Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is an illness that affects both the brain and bodily systems. It is characterised by fatigue that is not alleviated by rest and at least four of the following symptoms that occur for six months or more:
However, if you have been diagnosed with CFS or suspect that you are suffering from it, there are some natural therapies that may be useful in treating and managing the condition.
Psychotherapy is conducted by a trained practitioner and it helps with the mental aspect of CFS. Counseling, whether in an individual or group situation can help a person to improve their self-esteem and lifestyle, as well as to accept the condition itself. Psychotherapy allows a person to confront and explore their feelings about the situation, learn how to relate how they’re feeling to their loved ones, give the person tools to manage the condition, and help manage the depression that many sufferers of CFS feel.
CFS is a very stressful condition and one of the keys to managing it is to learn coping skills as well as learning to accept the limitations that you have while you are suffering from the condition. While it is a chronic condition, it is not a permanent one and psychotherapy can help to remind the person that there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, as well as provide tools to cope with stress.
Herbal medicine is a useful tool in the management of CFS. However, while herbal medicines are useful, it is important to note that they will not start to work instantly. To completely resolve the symptoms of CFS, it may take as little as four to six weeks or as long as twelve to eighteen months, depending on the severity of the CFS and any other health issues that the person is suffering from. Some herbs that are helpful with CFS include:
There are many homoeopathic remedies that are useful in the management of CFS. You will need to consult a practitioner to find the best remedy for you but some remedies that are useful include:
Acupressure can help to improve your physical condition as well as helping you cope with the tired, weak feeling associated with CFS. Some useful acupressure points are:
Bach flower remedies are especially good for treating the emotional aspects of CFS. Aspen is a good remedy if you are feeling fearful but you cannot explain why you are feeling that way. Holly is helpful for relieving anger and mood swings. Hornbeam can help to relieve fatigue and a feeling of exhaustion. Impatiens is good for calming impatience, tension, nervousness, and irritability. Finally, mimulus is good for those people that are shy and timid.
Exercise is one of the most important things in the management and treatment of CFS. This is because people that suffer from the condition do not exercise because they feel weak, and like they continually need to rest. This rest leads to muscle wastage which results in a person feeling even more tired. In time, this becomes a vicious cycle and exercise helps to break this cycle. Gentle exercise leads to stronger muscles which leads to increased performance, so that people feel less tired and so that they are able to do more. Exercise also releases endorphins in the brain, making us feel better emotionally. It does not matter what type of exercise you choose as long as it is gentle and can be started slowly at first. It is important to build up the amount of exercise that you do as too much exercise too soon can actually be counterproductive.
Nutrition is an essential part in the management of CFS. If you suffer from CFS, you should avoid sugar and sweet foods, as these cause the blood sugar to raise and drop dramatically. An unstable blood sugar level leads to fatigue. If there are any foods that you are allergic or intolerant to, be sure to eliminate these from your diet. Remember to drink plenty of water each day to help flush toxins from the body.
Eating essential fatty acids such as those present in cold water fish, nut and seed oils (such as flaxseed oil) help to strengthen the immune system. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. These are high in fibre which alleviates constipation, a factor in fatigue. It is interesting to note that 60 percent of people that suffer from CFS also suffer from candidiasis. To help with this, eliminate all forms of sugar, and take probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria.
B vitamins are depleted in stressful situations, so it is worthwhile considering taking a supplement or eating more foods that are rich in these vitamins. Vitamin C is helpful for immune system, while vitamin A is necessary for the production of antibodies that help to fight off viral infections. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that stops vitamin A from being destroyed by oxygen and it helps to improve the supply of oxygen to the body’s cells.
TCM uses a combination of acupuncture, herbs, moxibustion and lifestyle changes in helping to manage CFS. The emphasis is on strengthening and protecting the immune system and also on conserving and generating energy. TCM suggests that the immune system can be improved by working on the way that the body makes energy from protein sources. In CFS, the immune system may be using as much as 60 percent of an energy storage compound in the body called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP manufactures protein to make immune antibodies and when the immune system is using all of the ATP, there is little energy left for the rest of the body, leaving you feeling very tired. If this is the case, then acupuncture is used on the points that relate to autoimmunity and also the meridians in the body.
Herbal formulas that are useful in managing CFS include bu zhong yi qi wan, xiao chai hu wan, and astralgus ten formula.