Symptoms, Causes, and Prevalence of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The root cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has not yet been fully determined. Speculation includes Epstein-Barr virus, Lyme disease, mold and mycotoxins, Candidiasis, heavy metal toxicity, and more. Whatever the cause, it is apparent the immune system is involved and thus the more accurate term, Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CIFDS).
CFIDS is marked by severe fatigue and must be accompanied by four of eight possible symptoms that have existed for a minimum of six months. The symptoms include: short-term memory problems, sore throat, tender/swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain, multi-joint pain, headaches, sleep difficulties, and post exertion lethargy lasting 24 hours or more. It is important that other causes of fatigue be ruled out. These can include include: anemia, kidney disease, heart problems, liver problems, and Lyme disease.
The number of people diagnosed with CFIDS is estimated at nearly 1,000,000 people in the U.S. This number does not include numerous others who go undiagnosed and therefore do not get treatment. Women are three four times more likely to develop this condition than men. For women the likelihood of developing this condition is equal to the chance of getting Multiple Sclerosis or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE/Lupus) and four times greater than contracting HIV.
Four Underlying Conditions
There appear to be four common underlying physical changes that occur in most people with CFIDS. The first is a drop in the function of the immune system. This is typically related to a stressor: a mental or emotional event, a physical trauma or infection, or a chemical exposure. Chronic mental and emotional stress from job demands, relational conflicts, financial pressures and lack of sleep will lead to a suppression of the immune system. This typically marks the onset of the noticeable symptoms. Long before the trigger occurs, however, the body has lost its capacity to respond appropriately to stress.
The second physiologic change that is a factor, is in overwhelmed stress response. Accumulated chronic stress depletes the brain of necessary neurotransmitters and a disorganized stress response follows. This is often identified with abnormal cortisol and DHEA levels on a salivary hormone test. Symptoms of an overwhelmed and disorganized stress response include: hypoglycemia, chronic fatigue, osteoporosis, muscle wasting, weakened cartilage, depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic inflammation, pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, heavy metal toxicity, hypothyroidism, insulin resistance etc. All of these compounded together can lower the immune system and cause extreme fatigue.
The third underlying change occurs in the digestive system. The integrity of the intestinal lining allows food to pass into the body while blocking toxins from getting into the bloodstream. Stress, and prolonged elevated cortisol, causes this lining to break down, allowing toxins to pass through this lining, known as “leaky gut”. Oftentimes food sensitivities can occur at this stage also leading to an increased level of inflammation.
The fourth change is seen in the liver as it is overwhelmed with the increasing toxins that are flooding into the bloodstream. The mitochondria (the primary energy producers of the cell) are highly sensitive to toxins, and their function dramatically drops as the body becomes more toxic. This is otherwise known as mitochondrial dysfunction.
Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The most effective approach to treating CFIDS is multifaceted. It requires the support of the immune, hormone, digestive, and detoxification systems through diet, lifestyle and nutritional supplementation. At Cornerstone, we start with a series of functional tests to eliminate and treat all possible causes of inflammation and fatigue. A simple saliva test can assess the strength of a patient’s stress response and their ability to cope with significant levels of stress. It is possible to assess the mucosal immune system and the protective GI barrier with a fecal collection. A urine test will show the function of the liver and or mycotoxins in the system which are contributing to overall stress and inflammation. Diet, sleep, and mental and emotional stress are also addressed to help reduce the body’s overall stress load. Nutritional supplementation, and even intravenous nutritional therapy, can be implemented when indicated by testing, to improve symptoms until the body is able to restore proper functioning.
Supplements Utilized in the Healing Process
L-Theanine: reduces cortisol and supports the body’s overactive stress response; improves sleep
Pregnenolone/DHEA: supports communication between the brain and the adrenal glands; promote healthy hormonal balance and mood regulation
Mineral supplement (calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, potassium): supports quality sleep and tissue repair
Phosphatidylserine: lowers cortisol at bedtime and through the night which can prevent waking up
Turmeric Root Extract: reduces inflammation
Alpha Lipoic Acid: supports the liver for detoxification and increases levels of glutathione
CO-Q10: improves immune function; supports cellular energy production
C-Flav: improves immune function and aids in tissue repair
L-glutamine: reduces inflammation and speeds the healing of the gut lining
Immunoglobulin G (IgG): augments low mucosal immunity
N-Acetyl Cysteine: increases glutathione levels and breaks down biofilms needed for detoxification
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: reduces inflammation; increases neurological function; improves mood
Magnesium: has over 300 uses in the human body; improves bowel movements; regulates heart rate; decreases muscle cramps; improves sleep; decreases anxiety; aids in detoxification
Once each area of the underlying issues have been properly addressed you can expect significant improvement in symptoms as efforts geared toward detoxification frequently result in greater energy levels. Many people see eventual resolution of the condition. If you are interested an attending a new patient orientation or would like more information please call our office at 720-452-7420. We look forward to hearing from you!
~ Dr. Christopher Mote DO, DC