Do you or someone you love suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome?
Would you not like to have every cell in your body vibrate with good energy? Unfortunately for those who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) this seems impossible. The causes of CFS are still not proven or consistent. While there appears to be a link between stress and the development of chronic fatigue syndrome, the specifics on why this disease occurs is unknown. As there is no known CFS causes, discovering if you are inflicted with this illness is a matter of eliminating diagnosis. Eliminating diagnosing, or the art of determining that you have a disease based on the fact that you have eliminated many other diseases, takes a lot of time, effort, and is a large source of stress upon patients.
This is only the first problem with CFS causes, and ultimately, treatment. As CFS is diagnosed by eliminating other diseases, there is often a long period of time where the symptoms are not being properly treated. During this time, the disease is able to progress almost at will. As CFS can cause a wide variety of different health problems, ranging from flu-like symptoms to memory loss, those who suffer are disabled to the point that they are unable to function in regular society. People who suffer from CFS usually cannot work. Unfortunately, there are many people who believe that CFS is merely an excuse to get out of working. This is not accurate. Those who are diagnosed with CFS are no longer able to function due to extreme fatigue, memory loss, the inability to retain information and pain in muscles and joints.
If you or someone you know is suffering from CFS, understanding the causes can not only help provide validation, but also hope that there is something that can be done to find that good energy. We know that stress is an integral part of the disease, so lowering stress is vital. There has to be more to CFS then stress. So what are the causes?
Functional Medicine approaches to identifying the root causes of CFS:
- Look for underlying infections including bacteria, viruses (such as chronic epstein barr), fungi, mold, parasites
- Identify food sensitivities
- Evaluate hormone imbalance
- Determine nutrient deficiencies
- Assess lifestyle risk factors including diet, sleep habits, relationships, stress, emotions and exercise habits
- Determine possible environmental toxic exposures….past and present
- Identify disruptions in detoxification pathways
As a functional medicine practitioner I am considering all of these potential risk factors that can be at the root of CFS. There is never just one cause, but several causes that have created a perfect storm that has lead to the development of CFS in my opinion. It is important to look at an individuals entire life timeline of events that preceded the development of the CFS symptoms. Here, functional practitioners like myself and other will find clues that will help to direct your care and treatment.
CFS treatment needs to be very individualized. It means identifying and addressing the root causes. There are many opinions on how to treat CFS available on the market. However, finding a treatment that works for your symptoms can be difficult. Because of the uncertainty of the source of CFS, there are many treatments designed to combat certain symptoms. Before you try any CFS treatments, you should be aware that you may have to attempt several treatments before you find one that helps lower your symptoms. Aside from addressing root cause, some people will benefit from the added treatment of low dose naltrexone (LDN). This is something that I have used for years with my patients and for some the results have been amazing. To learn more about LDN and its many uses and benefits, visit the LDN Research Trust.
CFS remains a very challenging condition to treat and much uncertainty remains. There is still not enough information on what diet alternations and exercise regimes should be focused on in addition to the medical and herbal treatments for this disorder. It will be up to you as a patient to decide what treatments work best with your symptoms and which ones give you the most relief. You really have to be your own health advocate as this will be pivotal in guiding your choices for long term recovery.
Whether you work with your healthcare provider, or a functional practitioner like myself, it is important to understand that your path to recovery will be a journey filled with trial and error. There is still a lot that needs to be learned about this disease.