Published on January 31st, 2020 | by Dr. Doug Pucci0
A Cure for Chronic Fatigue Lies in the Gut Microbiome
by Doug Pucci
For the estimated 2.5 million people suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), the disease can rob them of life. The extreme fatigue, along with other difficult symptoms, can be debilitating, including the inability to work, socialize and even do the simple things in life. The standard treatment is pharmaceutical; usually a combination of pain relievers and anti-anxiety medications, none of which get to the root cause.
Currently, mainstream medicine has no cure for CFS, and not much research has gone into finding whether hormone imbalances, blood sugar dysregulation, adrenal issues, brain neurology and more play a part. Theories as to its origins range from viral infections to stress or a combination of triggers. What we do know for certain is that chronic fatigue, whether diagnosed as CFS, or not, is in fact a gut-brain problem.
A number of medical professionals dismiss the existence of CFS as a medical condition. Thomas Sabin, vice chair of neurology at Tufts University School of Medicine, has said that up to half of neurologists he has spoken to “don’t believe it is a real medical entity.” What they’re saying is that everything, all the symptoms are in their head. Yet, fatigue is often a chief complaint for any number of metabolic diseases, whether heart disease, low thyroid or irritable bowel syndrome.
A recent study published in the journal Microbiome revealed a new connection between the health of the gut and chronic fatigue. Imbalances in the gut microbiome, meaning the levels of some bacteria are too high while others are too low, can be at the root of many illnesses and disorders. It’s no surprise that 90 percent of patients with CFS also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Those are not two different diseases; they are one disease on a continuous spectrum.
Researchers compared the gut bacteria of IBS patients with the gut bacteria of patients with both CFS and IBS. The findings showed that there was a difference in the pattern of gut bacteria disturbances between these two groups—specifically, an overabundance of seven types of gut bacteria were strongly linked to chronic fatigue, and a low level of an eighth type of bacteria was also present. These results may give medical professionals an important tool in the early and successful diagnosing and treatment of CFS in the future. Because an imbalance in the microbiome can negatively impact the immune system and the central nervous system, some researchers have theorized that this imbalance may be the cause of CFS.
This study builds on previous research that showed a difference in the gut bacteria of healthy people versus that of CFS patients. The implications of this for functional practitioners and their patients is not new. Clearly, this is just one more indicator of the importance of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and not destroying it with repeated use of antibiotics, sodas and other junk food, chemicals, and so on. Among the many things affected by microbiome health is, literally, our health, including the resiliency of the immune system, functionality of the brain (mood, behavior), heart disease and obesity, gut health in all its components (digestion), hormone balance and so on. It’s fair to say that at a baseline, health cannot be restored unless and until the gut microbiome is revived. Besides a diet founded in whole, fresh foods, people benefit immensely from supplemental nutrients that include prebiotics and probiotics, pancreatic enzymes, fiber, hydrochloric acid, and short chain fatty acids, to start.
Dr. Doug Pucci, DC, FAAIM, adheres to a functional medicine approach with patients and believes in treating underlying, root causes of disease. In practice, he provides nutrition, advanced testing for hormones and gut microbiome, blood testing, epigenetics, and brain/body well-being. For more information, call 201-261-5430 or visit GetWell-Now.com.