For those who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), you know how debilitating this condition can be. Making you feel as though the world is wrapped around your ankles, it becomes tougher and tougher not to drag your feet day-in and day-out.
For years, many medical professionals did not believe that this condition was real and sadly, many patients were accused of faking their symptoms. This was captured in the heart-wrenching documentary, M.E. and Me.
After battling the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome for six years, a 21-year-old girl, who is featured in this film, died from her disease. What’s worse is that doctors told her it was “all in her head.” And for those living with chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.), it can feel like “living death.”
This example is more severe than most. However, just because someone is not living with terminal chronic fatigue syndrome, does not mean that they’re not suffering.
What is happening to me?
This is a question that many patients ask themselves — and unfortunately, there is not a black and white answer. Since the late ‘80s, this condition has puzzled health care professionals — there is simply no conclusive way to test for it.
Patients have experienced backlash, even though they would end up bed-bound to the point that even a ten-minute walk could cause them to crash for days — even weeks. Some describe it as the worst flu you’ve ever had combined with the worst hangover possible.
Believed to affect between 836,000 and 2.5 million people in the United States, if you are living with this condition know that you’re not alone — even though you may feel like it. Although the cause is still being debated, some experts think this condition is triggered by an infection which then develops due to malicious antibodies.
Other theories include inflammation in the brain, as well as a possible lining of bacteria and undigested proteins in the lining of the gut. With the help of patient advocates, research centers and even crowdfunding campaigns, grants and funds have continuously poured in so that researchers can find the answer that CFS patients deserve.
What we do know, and how these four remedies may help
Although the exact cause of CFS is still unknown, making it challenging to treat, researchers believe that a low immune response, viral infections, system-wide inflammation, nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances may play a role.
That is why today, most treatment options focus on one’s symptoms, rather than the underlying cause of CFS.
1. Focus on potential food sensitivities and intolerances
Throughout the research, there appears to be a link between those who suffer from CFS and the development of food intolerances. However, allergies to pollen, metals and environmental chemicals may also play a role. Based on this possible connection, researchers have also studied digestive issues in patients with IBS and fibromyalgia.
Since this variable appears to be a common denominator in all of these conditions, it is important to consider possible common intolerances. These include a gluten sensitivity, a candida imbalance (which can be targeted via probiotics) and a casein allergy (the protein found in dairy).
2. Increase your intake of B-vitamins
Vitamin B6 is often recommended to those suffering from fatigue. In addition, some researchers believe that certain viruses may play a role in the development and progression of CFS. This is why vitamin B6 may act as an effective treatment option. Not only does this vitamin support T-cells, it also helps fight off infections.
Considering approximately 40 percent of Americans also suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency, this is another important vitamin to address. When deficient, many critical functions are impaired, including energy production, detoxification, immune function and nerve function.
3. Explore quality supplementation
One study, published in Medical Science Monitor, found that after treating CFS patients with a multivitamin for a total of two months, symptoms improved. This supplement provided a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, iron, potassium, magnesium and many others.
Overall, the researchers concluded that supplements are a safe and easy way to improve symptoms while enhancing a patient’s quality of life.
4. Welcome qigong when able
Many stand behind the importance of qi in your body — a concept that stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine. When there is a disharmony in terms of your body’s qi (think of this as your body’s natural energy flow), you can experience a wide range of symptoms.
Acting as an intervention method, qigong is often recommended to prevent and cure disease. One study found that when practicing a qigong routine over the course of six months, symptoms of CFS improved. These included mental attitude, sleep, pain and general mobility.
If you are currently living with CFS, take this time to heal — do not overdo it. It is said that 90 percent of sufferers are high achievers, so make rest and relaxation your new priority.
Also, it is important that you seek support — especially in terms of your emotional well-being. You are not alone and by speaking to those in the CFS community, you will gain access to a wide range of resources.
Welcome those who want to help — after all, we’re all human. A little love and care will go a long way.
— Krista Hillis