A variety of studies by CDC (Center for Disease Control) and others have shown that between one and four million Americans suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Of this number it is estimated that nearly one-quarter of the people who suffer CFS are unemployed or on disability as result of this condition. This illness is very debilitating, and it strikes more people in the US than multiple sclerosis, lupus, lung cancer or ovarian cancer.
CHRONIC FATIGUE SYMPTOMS
A Chronic Fatigue diagnosis should be considered in patients who present unexplained fatigue accompanied by other characteristic symptoms, for a period of six months or more. The primary chronic fatigue symptoms that should be considered with a diagnosis of CFS include these eight “defining” symptoms:
- Cognitive dysfunction, including impaired memory or concentration
- Postexertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours (exhaustion and increased symptoms) following physical or mental exercise
- Non-restorative sleep
- Joint pain (without redness or swelling)
- Persistent muscle pain
- Headaches of a new type or severity
- Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
- Sore throat
Beyond these primary chronic fatigue symptoms, patients may display a range of additional symptoms. These additional symptoms are not as frequent as the previously mentioned symptoms, but many of them will inconsistently appear:
- Irritable bowel, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea or bloating
- Chills and night sweats
- Brain fog
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Visual disturbances (blurring, sensitivity to light, eye pain or dry eyes)
- Allergies or sensitivities to foods, alcohol, odors, chemicals, medications or noise
- Difficulty maintaining a sitting or standing position (orthostatic instability, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, balance problems or fainting)
- Psychological problems (depression, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)
- Jaw pain
- Weight loss or gain
WHO IS MOST AT RISK FOR CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME?
Of the one to four million Americans who are believed to have CFS, there are some key similarities that have been noted by physicians. What one will notice in this analysis is that no segment of the population is exempted from contracting this condition. Despite the fact that no one seems to be excluded from contracting this condition, some segments seem to display a greater risk of contracting CFS.
- Women are four times more likely to contract this condition than men.
- People in their 40s and 50s are more likely to contract CFS, but people of all ages can get it.
- Less common in children than in adults, but more prevalent in adolescents than in younger children.
- Occurs in all ethnic and racial groups, and in countries around the world. Seems to equally affect all ethnicities and races.
- People of all income levels can develop CFS.
- There is no evidence that it is contagious. But, there may be a familial or genetic link, since it occasionally affects members of the same family.
CHRONIC FATIGUE CAUSES
Despite vigorous research, the medical science community has yet to uncover any single reason or set of reasons to explain this condition, according to the CDC.
While a specific cause remains elusive, it has been suggested that the conditions that may trigger the development of CFS include virus infection or other transient traumatic conditions, stress, weak immunology, hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis (central nervous system), neurally mediated hypotension (autonomic regulation of blood pressure and pulse), toxins, hormone imbalances or nutritional deficiencies.
Adrenal Fatigue and auto immune issues such as food allergies have been linked to cronic fatigue.
CHRONIC FATIGUE TREATMENT
With most medical conditions, a trip to your healthcare practitioner could put you on the road to recovery. But with Chronic Fatigue, treatment is variable and uncertain, and physicians are forced to try to manage the condition rather than to cure it. Unfortunately, although the Centers for Disease Control officially recognized this condition in 1988, there are still no real guidelines or standards given to physicians as a method to manage this condition.
From the standpoint of a physician trying to medicate a CFS management plan; there is a cocktail of drug types that are often prescribed to patients, in order to medicate the variety of symptoms associated with CFS. In that cocktail of medications, you will often find antidepressants, autonomic nervous system stimulants, hormones, immunoglobulin treatments, immune modulation treatments, titrated drugs (hormones and supplements), and NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) treatments. NADH is a naturally occurring molecule formed from vitamin B3 (niacin).
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR FATIGUE AND LOW ENERGY
Given the shotgun approach that many traditional doctor’s use in an attempt to treat Fatigue, many people feel that the complementary and alternative medical treatments offer just as much hope to relieve this condition, and rightly so. More people find relief for CFS through regular exercise (don’t over exert yourself), eating a healthy diet, and the use of very specific nutritional supplements.
Energy supplements that have found the greatest success in the treatment of chronic fatigue are as follows:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
- Essential Fatty Acids
- Digestive enzymes
- Vitamin C
- Whey Protein
- Folic Acid
Without getting into the significance of all of these energy supplements, we will highlight just a few of them here.
Ginseng seems to be a perfect match for treating low energy and Fatigue, in that it is an herb that has been used in Asia for centuries to increase energy and combat fatigue. According to a University of Iowastudy, 56% of all patients rated Ginseng as very effective as a treatment.
Carnitine is found naturally in the body, and it is responsible for transporting long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria, the energy-producing centers of cells, allowing these fatty acids to be converted into energy. One clinical study examined the use of L-carnitine, and it showed that there was statistically significant improvement in 12 of the 18 measured parameters. Supplemental L-carnitine is generally well tolerated; however high doses of L-carnitine may cause digestive upset, diarrhea, increased appetite, body odor, and rash.
Coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10), an antioxidant, is a compound that is also found naturally in the mitochondria, the energy-producing center of our cells. It is involved in the production of ATP, which is the main energy source of body cells. A survey of 155 people with persistent fatigue found that 69% found this treatment helpful in managing fatigue.
DHEA is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, ovaries and testes. It can be converted in the body to other steroid hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. It is also an essential element involved in memory, mood, and sleep management. It occurs naturally in the body, but levels of DHEA decrease with age. However, it must be noted that DHEA is not recommended, unless laboratory tests verify that there is a deficiency of DHEA in the body.
NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a naturally occurring chemical involved in energy production in the body (5 – 20 mg per day).
While medical science struggles with how to appropriately treat fatigue, if you take the time and effort to educate yourself about the alternative and complementary medical knowledge, you may be able to do better than your own doctor. Just as many other people have done, you may be able to find that you can treat this condition with good nutrition and selected nutritional supplements.
Check out some of our energy supplements below: