Having had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FMS), with the medical system having no idea how to help, I understand what you are going through. I also know you can get well!
I came down with what I call the “Drop Dead Flu” in 1975 while in medical school, which triggered my CFS/FMS. As I was working to pay my own way through school, the illness left me homeless and sleeping in parks in Oklahoma. It is exciting, though, to see how life magically brings us what we need. I met many natural health practitioners while homeless, each of whom taught me bits and pieces of what I needed to learn to get well. And I did!
After returning to medical school, I have spent the last 30 plus years researching and treating chronic fatigue and chronic pain (especially CFS and fibromyalgia). Our published research shows 91 percent improve using our “S.H.I.N.E. Protocol,” and hundreds of thousands have been helped.
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Our study titled “Effective Treatment of CFS and Fibromyalgia” (published in Journal of CFS) showed that 91 percent of patients improved with treatment, with an average improvement in quality of life of 90 percent. Many patients no longer even qualified for the diagnosis of CFS or fibromyalgia after treatment! In support of our work, an editorial in the Journal of the American Academy of Pain Management (the largest multidisciplinary society of pain specialists in the United States) noted, “the comprehensive and aggressive metabolic approaches to treatment detailed in the Teitelbaum study are highly successful approaches and make fibromyalgia a very treatment responsive disorder. The study by Dr. Teitelbaum et al., and years of clinical experience make this approach an excellent and powerfully effective part of the standard of practice for treatment of people who suffer from fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome.” These same principles work wonderfully for optimizing energy in those with day-to-day fatigue.
What is Causing These Syndromes?
CFS/FMS acts as a “circuit breaker,” with the hypothalamus decreasing its function to protect the individual in the face of what is perceived to be an overwhelming stress (just like blowing a fuse or circuit breaker in a house). This center controls sleep, hormones, temperature, blood flow, blood pressure and sweating. In addition, if your muscles do not have enough energy, they will get stuck in the shortened position and you’ll be in pain (think rigor mortis). This “energy crisis” can be caused by any of a number of infections, stresses or injuries.
Five Main Categories of Problems Need to Be Treated—Think “S.H.I.N.E.!”
These are the five key areas that need to be treated for your “circuit breaker to turn back on” and for fatigue and pain to resolve:
- Sleep. Because the hypothalamic “circuit breaker” that is offline controls sleep, most patients need a mix of natural and prescription sleep treatments. For you to get well and pain free, it is critical that you take enough of the correct natural and prescription sleep treatments to get eight to nine hours sleep at night! I recommend starting with natural therapies and supplements.
- Hormonal deficiencies. The hypothalamus is the main control center, via the pituitary, for most of the glands in the body. Most of the normal ranges for our blood tests were not developed in the context of hypothalamic suppression or these syndromes. Because of this (and for a number of other reasons) it is usually necessary to treat with natural thyroid, adrenal, and ovarian and testicular hormones — despite normal blood tests! These hormones have been found to be reasonably safe when used in low doses. Low thyroid, which reflects as fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance and even unexplained infertility, is especially common, and the majority of those who benefit from thyroid have normal lab tests, so treatment trial should be given (using natural thyroid hormones) if symptoms are suggestive.
- Infections. Many studies have shown immune system dysfunction in CFS/FMS, which can result in many unusual infections. These include many different viral infections (the recently reported XMRV virus is one of many), parasites and other bowel infections, antibiotic sensitive infections, and, most importantly, fungal/Candida infections.
- Nutritional supplementation. Widespread nutritional deficiencies are common, and require dozens of nutrients. I recommend a good daily multivitamin. Ribose supplementation should also be taken as it can powerfully jump-start your energy. In our initial study, ribose increased energy an average of 45 percent in just three weeks. A second, larger study conducted by 81 physicians (currently being prepared for publication) showed an average of over 59 percent increase in energy in those with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
- Exercise as able. Do not push to the point of crashing the next day. Start by walking as long as you comfortably can (even if that is only two minutes). After 10 weeks on treatment, start to increase your walks by up to one minute more each day as able. When you are up to an hour of walking, you can increase intensity.
Jacob E Teitelbaum, MD
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is a board certified internist and Medical Director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and Chronicity. He is author of the popular free iPhone application "Cures A-Z," and author of the best-selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery/Penguin Group), Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw-Hill), Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy (Deva Press 2003), Beat Sugar Addiction NOW! (Fairwinds Press, 2010), and his newest book Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale Press, July 15, 2011). Dr. Teitelbaum knows CFS/fibromyalgia as an insider — he contracted CFS when he was in medical school and had to drop out for a year to recover. In the ensuing 25 years, he has dedicated his career to finding effective treatment.