Why am I so tired? Pt 4: A Body at War with Itself

March 16th, 2015




 “I appeal for cessation of hostilities, not because you are too exhausted to fight, but because war is bad in essence”

– Mahatma Gandhi



This week we descend into the hidden chambers of the lower heater.[1] As we may have now realised in our journey through energy and the body there are many ways our energy can be sabotaged.


hara kiri


Down in the depths of the lower heater things become potentially more serious in this regard. This involves the ‘war’ of our immunity and the cost our habits have on our deeper energy reserves.




The Liver, Wei Qi and the guardian at the gate[2]



Within the knotty environs of traditional Chinese medicine is the idea that outer immune defences (called Wei Qi) are both stored in and circulated by the liver energy system – with a little help from the lungs (for more about the liver and the Wood/Tree ‘element’ to which it belongs, click here). It circulates along ‘the skin and hair layers’ which not only include our outer skin but the ‘inner skin’ of our mucosa and the cilia hair in some areas that contributes to filtering incoming irritants.



The Wei Qi is like the outer guardians at the gates of an ancient, walled city. They are the first line of defence against attack. Our skin and mucosal surfaces (lungs, intestines, ear/nose/throat amongst many others) represent our first internal response to what enters from the outside world.




A sticky problem


Those following this series on energy and health may have already guessed the potential problem that can interfere with this level of our immunity: Sticky, ‘damp’ mucus. When mucosal surfaces become irritated they produce more mucus to protect themselves. The effect is threefold:


  1. Our immunoglobulins lying in wait for incoming antigens cannot do their job properly
  2. The sticky mucus acts as ‘fly paper’ that becomes clogged and an energy drain on our whole system
  3. Such an environment is the precursor to chronic, low-grade inflammation in the body which is itself the spearhead of many serious diseases


Suddenly we find our energy being wasted in both an inefficient, struggling defence against infection while creating a sluggish internal environment that hinders absorption of both oxygen in the lungs and nutrients in the intestines. To add to the misery our ability to eliminate waste products via these pathways is hindered too.



Stress and the Liver energy


The Liver energy system has many titles. Two are: ‘The General of the army’ and ‘The Spiritual Warrior’. At the emotional level, the Liver energy deals with conflict. Ideally it helps create solutions and harmony while it protects our integrity in conflict situations. The reality is often very different.


Stress is a known factor in lowering our immunity. When the liver energy is stressed its ability to circulate the immunity strengthening Wei Qi is similarly frustrated. Add chemical reasons to irritate the liver to the mix like medicines, artificial food additives, recreational drugs and alcohol and it is easy to see why we can so easily become ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’.


Of course such stress and lack of energy can lead us to comfort eat – which usually means consuming exactly the kind of foods that will cause the body to create a more toxic, mucous-filled environment. And around and around we go, over and over again into exhaustion and illness.





The buck stops here


We do have a kind of ‘reserve battery pack’ system in our body. In TCM it is the Kidney/Adrenal energy system (for more on this and the Water element in general click here). Think of the stress hormones/neuro transmitters secreted by our adrenal glands as the emergency line of energy credit.


This is the rush that gives us the strength of fight or flight in emergencies or danger. At least that is what it is supposed to be for. Like many a humble citizen before it however it can be deceived and pressed into service for an unworthy cause, fighting a fake war not of its making. The ‘war’ in the body is fake because it is self-inflicted and entirely resolvable without resorting to the quick fix of valuable resources in our kidney/adrenal energy system.


A few things one should know about this energy system to fully appreciate the folly of using our kidney/adrenal energy unwisely:


  • It is the reserve for recovery and healing
  • It controls our aging
  • It controls our sexuality: libido, potency and fertility
  • It is where Wei Qi is *made* before it is taken by the Liver energy for circulation as our outer immune response
  • It rules the the central nervous system (CNS), bones, marrow, the teeth and hair.
  • It shows itself in the strength of the back (low back in particular). If you have a chronically weak and tired low back that is not directly related to a trauma injury then it is a sign that your batteries need recharging – so pay attention.
  • It is the master of our will and survival drives


Think of this energy as our battery pack. Once we wear that out, the road back to recharging is long and slow. As someone once sang: “You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.”[3]



What can we do to improve our energy levels?


I’m so glad you (finally) asked. After all, this is the last installment in this series on energy and the body, so it’s about time. Firstly, we need to lessen or stop doing things that sabotage our energy:


We can STOP:


  • Getting too little sleep and rest and then compensating by impulse eating of simple carbohydrates and stimulants for a quick ‘energy kick’.

o   For every up there is a down as our blood sugar levels swing

o   A high refined sugar diet creates acidity and causes the mucosa to create more sticky mucus.

o   This inhibits absorption and we ‘starve in the midst of plenty’ as we keep eating for energy but only get more tired, become bloated and put on excess weight

  • Eating gluten. Sorry good folk but whether you notice symptoms now or later gluten is not your friend.[4]  Check out the rest of this series on energy for more on that.
  • Staying in situations we know are not good for us

o   Unhealthy relationships

o   Unfulfilling work

o   Chemically or emotionally toxic environments

o   ‘Settling’ for the false comfort of habit and routine that really only leads to boredom, unfulfilling and unhealthy compensatory habits to ‘reward’ our self-imposed victim status


We can START increasing our energy by:


  • Taking personal responsibility for how much and what goes in our mouth every day.

o   No one is holding a gun to our head and forcing us to eat unhealthy food.

  • Reinforce our self-worth and take pride in it. After all, if we don’t think we are worth it, who will?
  • Exercise regularly.

o   One does not need to be fixated on appearance to do this. See it as simple self-respect and necessary upkeep and maintenance of the ‘rental vehicle’ that is our physical body. If we invest just a little regularly in it, the chances are it will look after us. Who knew, right?

  • Keep hydrated

o   Many a dip in energy is simply due to dehydration. If we wait until we are thirsty we are already behind in our hydration. Below is a general guide.


  • Don’t be afraid of the sun.

o   Skin cancer campaigns has made us afraid of the sun.  So much so that even people in sunny countries are now suffering from vitamin D deficiencies. We will miss out on its life and energy giving bio-software. Even the brightest interior lighting is no comparison. Regular, short periods of full body exposure (if possible) in the milder parts of the day are ideal.





  • Find your creativity

o   Everyone is creative. Look at children playing if you have forgotten

o   Find something where you can express yourself creatively

o   That may be anything from a painting or writing class; to redecorating a room in your house or area of your garden; to designing and printing your own T-shirts and clothes; to learning how to cook; to planning a simple travel agenda; to learning how to develop our contact with our internal, intuitive and creative self through meditation, healing and the like

  • Do something of service for others

o   The joy of facilitating another’s joy is a real energy kick.

o   When we finally realise that we really do everything for ourselves we are free to be as generous with our time, skill and love as we like and never get tired

  • Choose to be happy

o   Exercise free will and conscious choice. Don’t assume we are trapped without choice. There is always a choice.

o   We have already won the lottery. We are all here experiencing the uniqueness of life on mother earth

o   It helps to realise how privileged we already are just by being. After all, there is a ‘being’ in the human being. We may want to witness, validate and celebrate that occasionally…



A spring in the step


Well, spring is finally here (in the Northern hemisphere at least) so it is a good opportunity to make a spring clean of our old, energy-sapping habits and create the experience of a life we want and choose to live. Just as the experience of low energy is more the internal resistance of what are actually limitless resources, we may come to realise that when we stop resisting our authentic inner voice, the old spring in our step will return.



©  Gary Larson

© Gary Larson



Till another Monday drags itself up off the couch and into a new week



[1] For those confused by this term see part one of this series

[2] For any traditional Chinese medicine pedants reading this who may chafe at the liver energy system being included in the lower heater: Firstly, at different periods in China’s over three and half thousand year medical history the liver has been positioned in both the middle and lower heaters at various times. Secondly, we spent two whole blogs in the middle heater so it was time for a shift. Thirdly, deal with it.

[3] ‘Mississippi’ Bob Dylan. Columbia records. 2001

[4] Unless of course you work in the food processing industry and don’t want your profits threatened by inconvenient truths.


© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All unaccredited images are the author’s own (with the exception where original sources are unknown). You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation: info@jeremyhalpin.com




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