Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigure Syndrome
Chronic Fatigure Syndrome

Functional Medicine Treatment of
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Do you treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
I have quite a number of patients coming to see me for the treatment of CFS. This is a dreadful condition which is increasing worldwide. There is a great demand in the population for help with this very debilitating condition. Mainstream medicine concentrates on the diagnosis of CFS and on the management of symptoms and less on investigating the underlying causes and trying to address these.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
CFS is not a distinct illness, but a group of (sometimes diverse) symptoms with the main hall mark of disabling fatigue. There are several theories and controversial views regarding the cause of CFS. One theory holds that CFS is triggered by viral infections (e.g. Epstein Barr Virus, Glandular Fever) and in my experience there is a large group of patients who experienced the onset of their symptoms after a viral infection.

Dr. Sarah Myhill, one of the leading doctors worldwide for the treatment of CFS explains CFS as a condition of depleted energy availability caused by mitochondrial failure.

The mitochondria fail to provide enough ATP (the universal biochemical energy equivalent) for the cells to function properly. This lack of energy then affects all cells and organs of the body leading to a wide range of symptoms. In the brain it causes brain fog, memory problems, lack of concentration and cognitive impairment. In the muscles this leads to fatigue, weakness and pain. When heart cells are affected low cardiac output results in hypotension, light headedness and POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome).

Are there any tests which are useful for the diagnosis and treatment of CFS?
Other well known causes for fatigue have to be ruled out, e.g. iron deficiency anaemia, hypothyroidism, pernicious anaemia, chronic infections, even malignant diseases. Most patients who have been diagnosed with CFS and who have been referred to ME clinics will have had these tests done. Often these test come back as normal and patients are told that nothing else can be done to investigate the causes and treat their condition. In Functional Medicine we look at the whole body and the entire web of physiological functions.

Dr Myhill and Dr. John McLaren Howard have developed a set of biochemical tests, called the ATP Profile, which demonstrate that the energy provison by Mitochondria is impaired in most patients suffering from CFS. One of the most frustrating experiences for CFS sufferes is finding no explanation for their symptoms and to be told that all or most or their test results are normal.

The Mitochondrial Function Test and CFS Profile looks at mitochondrial ATP (the universal energy currency) production in white blood cells. I find this a very useful test, because it demonstrates that things go wrong on a biochemical level causing the fatigue which patients experience day in and day out. It also identifies some of the factors which contribute to this malfunction such as reduced magnesium availablility, oxidative stress, nutrient deficiencies, toxic blocking of mitochondrial membranes through chemicals and toxic metals, etc.

Dr. Myhill and Dr. John McLaren Howard have published their findings in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (Ref: Int J Clin Exp Med (2009) 2, 1-16.

I also use other tests to identify additional factors such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, etc.

How do you treat CFS?
Initially I will concentrate on three key areas: Mitochondrial function, the gut and digestion and detoxification. Mitochondrial Function is supported through a range of supplements designed to support their optimal function.

Most patients have chronic bowel problems such as Irritable Bowel (Link to IBS article), food allergies, bacterial dysbiosis, leaky gut which need to be treated through diet changes, supplements, correcting gut bacteria, treating infection, if the patient wants to improve.

A very important area is overload with toxic metals and chemicals. I recommend different strategies to help get rid of these chemicals and toxic metals: Simple but effective naturopathic technigues (juicing, enemas, sauna) alongside improved nutrition and diet, supplements and life style changes to avoid the toxins in the environment are part of the program.

Infusions with nutrients such as Vitamin C and minerals or phospholipids (so called PK protocol) can be very effective in supporting detoxification and rebuilding of cell membranes as well as addressing nutrient deficiences. Finally we need to at look at endocrine function of the adrenals and the thyroid gland.

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