What is chronic fatigue syndrome (low energy)?
Chronic fatigue may be caused by a mixture of infections, with several pathogens involved. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), is a complex and debilitating medical condition characterized by profound and persistent fatigue that is not alleviated by rest and is not explained by any underlying medical or psychiatric condition. It is a chronic illness that can significantly affect a person's quality of life and daily functioning. Environmental pollutants and contaminants also contribute to chronic fatigue syndrome by reducing immune response. Chronic fatigue acts like recurring systemic viral infection. Viruses often go undetected because their symptoms mimic simple illnesses like colds, the flu, or mononucleosis.
Fatigue is sometimes difficult to describe. You might feel like you don't have any energy and are tired all the time. Many people comment, "I am tired of being tired." Do you feel generally tired all the time, find yourself napping constantly, falling asleep while watching television, losing interest in family, friends, and things you used to like to do?
Fatigue: The hallmark symptom of CFS is extreme fatigue that lasts for at least six months and is not improved with rest. This fatigue is often described as overwhelming and can be both physical and mental.
Post-Exertional Malaise: People with CFS often experience a worsening of symptoms after even minimal physical or mental exertion. This is known as post-exertional malaise (PEM) and can last for days or even weeks.
Unrefreshing Sleep: Despite getting adequate sleep, individuals with CFS typically wake up feeling unrefreshed and fatigued.
Cognitive Impairment: Many people with CFS experience cognitive difficulties, often referred to as "brain fog." This can include problems with memory, concentration, and word retrieval.
Muscle and Joint Pain: Muscle pain (myalgia) and joint pain (arthralgia) are common symptoms of CFS.
Other Symptoms: CFS can also be associated with a range of other symptoms, including headaches, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, and gastrointestinal problems.
Fluctuating Symptoms: Symptoms of CFS can vary in intensity and may come and go, making it challenging to predict how a person will feel from day to day.
No Known Cause: The exact cause of CFS is not yet known, but it is believed to be a complex interplay of factors, including viral infections, immune dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, and genetic predisposition.
Diagnosis: There is no specific test for CFS, and the diagnosis is typically made based on clinical criteria after ruling out other medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms.
Treatment: There is no cure for CFS, but treatment is focused on symptom management and improving quality of life. This may involve a combination of rest, lifestyle adjustments, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and medications to manage specific symptoms.
It's important to note that CFS is a controversial and challenging condition, partly because its cause and pathophysiology are not fully understood, and it can overlap with other medical conditions. Additionally, CFS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning other possible causes of symptoms must be ruled out before a diagnosis is made.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, it's essential to seek medical evaluation and guidance from a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about the condition. Proper diagnosis and management can help improve the quality of life for individuals with CFS.
What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?
The stress of work, family, and financial obligations can take its toll on anyone. At times depression or anxiety are the real issue, and not fatigue. If you are concerned about your fatigue, talk to your doctor. Sleep plays a huge factor in fatigue as well. Restful sleep is necessary for health. Even though many people say that they get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, the real issue is not the amount but the quality of your rest. If you are constantly waking up during the night or having your sleep interrupted, you may be fatigued because you are not getting proper sleep. Why do we wake up during the night? Physical causes are estimated at 20-60% and emotional causes are the other 40-80%. Other factors might include:
What can I do to help with my chronic fatigue syndrome?
If you think you might have chronic fatigue syndrome, talk to your doctor. Also consider avoiding the following:
• sugar-laden foods
• dairy foods
• over-the-counter energy drinks with caffeine, guarana, ephedra, or bitter orange
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chronic fatigue is often seen as a result of an imbalance in the body's energy (Qi) and the organs responsible for producing and regulating Qi, such as the Spleen and Kidneys. TCM practitioners typically tailor treatment based on an individual's specific pattern of imbalance, so herbal remedies may vary from person to person. Here are some Chinese herbs that are commonly used or considered for addressing chronic fatigue:
Huang Qi (Astragalus membranaceus):
Huang Qi is a widely used herb in TCM known for its immune-boosting and energy-enhancing properties. It is believed to strengthen the Spleen and Qi, potentially alleviating fatigue.
Dang Shen (Codonopsis pilosula):
Dang Shen is often used to tonify Qi and improve energy levels. It is considered a gentle herb and may be suitable for individuals with fatigue and weakness.
Ren Shen (Panax ginseng):
Ren Shen, or Panax ginseng, is one of the most famous adaptogenic herbs in TCM. It is believed to boost energy, improve stamina, and enhance mental clarity. There are different varieties of ginseng, and the choice depends on the individual's condition and constitution.
Bai Zhu (Atractylodes macrocephala):
Bai Zhu is commonly used to strengthen the Spleen, which plays a crucial role in digestion and energy production. It may help alleviate fatigue associated with digestive issues.
Fu Ling (Poria cocos):
Fu Ling is often used in TCM to drain dampness from the body, which can be associated with fatigue and a feeling of heaviness.
He Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum):
He Shou Wu is believed to nourish the Kidneys and Liver, which are important for energy production in TCM. It may be used for fatigue associated with Kidney and Liver imbalances.
Gou Qi Zi (Lycium barbarum):
Gou Qi Zi, or Goji berries, are known for their antioxidant properties and are used in TCM to tonify the Liver and Kidneys, potentially boosting overall vitality.
Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel):
Chen Pi is believed to promote the movement of Qi in the body and may be used for fatigue related to stagnation.
It's important to remember that TCM diagnoses are individualized, and the choice of herbs and their combinations will depend on the specific pattern of imbalance identified by a qualified TCM practitioner. Herbal remedies are typically part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may also include dietary and lifestyle recommendations, acupuncture, and other modalities.
Bland, Jeffrey. Your Health under Siege: Using Nutrition to Fight Back. Brattleboro, VT: S. Greene, 1981. Print.
Keville, Kathi, and Peter Korn. Herbs for Health and Healing. Emmaus, Penn.: Rodale, 1996. Print.
Santillo, Humbart, and Deborah Kantor. Food Enzymes: The Missing Link to Radiant Health. Prescott, AZ: Hohm, 1993. Print.
Werbach, Melvyn R. Nutritional Influences on Illness: A Sourcebook of Clinical Research. New Canaan, CT: Keats Pub., 1990.