A brief introduction to a human cell in any text book will teach you about the role of the mitochondria. This is the ‘battery’ of the cell, where the energy is made and dispersed throughout the cell for it to go about its daily processes. It is where carbohydrate in the form of glucose gets broken down and made into ATP our energetic molecule which ignites the rest of the cell. Mitochondria convert food into energy via the electron transport chain. This is important because cells make energy and they do it in a very clever way – by pushing all of the hydrogen ions to one side of the membrane which creates an electronic charge, and then releasing them through a rotor in the membrane – yes this is a cellular rotary engine!  The engine spins which converts the inactive ADP into active ATP – our energy. Nature is wonderful. 

So why do we need to know this? A) Becaue its pretty cool knowing that our cells make energy with a rotary engine and B) becasue we can then appreciate and understand that mitochndria are impaced every time we feel fatigue in our body. 

So knowing that, how do we help our mitochondria function better? We need to find the cause, it may be anaemia, lack of sleep, lack of nutrients, lack of antioxidants in the cells, too many toxins in the cell, lack of ability to burn fat as a fuel, insulin resistance, sleep apnoea, asthma, immunue challenges, liver problems, and on the list goes. Many chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis and parkinsons are thought to be due to mitochondrial damage. 

What specifically does a Mitochondria need to function? Nutrients are critical to mitochondrial function. Beause there are highly oxidative molecules at work in the mitochondria, the body needs antioxidants in good supply to neutralise these. Coenzyme Q10 is one of the most important antioxidants inside the Mitochondria. We lose some of this with age or if we take Statin drugs. Vitamin E, omega fatty acids and 8 hours of sleep will also help protect our Mitochondria. 

If you want to read a research study on Mitochondria click here for more information. 

Many of our herbal remedies also help Mitochindria function. Worth mentioning is Cayenne pepper. It helps increase the number of Mitochondria in brown fat – this keeps us warmer and also helps increase our energy. 

If you suffer from chronic fatigue or any chronic health disorder you need to know about Mitochondria. I hope this has given you a start and now you can continue that journey.  


Simone Reddington is the founder of the Apothecary, a Medical Herbalist and thinker. She holds a degree in Psychology and is a professional member of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists.