Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is known by many names. Some of the most common names are Myalgic Encephalo-myelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and formerly known as Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus (CEBV). Whatever it is called, CFS is a psychoneuroimmunologic disorder, meaning it has aspects affecting the following three areas:
1. Psychology – affecting emotions and thinking of patient.
2. Neurology – chemically affecting the brain and nervous system.
3. Immunology – affecting the body’s immune system.
There are a plethora of symptoms, (syndrome – a group of symptoms) but the most common ones are: chronic fatigue, insomnia, sore throat, muscle aches, joint inflammation, visual dysfunction, poor concentration or memory, anxiety and/or depression, headaches, fever, night sweats, hypersensitivity and allergies. These symptoms vary a great deal from person to person with some people having only a few symptoms. CFS can occur in any age group and in both sexes, but anywhere from 65 – 80% are busy career women, depending on the study. It is very common among teachers, flight attendants, female lawyers and nurses.
Most of the people that we have seen (more than 1000 patients) have above average constitutions, but have weakened immune systems. A workaholic lifestyle is seen in many patients; in others there is excessive aerobic exercise and in some, just stress.
I like to use a slightly altered model, developed originally by Dr. Jay Goldstein, M.D., breaking CFS down into six phases. These phases are somewhat progressive but can often overlap:
1. Initial immune suppression by agent ‘X’ – this agent can be stress (environmental, or biological).
2. Initial viral infection or reinfection from resident viruses – with a weakened immune system the body is left open to a viral onslaught.
3. Malfunction of immune system cytokine manufacturing/functioning response – cytokine is the chemical that coordinates various parts of the immune system and communicates with the nervous system.
4. Abnormal generation of cytokines – miscommunication further disrupts immune and nervous systems.
5. Cytokines affect target-organ receptors – various parts of the body (especially the brain and intestinal tract) start to malfunction due to faulty communications.
6. Malfunctioning of communication between organs – the body stops working as an integrated whole. Bidirectional transmission of information to and from organs and the immune system starts to break down.
It appears that the core of this health issue is in the limbic centers of the brain. This older part of the brain is responsible for some of the stress responses that trigger immune suppression by agent X. By clouding the normal stress response, the limbic centers create a confusion that furthers the CFS. The unknown agent could be a multitude of things, but it seems that stress is one of the most important ingredients.
Our main objectives are to revitalize the body, build up (while calming down) the immune system, reduce any viruses or other opportunistic organisms in the body, restore proper internal communication, and re-establish normal sleep patterns. It is quite common to also have a yeast infection with CFS (refer to the Candida section). I have had many patients who immediately resume aerobic exercise when they begin to feel better. This seems to undo everything that is already accomplished, so we suggest no aerobic type exercise for at least six months after a person feels better. The aerobic exercise seems to add to the overall stress load on the body. Exercises like tai chi seem to be quite good for CFS patients, when they feel like getting back into exercise. Tai chi is an exercise that helps the body’s energies communicate better or reintegrate, which is part of the intention of this recommended action.
It is usually very important to fill in a Flower Essences Questionnaire at least once a month to help deal with the stress component.
Combinations: Reishi Extract, Shih Chuan Ta Pu Wan, Ener-Jazz, Echinacea Plus Formula, NervaHerb.
Nutritional Supplements: BEVC (2-3 tablets, two to three times daily), Beta-carotene (20,000-50,000 IU, twice daily), B complex (1 tablet, twice daily), Vitamin C (2-6 grams daily), Zinc (15-60 mg daily), Malic acid, NADH, Coenzyme Q10.
Breakfast: BEVC (2 tablets), Reishi/Cordyceps (2 capsules), Rhodiola ( 2 capsules), Chlorella (1,500 mg), Shih Chuan Ta Pu Wan (8 tablets), Echinacea (2 capsules).
Snack: Vitamin C (500 mg), Ener-Jazz (1 tsp).
Lunch: Shih Chuan Ta Pu Wan (8 tablets), Vitamin C (500 mg).
Snack: Same as morning snack.
Supper: Same as breakfast.
Bedtime: NervaHerb (2-3 capsules).