Published on October 31st, 2022 | by Natural Awakenings Publishing Corp.0
What Is “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”, Really?
When people experience chronically low energy of unclear origin, they are often led to consider alternative health options. Typically, they have gone to one or more doctors and have been told “There is nothing wrong,” or perhaps that they need some rest. Sometimes, they are pleased to be diagnosed with having chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia; at least they know that they are not crazy, and that the reality of their illness is being acknowledged with a diagnostic label. But traditionally, with those labels come very little if anything in the way of treatment or symptom relief.
There are indeed numerous possible etiologies of long-term feelings of fatigue/low energy, all of them very real, and each of them associated with a different, very real treatment. Why these conditions that cause chronic fatigue are so rarely investigated in any depth in the traditional medical model is unclear at best. Yet, this is, in fact, the case.
If you or a family member have been excessively tired for a period of weeks, months or years, a deeper and more detailed study is well worthwhile. For this investigation, a functional medical doctor is the best bet. Functional medicine, essentially, is a type of medicine whereby symptoms themselves, mysterious or otherwise, are the primary focus; a traditional diagnostic label is not critical.
Among the things that might be explored by a functional medicine practitioner trying to understand a patient’s complaint of chronic fatigue:
1 – Subclinical hypothyroidism: Functional standards for excellent thyroid performance far exceed traditional standards. Numerous additional parameters are checked, and treatment options are multiple.
2 – Adrenal dysfunction/exhaustion: This is almost entirely overlooked in the traditional context, but the adrenals in fact become exhausted due to any stress, be it physical, infectious, emotional, traumatic, toxic, and post-stress, may not fully recover.
3 – Intoxication: Heavy metals, organic toxins, insecticides, mycotoxins (black mold, etc.), in the body wreak havoc on energy and alertness
4 – Viruses/infections: These were cited initially as the “classic” causes of chronic fatigue. Such viruses as Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus, Parvovirus, Human Herpes Virus 6 and a number of others can certainly be players, but they are by no means alone as causative factors.
5 – Tick-borne diseases can cause fatigue and a myriad of symptoms. Traditional lab testing is woefully inadequate in detecting these diseases. Far better lab tests do, however, exist.
6 – Gut dysbiosis, including yeast overgrowth, can cause a wide variety of symptoms and disturb proper detoxification.
7 – Imbalanced sex hormone levels, both low testosterone and/or low estrogen/progesterone, can affect energy and/or sleep, which can deplete energy.
8 – Depression and/or anxiety are very common causes of diminished energy. Once identified, neurotransmitter testing and counselling can make a world of difference.
9 – Undetected autoimmune disease, nutritional deficiencies and food and environmental sensitivities can also cause extended fatigue.
Most importantly, each of the above issues CAN BE DETECTED, TREATED AND CORRECTED. So, if you have been extra tired for a while and don’t know why, do not settle for a label of “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”! Explore, investigate, find out what is really going on, and bring yourself back to the vibrant state of health you deserve.
Robin Ellen Leder, M.D., was mentored by Robert Atkins, M.D., author of The Atkins Diet, and has been practicing integrative/alternative medicine for more than 30 years at A Better Alternative Medical Center, in Hackensack.