Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS / ME)
Is it all in the mind? Up to 80% of all people with chronic fatigue have a history of classic allergies.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
In a review paper published a few years ago, the consensus of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Psychiatrists and General Practitioners in the UK was that "chronic fatigue is a biological syndrome which is not currently fully understood and does not require treatment with mood altering medications e.g antidepressants. This view has also been supported by the National Institute on Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Is it all in the mind? Up to 80% of all people with chronic fatigue have a history of classic allergies i.e. allergy to dust mites, pollens, moulds and others. This suggests that fatigue is caused by a disorder of the immune system. Many have a history of asthma, eczema or recurrent infections during their childhood. A multitude of symptoms seems to involve several systems of the body including the brain i.e. low mood, anxiety, poor concentration, brain-fog; digestion such as heartburn, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea; aching muscles or joints, backaches, sprains, cramps; gynaecological i.e. heavy, painful, irregular cycles, menopausal symptoms and a host of others. Yet most hospital investigations or laboratory tests show no abnormality, thereby, enforcing the impression of a psychosomatic condition.
A consistent finding in people with chronic fatigue is the presence of features of dysfunction in the chemistry of their cells. During activity, lactic acid and pyruvic acid are produced by each cell; these are substances causing muscle cells to slow down until full recovery takes place when the cells dispose of these acids; in this way, cells recover fully and get ready for more action. Under normal circumstances, the full recovery occurs with rest or a good night's sleep; however, those affected with chronic fatigue show persistently increased levels of lactic acid and a prolonged delay to dispose of it; this finding might explain the continual tiredness even after brief physical or mental activity.
The study of lactic acid in fatigued patients fits in well with the concept that chronic fatigue is not a psychosomatic condition, whereby the individual suffers with stress-related symptoms. This view is supported further with findings in several laboratory tests: (a) raised levels of extra-cellular DNA consistent with increased cell destruction, common in patients with degenerative diseases and cancer (b) reduced presence of oxygen in areas of the brain controlling the secretion and activity of vital hormones (c) the increased levels of some cell hormones (d) the misshapen appearance of red cells in electron microscopy (e) non-specific abnormalities in routine blood tests such as low white cell count or raised liver enzymes, to mention but a few.
Many patients have been fit, young people before the beginning of their disability and deny any stressful circumstances in their lives. Many have symptoms of impaired digestion.
Cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- A host of medical conditions can cause fatigue, some as simple as iron deficiency or as severe as cancer or leukaemia. Detailed tests are important to rule out such conditions before the diagnosis of chronic fatigue is made.
- Viruses or other infections: prolonged fatigue is known to follow glandular fever, poliomyelitis, influenza & coxackie viruses, Lyme disease and some local epidemics e.g. Lake Taho USA, Royal Free (Hospital) Disease and so on.
- Abnormal intestinal fermentation due to the build-up of yeasts, a depletion of friendly bacteria, important to safeguard a healthy environment in the gut and the presence of amoebic parasites such as Dientamoeba Fragilis or Blastocystis Hominis.
- Type-B food reactivity also known as delayed, masked allergy or food intolerance.
- Adrenal stress and other hormone disturbances e.g underactive thyroid.
- Prolonged stress or other life stressors such as major illnesses or surgery.
- Several medications e.g. long term courses of antibiotics, oral steroids and female hormones.
- Allergies to common natural inhalants such as dust mites, animal dander, pollens and moulds by virtue of their taxing effect on the immune system.
- Chemical sensitivity, i.e. delayed reactivity to a range of common environmental chemicals such as hydrocarbons, organophosphates, volatile organic compounds and so on.
- Nutritional deficiencies such as important vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients, whose presence is a priority for the smooth function and protection of the complex system of enzymes in each and every one of the body cells.
In day-to-day practice, a number of these factors can be relevant. Partial or complete reversal of chronic fatigue is possible when such factors are identified and are brought under control.
Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The selection of tests required depends on the severity of this syndrome. They include tests for stool analysis, fungal fermentation, mitrochondrial dysfunction, acquired (epigenetic) changes in the DNA, tests to assess anti-oxidant defences, tests for some important nutrients, tests for heavy metals and toxic levels of many chemical agents. Our Specialist recommends the most appropriate tests required, dependent on the medical history given.
Many of our clients respond to simple dietary adjustments. Those with more severe symptoms often require the use of a method of desensitisation, such as Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisaion (EPD) or Neutralisation.
Clinical Trials re: Chronic Fatigue
The following is a sample of papers to give a flavour of some of the evidence to support the view that allergy, environmental medicine and nutritional medicine has a major role to play in the modern medical practice.
The Role of Food Intolerance in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Hyde B.M. Ed.
The Clinical and Scientific Basis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Ottowa. The Nightingale Research Foundaton 1992; pp521-38.
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