The Key to overcoming Chronic Fatigue (hint: it’s NOT your adrenals!)

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Simple, natural & science-based steps to overcoming chronic fatigue, and double your energy levels fast. Many are told or even presume that they’re suffering from adrenal fatigue. Find out why this is mostly inaccurate, what is REALLY going on and what you can do about it.

Symptoms of chronic fatigue are incredibly common. In fact, I could go so far as to say it’s a modern day epidemic

A lack of energy can negatively impact your life in so many ways.

Poor energy = poor quality of life. Everything suffers without it

overcoming chronic fatigue


Back in my days practicing as a naturopath, I had SO many people walk through my door who were chronically fatigued in some way.

I commonly hear from mums who’s fatigue has lead to decreased ability to cope with stress, impacting negatively on their relationships with their spouse and children. This becomes a downward spiral because the stress leads to further fatigue and so on.

overcoming chronic fatigue

I want to outline a holistic view of what is going on, but please stay tuned because towards the end I want to share the most POWERFUL way to turn our energy-procucing switch BACK ON!

Are our adrenals really worn out?

Adrenal fatigue is a very commonly used term these days and can be quite loosely used.

This concept is based on the assumption that chronic stress wears out the adrenals and after a while, these important little endocrine glands can’t produce enough cortisol to keep up the stress demands.

This is thought to result in a set of varying symptoms including chronic fatigue.

Morning cortisol awakening response is what is focussed on generally to assess person’s cortisol levels. But this is not as definitive as many are calling it because low morning cortisol can be due to many different factors.

For example, if someone is a night owl and measures their cortisol level at 8 am it is going to be low. This doesn’t mean they are adrenally fatigued. Antidepressants & poor sleep can also cause low morning cortisol.

Also, having low morning cortisol is not evidence of the adrenals not producing enough cortisol because the total cortisol output is often normal, over a 24 hour period.

Interestingly, there is actually no hard evidence to substantiate adrenal fatigue as a real condition. This scientific review actually concludes that AF is actually a myth.

I was taught that adrenal fatigue is real and then went on to teach patients about this. I treated people with herbs to build up their adrenals, which did actually help them feel better, to some degree.

Herbs & natural remedies that support the adrenals are adaptogens, which help the body to cope with stress, and this can be very supportive.

So don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s not perhaps PART of the picture for some people. However, I no longer believe it’s an underlying cause of chronic fatigue.

There’s lots and lots of misinformation and pseudoscience out there, that can cost people time, money and even be damaging.


So what’s really going on?

I believe that we need to turn our attention more to what is going on at the cellular level …

It’s Cellular

We all know the basic things we need to be healthy because we’ve heard the standard health advice a million times. I know many people who are doing all of those things pretty well – fresh air & sunshine, hydration with quality water, exercise, good nutrition etc – but they are still exhausted!

Now, these lifestyle factors are certainly a great start, but what most people are unaware of is what is going on at the cellular level.

Our cellular energy generators

Mitochondria are our cellular energy generators. They take in carbohydrates & fats and convert them to ATP – cellular energy.

But they are not just mindless energy pumpers. One of their biggest functions within the cell are cellular defense.

The mitochondria detect when there is any threat to the cell, and will switch into cellular defence mode & turn off energy production mode. This creates kind of a hibernation-like state, which is experienced as chronic fatigue.

On Guard

As a naturopath, I specialized in energy medicine and used a bio-feedback system to detect cellular stress. Mitochondrial stress was extremely common, mostly leading me to find some kind of toxicity keeping the mitochondria in defense mode. This was usually specific heavy metals, sometimes a combination of several.

Robert Naviaux of the Mitochondrial Medicine Society has done groundbreaking research that demonstrates this vital function, this second little-known role.

You know how when we have the flu we feel very tired. That’s the cell defense response in action. The body has switched over to defense mode and slowed it’s energy production right down.

Many animals will do this and it extends their lifespan.

The idea is you can survive longer until the threat has passed when you can switch back over to energy production mode.

It has been found that there are many factors that will impact upon this – causing the mitochondria to switch to defense mode – including a toxic environment and long-term stress.

Power up

So how do we switch back over to energy production mode and enhance our cellular energy production?

You’ll be pleased to hear that not only can we switch into this mode but there are also ways to increase the number of mitochondria in every cell, even double the amount, and therefore doubling our energy levels!

We want to enhance both cellular mitochondria building and cellular regeneration mode.

Stay tuned for how to do this!


Flipping the switch


So mitochondria are designed to detect all kinds of threats, including toxins in our environment, heavy metals, infections, leaky gut leaking toxins into the bloodstream will trigger the mitochondria into defense mode.

So firstly we need to look at toxicity. If you think this may be an issue for you or you’re not sure then you can make a powerful start by taking a look at our free 7-day course. This will help you to eliminate all sources of toxicity from your life.


If you are REALLY serious I’m pretty sure I’ve found the best course out there to take you through this process IN DEPTH.

I have learned LOADS from Alexx Stuart, and most who’ve taken her program say it was the biggest eye-opening experience of their lives. And it’s actually a fun one too! She offers:

overcoming chronic fatigue


Some will find they also need to get rid of accumulated heavy metals & toxins by doing a safe detox.

Glutathione can actually bind with the toxins & lift it out of the receptors so the cells can function efficiently. Learn how to increase the bodies own glutathione production with nrf2 activation.

Once you have checked it out & are ready to purchase go HERE

overcoming chronic fatigue

The stress factor

Psychological & emotional stress will also switch mitochondria into defense mode.

Generally speaking, most people are living in fear. We generally believe (emotionally) that the world is a pretty scary place which is why stress is such an enormous factor in today’s world.

As a result of this, we want to control our environment, often constantly and unconsciously ‘on guard’.

How is this affecting our mitochondria function?

Our mitochondria are going to be ‘on guard’ too, massively affecting our ability to produce cellular energy, because they have switched into defense mode.

Personally, I believe this is the main underlying cause of mitochondrial dysfunction & the chronic fatigue epidemic.

overcoming chronic fatigue


To read more about dealing with stress go here

One month ago I was pretty burnt out. My partner & I have been working super hard the last 2 years. Combine that with 2 interstate moves, renovations, our first baby, no support & very little time for myself. I was exhausted much of the time, not coping well with stress and my body was starting to show signs of inflammation & increased aging.

Fast forward to today & I feel completely different, as a result of 2 miracle plant medicines.

Stay tuned below for more on Mitochondria, but if you want to check out the plant medicines I’m referring to, join us on our group page! :


Want more of the best Holistic Wellness info?

Join our Facebook Group!


Mitochondrial Medicine

So, what else can we do?

We can enhance mitochondrial regeneration & increase the numbers of mitochondria within each cell.

Sleep & circadian rhythm

In my opinion, one of the most important factors in rebuilding your energy levels is amplifying your body’s ability to regenerate mitochondria at night while you sleep.

This involves creating a good circadian rhythm.

When this rhythm is off & we’re not producing enough melatonin at night this will also damage the mitochondria. This is because melatonin has another role involving protecting the mitochondria from damage.

Supporting good circadian rhythm involves looking at light!

Shedding Light

Screens & artificial (blue) light at night over a long period will actually suppress melatonin and chronically weaken mitochondria.

There is some evidence that blue light will increase the distance of the proteins in the respiratory electron transport chain in the mitochondria. This makes them much less efficient in producing more mitochondria.


Blue light pollution

Artificial light is still fairly new to modern man, and exposure to this type of lighting could be drastically affecting us.

Throughout history, people have risen and slept with the sun, their circadian rhythm effortlessly in sync with the natural light of the sun and moon.

Electronics and artificial lighting emit blue light, which only occurs naturally during the brightest part of the day. So when we’re exposed to this at night, naturally our bodies are going to get confused!

The Cancer Connection

We require 11-12 hours of darkness (absence of blue light) to produce enough melatonin to fight cancer cells in the body.

Melatonin is possibly the most powerful hormone in the body to fight cancer.

Evidence suggests that blind people have low cancer rates & shift workers have high cancer rates. Interesting!

I’ve never been a fan of bright overhead lights, and always preferred Salt Lamps & other atmospheric lamps at night.light therapy


But over the last year or so, I’ve been writing and blogging for a few hours in the evening after putting our toddler down for the night. So lots of melatonin-interrupting screen time every night!

Fast forward to a year later and I was feeling like my batteries were running pretty low! This had also started to really affect my previously 20/20 vision too.

Like this Article?


Overcoming chronic fatigue

So what can we do?

  • Wearing Orange-lens glasses for a few hours before bedtime will maximize the body’s production of melatonin because it blocks the blue ray in the artificial light coming from bright bulbs & screens.

Since using mine I’ve definitely noticed a difference! It’s like my batteries are getting charged up again overnight, which they literally are!

According to Dr. Richard L. Hansler blue blocking glasses can even help to heal brain injury by concussion or mild traumatic brain injury by maximizing your natural melatonin.

Ashleigh from Faux to Fresh is offering Holistic Mumma readers a special discount of 25% off their Blue-light blocking glasses. This is where I purchased mine!

Just enter the code Holisticmumma25 at check out.

overcoming chronic fatigue

USA readers can purchase blue-light blocking glasses here.

Here are some decent ones for kids. I am yet to find a source of kids glasses in Australia so currently investigating this.


  • You can also use an app called F.lux for computers & tablets, which automatically reduces blue light on these devices after dark.
  • Ditch the overhead lights or just use lamps with orange bulbs after dark. My favorite way to do this is by using salt lamps, which also emit calming negative ions.


Cellular Regeneration & Mitochondrial building

We recommend a natural formula called Nrf1 Synergizer which has been found to increase mitochondrial biogenesis. Please note that this formula goes hand in hand with Nrf2 Activation to provide whole cell support. Nrf2 activation is important, to take care of the increased free radical production that occurs as a result of increased mitochondrial biogenesis. You can purchase them together, for a discounted price, here.

There are some other factors to consider if you want to take a more holistic approach.

The key to this is Hormesis – using a metabolic stressor to create resilience and the building up of antioxidants and the ability for the cells to protect themselves against damage.

We can actually even stimulate our cells to repair damaged cell parts & recycle new healthy cell parts, enhancing our cells energy production, employing the use of hormesis.

Exercise is a type of hormetic stressor which is what makes it so beneficial to our health.

overcoming chronic fatigue

Other examples are intermittent fasting, UV light, and cold & heat exposure. Certain phytonutrients actually work through hormesis.

Many people think these are antioxidants but they are actually plant compounds which have a mildly ‘toxic’ effect, creating a minor temporary stress, and stimulating our internal antioxidant production and defense to grow stronger.

So these hormetic stressors work by building up your internal defense system, making your mitochondria & cells more robust & resilient.

The comfort bubble

When we don’t do these things our mitochondria will shrink and shrivel up. Many people will lose up to half their mitochondrial capacity as they age.

Our resilience level has become enormously lowered in modern society, and therefore much more easily overwhelmed by stressors and triggered into defense mode.

Have we become too used to a sheltered & comfortable life? We often eat more than we need, avoid extreme temperatures & challenges, and live in a blue light bubble.

You can see that all of the above factors are ENORMOUSLY common, and combined can trigger the perfect storm and keep you locked into a chronically fatigued state.


So having strong healthy mitochondria is KEY to having a strong resilience threshold and coping with life without being triggered into this chronic hibernation, fatigued state.


Additional factors

Your precious Biome

Your biome is essentially the ecosystem of microflora lining the gut wall.

The health and balance of your gut microflora is so vital to your health. When this is out of balance, ie. we have too many pathogenic microbes and too few functional ones, this will affect the integrity of the gut wall junctions and create what is commonly referred to as ‘leaky gut’.

Certain triggering & inflammatory foods will exacerbate this by causing these gut wall junctions to loosen & become more permeable and allow the passing of larger food particles & microorganisms into the bloodstream.

This leads to chronic inflammation which can cause chronic locking of the mitochondria to defense mode, therefore reducing energy production.

Restoring your gut Biome is so essential, read more about this here



Phospholipids in the diet have a protective effect on mitochondria, such as L-Carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid.

Please see below for a nutritional Power Punch, demonstrated to increase mitochondria quality & production.


A couple more tips:

I want to include 2 additional factors which I know are of vital relevance to us mums.

How do you take your coffee?

I don’t think I know many (if any?) mums who don’t rely on their morning cup of coffee.

Most of us (not just mums!) are overstimulating our nervous systems all day every day. Coffee also overstimulates and if used daily will, over time, take your baseline energy lower so that you need more coffee to have the same effect.

overcoming chronic fatigue

This is due to the effects of coffee on the neurotransmitter system in the brain.

I do enjoy coffee and believe it can be beneficial if used correctly (and without the sugar & dairy!), but many people are using it as a crutch.

I’m not into band-aid solutions because they just don’t work well long-term!

So my suggestion is to pull off the band-aid & allow your neurotransmitters to reset. You may feel terrible for a few days to weeks, depending on your level of dependency.

But then your baseline energy levels will return back up to normal. Your neurotransmitters will come back into balance, you’ll feel better and your capacity for energy will increase massively.

Coffee is best used intermittently. If I’ve had a coffee every day for a few days, I’ll then skip it for a few days to prevent it messing with my neurotransmitters.

The passion factor

As mums, it’s easy for us to become overly focused on our kids’ needs and become detuned to our own passions and perhaps don’t do the things we used to do and enjoy as much, or at all.

Spend time doing something you LOVE every day! Even if its just 20 minutes.

I guarantee that this will make an enormous difference to your overall energy levels!

overcoming chronic fatigue

The takeaways

So, in a nutshell, if you experience symptoms of chronic fatigue, I highly recommend looking at the following factors:

  1. Circadian rhythm and sleep – this is where cellular regeneration happens! Invest in a pair of Blue-light blocking glasses to wear at night and maximize your important 12 hours of melatonin function.
  2. Address stress and anxiety. Consider exploring what fears are underlying, and any other emotions
  3. Address toxicity & start by eliminating toxins from your everyday life.
  4. Introducing healthy hormetic stressors into your life such as hot/cold therapy, intensified exercise, sunlight and light therapy, and increasing plant sources of nutrition.
  5. Heal & balance your gut biome and consider additional nutritional support for mitochondrial health.
  6. Ditch the coffee crutch and use intermittently.
  7. Do something you LOVE every day!
  8. Boost your mitochondrial quality & production MASSIVELY by using cellular nutrition.

This is the POWER PUNCH I was referring to earlier. This is mitochondrial medicine at its finest!

Just this one cellular activator will make an ENORMOUS difference to your energy levels, and if you address the issue holistically, by making the necessary changes above also, I’m confident you will experience dramatic long-term results.

Learn more here

Go here to purchase


overcoming chronic fatigue

What About You?

I’d love to hear from you! How have you coped with fatigue as a parent? What has helped? What do you feel you need additional support with?


Like this Article?


overcoming chronic fatigue



About the Author:

Sam Sundara is the creator of Holistic Mumma, a passionate writer, health coach, educator, and mum. With a background of 18 years as a natural therapist, in community services & counselling and a passion for spiritual psychology, Sam offers a holistic view to parenting & wellbeing.


  1. Ben April 7, 2018 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Blue blocker glasses are the best!

  2. Pia April 7, 2018 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Great article! I never knew this about mitochondria & this makes a lot of sense. I’ve struggled with fatigue for years & I think this might be the piece of the puzzle I’ve been missing. I’ve been enjoying your articles very much & will be sharing this one for sure. Thank you Sam!

    • Sam Sundara April 9, 2018 at 3:37 am - Reply

      Thanks Pia! So glad you’re enjoying the site 🙂 yes this is fairly new information & such an essential missing piece. Please let us know how you go with implementing the tips!

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