Sick of feeling tired? Here, six ways to boost energy, fight fatigue and feel younger.

Feeling worn down? Constantly exhausted? You aren't alone. In fact, a 'lack of energy' is one of the top five complaints doctors face, and it is a complaint that Western medicine all too often fails to treat.

“I discovered that I couldn't help about 70 per cent of my patients,” says Dr. Woodson Merrell, author of The Source: Beat Fatigue, Power Up Your Health, and Feel 10 Years Younger . “They weren't sick, but they weren't well either.”

East meets West

A prominent integrative medicine specialist, Dr. Merrell is the rare practitioner who gives medical advice that is a combination of traditional and alternative.

The chairman of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and a professor at Columbia University, Merrill received conventional medical training -- but because he believes that Western medicine doesn't necessarily have all the answers, he is also licensed in acupuncture and trained in nutrition, botanical medicine and homeopathy.

Merrill takes a holistic approach to healing with an emphasis on prevention. In many cases, he says, intervention on a timely basis would mean, for one, that we wouldn't need so many pharmaceuticals. Instead, integrative medicine looks for the safest and most gentle remedy.

Holistic medicine can be traced back to Indigenous cultures dating back thousands of years. It also embraces more recent therapies including vitamin supplements and acupuncture.

Where's the science?

While integrative medicine has largely been a consumer-driven movement, in the last 10-15 years, there has been good science to support many of the treatments, Merrell says.

In an effort to bring alternative practices into the mainstream medical system, Merrell teaches the science behind these therapies. He says he carefully scrutinizes any studies on the performance of natural remedies: "You have to look at the quality of the studies. We look for the gold standard, the same that is used for traditional medical studies.”

As a result of research supporting alternative remedies, about one third of US medical schools have joined the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrated Medicine, including such prominent institutions such as Yale, Harvard and John Hopkins. (Canadian universities who have joined the initiative include McMaster and Laval.)

“This is huge,” Merrell says, adding that it marks a turning point. “Academic medicine has come to see the value in integrated medicine.”

He says there are six steps that can break the fatigue cycle and lead to better heath and improved longevity. These steps draw on both Western medical knowledge and Eastern healing practices.

NEXT: 6 steps to energy creation

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Cynthia Ross Cravit