Needs - Your Resource for Health and Wellness
Call Toll Free: 1.800.634.1380
Facebook
Blog
Twitter
Twitter
Twitter
spacer
Listen and Learn
Teleseminar Speaker Laurel Sterling, MA, RDN, CDN,
spacer
About TransFirst®
Card Acceptance
Shipping
Doctor's Best Authorized Online Retailer


Those with CFS/FM and MCS: You're NOT Crazy!
Brought to you from the NEEDS Wellness Team

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Fibromyalgia (FM)
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)
Though they have different names, their causes and symptoms overlap greatly, and often a person tends to suffer from more than one of these conditions at the same time.

To date, there have been no clear answers for treating this unique group of chronic diseases. A big obstacle is that CFS/FM and MCS don't easily fit into the standard medical model, meaning there aren't any definitive tests to diagnose them, the symptoms vary widely, and there appear to be multiple causes. This challenges the current paradigm of researching the causes and treatments for these illnesses. These obstacles make it difficult for physicians to recognize and diagnose these illnesses and, without proper support, the patient may be led to ask, "Am I crazy?"

Adding to the difficulties of diagnoses, in medicine when there is not a standard lab test or drug treatment for an illness, physicians may tend to ignore the condition or write it off as psychosomatic. Most likely, if skeptical physicians took time to listen to the patient and become familiar with existing research, they might recognize the illness as real and thus provide attention and treatment. Because there are no simple treatments to prescribe, finding answers requires thinking outside the box and a mind open to natural therapies.

Preliminary research studies have proposed numerous theories for the possible cause of CFS and FM with mitochondrial or immune system dysfunction, infection, and gastrointestinal imbalances among them. What follows is a review of select research, which explores some of the theories of the etiology of CFS, several of which emphasize a convergence of factors, including genetic predisposition, versus a singular cause leading to its progression.

A study titled, "Pre-existing psychological stress predicts acute and chronic fatigue and arthritis following symptomatic parvovirus B19 infection," published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2008, looks at how stress can alter the outcome of a simple viral infection, causing a progression to CFS. In this study, researchers observed patients who developed a viral infection (specifically parvovirus B19) and followed them for several years. They found that those who were under severe psychological stress during the time of the acute infection had a much higher risk of developing CFS (and arthritis) over the next few years than those who were not under stress.

Another study titled, "Multiple chemical sensitivity: study of 52 cases," comments on the relationship between MCS and CFS. Here the researchers look for the origins of MCS and discovered, surprisingly, that it isn't always linked to exposure to toxic chemicals. Over 1/3 of the MCS cases in this study were related to previous diagnoses of CFS, suggesting that CFS was the cause rather than toxic exposure. Another intriguing part of this study, conducted in Barcelona, Spain, is the name of the hospital's department: Toxicology and Chronic Fatigue Unit.

Dysfunction of the immune system has long been implicated in the development of CFS and supported by a multitude of research. One study titled, "Decreased expression of CD69 in chronic fatigue syndrome in relation to inflammatory markers: evidence for a severe disorder in the early activation of T lymphocytes and natural killer cells," attempts to pinpoint the exact immune markers that are abnormal and finds dysfunction in two types of immune cells: T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells. Another study, "Chronic fatigue syndrome: characteristics and possible causes for its pathogenesis," implicates NK cells, macrophages, and immunoglobulins as dysfunctional cells of the immune system.

An article published in Medical Hypotheses proposes, "Chronic intestinal candidiasis as a possible etiologic factor in chronic fatigue syndrome." This theory states that candida overgrowth in the intestines is a potential cause for depressing immune cells, and that the consequences of this immune suppression lead to CFS.

Dr. Carrie Louise Daenell, a Naturopathic Doctor in Denver, CO, specializing in CFS/FM, also feels that CFS starts in the gut. In an article published in NEEDS' March 2008 newsletter, she states, "Recent studies have shown that CFS/FM often start when inflammation is triggered falsely, i.e., by undigested foods or intestinal parasites. Our body's natural inflammatory fighters become overwhelmed causing leaky gut syndrome (dangerous permeability of our GI tract) and CFS/FM. Once the gut becomes leaky, our intestinal lining is no longer able to keep those undigested foods out of the blood stream, where they don't belong. When undigested foods enter the blood stream, they interact with our systemic immune system, which was not designed to recognize or accommodate its presence. Once the intestinal barrier is broken down, such as it is in a leaky gut scenario, it becomes a free-for-all: undigested food is seen as an invading toxin or pathogen ("bug"), thus triggers the systemic immune system to mount a battle response against the undigested protein. This begins a cascade of immune problems which fuel systemic inflammation and crossover auto-immune challenges. Once this cascade begins, there is no quick-fix or bandage-medication solution to this scenario."

Dr. Martin Pall, a research scientist and author of Explaining Unexplained Illness, proposes the very unique "Nitric Oxide Theory." He states, "The major symptoms reported on chemical exposure in MCS are strikingly similar to the chronic symptoms in CFS and may be explained by mechanisms previously proposed for the CFS symptoms." This theory essentially proposes that the biochemical reactions of MCS and CFS are integrally related and trigger each other. In MCS, there is excessive nerve stimulation (manifesting as brain-related symptoms of the condition). The excess nerve stimulation causes increased production of nitric oxide (NO). The NO acts to further over stimulate nerves, and the vicious cycle continues, eventually resulting in excessive levels of NO. At appropriate levels, NO is positively correlated with healthy blood pressure and vasodilation. When excessive, it converts to peroxynitrate, a potent free radical which damages mitochondria and hampers their ability to produce adequate ATP thus leading to the chronic symptom of fatigue.

Dr. Sherry Rogers, MD, an expert in MCS and author of several books including Detoxify or Die, in which she states, "Silicone from breast implants have caused autoimmune disorders like lupus, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome and Fibromyalgia." She further explains, "Pesticides, volatile organic hydrocarbons, auto and industrial pollution, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and more mimic any disease. They can cause any symptom or disease from high blood pressure, heart failure, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, arthritis, or Alzheimer's disease, to Fibromyalgia, degenerating disks … fatigue, irritable bowel … and more. Mercury from pesticides, fungicides, tuna and other fish; dental silver fillings; and paints triggers depression, chronic fatigue, leukemia…Fibromyalgia…It merely depends on each person's total load or combination of factors."

The complexities of CFS/FM have mystified the medical community far too long. Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has publicly recognized CFS as a serious, scientifically validated disease we can only hope that more dollars will be invested into research of its causes and treatments and that medical doctors will stop writing it off as a psychiatric condition to be treated with anti-depressive medication. It is likely that further research will initially create more questions than answers. CFS/FM may never be "simple" to diagnose or treat and always require that we think outside the box. These chronic illnesses are best approached with a holistic attitude and a mind open to considering multiple etiologies and therapies.