memory in a computer (ROM). Old programs in ROM such as hunger, thirst, rage, predatory and territorial aggression will emerge daily in the experience and behavior of every human being. We do not think that psychic energy fluctuates because of the activity of unconscious ideas. Psychic energy is determined by body input and the physical properties of body-brain.

    Psychic Energy and Brain Chemistry

    Psychic energy can be equated to the power supply to the brain. The brain is an electrochemical information processing system, requiring a well-regulated, continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients to function properly. Unlike other organs, the brain does not store oxygen and nutrients and is, therefore, critically dependent on the molecular flow brought to it by its blood supply.

    Brain activity makes high energy demands on body metabolism. At rest, the brain consumes at least 50% of its peak operating energy consumption, manifesting a continuous readiness to act. In contrast, resting skeletal muscle consumes less that 10% of peak energy consumption. Even in sleep, vigorous brain activity during the dream phase or rapid-eye-movement sleep (REMS) consumes peak energy.

    Glucose is the main fuel of the brain and must be supplied as a continuous flow in the blood. Our brain tries to self-regulate by keeping blood sugar flowing by internal means - information flow to the body - and by external behavioral means. Appetite regulation is partly designed around blood sugar maintenance. The idea that low blood sugar is responsible for much brain dysfunction is popular. Sudden episodes of fatigue, foggy thinking, dizziness and weakness are often attributed to hypoglycemia when more complex mechanisms are at work. Hypoglycemia is a common symptom in diabetics who have unstable blood sugars. True hypoglycemic actually causes anxiety and irritability associated with a desperate hunger - a dose of sugar will reduce the symptoms within minutes. Fatigue is associated with high sugar levels and anxiety with low sugar levels.

    In delayed patterns of food allergy dramatic shifts in brain function occur after eating with symptoms such as sleepiness, weakness, dizziness, and cognitive dysfunction - the onset may be delayed a few hours and the food connection not noticed. The day's food may have a major impact on the night's sleep. Good quality sleep is critical in establishing proper energy and function for the next day. Food allergy is regularly associated with sleep disturbances. Difficulty falling asleep, restless legs, fitful sleeps with nightmares and night sweats are common symptoms. Frequent waking to urinate also disrupts sleep. Major food allergic syndromes such as migraine and asthma often begin during sleep and wake the sufferer. Poor sleep means poor psychic energy and contributes to on-going fatigue and mental and emotional aberrations during the following day.

    Psychic energy is a generic force in us, applied equally well to all our activities and even to our passivity's as witnesses of sensory experience. Good psychic energy is as equally important to the appreciation of a glorious sunset or a symphony concert as it is to running the 4-minute mile. Sexual energy is not a special entity, but simply one of the many directions for psychic energy to go. Interest in sexual experience fails along with all other interests and activities.

    Consciousness and the Activating System

    Consciousness depends on spontaneously emitted pulses from brain stem neurons which ascend in a complex mesh of activating circuits to awaken neurons in the limbic system, thalamus, and cerebral cortex. Without this ascending activation, we lapse into a coma. Sleep is an organized inhibition of the ascending activation, orchestrated by neurons within the same activation complex. This is another stop-go system. Honest fatigue is a normal prelude to sleep and represents the increasing activity of sleep-inducing neurons. Some of the sleep-inducing neurons use serotonin as the transmitter and malfunction when its precursor, tryptophan, is deficient; thus, bedtime doses of this amino acid promote sleep. Extra tryptophan during the day may make you feel tired and dopey.

    However, the neurochemistry of arousal and sleep has proved to be inconveniently complex. One of the problems is that a single neurotransmitter, such as serotonin, is used in different brain circuits with different functions that are sometimes contradictory or paradoxical in their effects. Single-factor manipulations of brain chemistry do not give us the selective control of brain-mind that once was imagined by scientists inventing psychoactive drugs.

    Patients have difficulty describing the daily changes in the clarity of their consciousness. We do have good words for all the possible changes in clarity of consciousness, and patients use descriptions like "blurred, foggy, spacey, dizzy, dopey, intoxicated, drunk, and stoned" to indicate the problem. Some will compare food-induced dysfunction to intoxication with alcohol or drugs. Some food reactions will act more like hypnotic drugs or anesthetics, putting the person to sleep. Sleep attacks are so severe in some patients that they cannot work, drive, or carry out normal daily routines.

    Since the brain's arousal circuits determine our ability to attend to tasks, disturbances in the arousal system will manifest as attention deficits. The symptoms of difficulty in concentration, easy distractibility, and memory deficit (most often failure to store recent memories) accompany other arousal dysfunction in both children and adults. Attention deficits in children are often cause "learning disability"

    In children, we refer to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and attribute learning disabilities to this dysfunction. Attention deficits may manifest as apparently specific neurologic or learning abnormalities - the so-called "minimal brain dysfunctions" such as dyslexia, and perceptual-motor deficits. The apparent localization or specificity of dysfunction is an artifact of ADHD, and it disappears when diet revision therapy is successful. A subgroup of hyperactive children with attention deficit, display aggressive, violent, and antisocial behavior. They often respond well to careful management of their food supply using the Alpha Nutrition Program.

    In adults with arousal disorders, we note shifting energy and mood levels. Hyperactivity and attention deficits continue in some adults, as long as they eat the wrong foods and drink the wrong drinks. Their arousal disturbance is often associated with social withdrawal, disinterest, disorganization, failure to complete work tasks, failure to honor personal commitments and low self-esteem. In the worst case the arousal disorder is disabling. Arousal disturbances are often bipolar, with rising and falling mood and energy. In children and adults we observe sudden, dramatic shifts in mood and behavior as a food reacts in. Often, the initial response to a dose of reactive food is temporary relief, with increased energy but is followed in 1-3 hours by a crash into a tired, despondent, dysfunctional state. Cravings and compulsive eating seem to accompany mental and emotional disturbances and perpetuate the eating-reaction loop.

    The Food Allergy Complex

    Fatigue, sleepiness, mood, and sleep-disturbances are consistent symptoms of the food allergy complex. The clinical correlation of more specific food-allergic symptoms (nose congestion, headache, and abdominal pain) with fatigue and insomnia is so consistent that food allergic symptoms which do not include a disturbance of the arousal system should be considered unusual. Careful observation of family and friends before and after eating and drinking should reveal consistent and rather obvious changes in their arousal, attention, cognitive ability, and emotional expressions. The food allergy sufferer manifests the food-brain connection more obviously and will verbally report or act out some form of arousal disturbance after a meal. Irritability and inappropriate, angry outbursts may be as common as the antisocial withdrawal caused by arousal inhibition in circuits of the brain. For example, some patients report extreme sleepiness 20-60 minutes after eating. If there is no opportunity to sleep after the meal, they continue to function at a compromised level, making more mistakes in their work and having more difficulty with interpersonal relationships. Milk products and grain-related foods seem to be the most consistent sedative-hypnotic foods. All foods high in protein content may have this effect. Coffee and tea will briefly postpone the sedative-hypnotic effects of food, but at a cost to proper brain function. Alcoholic beverages increase the brain-disturbing effects of other foods.

    Hyperarousal is associated with food allergy and many patients report restless dysphoria. Skin itching may be the beginning of this hyperarousal. Itching progresses to squirming, pacing, restless legs and agitation. More generalized internal itchiness and restlessness is also reported and may be extreme enough to motivate bizarre behaviors and agitated searches for relief. A cruel paradox of sleepiness accompanied by restless dysphoria is often experienced at night while the evening's food and drink are being processed in GIT and wrong materials trickle into the bloodstream. The sleep disturbances of food allergy are usually accompanied by physical symptoms.

    Memory Disorders

    Arousal disturbances are often associated with memory disturbances. In the food allergy complex, patients routinely report interference with memory. Recent memory is often first involved. Little details, familiar names and numbers, even common words just drop out. The ability to sequence tasks is disrupted by forgetting what you just did or were supposed to do. If you cannot remember what you just did or wanted to do, cognitive performance is impaired, you become disorganized and life becomes very difficult. In children, attention deficits are associated with disruption of recent memory. Learning is impaired by the inability to recall the most recent events. Reading, for example, requires words just recognized to be held briefly in recent memory storage so that the meaning of whole sentences and then paragraphs can be assembled. If short-term memory storage fails to work properly, you cannot read and understand.

    The physical procedures involved in storing and retrieving memories seem to involve a sequence of biochemical steps, some of which require structural changes in the brain. If protein synthesis in the brain is blocked, long-term memory is impaired. A stream of molecules, originating in the food supply and then passing through the brain, will either facilitate the brain changes required for memory or interrupt them. Of the many problems in the food supply discussed in this book, we think the most important for causing memory malfunction are food allergy, alcoholic beverage abuse, malnutrition, toxicity of chemical contaminants, coffee and prescription drug use.

    The Alpha Nutrition Program is designed to improve chronic fatigue and related disorders. The most definitive clearing program is a food holiday, using an elemental nutrient formula (Alpha ENF), composed of nutrients in their pure form with no other food intake. Alpha ENF allows a sick person to return to a baseline of normal functioning, without the intake of numerous adverse substances that may have been present in their food supply.