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What Are the Real Causes for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?


by Nancy Russell, M.D.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex and difficult health issue to get to the root of the problem and treat. CFS is a very real illness. There are usually several initiating factors, contributing factors and underlying issues. The most common symptoms of CFS include: exhaustion after even mild activity, insomnia, achiness, forgetfulness, brain fog, recurrent infections, increased thirst, bowel disorders, weight gain and low libido. CFS can be overcome, in most cases with a complete evaluation and treatment. 


     A typical presentation is something like this. “I wake up tired after I’m in bed all night, I wake up tired after a nap. I took a 10 day vacation and came home tired. I’m tired all the time, really tired. Any increase in activity makes me worse when exercise used to make me better. I can’t think straight and I feel like I’m losing my mind.”


     A theory about CFS is that it stems from the “blown fuse” of an overloaded hypothalamus in the brain. The body goes into “slow” mode until the energy crisis is properly treated. As Jacob Teitelbaum states in his book, “Real Cause, Real Cure” he calls his treatment for CFS the SHINE protocol, an acronym for: Sleep restoration, Hormonal support, Infection treatment, Nutrition and Exercise (as able).


     Poor sleep is a primary symptom of CFS and treating the insomnia is critical in healing this condition. If you snore and have daytime sleepiness, not just tiredness, ask for an overnight sleep study to be obtained. Sleep apnea must be adequately treated to obtain optimal, restorative sleep. If sleep apnea is ruled out, then your sleep center is not working and several sleep aids may be needed. During the first six months of treating CFS, you may need a combination of low doses of herbal, homeopathic, amino acids and prescription medications to achieve the needed 8 hours of sleep per night. These sleep aids include: valerian, passion flower, hops, theanine, gaba support and possibly zolpidem, trazodone, gabapentin, clonazepam, and pregablalin. Over the counter medications such as doxylamine or diphenhydramine can also be effective. You can probably stop taking sleep medications after 6 to 18 months of treatment of feeling well. But you may need a natural sleep aid more long term, particularly under periods of stress, to make sure you don’t relapse. 


     Hormonal balancing is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain, so when your hypothalamus isn’t up to par, all kinds of hormone imbalances can occur. Evaluation of thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones need to be assessed. Even if your hormones are in the normal range, the levels may need to be augmented into the upper ranges of normal  to feel optimal. This includes T-4 and T-3 thyroid hormones, cortisol and DHEA adrenal hormones, and sex hormones such as estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. 


      Most people with CFS have weakened immune systems, resulting in multiple chronic infections. These can be viral infections, such as Epstein Barr virus, parasite, bacterial, or candida infections in the intestines, as well as Lyme disease. Candida is the most common infection and is treated with an anti-candida diet, probiotics and herbal and/or prescription anti fungal medications. 


     CFS patients need optimal daily nutrition which can be achieved by Dr Teitelbaum’s Energy Revitalization Formula, a multinutrient powder of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids. D-ribose is a healthful sugar compound that plays a role in the manufacture of RNA and DNA, and is a key building block of cellular energy. The main energy molecules in your body, ATP, NADH, and FADH are made of ribose, plus B vitamins and phosphate. Ribose is taken in powder form at 5 grams 3 times a day for 3 weeks then 2 times a day. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks to see a boost in energy. 


     Get started today to regain your health back from CFS. Find ways to sleep, eat healthy, balance hormones, find and treat hidden infections and add nutritional support. Seek the aid of Functional Medicine Practitioner or Integrative physician to diagnose and treat your condition. 

Kansas City

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Nancy Russell, M.D. has been a holistic Internal Medicine physician in the Kansas City northland for over 30 years at 5140 N. Antioch Road in Kansas City, MO.


Her phone number is 816-453-5545 and website is where you can get more information. Dr. Russell is board certified in holistic medicine and is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association and a prior board member.

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