Feeling tired from time to time is very normal for many people. Especially for those who are trying to balance a life full of work, family, home, school and social obligations. It can drain your energy if you don’t give yourself a break once in a while.
Now imagine not having enough energy to complete even the most basic tasks, such as getting out of bed, or taking a shower. Then imagine feeling like this for weeks or months on end. This is how it feels for those with chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating illness that affects up to 24 million people worldwide. Oftentimes this affliction seriously affects an individuals quality of life, and influences everything from career to personal relationships. Extreme exhaustion and physical pain can make it difficult to live a normal life, which can take a toll on mental and emotional health.
Unfortunately, extreme fatigue is not the only significant symptom in these individuals. Other physical ailments commonly associated with chronic fatigue syndrome are not only profound and long-lasting, but the symptoms and their severity may fluctuate daily and manifest differently from person to person. These symptoms are what make this disabling illness a syndrome which is defined as “a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition.”
Some common symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include:
- Extreme fatigue lasting over 4 months and doesn’t improve with rest
- Short term memory loss
- Brain fog and problems with concentration and focus
- Diffuse body ache and unexplained muscle and joint pain
- Disturbed sleep
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Frequent dizziness
- Inability to exercise/significant fatigue after exercise
- Regular infections
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Sore throat
- Anxiety and depression
As you can see, chronic fatigue syndrome is a multi-piece puzzle that affects all areas of the body’s physical and mental wellbeing. This is why Integrative Medicine is best suited l in the diagnosis and treatment of those with chronic fatigue syndrome.
To understand and successfully treat this syndrome we have to treat the basis of the fatigue – which is mitochondrial dysfunction. Our mitochondria are the powerhouse of our cells and are responsible for almost all of the body’s energy production. When the mitochondria are functioning abnormally, an energy crisis is created.
What causes mitochondrial dysfunction?
Mitochondrial dysfunction is triggered when the body’s energy needs exceed the body’s ability to produce energy. This scenario can be likened to an overloaded circuit breaker blowing a fuse. Your body is the same, and loss of functioning mitochondria can trip your body’s energy breaker. Finding and treating the source of this mitochondrial dysfunction is the number one objective in Integrative Medicine.
The underlying cause for mitochondrial dysfunction can be that the body is overwhelmed by toxic exposure and/or inflammation. This can be further exacerbated by other factors such as: hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, immune dysfunction, unresolved infections, and other physical or situational stressors.
- Immune Dysfunction and Infections – Chronic fatigue syndrome is frequently referred to as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome because the presence of infections is prevalent in the illness. Immune dysfunction and infection can stress mitochondria and trigger fatigue.Infection could be viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic; Any and all infection must be removed in order to reverse the syndrome.
- Nutritional Deficiencies – Most individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome are deficient in many essential vitamins and minerals. This is often due to malabsorption issues in the gut. Also, the body needs extra nutritional support when it’s fighting off illness. Proper nutritional supplementation through intravenous therapy can improve mitochondrial function more efficiently than oral supplementation and diet alone. Vitamin C, glutathione, NAD and ozone are commonly administered to restore cellular health, support mitochondria and expedite recovery.
- Hormonal Imbalance – Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate several core functions including our energy levels. When hormones are unbalanced or stressed mitochondria is also affected resulting in chronic fatigue. Standard laboratory testing often only looks to identify single hormonal deficiencies and “normal” hormone levels. Integrative medicine uses different testing methods such as saliva and blood tests to restore hormones to optimal function.
- Physical and Mental Stressors – Sleep disorder is very common in those with chronic fatigue disorder and contributes to stress and inflammation in the body. Energy production of mitochondria declines when our circadian clock in impaired. Natural therapies, meditation and some medications can help increase deep restorative sleep to help the body to heal. Also, although exercise is important for health, many people with chronic fatigue disorder may find that too much exercise will result in even more fatigue due to decreased mitochondria production. To avoid stressing the body further, gentle exercise such as walking, yoga, and tai chi is recommended and slowly increasing exercise time as physically able.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a multi-piece puzzle that affects all areas of the body’s physical and mental wellbeing. Integrative medicine uses a holistic approach to treat chronic conditions. Meaning that treatment focuses on all aspects of a person’s health and lifestyle, not just the treatment of individual symptoms.
If you or someone that you know has been suffering through chronic fatigue syndrome, treatment with integrative medicine therapies can help to find the underlying cause of your condition. OWM Integrative Wellness specializes in chronic illness, and treatment includes a personalized and in depth medical evaluation by Dr. Leonard Kaplan. Call us today to transform your health and optimize your holistic prevention strategies.