It has disparagingly been called “yuppie flu”, reflecting the fact that this is an illness which people neither understand nor accept. Yet the World Health Organization has classified chronic fatigue syndrome (C.F.S.), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.), as a disease of the nervous system. First reports of C.F.S. appeared in the mid 1980’. At that time many physicians were dismissive of complaints, but recent research has confirmed variations in basic body function in people with C.F.S.
C.F.S. can be a severely disabling and chronic condition which has a devastating impact on your daily life, work and person independence – an impact often made worse by the prejudice and disbelief which surrounds this complex disorder. People with C.F.S. have often enjoyed good health before coming down with a range of symptoms which suggest a change in brain function. C.F.S. can cause loss of concentration and short-term memory; dyslexia, nausea, clumsiness and disturbed balance. There may also be problems with vision and sensitivity to light, as well as sensitivity to noise and misjudgement of distance. People with ME are often depressed and may suffer from mood swings. They may also have be problems with bladder control and changes in their bowel function.
No one yet knows what causes C.F.S., but it often begins at the time of an acute infection and researchers are looking into the possibility of it being linked to certain common viruses. There is also speculation that certain neurotoxins such as pesticides could trigger C.F.S., while physicians recognize that psychological and emotional states may also have an influence.
Getting over C.F.S. can be a long, slow process taking several years and involving relapses, but it is possible to recover in time. However, some people merely show some improvement while a minority never get over their symptoms and become invalids.
C.F.S. can hit at anytime, whatever your age or background, and although it most commonly starts between the ages of 20 and 40, children as young as seven can be affected.
Approach to Diagnosis
Many physicians still do not accept C.F.S. as a condition. If yours falls into this category, have no hesitation in getting a second opinion. There is a blood test called Viral Protein One, which is positive in around 60 percent of people with C.F.S. symptoms, and this should be checked, since C.F.S. is really a diagnosis of exclusion (i.e. one tat can only be made when all other causes have been ruled out). Because of this you need to find a physician who can monitor you while you go through complementary treatments.
Choosing complementary treatment can be particularly confusing for patients suffering from C.F.S. The factors that can aggravate the illness are so very diverse (stress, poor nutrition, problems with digestion or elimination, poor posture) that is often difficult to decide which therapy or combination of therapies is the best approach.
Improving the nutrition of C.F.S. sufferers usually alleviates the condition. In a significant number of cases patients are able to resume normal life after dietary changes. Special emphasis is placed on correct digestion and elimination, two systems in which malfunction can lead to the onset of C.F.S. Removing “allergic” foods from the diet can also bring about a great improvement.
Treatments that strengthen the constitution are an important part of a campaign against C.F.S. is Ayurveda.
Many C.F.S. patients have great tension round the neck and shoulder area, often caused by stress or many years spent hunched over a computer desk. This restricts blood flow to the brain, causing severe fatigue and short-term memory loss. The blood flow to the brain is greatly enhanced by bioenergetics healing. This treatment is particularly effective with C.F.S., especially long-term cases. It has even had success with patients who have been wheelchair-bound for a number of years. Alternatively, Marma massage is very effective in increasing the blood supply to the brain.
Support treatments are particularly important C.F.S. because anything a patient can do to strengthen their system will alleviate the condition.
Ayurveda treatment for C.F.S. begins with detoxification using panchakarma techniques, which include “purification”, detoxification, massage and “rehabilitation”. The aim is to restore balance or “homeostasis” to the body. Oral medicines are prescribed to balance the doshas or forces, which control the workings of the body. Harmful doshas are eliminated. Rasayana treatment may also be given while agni helps improve the appetite.