Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Description

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition characterized by extreme, persistent fatigue. The fatigue usually appears suddenly, and is not alleviated by, rest. The weakness usually worsens after physical activity and is severe enough to impair your normal daily activities. The syndrome usually strikes young people, and is more prevalent in women than in men.

The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, but underlying diseases and viral infections are not thought to be the cause. Many experts believe that the syndrome is caused by nervous system dysfunction, immune system impairment, or low blood pressure.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Constant, overwhelming fatigue
  • Muscle pain and soreness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Continuous low-grade fever
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes at the neck or armpits
  • Generalized headaches
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sore throat without evidence of a bacterial infection
  • Joint pain that moves from joint to joint without causing swelling or redness

Conventional Medical Treatment

In order to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome doctor must first rule out other diseases and mental conditions with similar signs, such as psychiatric illness (for example, clinical depression) hypothyroidism, extreme stress, nutritional deficiencies, sleep deprivation, and exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes infectious mononucleosis. There is currently no test to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome. Diagnosis is based upon the presence of at least four of the above symptoms lasting for at least six months.

Once a positive diagnosis has been made, the only course of action is to treat the individual symptoms. You will be urged to adopt lifestyle changes, such as incorporating energy-increasing exercise and a nutritious diet into your day. Therapy with a psychologist or professional counselor may be recommended to help you overcome depression, and specific behavioral changes may be suggested to help you sleep. You also may be advised to break your daily tasks into small portions for easier completion.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

Nutrition and Supplementation

Good nutrition is essential to treating CFS. Concentrate on quality protem sources, such as fish, chicken and lamb, and on complex carbohydrates, as they are a steady source of energy. Good foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Boost your immune system with the enzymes provided in juice, especially those "green" juices that contain high levels of chlorophyll. Other beneficial juices are those that contain aloe vera, cucumber, or lemon. Drink a glass of water every two to three waking hours to flush out toxins and help reduce muscle pain. Six 10-ounce glasses daily is not too much. Drink your liquids at room temperature or warmer; cold can shock CFS sufferers.

Avoid caffeine, processed foods, soft drinks, fried foods, and white-flour products, such as bread and pasta. The daily supplement guidelines suggested below will help balance your system:

Most Important

  • a prodophilus formula (as directed on label) replaces friendly bacteria and fights candida, which often occurs with CFS
  • coenzyme (100 mg)-enhances the immune system
  • lecithin capsules (1200 mg 3 times daily with meals)-promotes energy
  • vitamin C with bioflavonoids (5000 to 10,000 mg)-increases the energy level; use the buffered form
  • magnesium and malic acid formula (as directed on label)-reduces body aches and pains
  • proteolytic enzymes (as directed on label, 6 times daily on an empty stomach)-improves
  • absorption of nutrients, especially protein
  • vitamin E (800 IU for 1 month, then slowly reduce to 400 IU)

Also Recommended

  • vitamin B complex (as prescribed by doctor)-essential for increasing energy levels and promoting brain functions; injections are best
  • glandular support supplement (adrenal, liver and thymus) (as directed on label)-enhances immune system
  • maitake and shiitake mushroom supplements (as directed on label)-boosts immune system
  • pantothenic acid (100 mg)-enhances immune system functioning
  • N-acetyl cysteine (200 mg)-enhances immune system functioning

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurveda views chronic fatigue syndrome as a pitta disorder and treats it by improving digestion and eliminating toxins and allergens. An Ayurvedic practitioner may suggest taking acidophilus, ashwaganda, amla, bala, triphala, or lomatium, according to your needs.

Ayurvedic products are available at many health food stores and Indian pharmacies.

Bodywork and Somatic Practices

If the body is not overly sensitized, Aston-Patterning, massage, or shiatsu may offer some much-needed pain relief and improve vitality. Excess sensitivity may make CranioSacral Therapy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Therapeutic Touch, Trager, Reiki or polarity therapy better bets.

Hydrotherapy

Energize your immune system by taking a hot bath to which you've added hay flower or Epsom salts. Your goal is to raise your body temperature to about 102 of, so soak for 20 to 45 minutes. Follow with at least 1 hour in bed.

Traditional Chinese Medidne

Acupuncture Acupuncture has proven to be very effective in the treatment and remission of chronic fatigue syndrome. In most cases, the practitioner begins by attempting to strengthen the Immune system and increase the flow of energy in all of the meridians The acupuncturist also works on balancing pa: tients' chi and improving their overall outlook.

Acupressure Some acupressure points that may be manipulated for the relief of symptoms are Conception Vessel 6 on the abdomen; Large Intestine 4 and 10 on the hand and arm, respectively, Lung 9; Stomach 36; Kidney 3; and Gallbladder 20 and 21 on the neck and shoulders. Pressing these points is thought to help combat mental confusion, depression, lethargy, and dizziness, while strengthening the immune system.

Chinese Herbal Therapy Herbs that may lessen the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome include wild Chinese jujube, solomon's seal, ginseng, and cordyceps. Astragalus has been shown to boost the production of disease-fighting white blood cells, while codonopsis may help restore the body's energy level and boost vitality.

In addition, a variety of herbal formulas may be prescribed to treat CFS. These include Astragalus Ten Formula, Ginseng and Atractylodes Formula, Tang Gui and Ginseng Eight, and Minor Bupleurum Formula. Depending on the patient's specific symptoms, the acupuncturist may recommend other herbs, as needed.

Yoga and Meditation

Exercise, especially yoga with its gentle, easy-going movements, can actually energize the body. To get the most from an exercise session, be sure to include about 5 minutes of breathing exercises, 15 minutes of meditation, and several yoga poses, such as the Mountain, Half Moon, Rag Doll, and Gentle Sun Salute.

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