Chronic fatigue syndrome [CFS] is defined as a state of ongoing fatigue for over 6 months with cognitive difficulties. It is often a “diagnosis of exclusion” which means that, in order to have this diagnosis, your doctor would need to rule out or eliminate other potential causes or explanations for the symptoms. This makes chronic fatigue difficult to clearly diagnose, and what complicates matters more, is that there are no clear causes or tests available.
Instead, diagnosis can be based on having severe chronic fatigue for at least 6 months, and have 4 of the following symptoms:
• Substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration
• Sore throat
• Tender lymph nodes
• Muscle pain
• Multijoint pain without swelling or redness
• Headaches of a new type, pattern or severity
• Unrefreshing sleep
• Postexertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours
As we know, symptoms and titles don’t really tell us about what is actually going on. What is actually happening in the body and the brain in someone with chronic fatigue to cause them to feel so terribly?
Research is moving forward in this area, and beginning to show more clearly than before that there are a few key changes that happen in someone’s body when they have chronic fatigue syndrome. This is important, because by understanding what is happening on a deeper level, we can give the body what it needs to heal, repair, and recover.
The main areas of focus include:
Let’s look at these a little closer:
Studies have shown that compared to people without chronic fatigue, CFS patients have higher pro-inflammatory cytokines – these are immune markers. They also found that the higher these immune markers were, the worse their symptoms would be.
Genetic differences have been found in people with CFS showing that their ability for energy metabolism was abnormal. We generally use energy from our glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids in our bodies – however, CFS patients aren’t able to get energy from these fuels the same way.
3 different brain imaging techniques were used to have a deeper look at the brains of people with CFS. They found that essentially, the brain just isn’t “as well-oiled” as it should be, and this can even shift from day-to-day. The connectivity, or communication ability of the brain to talk to different areas has been shown to be affected.
So what does all of this mean?
In Naturopathic Medicine, we approach the body by looking at the root cause, and removing obstacles that get in the way of healing.
Although we can use natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric, ultimately, we want to help the body work as best it can by giving it the tools it needs, and removing things that make it harder for it to do its job!
What does this look like?
Well, because one person with CFS may have more issues with inflammation, and another might have more issues with energy systems in their body, treatment should always be individual. But, there are a few things that really anyone can do that might help!
These three areas can each impact the three types of problems that tend to occur in the bodies of people with CFS, and the best part is, they’re easy to do and free! [Aside from the cost of food!]
For a more personalized approach see your or Naturopathic Doctor, or call to book an appointment with me at 705-735-2280.
Yours in Health,
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