Evan Hirsch was a new father and a freshly minted physician running his own medical practice.
He put in 40-60 hours a week in the office, and then came home to the demands of an infant.
Then he was hit with crushing fatigue that tainted every part of his life. His body ached, he had no libido and was perpetually cold. His once-thick head of curly hair became thin and stringy, and he slogged through each day.
The associated brain fog left him struggling to remember the names and cases of patients.
At home, he was detached, which wore on his most treasured relationships.
“It just about ruined my marriage and my relationship with my newborn child,” he recalls. “I couldn’t be there for her. I couldn’t help out at home. I could barely maintain my focus at work.”
Finding Underlying Causes of Fatigue
Chronic fatigue had been a recurring theme in Evan’s life. Both his sister and his wife had endured periods of chronic fatigue and eventually recovered, but it took them years to do so. And many of his patients complained of unexplained fatigue as well.
Evan was board certified in conventional medicine, but was in the midst of additional training in functional medicine, which takes a root-cause approach to health and wellness. His search for answers also led him to look at natural, holistic, integrative and environmental medicine.
Little by little, he uncovered the many potential causes of fatigue, from deficiencies to toxicities to infections. He suspected he had some of them, but lab testing indicated that Evan had essentially all the major underlying causes of fatigue.
“I had positives on every single one of these tests – and just one of these tests can be indicative of causing fatigue,” he says.
Covering the Basics: Food, Sleep, Water and Movement
Evan began with what he calls level-one problems associated with fatigue: not enough sleep, quality food, water or exercise. If these are adequate, and you’re still exceptionally tired, then there’s likely another reason, Evan says.
At the time, he already ate a high-quality, paleo diet, but knew he could do better in the other areas.
Evan started prioritizing sleep, making sure to get 7 to 9 hours a day, drinking more water and exercising more often. Finding the right balance was key, as too much exercise left him exhausted.
He also had to reduce his stress. At the time, he was still working 40 to 60 hours a week running a medical practice with 10 employees. To relieve the burden on himself, he transitioned his business model to serving patients remotely.
Through lab testing, he uncovered deficiencies such as low adrenals, thyroid and testosterone, so he began taking natural supplements to bolster each of those.
“It’s important to remember that these are all Band-aids,” he says. “They [deficiencies] are all generally caused by the toxicities, by the heavy metals, the chemicals, the molds, the infections, the allergies and the negative emotions. I was boosting up these deficiencies and was better able to focus.”
Detoxing Heavy Metals, Mold and More
While supporting those deficiencies, Evan then turned to clearing toxicities such as heavy metals, mold, pesticides and chemicals.
His own lab tests uncovered high levels of mercury, pesticides, chemicals from medical labs and mold. Without realizing it, Evan had previously lived in a moldy environment – a pervasive problem in residences.
“It’s so insidious and a lot of people don’t know how to remove it, or they don’t realize that it’s a problem,” he says.
In response, he turned to a variety of herbal supplements to open his detox pathways.
Testing also turned up Bartonella in Evan, a bacteria that can be transmitted by bug bites or scratches.
That was an a-ha moment as he connected his own experience with the related list of possible Bartonella symptoms: headaches, body pain and severe muscle cramps. He also learned that thyroid deficiencies can be related to Bartonella.
“I’ve seen that time and time again, when I treat Bartonella, that thyroid improves,” he says of addressing Bartonella in his patients. “And that’s what I found as well – that when I started treating Bartonella, my thyroid improved significantly where I didn’t need thyroid replacement anymore.”
To clear Bartonella, he turned to herbal supplements.
At the same time, he worked on gut health, eliminating yeast overgrowth, bad bacteria and parasites.
“As I was finding a new cause and removing it, then I would have an uptick in energy,” he says.
Along the way, he supported his mitochondria, the energy center of the cell, with specific supplements – and noticed additional boosts in energy. One a scale of 1 to 10, his energy had started at about a four and was gradually making its way toward 10, the highest level. But getting there would take five years of resolving root causes.
On a Mission to Fix Fatigue
Through dedicated, focused work, Evan emerged from chronic fatigue and regained the energy to keep up with his family and medical practice. And he’s helped many patients in his practice do the same.
Now he’s on a mission to help one million people optimize their energy and performance naturally through his online programs.
He also went on to write a book to guide others in reclaiming their energy, Fix Your Fatigue.
It certainly wasn’t a smooth road to get back his health, but it has been worth it.
“It’s a two-steps forward, one-step back process,” he says. “But eventually, you’re going to get to the finish line.”
10 Potential Causes of Fatigue
Through years of research, and in his work personally and patients, Evan identified the top causes of fatigue:
1. Lifestyle habits – Not enough sleep, quality food, water or movement are what he calls level-one problems. Address these first and then explore the other potential causes, if you’re still fatigued.
2. Food allergies – Allergies or sensitivities to certain foods can trigger the immune system.
3. Adrenal gland dysfunction – Hormonal imbalances such as adrenal dysfunction can dysregulate sleep, blood sugar and other critical bodily functions.
4. Thyroid gland dysfunction – Low thyroid can cause fatigue, but often, standard testing can miss problems because numbers still fall within normal thyroid ranges.
5. Nutrient deficiencies – Deficiencies in magnesium, vitamin D, iron and folate can all contribute to fatigue.
6. Mitochondrial dysfunction – As you may have learned in middle school, our mitochondria are the energy centers of our cells, responsible for producing 70-80 percent of our energy. Toxins and infections can impact how they function.
7. Mold toxicity – Our bodies – not just our buildings – can harbor mold mycotoxins that may seriously impact our health. “It hijacks the immune system,” Evan says.
8. Other toxins – We’re surrounded by toxins such as heavy metals, particularly mercury and lead, as well as chemicals and electromagnetic fields.
9. Infections – Evan cites infections as major energy drains. Those may include bacteria, spirochetes (such as Lyme disease), parasites, viruses and fungi.
10. Emotional stress and trauma – Current stress, past trauma or adverse childhood events all can erode health and contribute to fatigue.
“We can move forward by practicing things like gratitude and envisioning what you want your life to look like, and looking at your limiting beliefs and creating empowering beliefs instead,” he says.
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