Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated and debilitating. It is a disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that does not improve with bed rest and may worsen with mental or physical activity. Several body systems are affected. Insomnia, mental concentration and memory impairment, muscle pain, and weakness can result.
In 2008, the CDC convened a panel to review its CFS research program. A five-year strategic plan for research was developed. Included in the program were:
- Causes of CFS
- CFS in children
- In-hospital and pharmacologic studies
- Pathophysiology of CFS
- Provider and public education
- Treatment and management of illness
In 2011, the CDC posted a CFS Toolkit that provided an easy-to-use resource for care. The CDC, The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee, and others have been working to revise the Toolkit. The document is available on the CDC website. Here is some information about past CFS research by the CDC.
Georgetown University Medical Center has conducted research that seems to indicate CFS is rooted in medically testable neurological abnormalities. Though the study sample was small, objective physiological evidence provided means the disorder is deemed a legitimate medical condition.
Gulf War syndrome and fibromyalgia that have a primary symptom of fatigue are defined by CFS. There is a great deal still to learn about the disorder. That makes diagnosing and treating CFS difficult. Medical professionals have not reached a consensus about the cause.
CFS shares symptoms with other diseases such as lupus and multiple sclerosis. No standardized course of treatment has been developed. Patient improvement is hard to measure. Women are more susceptible to CFS than men.
For years, painful symptoms have been endured because no blood test or diagnosable physical symptoms exist. The Georgetown study provided initial evidence that the illness is a neurological disease. The central nervous system is at least partially involved in the pathology. For more on the research conducted at Georgetown, read this article.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
CFS sufferers often are subjects of major depression. There is evidence to support that CFS and depression are coexisting diseases. Low levels of omega-3 accompany major depression.
Some studies have shown that omega-3s improved CFS symptoms. Omega-3 is the most common CFS supplement taken. Researchers have hypothesized omega-3 fatty acids alleviate oxidative stress. They fight depression and elevate the mood. Oxidative stress may have a role in CFS. The supplement also combats inflammation that is another factor in CFS.
Excellent sources of omega-3 are salmon, mackerel, and sardines. It can also be taken, in supplemental form, to ensure proper levels are maintained. A more scientific explanation is contained in this article.
Turmeric is a yellowish-brown spice that is derived from the thick root-like portion of a turmeric plant stem. It is the underground part of the stem. Scientists the world over are conducting research on turmeric’s curative powers.
People in China and India have used turmeric for liver and stomach problems and as an antiseptic for a long time. The exact active turmeric ingredient has not been definitively determined. Scientists believe it to be a curcumin. It is thought to have antioxidants, anti-inflammation, and anticancer properties.
Chronic fatigue sufferers are familiar with muscle, connective tissue, and joint stiffness and aches. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help. Chemical sensitivities, potential toxicity, and digestive distress have caused many to choose safer, gentler therapies. This article gives some information about the harmful effects of painkillers.
Turmeric is found in curry powder and used in many Indian dishes. To raise curcumin metabolites and blood levels, 4,000 mg per day is required. Most people would find that difficult to work into a daily diet.
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ProHealth is a nutritional supplement company that is dedicated to helping chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers. The company sells vitamins and supplements to help people suffering from the chronic fatigue syndrome live a better quality of life. The company has a Facebook page, blog, and website where people go for encouragement and advice on nutritional supplements, physical movement, diet, and lifestyle.
ProHealth founder, Rich Carson is a leading patient fundraiser in the US. Whitmore Peterson Institute named him the patient advocate of the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being represented as part of the $4 million campaign of chronic fatigue syndrome awareness. Since the inception of his business, Carson donates 10 percent of proceeds to causes related to the chronic fatigue syndrome. Those causes include patient advocacy and research.
Avoiding unusual physical or emotional stress is advice physicians give to CFS patients. A manageable, regular, daily routine that includes modest exercise under the supervision of a physical therapist or physician is suggested. Yoga, therapeutic touch, acupuncture, aqua therapy, chiropractic massage, self-hypnosis, stretching, and tai chi have proven helpful in some instances. Developing coping skills through family therapy has been beneficial for both patients and family members in countering adverse effects of the illness.
No FDA-approved medications to treat CFS are currently on the market. Expectorants, corticoids, anticonvulsants, and CNS stimulants or depressants are used to treat various CFS symptoms. Read about a study that shows Lyrica helps reduce pain.
Been There, Done That
The day-to-day struggles of CFS cannot be understood better than by someone affected by the illness. Here are some pieces of advice and excerpts from people who are in the know.
- Peggy Munson- Peggy is the author of a book that almost did not get finished because she had become homebound and bedridden. Cognitive impairments made writing difficult.
- Kim Synder- Kim used her own CFS battle to tell stories of many people having CFS. Different challenges arise for each individual, but the illness’s universality of striking people from all walks of life is brought home through her stories.
- Stacie Bigelow- Stacie is well aware of the paradox that exists, between the inability, to move and the best relief being movement. She has written a book that can help manage the illness. Sufferers can figure out the movements that are helpful and those to avoid. Ways to reduce pain are included.