Natural Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and may be abbreviated as ME/CFS. Chronic fatigue syndrome involves extreme fatigue that cannot be explained by any other medical condition. The fatigue worsens with mental and physical exertion and does not significantly improve with rest (1). Other symptoms that often occur with ME/CFS are listed below. 

 

People with ME/CFS often describe the experience as feeling like their body is constantly under infectious attack, but they are unable to mount a sufficient immune response to fight it off. "Crash" cycles are a common phenomenon experienced by people with ME/CFS. They experience periods of time where they feel better and have more energy, which results in more activity. During these periods, they overexert themselves and end up in a "crash", where they have no energy to do anything. As a result, ME/CFS can be severely debilitating. Many people with ME/CFS are unable to work, require assistance with activities of daily living, and experience significant financial burdens as a result of the condition.

The cause of ME/CFS is unknown. A number of contributing causes are suspected, including infections, genetic influences, immune dysfunction, abnormalities in sleep, as well as abnormalities in metabolic and biochemical processes within the body (2). At this time, there are no definitive blood tests or investigations that can diagnose ME/CFS. Diagnosis involves excluding other conditions that could explain symptoms. Because this condition is difficult to diagnose and many medical schools do not educate on ME/CFS, it is estimated that only 20% of the people who have ME/CFS are officially diagnosed (2).

Common Signs & Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Fatigue

  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

  • Loss of memory or concentration

  • Sore throat

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits

  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain

  • Headaches

  • Unrefreshing sleep

Many patients with ME/CFS also suffer from a number of other conditions at the same time.

These could include (2):

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Multiple chemical sensitivity

  • Orthostatic intolerance (inability to maintain an upright activity, such as sitting, standing or walking, due to blood pressure dysregulation)

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Interstitial cystitis, irritable bladder syndrome, and other urinary tract conditions

  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder

  • Sjogren's syndrome

  • Migraine headache

  • Allergies

  • Thyroid conditions

  • Raynaud's phenomenon

  • Prolapsed mitral valve

  • Depression

Naturopathic Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Naturopathic treatment of ME/CFS is similar to Fibromyalgia. Each person experiences ME/CFS slightly differently, with different symptoms causing the most disruption to their life. Initial discussions surround which symptoms are experienced as most debilitating and treatment plans are individualized to each person based on this information. 

 

There are a number of treatment options available to address the symptoms of ME/CFS. Identifying and removing symptom triggers is often the initial goal in formulating a treatment plan. Dietary counselling is major component of treatment. This could include investigating possible food intolerances and finding a healthy, balanced diet that prevents added stress on the digestive system and prevents expending of unnecessary energy in digestive processes. Lifestyle changes are also very important in managing ME/CFS symptoms. Stress management, sleep hygiene, and pacing of activities are foundations of healing, which will relieve current symptoms and decrease the frequency of energy crashes. Discussions on energy conservation are an ongoing component of ME/CFS treatment. This may involve problem solving around assistance with activities of daily living (showering, preparing meals, housework, etc.) and discussion on strategies to incorporate more rest periods throughout the day to prevent crashes. Additional treatments could include the use of supplements, botanical medicine in the form of teas or tinctures, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, homeopathy, and the use of hot or cold water (also known as hydrotherapy). If there is an autoimmune component to the experience of ME/CFS, different therapies may be used to help calm the immune system and prevent further immune dysfunction. There are a number of herbal treatments, supplements, and dietary considerations to address this. Treatments are selected for each individual based on efficacy, patient preference, and safety. 

References:

(1) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360490

(2) Bested, A. C., & Marshall, L. M. (2015). Review of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: an evidence-based approach to diagnosis and management by clinicians. Reviews on Environmental Health, 30(4), 223-249. 

Available at: https://emerge.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Bested-A.-C.-and-L.-M.-Marshall.-Review-of-Myalgic-EncephalomyelitisChronic-Fatigue-Syndrome-an-evidence-based-approach-to-diagnosis-and-management-by-clinicians.-Rev-Environ-Health-2015-304-223-249.pdf

Dr. Melyssa Hoitink, ND

The Lakeside Clinic

Phone: (705) 726-0923

Email: info@thelakesideclinic.com

Location:

570 Bryne Dr., Unit F

Barrie, Ontario, Canada

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