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Fatigue

A chronic lack of motivation and 'energy'/'vitality', Fatigue can be acutely countered by stimulants (not advisable for the long term) or may be slowly mended by other compounds like Reishi or CoQ10.

Our evidence-based analysis on fatigue features 2 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published: Feb 6, 2013
Last Updated:

Frequently Asked Questions about Fatigue

What is Adrenal Fatigue?
How eating better can make you happier
Food and supplements that can help fight stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and help you sleep better.

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect fatigue
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Notable Very High See all 8 studies
The decrease in fatigue appears to be quite strong and somewhat reliable when a low dose is given over a prolonged period of time or a high dose is given acutely; there is one study which has noted an increase in fatigue (relative to placebo) that needs to be expanded upon.
grade-b Notable High See all 7 studies
400 mg/kg/day in children and adolescents subject to traumatic brain injury reduces fatigue frequency from around 90% down to near 10%. Fatigue is also reduced, though to a lesser degree, in cases of sleep deprivation.
grade-b Notable Very High See all 6 studies
Fatigue is notably reduced with modafinil supplementation, particularly during instances of sleep deprivation or hypersomnia.
grade-b Minor High See all 7 studies
Somewhat effective at reducing fatigue and, secondary to that, at improving time to exhaustion.
grade-b Minor Moderate See all 8 studies
A decrease in fatigue (mental fatigue when measured after the workout) results when BCAA supplementation is taken during exercise at a dose above 10g or so
grade-b Minor High See all 3 studies
There may be an anti-fatigue effect of CoQ10 during exercise that may not extend to general fatigue.
grade-b Minor High See all 7 studies
Carnitine appears to be somewhat effective in reducing fatigue in elderly persons with low muscular endurance and perhaps in chronic fatigue syndrome; there is insufficient evidence to support a role of carnitine in reducing exercise-induced fatigue
grade-b Minor Very High See all 7 studies
Fatigue as a side-effect of acute bronchitis is reduced quite respectably relative to placebo.
grade-b - High See all 3 studies
One study noted a reduced rate of change in fatigue (no overall differences in fatigue outright though) seen with betaine, whereas the other two studies have failed to find benefit with betaine.
grade-c Notable Moderate See all 3 studies
The decrease in fatigue during exercise is thought to underlie most of the benefit seen with training capacity (work volume), although in men who self-report fatigue issues supplemental citrulline appears to help with that as well (independent of exercise)
grade-c Notable Very High See 2 studies
Both studies on fatigue assessed persons with HIV-related diarrhea, but when diarrhea was successfully (and greatly) benefited with colostrum containing porridge fatigue was reduced by over 80% of baseline values. It is uncertain if this anti-fatigue effect influences other persons.
grade-c Minor - See study
A possible minor antifatigue effect has been noted with higher doses of alanylglutamine in sports lasting an hour in length
grade-c Minor Very High See all 4 studies
Secondary to its adaptogenic effects, ashwagandha is able to reduce the perceptions of fatigue with prolonged daily usage.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Decrease in fatigue have been noted during exercise and during low strenuous physical exercise
grade-c Minor - See study
Less fatigue reported as a side-effect, no comparator or ability to assess potency.
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in postoperative fatigue has been noted with curcumin supplementation
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
A decrease in fatigue has been noted, but secondary to disease states characterized by fatigue. Usage of Reishi to reduce fatigue outright or to aid exercise is unexplored
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
The reduction in fatigue may solely be secondary to how Glycine supplementation can improve sleep quality
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
A reduction in fatigue has been noted for both prolonged exercise, hepatic pathology, and for hangovers; all situations characterized by excessive ammonia concentrations in the blood.
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Unreliable effects, but a quite notable reduction in fatigue has been noted during intense exercise (85% VO2 max) which resulted in increased time to exhaustion. This was not present at lower intensities
grade-c Minor - See study
May reduce fatigue during weight loss periods
grade-c Minor - See study
One study assessing valerian in persons with cancer on chemotherapy (of which insomnia may be a side effect of chemotherapy) found reductions in sleep disturbances which manifested as less fatigue during the day; no other evidence at this point in time.
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in fatigue has been noted in obese adults given Vitamin C in conjunction with exercise
grade-c - - See study
Insufficient evidence to support changes in fatigue and energy following 7-keto supplementation.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on fatigue in exercise that is not associated with choline depletion (such as loaded carries) or in trained athletes, which do not appear to be depleted in choline
grade-c - - See study
Fatigue during cognitive testing in otherwise healthy youth is not affected by supplementation of cocoa flavanols.
grade-c - Moderate See 2 studies
No demonstrable benefit to fatigue
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant reduction in exercise-induced fatigue associated with HMB supplementation in athletes
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence has been noted on fatigue from L-Tyrosine supplementation during acute stresses
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
Mixed evidence in regards to physical and mental fatigue in the usage of marijuana for multiple sclerosis, with more studies suggesting the benefits are not statistically significant.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on exercise related fatigue
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on fatigue nor vitality in otherwise healthy persons
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on self-reported ratings of fatigue at rest
grade-c - Moderate See 2 studies
Exercise related fatigue and vigor is unaffected by tribulus supplementation in trained men
grade-d Minor - See study
A decrease in fatigue associated with anxiety has been noted, no research looking at the per se influence of lemon balm on fatigue
grade-d Minor - See study
A decrease in fatigue has been noted in older adults with self-reported energy problems
grade-d - - See study
grade-d - - See study
Despite the usage of phenylpiracetam to treat asthenia, the lone study assessing this in persons with traumatic brain injuries failed to find a benefit (which may be a false negative if phenylpiracetam is inactive on brain injuries in the first place).
grade-d - - See study
Currently no evidence to support an improvement in fatigue symptoms
grade-d - - See study
grade-d - - See study

References

  1. Li-Ng M, Kennedy L. Adrenal Insufficiency. J Surg Oncol. (2012)
  2. Salvatori R. Adrenal insufficiency. JAMA. (2005)