Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a growing epidemic with 200,000 new cases being diagnosed every year! Over the last decade there have been various names for this insidious disease such as Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID) and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), but there is still very little the medical profession knows about it.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as the name indicates, is a worsening pattern of fatigue and extreme exhaustion that is compounded by unrefreshing sleep patterns. Individuals can sleep for hours and still wake up feeling tired. Once normal physical exertion can require extreme amounts of recovery time, and as the disease worsens, joint pain, memory loss, and diminished cognitive function are common. CFS often starts off with flu-like symptoms and the need for additional rest, but sufferers never fully recoup. Over time, the amount of sleep and recovery the body demands continues to grow and the periods of feeling alert and refreshed become almost nonexistent.
There are several theories that CFS is caused by a viral infection or psychological stress. Because there is no one single understood cause, it has been nearly impossible to establish a cure (not to mention any prevention measures). CFS affects seemingly healthy individuals who lead normal or active lifestyles. The mystery behind this disease has been compounded by the lack of any objective testing that can confirm a clear diagnosis. This has left these once healthy and active individuals confused, questioning, weary, and wondering if they are crazy.
In fact, it is estimated that there are likely millions of Americans who are afflicted by lower grade levels of CFS, but are masking its symptoms with caffeine, stimulants, sleeping pills, and anti-depression medications. The nature of the disease most often induces a steady decline that individuals don’t notice for months, sometimes years. Many “subclinical” sufferers of CFS write off their exhaustion as “too much stress,” “old age” (even though most are still under the age of 70), or just “life.” Because CFS has become so common, many are starting to consider being tired most of the time as “normal.”
THERE IS HOPE
As a physician, I could appreciate CFS and its effects, but it wasn’t until I got CFS that I really understood its impact (link to my story here)! In my journey, I learned more about CFS than I could have ever imagined. And in my recovery, I have been able to help others more than I could have ever dreamed!
There is hope. I and so many others have made full recoveries from CFS. Here are the key elements that are responsible for my healing and are a part of the program our Centers have used to help so many others!
Corrective Chiropractic Care
As I explain in my story of CFS, I was under chiropractic care when I started my downward spiral, but I wasn’t under Corrective Chiropractic Care. The difference is that I would get adjusted only when I was hurting and hadn’t gotten updated X-rays in years (it’s embarrassing but true). I was already very deep into my fatigue pattern when I finally recognized what was happening and sought out corrective care. Through the help of some amazing chiropractors, my downward spiral came to a halt, and I recovered some, but I was far from restored.
In my experience with others, many make great leaps in their energy levels with the right chiropractic care alone, but most require the same additional steps that I did.
We heal while we sleep, and the impact of unrefreshing sleep is a major component of the condition. While some people with CFS have successfully utilized the services of various sleep clinics, our approach is to start with the least invasive and simplest methods and advance towards more intense options if still needed.
There are many components to great sleep, but we tend to see results focusing in on three: light, sound, and oxygen. Eliminate light pollution by sleeping with an eye mask or installing black out curtains and by removing electronic devices that emit constant light. Drown out sleep disturbing sounds with ear plugs or sound machines. Lastly, improve the air quality and oxygen in the room with air purifying plants or an air purifier (for those of you lacking a green thumb). As stated earlier, there are a lot more factors that contribute to great sleep that individual programs address.
A sleep monitoring watch, bracelet, or app is a beneficial tool to help objectively discern progress. Getting real-time feedback shortens the learning curve and provides information about whether or not efforts for better sleep are working.
Whole Food Nutrition
Combined with the right chiropractic care, the nutritional component was the key element to my full recovery, and I have found good nutrition to be critical for most CFS cases. Every nutritional profile is different, and a program must meet the needs of the individual. In my particular case, I had been depleted by years of bad dieting after having two children. I also had some long-standing gut absorption issues.
I have seen countless cases of adrenal burn-out that require system restoration, but all too often the standard western diet has just taken its toll.
By focusing on whole food nutrition and supplementation (for those areas that are just too depleted for whole food alone), we have seen amazing gains in energy and better sleep as the fatigue patterns completely reverse!
The last but very critical component to a full recovery is patience. It probably took years of decline to get to a state of fatigue, and it will take time to turn it around. Because I didn’t have a program or plan, my healing took months of trial and error, and only recently have I found new levels of energy through proper metabolism management! Utilizing a program that has proven effective will certainly improve recovery time, but wallowing in discouragement and doubt during the healing process is unproductive and detrimental. There is no magic pill or zero-effort treatment that has been able to offer CFS sufferers full life restoration, but those who stick to the plan often experience greater levels of health and energy than they thought possible.
-Dr. Jae Hitson