Natural remedies for fatigue
Feeling tired and fatigued can make even simple tasks feel overwhelming. If you feel this way, it’s only natural you may be seeking ways to boost your energy levels.
Fatigue can have many causes, and it can be temporary and related to your activity levels, or persistent and long lasting.
Short-term, temporary fatigue may be related to factors like:
- lack of sleep
- physical exertion
- mental stress or anxiety
- restrictive nutrition
Meanwhile, long-term or chronic fatigue may be caused by:
- physical health conditions
- mental health conditions
- environmental factors
Underlying conditions may require professional guidance and treatment. Natural strategies may also help both temporary and persistent fatigue. Here are a few you may consider.
When you feel weak and tired, a nutrient-dense diet can be your friend. Conversely, a diet that lacks the calories and nutrients you need can be a foe.
A 2020 review linked malnutrition and undernutrition with increased chronic fatigue in older adults.
In addition to getting enough energy to fuel your day-to-day life, a 2020 narrative review suggests that getting enough of these vitamins and minerals may be especially important for reducing fatigue:
- B vitamins
- vitamin C
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans explain that a nutrient-dense diet supports good health. They recommend limiting alcohol and foods and drinks high in added salt and saturated fat. Instead, they suggest focusing your diet on:
- fresh vegetables and fruits
- grains, especially whole grains
- lean proteins, including soy, legumes, and lean meats
- dairy, especially low fat options
- natural oils from nuts, seafood, and vegetables
These foods may help provide the nutrients your body and mind need to thrive and stay energized.
If you feel your diet is optimal and you still feel tired all the time, consider visiting a healthcare professional for a nutritional deficiency test. In some cases, you may be eating the right things, but your body may not absorb the nutrients it needs. Supplementation may be a solution, but a deficiency needs to be confirmed first.
Regular physical activity
If you want to reduce fatigue naturally, regular physical activity is a game changer.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans confirm that regular physical activity can benefit your energy levels, for instance by improving:
- sleep quality
- perception of well-being and quality of life
- physical function
- mental capabilities like attention and processing speed
This is true both for people dealing with temporary tiredness and those with chronic fatigue — even if it’s linked to health conditions. A few examples include:
- Cancer: Moderate to vigorous cardio with or without moderate to hard resistance training appears to improve chronic cancer-related fatigue, as evidenced by a 2017 systematic review of 20 articles in men with prostate cancer. Plus, a 2018 study in people with breast or colon cancer found that regular exercise during chemotherapy could minimize fatigue around the time of treatment and many years into the future.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): A 2015 systematic review that analyzed 36 trials including 1,603 people with MS suggested that exercise, particularly endurance training with or without resistance training, is a safe way to reduce fatigue.
- Kidney disease: A small 2023 intervention study in 34 adults with chronic kidney disease found that following an exercise program for just 4 weeks improved energy and fatigue.
Getting more exercise may not be a suitable approach if the cause of your fatigue is physical overexertion. As described by a 2021 review, overtraining can be a cause of fatigue in itself.
Before starting a new training regimen, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional who can provide tailored advice and ensure that your exercise plan is right and safe for your health and goals.
Generally, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get:
- at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week, at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week, or an equivalent combination of both
- at least two days of resistance training per week to strengthen your muscles
Optimal sleep hygiene
Whether you’re dealing with short-term sleep disturbances or chronic sleep disorders, optimizing your sleep hygiene is paramount.
As described by a 2017 review with information from 97 studies, getting too little sleep has a range of immediate and long-term effects on your mind and body, including sleepiness. Getting more shuteye can be an effective way to get rid of extreme fatigue fast if a lack of sleep is the culprit.
There are many ways to optimize your sleep. A 2021 review of 35 studies found that these are some effective strategies:
- maintaining consistent sleep and wake times
- practicing relaxation techniques like calming music, aromatherapy, massages, and mindfulness before bed
- getting regular exercise
- ensuring your sleeping area is quiet, or using white noise
Plus, an older 2014 review recommends that you avoid these substances for several hours before bedtime:
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that adults get 7–9 hours of sleep each day or night, depending on the sleep schedule.
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Medical treatments for fatigue
If you eat a nutrient-dense diet, get regular exercise, and get enough sleep but still feel fatigued, consider talking with a healthcare professional. They can assess your health to explore whether there’s an underlying cause.
Here are a few possible causes and some examples of management and medication options:
- Management: iron infusion, dietary changes, oral iron supplements
- Medications: ferrous sulfate (Slow Fe) and ferumoxytol (Feraheme)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Management: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), adaptive pacing therapy (APT), graded exercise therapy (GET), increased exercise
- Medications: off-label prescription use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil), tricyclic antidepressants like doxepin (Silenor), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Sleep disorders
- Management: cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), lifestyle changes, sleep restriction therapy (SRT), relaxation techniques, improved sleep hygiene
- Medications: off-label, short-term use of benzodiazepines like alprazolam (Xanax), melatonin receptor agonists like ramelteon (Rozerem), orexin receptor antagonists like lemborexant (Dayvigo)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance in managing persistent fatigue. The examples above are a few of the many possible reasons for feeling temporarily or chronically fatigued.
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If you’re looking for ways to fix fatigue quickly, a good place to start is ensuring you get enough sleep, exercise, and nourishing nutrient-dense foods.
If you are dealing with longer-term fatigue and tiredness, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional. They can explore whether there are any underlying causes that may require medical treatment.
- Albakri U, et al. (2021). Sleep health promotion interventions and their effectiveness: An umbrella review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8196727
- Armstrong LE, et al. (2021). Overtraining syndrome as a complex systems phenomenon. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10013019
- Azzolino D, et al. (2020). Nutritional status as a mediator of fatigue and its underlying mechanisms in older people. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071235
- Baguley BJ, et al. (2017). The effect of nutrition therapy and exercise on cancer-related fatigue and quality of life in men with prostate cancer: A systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622763
- Bhargava J, et al. (2023). Fibromyalgia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK540974
- Heine M, et al. (2015). Exercise therapy for fatigue in multiple sclerosis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9554249
- How much sleep is enough? (2022). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep/how-much-sleep
- Irish L, et al. (2014). The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4400203
- Karna B, et al. (2023). Sleep disorder. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560720
- Lorenz EC, et al. (2023). Examining the safety and effectiveness of a 4-week supervised exercise intervention in the treatment of frailty in patients with chronic kidney disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10616430
- Medic G, et al. (2017). Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449130
- Sapra A, et al. (2023). Chronic fatigue syndrome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557676
- Tardy A-L, et al. (2020). Vitamins and minerals for energy, fatigue and cognition: A narrative review of the biochemical and clinical evidence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7019700
- Turner J, et al. (2023). Anemia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499994
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf
- Vaillant AAJ, et al. (2022). HIV disease current practice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534860
- Witlox L, et al. (2018). Four-year effects of exercise on fatigue and physical activity in patients with cancer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992660