Are you constantly experiencing high levels of exhaustion for the past 6 months? Do you have troubles pinpointing the cause of this high level of fatigue? Does this unusual tiredness have no apparent underlying medical condition? Then you might have the chronic condition called myalgic encephalomyelitis or most commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It is difficult to diagnose because laboratory tests usually don’t help. Still, some medical experts believe that there may be some correlation between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and system wide inflammation of the body or adrenal fatigue.
Since laboratory tests cannot help in the diagnosis, what most physicians would do is to explore other possible diseases and conditions first and through the process of elimination arrive at Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Diagnosis is important so that it can be treated; for if medical attention is not given it could lead to memory impairment, difficulty in concentrating and loss of stamina.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can have serious effects on a person’s emotional state which could lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety and anger. If this condition is not diagnosed properly and treated, these feelings could negatively affect the person’s relationship with their friends and family.
According to the Center of Disease Control, approximately 800,000 to 2.5 million Americans are afflicted with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the numbers could be more for about 90 percent of those who have this condition are not diagnosed. Apparently, the disease is more common in women than in men.
Signs and Symptoms
The name of the condition itself describes its most obvious symptom, ‘chronic fatigue’. However, there is more to this disease than just feeling tired all the time. Usually, this illness begins with flu-like symptoms; this symptom appears unexpectedly and lingers for a long time.
Aside from the flu-like symptoms and the unexplained fatigue, there are several symptoms, some serious, that comes with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome like gastrointestinal tract problems, excessive sweating during the night, chills, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, myalgia, and arthralgia.
As mentioned previously, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can affect a person’s emotional stability. The affected individual might be more susceptible to mood swings, panic attacks, irritability, anxiety, and even depression. According to a study entitled “Factors Associated With Depression Among Individuals With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome...”, individuals with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome were more likely to develop depression; about 36 percent of them had it and about 22 percent had suicidal tendencies.
Research made it evident that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can have negative impacts on a person’s emotional and mental well being, as such treatment must include mental, physical and spiritual healing.
The cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is still unknown and there are a lot of lapses in our knowledge regarding this condition. Fortunately, there are ongoing studies regarding the etiology of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The most promising finding so far is that poor nutrition, a weak immune system, hormonal imbalances, chronic hypotension, and even viral infections are factors that could contribute to the development of the disease. Other studies have found some correlation between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Celiac disease including food sensitivities or food allergies. According to research, viruses such as the human herpesvirus 6, Human T-cell leukemia virus, Epstein-Barr, Measles, Coxsackie B, Parvovirus, and Cytomegalovirus are believed to cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The prevailing theory among researchers is that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may be caused by a combination of the factors mentioned and its etiology can vary greatly from person to person.
3 Simple things you should do to treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The usual treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome relies heavily on drug treatments which often involves antidepressants and sleeping pills. However, this indiscriminate usage of drug medications for a condition it was never intended for might do more harm than good.
Since drug medications specific for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are still unavailable, healthy practices such as a well balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, intake of appropriate food supplements, avoidance of allergens present in food, sufficient exercise, and proper stress management are currently the best option.
According to a systematic review about the alternative and complementary treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a combination of pharmacological and natural remedies are currently the most effective way to treat the condition. Alternative treatments could include various meditative practice and acupuncture which could work well when paired with magnesium, l-carnitine, and S-adenosylmethionine intake.
Number 1: Sufficient Sleep, Rest and Relaxation
Chronic Stress Fatigue may not only present itself with physical symptoms, it could also manifest itself with emotional problems. Additionally, the physical symptoms of the condition like fatigue, brain fog, myalgia, and arthralgia could exacerbate mental problems like stress, guilt and anxiety. Although it is very challenging, those who have Chronic Stress Fatigue should try to manage their stress and the condition’s impact on their emotions.
Sufficient Quality Sleep
Sleep deprivation happens to those who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome because this condition can cause difficulties in initiating sleep and remaining asleep, restless legs syndrome, nocturnal muscle spasms, and vivid dreams or nightmares. To counter these, those who have this condition should practice a consistent bedtime routine which should include a pre-bedtime body and emotional rest.
Individuals with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome must turn off or put away their devices and gadgets around 90 minutes before shut-eye to ensure quality sleep. In fact, everyone should do this as research has shown that using gadgets an hour before going to bed can result in poor sleep; this holds true to those who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and to those who don’t.
The bedroom should be conducive for rest, relaxation and sleep; the temperature should just be right, and lighting shouldn’t be too dark or too bright. Making the bedroom favorable for sleeping gives you a good chance of getting a restful night.
Essential oils like jasmine, ylang ylang, eucalyptus, lavender, valerian, Roman Chamomile, marjoram, bergamot, and clary sage are some of the best relaxation inducing oils. Aside from this, they can help you fall asleep at times when you feel like you could not. You can put a few drops of essential oils on your temples or you can use an essential oil diffuser so that you can sleep while being caressed by fantastic scents.
Stimulants can come in various forms like caffeine, tobacco, and even alcohol, and exercise. Thus, to ensure that you get quality sleep follow these simple rules; limit your tobacco and caffeine intake and avoid taking them after lunch, drink in moderation, and do not exercise closer than 4 hours to your bedtime.
Your ‘Off’ Switch
You should ‘switch-off’ at least once per week. When you ‘switch-off’ it means more than just sleep; you must get some quality rest. In other words, you must have a day in a week where you are completely devoid of any worries. This is an effective stress management strategy which gives your body some time to recover. Aside from this, whenever you feel like you are stressed out on a particular day of the week, try to look for ways to get some short rests and try not to put too much strain on yourself. This goes to your exercise routine as well, if you find your exercise too heavy then you must lower its intensity as this level of physical stress can exacerbate your condition and leave you fatigued for the rest of the week. This does not mean that you stop doing exercises altogether; regular physical activity is still an important part of your recovery.
At the end of your day when you’re in the comfort of your home, practice a relaxation routine to ease you into a deeper state of relaxation. Yoga, breathing exercises, meditation and massage therapy are just a few things that you could do to de-stress after a long day. You could use balms and scented oils to make relaxation easier. A relaxing aromatic bath with epsom salts works wonders for an achy and worn out body.
Our day to day activities would usually cause our muscles to tense up. To counter this, progressive muscle relaxation is the way to go. It is a simple and straightforward relaxation technique. Basically, the goal is to tense up and relax each major muscle group of the body. To ensure that you don’t miss a muscle group, work your way systematically from head to toe or the opposite way whichever is easier for you. To contract and relax the muscles effectively, visualize them in your mind and incorporate breathing techniques. Methodically, contract and relax each muscle group until you feel like all of them are in a relaxed state. This relaxation technique promotes full-body-muscle relaxation which prevents muscle cramps and restless legs and ultimately promotes better sleep.
Healing Through Exercise
It may seem counterintuitive for a person with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to exercise despite their weakened condition but research has shown that regular light exercise helps alleviate symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, and depression. In an Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines entitled “How to Exercise People With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”, researchers found out that it was beneficial for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to perform home exercises everyday for 5 to 15 minutes per session at the start and gradually increase to 30 minutes per session.
You Need a Vacation
Life is almost impossible without a routine. However, people need to get away from time to time to take a break and keep burn-out at bay. Take a vacation with friends, and family, go somewhere beautiful and relaxing that could help you take your mind off of your worries and responsibilities. If you find it more beneficial to be alone, then go on a vacation by yourself.
Set a time in a given year that you should label as ‘vacation time’. It doesn’t matter what kind of a vacation you would take, as long as you get to forget about your daily task. You could travel to experience something new, see things in a different perspective, and give our minds a much needed break from the monotony of our routines or do a staycation somewhere really nice and relaxing. Vacations give us a sense of pleasure that no other activity can provide. Thus, it is an important activity for maintaining emotional and mental health.
A relaxing getaway could include staying in a cabin in the woods, a beach or lake cottage, a guest ranch, or a yoga retreat. These are just a few recommendations and there are more out there that might be more well suited for your taste.
A person with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome would inevitably strain their relationships with their friends and family. It is important that you know that it is neither your fault or their fault. No one is to blame. You are simply suffering from symptoms of fatigue, pain and emotional instability.
After going through a diet change, taking in vitamin and mineral supplements, and exercising regularly, your symptoms would begin to be less of a burden. Once you have somewhat recovered and you feel like you are more-or-less emotionally stable, reach out to friends and family and spend quality time with them. Psychological health affects physical health and research has proven that the most effective way in maintaining psychological health is through social support from friends and families.
Number 2: Avoiding Food Allergens
Research has proven a correlation between poor digestion and food sensitivities to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In a research paper entitled “Functional bowel symptoms, fibromyalgia and fatigue: A food-induced triad?”, researchers discovered that an overwhelming majority of their patients who have digestive problems had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as well which led them to conclude that they could be connected. Moreover, food allergies, and allergies to pollen, metal, and other chemicals may have contributed to the increase in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Common Food Intolerances
The most common food sensitivities to day includes lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity. According to some studies, both food intolerances may contribute to the development of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Common allergies like dairy, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, yeast and shellfish have been linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as well.
Avoiding foods and allergens that you are allergic to are known to relieve symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Thus, getting an immunoglobulin G test to determine specific allergies is highly recommended for a person with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so that they can avoid all of the things that can cause an allergic reaction.
Another important laboratory test aside from the Immunoglobulin G is the Candida albicans test. In a research paper entitled, “The Effect of Nutritional Therapy for Yeast Infection (Candidiasis) in Cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”, results showed alleviation from symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after an anti-Candida diet.
Probiotic foods are effective anti-Candida foods, so an anti-Candida diet should include foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir. Green vegetables, unsweetened cranberry juice, flax, and chia seeds are not fermented foods but they are great for combating Candida as well. Foods such as sugar, alcohol, grains, and even fruits should be avoided as they provide nutrients for Candida.
Untreated Candida infection can lead to harmful inflammatory immune responses which can create holes in the intestines and could lead to a leaky gut.
When histamine is involved, harmful bodily reactions like nasal congestion, hives, wheezing, swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, face or throat, and anaphylaxis can occur. This is the case with Casein allergy. Casein is a protein that could cause the release of histamine in a person who is allergic to it. Casein allergy could be fatal so those who are allergic should avoid products that contain casein. This protein is commonly present in high-protein dairy products like ice cream, cheese, milk and yogurt. Interestingly, ghee or clarified butter does not trigger any allergic reaction.
Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria that attacks the lining of the stomach and can cause ulcers. Almost 66% of the world’s population is infected with Helicobacter pylori. Studies have shown that after successful treatments from Helicobacter pylori patients would also experience improvements in their physical and psychological well-being which could include alleviation of their Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Number 3: Sufficient Vitamins and Minerals Intake
Studies have shown that a deficiency in Vitamins and Minerals is one contributing factor to the development of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The most important vitamins and minerals for combating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome includes Vitamin B, potassium and magnesium as these have been linked to the improvement symptoms.
Pyridoxine, most commonly known as vitamin B6, is a vitamin that is known to provide relief from fatigue and can aid in maintaining a healthy immune system. This feature of the vitamin B6 makes it the perfect vitamin to combat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for it can resolve health issues that have been attributed to the condition like viral infections and lack of energy.
Most experts believe that vitamin B6, riboflavin, and thiamine are some of the most important vitamins and they are found in abundance in foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, garlic, hazelnuts, cooked spinach, tuna, salmon, grass-fed beef, and turkey.
Compounds that contain one carbon connected to three hydrogen atoms are called methyl compounds and its Methylation Process is required in some important bodily processes like immune function, energy production, mood, inflammation, nerve function, and DNA processes.
The Methylation Process aids in the neutralization of toxins, the production of hormones, and in the manufacturing of neurotransmitters. Since this process is important in other bodily processes, an inefficiency in this process leads to chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, allergies, digestive upset, mood and psychiatric disorders, cancers, and even Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
The process of Methylation is heavily dependent upon the availability of Vitamin B6, folate, and Vitamin B12. Deficiency in any of these vitamins, especially vitamin B12, would immediately affect the process negatively which could lead to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Vitamin B12 deficiency presents with symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, emotional instability, memory loss, and muscle tension which are symptoms that are very similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. As many as 40 percent americans have vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin especially for the methylation process. Aside from this it can help create emotional stability, improve energy levels, and increase mental functioning. Vitamin B12 can also reduce fatigue, help maintain neurological health, and reduce your likelihood of developing depression and cancers.
Following a strict vegetable-only-diet would put you at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency for its absorbable forms are only available in animal-based foods like tuna, lamb, eggs, wild salmon, beef liver, sardines, raw cheese, cottage cheese, and milk. If possible you have to consume vitamin B complex rich foods; otherwise, you have the option to take food supplements that are rich in vitamin B. If you have sufficient vitamin B complex intake then you are sure to maintain good hormonal production, metabolic functioning, and vitality.
One study published in The Lancet, a UK medical journal, revealed that patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome usually had low magnesium levels and low red blood cell count. In the study, the patients were given magnesium supplements which lead to improvements in their energy levels, emotional stability, and pain. Furthermore, the magnesium supplements were continually supplied to the patients for six weeks which increased their magnesium and red cell counts back to normal.
Since magnesium seems to alleviate symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, it is important that those who have the condition must consume foods that contain a lot of magnesium. There are a lot of foods that contain a lot of magnesium, some common ones include bananas, dark chocolate, figs, avocados, black beans, almonds, kefir, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, chard, and spinach. By eating these foods, patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can improve their magnesium levels which could lead to a healthier nervous system, better blood sugar levels, improved blood pressure regulation, and more.
As many as 80 percent of the US' population are experiencing magnesium deficiency thus it is imperative that people get enough of this mineral even if they don’t have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Potassium is a mineral that is essential for the body’s electrolyte balance. Mushrooms, dried apricots, acorn squash, bananas, white beans, kefir, yogurt, coconut water, sweet potatoes, spinach, and avocados are some of the natural sources of Potassium. When you are deficient of potassium, you will experience symptoms attributed to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome like fatigue, irritability, and muscle cramps. Sufficient consumption of the aforementioned natural food sources of potassium is usually enough to relieve symptoms of potassium deficiency.