What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). 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. Estimates are that around 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, headaches, 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 single 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" book

Another symptom of a sluggish liver is chronic 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 90 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.

Treatment

Unfortunately, just as there is no known single cause for CFS, there is no guaranteed cure. However, most cases are self-limiting and with the integrative medical approach the majority of sufferers can find some relief. This approach concentrates on building up immune and digestive function. Our immune system helps to protect us against infections, cancer, 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.

General recommendations

  • A gentle exercise program has been shown to be beneficial. This should be graded aerobic exercise and under supervision. Tai chi and Pilates 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, clinical hypnosis, 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 a CFS sufferer lives is very important; 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 chemical-containing cleaning products, CFS sufferers should use old-fashioned bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice and vinegar to keep the house clean.
  • Acupuncture, ozone saunas, hyperbaric oxygen and therapeutic massage may be helpful.

Diet

It is important to improve liver function to reduce the workload of the immune system. Plentiful amounts of vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and oily fish should be consumed. Some people may find an elimination diet helps and I recommend you avoid gluten.

Recommended books

Excerpt from "The Liver Cleansing Diet" book

The 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. 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, organic poultry, grass fed meat and fish.
  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of filtered 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 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 or raw coconut. 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.

Raw juicing

Chronic fatigue is an ever increasing problem and many people find it is difficult to find a solution. There is no doubt that raw juicing can help to revitalize the immune system in such patients.

Recommended juice recipes from Raw Juices Can Save Your Life book are:

Chlorophyll Hit - for Super Energy

Ingredients

  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 medium beetroot with top leaves
  • 2 turnip or 2 kale leaves
  • 1 cup parsley - must be fresh
  • 2 spinach leaves or 2 cabbage leaves
  • 1 medium whole apple or 1 stone fruit
  • 1/2 clove garlic or small piece of ginger (optional)
  • 1/3 cup wheat grass (if available)

Method

  1. Wash, trim, chop and pass all through juicer.

High Protein Energy Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk - almond or coconut (sugar free)
  • 1 dessert spoon of coconut oil
  • 1 level scoop of Ultimate Gut Health powder
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground flax seeds or chia seeds (no need to grind)
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup fresh berries or 1/2 small paw paw

Method

  1. Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (Can add ice cubes on a hot day).

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, capsule 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 and pregnenolone diminishes greatly, and by the time you are in your sixties, your adrenal glands only manufacture around 20% of the amount of these hormones they made in your twenties.

Some anti-aging researchers believe that the relative deficiency of these adrenal hormones accelerates the aging process. Lack of these hormones can result in:

  • more rapid aging
  • poor muscle strength and tone
  • loss of libido
  • chronic fatigue
  • depression

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. The sleep hormone melatonin may help to get a better sleep and improve energy. Try to adhere to a normal sleep-wake cycle, go to bed by 10 pm and avoid sleeping during the day. For those suffering with a restless sleep pattern, magnesium helps a lot. Alternatively, if severe insomnia is a problem, a very low dose tricyclic antidepressant is useful. When depression is a dominant feature, antidepressants like fluoxetine or moclobemide can substantially boost the mood. Unfortunately, these treatments do not alter the fatigue. Activated B vitamins can help depression related fatigue, especially if you are a slow methylator. Do not forget that bio-identical testosterone can boost energy and mood, especially in older or overweight men. Have your blood levels of testosterone checked, along with your vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D can cause depression and lethargy during the colder seasons.

Recommended supplements for chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Selenomune
    Take 1 capsule daily. Selenomune is the leading selenium supplement available today. Selenium exerts protective effects on the DNA found in the nucleus of the human cell. It is designed to strengthen the immune system which is vital to overcome CFS.
  • DHEA
    If your blood DHEA level is low, take 1 capsule daily. Pregnenolone may also help.
  • Magnesium Tablets or Powder
    Take 2 tablets twice daily or 1 teaspoon daily -  A magnesium formula containing a mixture of 4 different types of magnesium. Magnesium plays a crucial role in over 300 enzyme systems in the body and a deficiency, even of a slight degree, could seriously reduce the body’s production of energy.
  • N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC)
    Use 600mg capsules and take 1 to 2 capsules twice daily. N-Acetyl-Cysteine is vital for supporting glutathione production in the liver. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant to overcome CFS. Glutathione supports detoxification.
  • Livatone Liver Tonic
    To improve liver function, take 2 capsules daily with food.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.