Fatigue and Root Cause Medicine

We recently changed the name of our clinic to Root Cause Medical Clinic, and in honor of that launch I wanted to write about some of the most common complaints patients come in seeking help with. I also wanted to discuss what we do that is so effective and different from what most other clinicians do.

I sometimes forget how unique our thought process is until I’m speaking to a patient about the problems and frustrations they are confronting regarding their health. This was one of the reasons we changed our name; we have always discussed our methodology of “getting to the root cause” with our patients, and we have found the concept is not only readily understood for its meaning, but most realize they have never been evaluated from that viewpoint before by any other doctor. When they hear how root cause medicine works and experience the thought process as we review through their personal health history, one for one they feel it makes sense. Once they learn of our success rate, they are excited to begin the program.

Statistics regarding fatigue:

Fatigue is a very common symptom. Doctors cite it as one of the more common complaints they hear from their patients. Severe fatigue, defined as intense enough to interfere with an individual’s ability to function in their life, is present in 20% of Americans, according to the NIH (National Institute of Health).

Women are more likely than men to suffer from fatigue. How much more? In adults aged 18-44, women were almost twice as likely to suffer from fatigue or exhaustion. The difference disappeared once both sexes reached age 64 and above.

Does your fatigue cause you to be a hazard on the road? According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 60% of adult drivers have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy during the past year. More than 33% have actually fallen asleep at the wheel! I can attest to that and it was something I warned my children of when I was teaching them to drive. I can’t tell you how many patients have confessed to falling asleep or nodding off at the wheel, while others are so dazed and foggy, they don’t remember driving home at night.

There are many causes of fatigue. Only the following are considered by traditional medicine:

  • Thyroid disorder
  • Anemia
  • Insomnia
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Overweight
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Infections

In Root Cause Medicine, we consider the above plus many others. They include:

  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Food sensitivities
  • Malabsorption
  • Maldigestion
  • Leaky gut
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Pain
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Inflammation
  • Lack of exercise
  • Plus the conditions mentioned in the above list.


Have you ever been to your doctor complaining of fatigue? Here’s what likely happened:

  1. The doctor ran a blood test(s) to rule out any disease process or a condition, such as anemia, that could be causing your fatigue.
  2. If the labs came back negative your doctor likely told you it’s normal to feel the way you do, or:
  3. If you’re overweight he or she suggested losing the pounds and increasing your exercise.
  4. And if you continue to complain of fatigue, your doctor often recommends an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant.

This is what happens with a Root Cause Medicine doctor:

First, an extensive history is performed – very extensive. We find out your stress level, sleep hours, exercise schedule, water consumption, food preferences and cravings, digestive symptoms, and a whole lot more.

Based on the extensive history and our knowledge of getting to the underlying root cause, we begin to get an idea of what might be the problem. This hypothesis will be borne out by functional and traditional lab tests, as required.

By the way, if you’ve ever been frustrated at lab tests that fail to show anything is wrong when your gut tells you there’s a problem, you’ll love Functional Lab tests – they are much more sensitive and WILL reveal the actual problem.

What Root Cause Medicine appreciates is that fatigue actually means an imbalance or imbalances, plural. If your food isn’t able to turn into proper fuel, either due to inappropriate food choices, consuming foods you react negatively to, malabsorption, maldigestion, a leaky gut, the presence of an infection or imbalance of good bacteria, any of these digestive imbalances could result in fatigue.

Must you have overt digestive complaints for any of the above issues to be contributing to your fatigue? No, you don’t. And that’s where traditional medicine misses the boat, in my opinion. They tend to focus solely on the location of the symptom. That’s not always a bad idea certainly, but it can be. Why? Because very, very often, the root cause of the symptom stems from a different location than the symptom itself.

Of course fatigue is generalized and therefore doesn’t have a location, per se, but still, traditional medicine will rule out the conditions and diseases mentioned above, and then stop. No wonder so many Americans turn to caffeine and energy drinks. What else are they supposed to do when given no solutions?

I can’t tell you how many new patients I see who have complained for years about their fatigue and given no solution.

Fatigue is easy for us to solve. We simply rule out the traditional list and then begin with the most common root causes we have discovered while working with patients for almost 30 years.

Is fatigue ruining your life? Contact us here for a FREE consultation or give us a call at 408-733-0400.

Digestion malfunction, as I mentioned, is quite commonly a cause. The next most common problem is adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands make adrenaline, so it makes sense that if you’re tired, they may very well be playing a role.

What’s fascinating about the adrenal glands is the vast number of areas they affect in your body and how if functions. I think you’ll be amazed at the variety of symptoms associated with adrenal glands that are not working properly, called Adrenal Fatigue or Adrenal Exhaustion.

Here’s the list:

  • Fatigue
  • Weak immune system
  • Thyroid imbalance
  • Overweight
  • Craving of sugar or salt
  • Inflammation
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Sleep problems
  • Painful joints or muscles
  • Allergies
  • Asthma

What is frustrating about the traditional medical approach is they miss problems with adrenal glands a huge amount of the time. Why? Quite simply, our medical model is based on disease. The adrenal glands can become diseased, but it’s rare. However, they malfunction quite often, almost epidemically in our stress-ridden society. But malfunction is not disease and therefore the problem with their function and its link to fatigue, not to mention the long list of other symptoms listed above, is overlooked and not appreciated.

There is an interrelationship amongst the key underlying root causes resulting in fatigue, and to resolve fatigue completely, this must be understood.

The body’s organs and systems don’t work in a vacuum, each part affects the next.

Too often, as I mentioned above, traditional medicine is quick to “pull the trigger” on anxiety or depression as the problem, when no disease process can be found that typically links to fatigue. It would be one thing, perhaps, if they utilized natural therapies, but instead they prescribe dangerous psychiatric medication with life threatening side effects.

What’s interesting about fatigue, is, if you’ve ever experienced it, you know quite well that it’s difficult to be “upbeat and happy” about how you feel. You aren’t yourself; you aren’t as productive as you want to be; you often feel you are letting down your significant other, children, and/or coworkers. It’s not a good feeling. Therefore, feeling a bit “down” about it, it quite normal. But that doesn’t mean you’re clinically depressed. I get quite annoyed at the number of patients who come in to see me who have been prescribed these dangerous drugs simply because nothing else could be found on a lab test.

Please know this: there IS a root cause for fatigue, and finding it is not difficult if you have the right tools at your disposal and know the right questions to ask of the body. We do.

The program is completely natural; no drugs or surgery.

If you’ve been fatigued for a long time, this may sound unbelievable; I understand. But I assure you we have excellent success in getting to the root cause of why you feel fatigue.

As clinicians it’s our job to explain the best route to achieve the goal of having optimal energy levels. This may mean handling digestion, inflammation and/or balancing hormonal balance first.

We explain, at our first meeting, how root cause medicine works, and it is for this reason every new patient receives a free initial consultation. We want you to have an ability to meet with us and understand our approach before you pay for any visits.

We want you to be successful as much as you do. This is a team approach. We don’t just hand you a pill, far from it. We work extensively together to change diet, lifestyle, repair faulty organ function and more. This doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly won’t occur without help. Therefore, we like to ensure that you are ready to embark upon the adventure to regain, retain and reclaim their health your health with a clear understanding that it will require some work and change on your part. But you’re not alone; we are right here with you.

As we like to say, with patient compliance, success is all but assured.

Do you need help with fatigue? Do you know someone who does? If so please share this with them.

We help the world’s busiest people regain, retain and reclaim their health, energy and resilience. We can help you!

Are you struggling with fatigue? Contact us here for a FREE consultation or give us a call at 408-733-0400.


To reclaiming your best health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

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