Dead BatteryThe CDC estimates that there are approximately one million people in the United States with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This is very much an educated guess since they also admit that 80% of these people are undiagnosed.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, is a controversial disorder. Official medical classification of CFS as a disease has only existed since 1988, and since then the exact epidemiology and even definition of the disease has been contested and argued for decades. The debate currently hinges on whether or not CFS is a physiological disease, or a psychological or psychosocial disease. Some argue that CFS is strongly tied to depression and stress and a number of other psychological factors and in order to create improvement, psychological treatment is required. Conversely, many believe that CFS is a physiological disease with many possible causes, or even multiple causes, or potentially even a compounding of a number of conditions simultaneously.



Even though the debate continues, the one reassurance is that if the body is experiencing a disorder, efforts to improve its overall health will always provide some type of benefit, not necessarily a cure, but the healthier a body is, the greater its potential for self-healing.



Even though the definition of CFS and the diagnostic criteria varies between countries, the most commonly used diagnostic criteria and definition of CFS for research and clinical purposes are used by the CDC which recommends the following three criteria be fulfilled:



  • A new onset (not lifelong) of severe >fatigue for six consecutive months or greater duration which is unrelated to exertion, is not substantially relieved by rest, and is not a result of other medical conditions.
  • The fatigue causes a significant reduction of previous activity levels.


  • Four or more of the following symptoms that last six months or longer:



  • Impaired memory or concentration
  • Post-exertional malaise, where physical or mental exertions bring on "extreme, prolonged exhaustion and sickness"
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Muscle pain (myalgia)
  • Pain in multiple joints (arthralgia)
  • Headaches of a new kind or greater severity
  • Sore throat, frequent or recurring
  • Tender lymph nodes (cervical or axillary)


  • Other common symptoms include:



  • Irritable bowel, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea or bloating
  • Chills and night sweats
  • Brain fog
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Visual disturbances (blurring, sensitivity to light, eye pain or dry eyes)
  • Allergies or sensitivities to foods, alcohol, odors, chemicals, medications or noise
  • Difficulty maintaining upright position (orthostatic instability, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, balance problems or fainting)
  • Psychological problems (depression, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)


  • Another issue with diagnosing CFS is that its symptoms mimic many other disorders including hypothyroidism, Epstein-Barr virus, sleeping disorders, depression, substance abuse, and various other illnesses. These must be ruled out before a diagnosis can be confirmed.



    Even though many well-informed medical professionals rule out many of the common conditions that may cause CFS, there are a few conditions that are known to cause symptoms of CFS.



    INFECTIONS



    Candida albicans is a strain of yeast that is extremely common in the human intestinal tract, however, for some people who eat the wrong type of diet, this yeast can become overgrown and cause a number of symptoms, many similar to CFS:



  • Headaches and migraines
  • Depression
  • Sleeping problems
  • Poor memory
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Allergies
  • Frequent infections



    This is not to say that Candida causes CFS. Not at all, but it is common knowledge that people with CFS tend to be more prone to infections, particularly those in the gastrointestinal tract. GI infections have the potential to produce many CFS-like symptoms.



    virusThere are also many viruses that produce symptoms like CFS, such as Epstein Barr, cytomegalovirus, herpes, and parvovirus and many CFS patients commonly test positive for such viruses, though the symptoms don’t always alleviate with the treatment of these viruses.



    But when you consider the facts, what kind of a person is more prone to infections from viruses and bacteria? Someone with a compromised immune system. People with healthy and fully-functioning immune systems are more able to resist infections from such organisms. Is it possible that those with CFS are just suffering from an impaired immune system?



    There is a significant body of evidence that would suggest this as a valid possibility. An Australian study published in 2006 found that “A relatively uniform post-infective fatigue syndrome persists in a significant minority of patients for six months or more after clinical infection with several different viral and non-viral micro-organisms. Post-infective fatigue syndrome is a valid illness model for investigating one pathophysiological pathway to chronic fatigue syndrome. “



    After six months, 11% of the 253 study participants essentially developed chronic fatigue after a major infection. In many people, infections rally the immune system and its increased activity fights off the infection, but if someone has a compromised immune system, or the immune system is overtaxed, some people may not have a complete immune system recover and this can leave them vulnerable to other types of infections. Being infected is obviously fatiguing, but what is unknown is if this fatigue state can continue to exist even when there is no obvious infection present and if this may constitute CFS. More research is obviously needed, but this theory so far provides us the most practical means of giving people with this condition real and effective help.



    WHAT COMPROMISES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?



    While some people might point to genetics as the source of immune system capabilities, it is no secret that the immune system of a perfectly healthy person can be compromised by a myriad of environmental and lifestyle factors, which includes but is not limited to:



  • Pollution
  • Industrial toxins
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Sugar consumption
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Heavy metal toxicity
  • Sleep disorders
  • Poor Body Mass Index
  • Current and Chronic Infections


  • The above is the short list of factors which can negatively affect the capabilities of the immune system, and possibly contribute to the onset or continuation of CFS.



    Here at the center, we have had great results with CFS patients by focusing on optimizing every part of their body that could impact or potentially impact their immune system potential.



    DIAGNOSTICS



    We use a number of diagnostic tools for people with CFS. Because each person has their own unique set of symptoms and the source of their fatigue may come from any number of places, it is important to go through an efficient process of elimination.



  • Comprehensive parasitology of stool sampling
  • Genetic testing to determine the body’s immune system capabilities, hormone metabolism and toxin excretion systems
  • Heavy metal analysis to determine immune system impairment from toxic elements
  • Blood and urine analysis to detect any current infections


  • healthy foodsWe also utilize dietary approaches derived from the test results to correct any deficiencies that may result from a non-optimum diet, poor body mass index, and other dietary factors.



    Supplementation with immune boosters, antioxidants, and detoxification enhancers may be necessary to help the body return to optimum function, which may in turn positively impact the symptoms of CFS.



    Hormones can also play a major role in how the immune system functions. Considering the fact that CFS affects significantly more women than men, addressing hormonal imbalances and abdominal fat tissue may be an important part of addressing CFS. We have a number of natural substances that can help the body metabolize certain hormones and/or promote the production of more healthy hormones depending on the individual needs of our patients and the testing results.



    RESTORE THE BODY



    Until the smoking gun appears and the ultimate cause of CFS is discovered, which may or may not occur, the best and most efficient course of action is to systematically address all of the areas of a person’s health that are not performing at healthy optimum levels and return them to healthy function. While this may sound like taking shots in the dark, the fact is that we have had a great amount of success with this approach. We have helped many of our clients get back into regular exercise, back to their jobs, and back to living their lives again. CFS is a tricky condition that affects a minority of people and each of them experiences it differently, but a healthy body is a healthy body, and making bodies healthy is a well-established science that has tremendous power and benefit.