Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS is also called chronic Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)) has become a newly established syndrome, the occurrence of which seems to be increasing. Symptoms vary considerably from individual to individual but tend to include:
- Recurrent Sore Throats
- Low-Grade Fever
- Lymph Node Swelling
- Intestinal Discomfort
- Muscle And Joint Pain
- Emotional Distress
- Loss Of Concentration
The syndrome may persist for months to years. The cause is not known and no lab test can be used to diagnose the disease.
Epstein Barr Virus EBV has been commonly labeled as the most likely cause, even though the research literature is inconclusive. EBV is a member of the herpes group of viruses. A unique characteristic of these viruses is their ability to establish lifelong latent infections in one time infected individuals. The normal immune system keeps the EBV in check but when the immune system is compromised in any way the latent infection recurs. EBV infection is inevitable in humans. By the time we reach adulthood almost all individuals have antibodies in their blood to the Epstein Barr virus. But having elevated EBV antibodies in your blood doesn’t mean that you will get the disease. Even some patients who have severe symptoms of EBV do not have extremely high levels of EBV antibodies. Many other conditions have been documented as having increased levels of EBV antibodies including:
- Cancer Chemotherapy
- Chronic Kidney Failure
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Hodgekin Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Steroid Drug
Cytomegalovirus can produce an infection with a clinical picture very similar to CFS except it generally does not involve a sore throat and enlargement of the throat lymph nodes.
Candidiasis is another consideration that can produce a similar picture to CFS. Candida albicans is a common inhabitant of the intestinal system that is normally kept in check by other bowel bacteria and normal immune function. So when either of these are not functioning effectively candida growth occurs that provides a constant challenge to the immune system.
Diagnosis of CFS is often made through the exclusion of other diseases because the causes and the characteristics are still unclear today. In treating this condition for a number of years a recurrent theme has presented itself in the individuals suffering from this disease. Most individuals prior to coming down with CFS seem to be able to push their bodies consistently without slowing down to let their body relax and their immune system function optimally.
Let me elaborate on this, most sufferers tend to have minds that are too strong for their bodies. This can be explained more in depth from a western physiological point of view and a Chinese medical point of view.
In western physiology (that is how the body normally functions) in the brain the emotions originate in a part of the brain called the limbic system. This in turn sends messages to the hypothalamus /pituitary (commonly referred to as the master endocrine gland) which releases hormones, specifically a hormone called ACTH that stimulates the adrenals glands to release adrenaline. This in turn pumps people up in times of stress so they can push themselves through the stress. At the same time as the adrenaline is released the adrenals release corticosteroid hormones that disable the immune system. This is purposely done for the mind is telling the body that what it is doing is more important than getting sick. While this is happening the body could get exposed to a bacteria, virus, yeast, mould or other invasive organism and not react to eliminate them because of the stress. This is the reason why a lot of individuals get sick shortly after a stress. And if the stress is prolonged the adrenal glands can become insufficient in their function resulting in sickness in the middle of the stress.
When I say sick I don’t just make reference to CFS and the Epstein Barr virus, I refer to many forms of diseases. Diseases including:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Common Cold
- Immune Suppression
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Menstrual Irregularities
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ulcerative Colitis and Ulcers
Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency possibly predisposing one to the above mentioned diseases include: decreased stamina, dizziness on rising, photophobia and extreme difficulty driving at night.
Chinese medicine explains how the mind abuses the body through a four thousand year old principle, yin and yang. In Chinese medicine the mind is yang (that is the masculine principle of active, dynamic, movement, etc.) and the body is yin (that is the feminine principle of passive, nurturing, support, etc.).
In CFS most sufferers tend to be yin deficient, in order to become yin deficient one must have an excess of yang first. An excess of yang usually starts out with an excess of movement, activity or exertion and also with an excess of yang emotion most often that is anger/frustration which later becomes depression because the body no longer has enough energy to fuel into anger. This excess of yang then causes a deficiency of yin resulting in what the Chinese call hollow heat.
Hollow heat includes symptoms such as low grade fever, sensitivity to:
- Night Sweats
- Loss Of Concentration
- All The Symptoms Are Worse As The Day Goes On
In Chinese medicine everything is interrelated.
Chinese medical philosophy is based on thousands of years of trial and error in trying to understand the inner workings of the human body from outside the body. The Chinese had to guess at the existence of different organs and the functions which they perform. The Chinese system of medicine is a holistic model of medicine because it focuses on interrelatedness. One organ is interrelated with other body parts, emotions and environmental conditions. So if there is problem with these body parts there is a corresponding problem with the organ with which they are associated. The emotions of anger and depression so commonly found in CFS sufferers are related and associated with the liver in Chinese medicine. Fear is another emotion, which most CFS sufferers fall into and it is related to the kidneys.
The Chinese also have a concept of environmental conditions called external disease factors that invade the body. These include:
- wind (which are symptoms that come and go and move about)
- cold (symptoms that are worse by cold and usually have pain)
- heat (symptoms that are worse by heat, and can have pain)
- dampness (symptoms that are worse by dampness and usually have swelling)
In CFS the person commonly has wind symptoms that is symptoms that come and go, vary in intensity and frequency, and move from one place to another. Most CFS sufferers are cold and very cold sensitive and the longer they have an ineffectively treated case of CFS the colder they become.
The Chinese have noted that certain herbs have wind alleviating properties, others cold alleviating by being warm, others damp alleviating by being dry, etc. CFS usually presents as being a combination of external disease factors wind and cold. Depending how the individual presented the Chinese herbal prescription or acupuncture caters to the uniqueness of that individual.
Another system of therapy that caters to the uniqueness of an individual suffering from any disease is Homeopathy.
Homeopathy as a system of medicine has been around for two hundred years, it was discovered by a German physician Samuel Hahnemann. One hundred years ago it was at its prime in North America, 20-25% of all physicians identified themselves as being homeopaths.
The first National American Medical Association in the United States was the American Institute of Homeopathy, founded in 1844.
There were 22 homeopathic medical schools including Boston University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, and Hahnemann Medical College.
There were over one hundred Homeopathic hospitals, including New York City’s Metropolitan Hospital with its 1,897 beds, Massachusetts Homeopathic Hospital with its 534 beds, Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital with its 2,162 beds, Toronto East General was a homeopathic hospital, as well as Queens hospital in Montreal, Genesee hospital in Rochester and Millard Fillmore hospital in Buffalo.
Homeopathy fell into decline in North America due to the allied forces of the AMA and the pharmaceutical industry.
In spite of its fall from grace in North America, the physician to the Queen and the Royal Family in England is and always has been a homeopath. In Europe and India there are a number of Homeopathic hospitals.
In the past two decades homeopathy has made a resurgence in North America due to the ineffectiveness of the current medical establishment. Homeopathy is based on the law of “like cures like”. Two hundred years ago a number of normal healthy individuals took toxic dosages of certain substances and developed symptoms. It is based on these symptoms that the remedy was administered to a diseased person to cure. Homeopathic medicines are not crude drugs but are diluted substances that when administered to the right individual, possess incredible healing powers. In the treatment of CFS the therapy is dependent on the person’s symptoms.
Arsenicum album individuals are highly perfectionistic through insecurity and spend long hours trying to make certain everything is right. Arsenicum patients are very, very cold; they love the heat. In spite of having a lot of burning complaints they are very restless with all their complaints being aggravated around midnight.
Lycopodium clavatum is indicated for an individual who is also very cold, but who interestingly enough feels better in the open air. All of lycopodiums complaints are worse between 4-8pm, they crave sweets intensely, and after eating their abdomens bloat up resulting in a lot of bloating and gas. Lack of self-confidence is the biggest problem with lycopodiums.
Lachesis and all of its complaints are worse in the morning. They are very angry and irritable and if someone crosses their path they never forget. They dislike wearing anything tight, their CFS and any other complaints are worse before their menstruation and as soon as they start to flow all is better for a while.
The above listed are just a few. There are over fifty homeopathic medicines that could be used to rectify this condition, CFS, depending on how the individual presents.
Western botanical medicines that have proven to have noteworthy success include: goldenseal, echinacea, licorice and astragalus. All of these herbs have shown to be supportive of the immune system in its function.
A vegetarian diet has also proven highly effective in rectifying a lot of the symptoms associated with CFS.
And of course stress management cannot be emphasized enough. It is very hard to treat the body without stabilizing the mind first.
In my practice I typically use diet therapy, homeopathy, western botanical medicines, stress management techniques, and Chinese medicine to effectively treat my CFS patients.
With some of the above recommendations individuals may easily help themselves! However self help can be costly and time consuming, leaving you with an inaccurate idea of how effective natural therapeutics can be. If you want successful long lasting results and want them reasonably quickly consult a licensed Naturopathic Doctor. He is highly trained (with a minimum of seven years postsecondary education) to diagnose your condition and to set up an individualized therapeutic regime prescribing the appropriate therapies.