Can we Reduce Fatigue by Mending your Mitochondria?
Fatigue is essentially too little energy on an ongoing basis for what you’d like to do. However, it’s more than just being tired. Fatigue is exhausting, frightening, and often ongoing.
But how to get off the fatigue treadmill?
Let’s look for what could be a possible cause of fatigue on a cellular level. First, we breathe oxygen which we use to generate about 15 times more energy per unit of food than if we didn’t use oxygen.
How do we do make energy? The power generators of your cells are the mitochondria. Cells contain from 1 mitochondrion to 10,000 mitochondria.
Mitochondria have an outer membrane and an inner membrane that is like a large, pleated circular ribbon. The outer membranes contain pores and transport proteins (like specialized taxis) that allow the correct molecules to move back and forth quickly. The inner membrane also contains transport proteins. The movement of the correct molecules is essential for efficiently make energy.
You might think of it as a food processing plant that produces cellular energy called ATP.
What do mitochondria need to make the most energy?
First, they need the correct fats in their membranes so the proteins in their membranes can respond to outside and inside changes fast (not in seconds but in thousandsth of a second).
Second, they contain a vast array of enzymes that break bonds and more enzymes that harvest the tiny amounts of energy released. The released energy is put into the next molecules or steps in the cycle.
You may have heard of the Kreb cycle in High School. The Kreb cycle occurs in the matrix of the mitochondria, which is the area inside the pleated inner membrane. It is a major cycle for producing useable energy.
These enzymes need specific trace minerals to function properly as the correct trace mineral provides a scaffold for the enzyme’s shape. The essential trace mineral also often participates in the transfer of electrons or energy during the enzymatic reactions. There are 70 different essential trace minerals.
What happens when you don’t have enough of the essential minerals?
Your body substitutes another mineral, like toxic mercury or cadmium for it.
The enzyme either doesn’t work or works differently. The production of energy through that enzyme slows down or stops. When enough mitochondria and their enzymes are not working at peak energy production, your energy declines.
Can healing your mitochondria make a difference?
Dr. Terry Wahls, M.D. had gotten progressive secondary multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease which is too often plagued with declining health, like RA.
Because she despised the prognosis of standard care (continual physical decline, fatigue, and death), she developed a program that returned much of her health.
She went from using a wheelchair most of the time because of fatigue and disability to being able to bicycle 5 miles to work [1, 2].
The program uses several strategies that complement each other: nutrition, electrical stimulation of her atrophied (shrunken) muscles, and exercise. The same program has also helped eight additional multiple sclerosis patients .
Dr. Wahls has now written a book on her program, called
“Minding Your Mitochondria”.
It not only documents her journey with multiple sclerosis but also provides over 100 recipes to help people regain the full use of their mitochondria.
Will it help rheumatoid arthritis patients overcome or lessen fatigue?
Yes, I think so.
I also broke free of fatigue by providing plenty of nutrients, including essential fats and essential trace minerals in a balanced way. I also do exercises.
FYI, I now normally get up by 6am to 7 am and enjoy life /work til 11pm or midnight. Here’s one more reason to include essential fats in your diet, as we discussed in the last issue.
I also eat 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables during the day (as well as meats) and include a concentrated vegetable/ fruit powder for high antioxidant content. I also take a supplement for essential trace minerals produced by Standard Process (which is concentrated from food). However, my health declines within a couple days if I am “too busy” to fit these essentials into my routine.
I believe Dr. Wahls' knowledge and program may also be applicable to helping our bodies heal from the fatigue and muscle wasting seen in some rheumatoid arthritis patients.
If you’re sensitive or allergic to an ingredient in any of her 100 recipes, substitute something else for it. Thus, you can take full advantage of her experience in healing multiple sclerosis.
I will be setting up an interview/ consultation with her in the future. If you are interested in listening to her insights on healing from multiple sclerosis and How she applies this program to RA in her clinical practice, please drop me an email.
Here’s to your healing!
Kathy Molnar-Kimber, Ph.D.
P.S. Terry Wahls, M.D. is launching her book, called “Minding Your Mitochondria” on Amazon today. I began reading excerpts from it and have purchased it today to help her with her book launch (and to devour it and gain new insights). I strongly encourage you to consider purchasing and reading a copy as her insights may be directly applicable to your journey with RA. There’s also a bunch of bonus gifts for purchasing it today, if you’re so inclined. The URL is
1. Wahls T.L.: Telling the world. Ann Intern Med 149:61-62 (2008)
2. Reese D., Shivapour E.T., Wahls T.L., Dudley-Javoroski S.D., Shields R.: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation and dietary interventions to reduce oxidative stress in a secondary progressive multiple sclerosis patient leads to marked gains in function: a case report. Cases J 2:7601 (2009)
3. Wahls T.L., Reese D., Kaplan D., Darling W.G.: Rehabilitation with neuromuscular electrical stimulation leads to functional gains in ambulation in patients with secondary progressive and primary progressive multiple sclerosis: a case series report. J Altern Complement Med 16:1343-1349 (2010)
Medical Disclaimer: This information is not medical advice and is not intended to treat, mitigate, or cure any disease. It is for information purposes only. Any changes that you make should be discussed with your healthcare provider.