Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What is it?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and it primarily affects young adults and resembles a prolonged flu-like illness. By definition the symptoms must be present for at least six months before it can be labelled as chronic fatigue syndrome. It seems that about 2 to 4 in a thousand people may have CFS and approximately two thirds of people who get it, are women.
What are the symptoms?
Of the large cluster of possible symptoms, fatigue is obviously the predominant feature. This may be chronic and persisting, or relapsing, coming and going unpredictably. It is frequently overwhelming and may immobilize the patient. The fatigue is often exacerbated by even minor exertion, although sometimes the exhaustion will be delayed anything up to 24 hours after the exercise. Other possible symptoms include a feeling of weakness and heaviness of the limbs, poor memory and concentration, sleep disturbance, depression, mood swings, muscle and joint aches and pains, lymph gland swelling, recurrent viral infections, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. All of these symptoms may fluctuate.
What causes it?
The cause of CFS is unknown. It is likely that there is no single underlying disease process in those diagnosed with the condition. The onset is usually fairly abrupt rather than gradual, and may sometimes follow a viral infection (such as glandular fever).
The contributing factors of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are –
- Recurrent and/or chronic viral infections
- Hidden infections in the body
- An imbalance of gut flora associated with infestation with unfriendly bacteria and candida.
- The long term outcome of a depressive illness, which is inadequately treated
- Autoimmune diseases, which must be investigated and treated
- Any chronic medical illness
- Liver dysfunction
- Leaky gut syndrome and poor absorption of nutrients
- Hormonal deficiencies caused by poor function of the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands
- Nutritional deficiencies
How is it diagnosed?
There is no simple test to tell you whether you have chronic fatigue syndrome or not. Although many sufferers have minor abnormalities in certain blood tests that assess immune function, these are of no real help in verifying the diagnosis. Rather, the diagnosis of CFS is made by excluding other possible diseases.
Excerpt from “The Liver Cleansing Diet”
Another symptom of a sluggish liver is fatigue and this is usually put down to the “wastepaper basket disease” of chronic fatigue syndrome into which diagnoses are thrown when tired people cannot find a cause for their ill health. In 99 per cent of such cases I find that the dietary history will give me the clue and these patients are eating too much damaged fat and not enough raw vegetables and fruits. As we have seen before, the liver and the immune system are intimately related; just like a married couple they are dependent upon each other and each one’s happiness depends upon the other. To overcome chronic fatigue syndrome we must take the load off the overworked immune system by cleansing the liver.
Unfortunately, just as there is no known cause for CFS, there is no guaranteed cure. However, most cases are self-limiting and with the naturopathic approach the vast majority of sufferers can find some relief. The naturopathic approach concentrates on building up immune function. Our immune system helps to protect us against infections, cancer, allergic disorders, inflammatory and degenerative diseases. A poorly functioning immune system is thought to be a significant factor involved in the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. It is important to strengthen the immune system and detoxify the body. This is achieved by improving the function of the liver by increasing the amount of raw vegetables in the diet and taking a powerful liver tonic in powder or capsule form.
- A gentle exercise program has been shown to be beneficial. This should be graded aerobic exercise and under supervision. Tai chi and yoga are excellent. Hydrotherapy is also worthwhile.
- Concentrate on your strengths and avoid your weaknesses. Stress management can be very helpful and may take the form of counselling, relaxation exercises, psychotherapy or biofeedback. You should try to lead as normal a life as possible, and carry out your usual activities, within limits.
- The environment in which CFS sufferers live is very important, and they should avoid toxins, for example, cigarette smoke, pesticides, many household chemicals, petrochemical solvents and heavy metals such as lead and mercury. There is some evidence that mercury-containing amalgam fillings can cause CFS in susceptible people. If you suspect mercury poisoning is causing your fatigue, we advise you to see a dentist who would replace your amalgam fillings with porcelain inlays, crowns or composite resin restoration.
- Instead of patented cleaning products, CFS sufferers should use old-fashioned bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice and vinegar to keep the house clean.
- Acupuncture may be helpful.
It is important to improve liver function to reduce the workload of the immune system. Follow the vital healthy eating principles outlined on pages 20-27 found in “The Healthy Liver and Bowel Book”
Excerpt from “The Liver Cleansing Diet” The vast majority of people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) will get a big improvement after eight weeks on the LCD because if the liver is continually overworked the general energy level in the body is drained. This is wonderful news for these poor patients who have often given up hope after years of being told that there is no proven treatment for CFS, because the cause is unknown. In my experience a cause can always be found if you have a curious mind and put on your Sherlock Holmes cap—the cause is usually dietary, environmental, genetic, or stress related, and several of these factors may be acting together to make the disease worse. They all need to be addressed and in CFS patients, depression and stress will have to be treated, as well as the liver. The power of changing your diet and eating liver-friendly foods is tremendous and is the basic foundation upon which the recovery from CFS depends.
–Include often – raw fruits and vegetables (preferably organically grown), seeds, garlic, onions, ginger, eggs, poultry, grass fed meat and seafoods, especially fish.–Drink 8 glasses of purified water every day to detoxify the immune system.–For a wonderful spring clean consider a juice fast for two days every week. On these days consume only fresh raw fruit and vegetable juices such as carrot, beetroot, celery, cucumber, spinach, parsley, broccoli, oranges, apples and pineapple. Combine these freely according to your taste. If you get too hungry, try munching on some raw vegetables. Consume these juices often on non-fasting days also.–Avoid – trans fats, processed and “junk” foods, refined sugars, alcohol, fizzy soft drinks and diet colas, and preserved meats.
Chronic fatigue is an ever increasing problem in the community today and many people find it is difficult to find a solution. There is no doubt that raw juicing can help revitalize the immune system in such patients.
• “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” Juice and smoothie on Page 68 – these include “Chlorophyll hit”- for Super Energy and the “High Protein Energy Smoothie”
Hormones and CFS
If you suspect that hormonal imbalances are contributing towards your fatigue, ask your doctor to check the function of your thyroid and adrenal glands. In cases of adrenal gland exhaustion it may be necessary to use hormone replacement therapy with DHEA, natural testosterone or pregnenelone. These hormones are available in cream or lozenge form. Replacement with these hormones can make a huge difference to those with chronic fatigue syndrome.
DHEA stands for the hormone “Dehydroepiandrosterone”, which is made naturally in the adrenal glands. With age the production of DHEA diminishes greatly, and by the time you are in your seventies, your adrenal glands only manufacture around 20% of the amount of DHEA that they did in your twenties.
Some anti-aging researchers believe that the relative deficiency of DHEA accelerates the aging process. Lack of DHEA can result in :
- More rapid aging
- Lack of muscle strength and tone
- Muscular weakness
- Loss of libido
- Chronic fatigue
Orthodox Medical Treatment
Those suffering from a post-infective type of CFS have a good prognosis with a high rate of spontaneous remission. Explanation and reassurance may be all that is required. Improving the sleep cycle can provide significant relief of symptoms. This may involve simple advice to adhere to a normal sleep-wake cycle and avoid sleeping during the day. For those suffering with a restless sleep pattern, a mild sleeping tablet can be helpful. Alternatively, if insomnia is a problem, a tricyclic antidepressant is useful. A combination of a tricyclic antidepressant and an anti-inflammatory drug can be very effective for those with significant muscle pain and tenderness. When depression is a dominant feature, antidepressants like fluoxetine or moclobemide can substantially boost the mood. Unfortunately, these treatments do not alter the fatigue.
Selenium Complete tablets or Selenomune Designer Energy capsules
- Take 1 tablet or capsule daily. Selenium exerts protective effects on the DNA found in the nucleus of the human cell.
- Take 1 capsule daily – DHEA is not recommended for those under 40 yrs of age, unless recommended by your health care practitioner.
Magnesium Complete Tablets or Magnesium Ultra Potent powder
- Take 2 tablets twice daily or 1 teaspoon daily – A magnesium formula containing a mixture of different types of magnesium. Magnesium plays a crucial role in cellular metabolism and a deficiency, even of a slight degree, could seriously reduce the body’s production of energy.
Glutamine plus Colostrum powder
- Take one teaspoon twice daily. Glutamine helps to heal and seal the intestinal lining, therefore is a critical nutrient in the repair of leaky gut syndrome. Colostrum supports the immune cells residing in the intestines.
N-acetyl cysteine capsules
- Take 1 to 3 capsules daily. N-acetyl cysteine is vital for supporting glutathione production in the liver. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and supports detoxification.
Livatone Plus Powder or Livatone Plus Capsules
- Take 1 teaspoon of powder twice daily or 2 capsules twice daily with food. Liver tonics containing Taurine, St Mary’s Thistle, B and C vitamins are best. If you are overweight, a low carbohydrate diet should be followed.