Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a name for an illness has been around for over 30 years, and in that time we have learnt a great deal about it and about how to treat it. Dr Paul Cheney, a great man who died last year, was involved in one of the very first outbreaks of CFS or ME, in Incline Village, Nevada in 1984. He saw it simply as our defences being overwhelmed, by a range of factors.
These are some of the different triggers after which I have seen it develop:
- Viral infections: Glandular Fever, Influenza
- Bacterial: Pneumonia
- Fungal: Candida and other yeast infections
- Protozoal: Giardia, Entamoeba, Malaria
- Venom: Snake bite, spider bite
- Serious injury: Road accidents, etc
- Major surgery
- Toxins: Pesticides, Heavy metals
Many things can and do go wrong in CFS:
- Chronic infections
- Altered immune function
- Altered cerebral metabolism
- Altered endocrine function
- Altered liver detox
Three papers in 2009 to 2013, by Drs Howard, Myhill and Booth clearly showed that the mitochondria are at the heart of CFS; all the people with CFS/ME in their studies had “measurable mitochondrial dysfunction which correlates with the severity of the illness” (actually 70 out of 71 patients had it, and none of the 53 controls). Treatment with “Stone-age diet, good quality sleep, nutritional supplements and the right balance between work and rest” helped them all.
But because CFS can affect so many parts of us – the mind (brainfog, low mood), the nervous system (fatigue, weakness, headaches), the immune system (allergies, loss of resistance to infection), the hormones (adrenals, pituitary, thyroid), and last but not least the detoxification system in the liver, we may also have to address all of these in treatment.