by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D.
Like most physicians treating patients suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Fibromyalgia (FM), I used to be frustrated in my attempts to manage their challenging symptoms. Unlike most of my fellow physicians, however, I have experienced first-hand the overwhelming fatigue, constant pain, numerous infections, sleeplessness, and devastating impact these symptoms have on everyday life. That's because in 1975, as a medical student, I personally contracted CFS/FM, becoming so sick I had to leave school.
While I was able to return to my studies, graduate from medical school, and establish my practice, I was told repeatedly by distinguished professors and physicians that nothing could be done for my symptoms. I knew in my heart this was untrue. Determined to learn all I could, I found a wealth of research on CFS/FM never presented in medical school. I discovered that while CFS/FM is certainly complex, it was indeed treatable.
Applying this research, I began to treat CFS/FM patients with nutritional and herbal therapies, hormonal support, anti-infectious medications, and physical and sleep therapies, and these once "untreatable" patients started to get well.
In 1995, the results of a ground-breaking study (focusing on the more than 2,000 patients treated in our clinic using the herbal and nutrition protocols) showed a 91 percent improvement in the CFS/FM symptoms. Our recently published second placebo controlled study has further proven that CFS/FM can improve dramatically with proper treatment.
Unfortunately, some who have CFS/FM are given an inconclusive diagnosis by their personal physicians or told their symptoms don't meet the diagnostic criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control. In my experience, if a person has the paradox of severe fatigue, yet is still unable to sleep, they probably have CFS. And if a person has body-wide aches and insomnia, they probably have FM. If they have all three symptoms, CFS/FM is simply a more appropriate diagnosis.
Besides these three shared symptoms, others include stress-related crashes, frequent infections (e.g., sinusitis, yeast, prostatitis), brain fog, weight gain, food and medication allergies, and decreased libido. Gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, diarrhea, frequent abdominal pain, abdominal gas, and nausea can occur. Recurrent migraine or tension-type headaches, as well as sensitivities to odors, noise, bright lights, medications, and various foods, are also common.
CFS/FM is the result of your body's inability to generate enough energy to keep you going. The profound fatigue that results from this lack of energy is incomparable to the tiredness healthy people feel at the end of the day. Simply getting out of bed and showering can be a tremendous energy drain. In severe cases, people may be left bedridden and disabled, explaining why people with CFS/FM are anxious and unhappy!
Also, people with CFS/FM often have fatigued adrenal glands. The adrenals produce hormones that help to balance your blood sugar, one of our body's fuels. When blood sugar drops, the adrenals release hormones that cause the blood sugar to rise, increasing energy. The adrenals also act as our stress managers and are responsible for the "fight-or flight" response from the days when we needed an energy boost to run away from both animal and human enemies. The body responds with the same charged fight-or-flight response when we experience any type of stress. If you are constantly under stress, your adrenal glands can eventually run out of steam and stop producing sufficient hormones. The result? Adrenal fatigue.
When your brain is deprived of adequate energy, your hypothalamus or sleep center may malfunction, resulting in a paradox of overwhelming fatigue and profound insomnia. Most patients may have problems falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Sleep can also be disturbed by sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, both common in CFS/FM.
When your body can't make adequate energy in your muscles, they can get stuck in the shortened position, resulting in profound, widespread and chronic pain. Although the muscles can become "un-stuck" with proper support, the lack of energy production results in continuous pain. This pain—described as a deep muscular aching, throbbing, twitching, stabbing, or shooting pain—can and does happen in all areas of the body and varies in intensity. Neuropathic or nerve pain can add numbness, tingling, and burning. Aggravating factors include cold/humid weather, excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, anxiety, and stress.
Because people with CFS/FM often look fairly healthy and many of their symptoms aren't't visible, both physicians and family members may tend to either underestimate or disbelieve the amount of suffering they're experiencing, adding further mental and emotional turmoil.
The best place to begin is to build your energy. Based on my published clinical research, I have designed a formula that contains essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which delivers over 50 vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for exceptional health and sustained energy. This simple drink, plus one capsule, replaces the equivalent of over 35 supplement tablets and provides the necessary nutrients for safely achieving peak energy.
To get eight hours of deep, restful sleep naturally, I recommend the herbs passion flower, wild lettuce, hops, Jamaica dogwood, valerian, and the amino acid L-theanine. Superior support for healthy adrenal gland function can be obtained through supplementation with adrenal gland extract, licorice, and essential vitamins.
To effectively reduce chronic pain and inflammation, I suggest white willow (Salix alba) bark, Boswellia serrata, and cherry fruit extract.
In my clinical experience, most people feel a difference within two to three weeks of starting this regimen. When used in conjunction with my individualized program, most people notice an average of 76 percent improvement in the quality of life after three months of use.
Having CFS/FM is certainly not an easy venture. Even those people lucky enough to have milder cases are often confused by complex and contradictory information. Many answers can be found in my books, From Fatigued to Fantastic! and Pain Free 1-2-3!; and you can get relief with the supplements I recommend. I know first hand that CFS/FM is treatable, as do the tens of thousands treated using this protocol. You don't have to be sick anymore!