Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a complicated disorder that effects more than a million Americans. In addition to causing extreme and relentless fatigue that is not solved by sleep, CFS can also cause symptoms such as muscle pain, frequent headaches, multijoint pain (without the presence of redness or swelling), insomnia, loss of memory or concentration, frequent sore throats, and tender lymph nodes. The symptoms may be worsened by physical or mental activity, and they don’t improve with rest.
According to most conventional medicine practitioners, the cause of chronic fatigue remains unknown; and there is no way of treating it. However, there is overwhelming evidence that a variety of factors can trigger CFS, and once these factors are identified and addressed, the symptoms will eventually disappear. So if you or someone you love suffer with CFS, read on — the following information could help free you from a life of unnecessary suffering.
Potential CFS Causes
Too much fat in the daily diet: A high fat diet causes blood cells to clump together which results in a restriction of oxygen to the brain. Brain cells need a lot of oxygen in order to thrive, and a high fat diet could reduce levels of oxygen that enter the brain by up to 20%.
Delayed food sensitivities: Many people have food sensitivities and aren’t even aware of it, because the symptoms are delayed and varied and they don’t show up on common allergy tests. Oftentimes the foods you crave and eat the most are the ones you’re most sensitive to. Consuming them irritates your intestinal lining, which can prevent nutrients from being properly absorbed and lead to fatigue-causing-nutritional-deficiencies. An irritated intestinal lining also allows food particles to pass into your bloodstream and your immune system mistakes the food particles as enemies and releases lymphocytes, macrophages, and other white blood cells in attempt to neutralize ‘the enemy.’ This can lead to swelling and inflammation in the brain, and can trigger or worsen CFS.
*To learn more about how to identify and eliminate food allergies (insert link to article ‘How to Identify and Eliminate Food Sensitivities, And Feel Healthier Than Ever’ here, once it is posted online)
Adrenal fatigue: Your adrenal glands are responsible for the production of many hormones, including the hormone cortisol, which is pumped out in response to stress. A high stress lifestyle forces your adrenal glands to work overtime, pumping out too much cortisol. Eventually the glands burnout and start to release too little cortisol which can lead to CFS symptoms. The adrenal glands also help to regulate energy and blood sugar levels, and when they burnout, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can result, which can both cause and worsen CFS symptoms.
Quality of sleep: Quality sleep helps to balance out numerous hormones that are critical to mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Sleep deprivation also contributes to stress and causes blood sugar fluctuations which ultimately weakens the adrenal glands. Finally, inadequate sleep can compromise your immune system function which can increase inflammation and further strain the adrenal glands.
Anemia: Anemia can also cause CFS and it’s considered one of the easiest factors to diagnose and fix. Anemia can be caused by low iron, low folic acid and/or low B12 levels; so all three should be measured if you are trying to identify your CFS triggers. Anemia is more common in vegans and vegetarians; however, it’s not always caused by a lack of dietary intake. Some people simply don’t methylate (process) well due to a genetic defect, and those people require very high doses of the iron, folic acid or B12 (whichever one they cannot properly process).
The protocol for reversing CFS will vary depending on the patience personal triggers. However, all CFS patients should focus on consuming a whole-foods based diet and try to consume something small every 3 hours in order to regulate blood sugar and energy levels. Also, reduce or eliminate animal products (including dairy), sugar, processed and fried foods, high fat foods (except for natural fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds); caffeine and alcohol. If food sensitivities are suspected, follow an elimination diet and remove any foods that you’re sensitive to.
If adrenal dysfunction is a trigger, focus on getting adequate sleep and reducing emotional and physical stress. Also eliminate caffeine, sugar and alcohol; and follow a detoxification protocol. Supplements such as Adrenal DMG and Liv-D-Tox can be very helpful in the reversal of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal DMG http://www.delgadonaturals.com/adrenal-dmg/) helps nourish the glands back to health, and can provide an instant and natural energy boost. And Liv-D-Tox contains a proprietary blend of nutrients that promote detoxification and help your body adapt to stress (http://www.delgadonaturals.com/liv-d-tox/).
CFS sufferers require more sleep than the average person, and should aim to get 9-10 hours a night. Sleep hygiene is also important to ensure the sleep you are receiving is high quality. Sleep hygiene involves sleeping in a completely dark environment (use blackout blinds or an eye mask); making sure your bedroom is slightly cool and completely silent (you can use a fan by your bed to drown out erroneous noises); going to be bed and waking at the same time everyday, and keeping food and technology out of the bedroom. The bed should only be used for sex and sleep.
Stress also worsens symptoms in all CFS sufferers and actively reducing stress is vital for reducing CFS symptoms. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, Tai Chi, and any form of exercise that you enjoy will help to reduce stress levels. You should also examine potential triggers of emotional stress. Finally, surrounding yourself with positive, supportive, loving people, learning to say no, and speaking openly to loved ones, can go a long way towards lowering emotional stress.
Depression directly worsens many CFS symptoms and also contributes to CFS indirectly by increasing stress and anxiety levels. If depression is identified, consider cognitive behavioral therapy and address any life circumstances that may be contributing to your depression. Also, speak to your alternative healthcare practitioner about supplements to reverse any potential chemical causes of your depression.
If anemia is identified, a combination of supplement and injection therapy can be beneficial. Typically, injections will be given twice a week until levels are restored and supplements will be prescribed on a case-to-case basis.
Some people may also benefit from IV therapy that supplies high doses of vitamin C. This therapy helps to detoxify the body and boost the immune system; and it supports the healing process of CFS sufferers. Hormonal imbalances may also trigger CFS and bioidentical hormones can help to reduce symptoms in patience with identified imbalances. Finally, it’s important to realize that CFS is a complex disorder that is usually triggered by a variety of factors and some trial and error will likely be necessary in order to reverse CFS. Seek-out the assistance of a qualified alternative health practitioner to help you on your journey, and be patient — addressing the above factors will typically produce marked improvements within 6 months to a year.