Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is characterised by prolonged fatigue associated with a wide range of accompanying symptoms. It affects one’s everyday life, and doesn’t tend to go away with sleep or rest.
As the name suggests, people with this disease feel very tired and exhausted most of the time. As the term myalgic encephalomyelitis suggests, people with this condition suffer from muscular pain, and show some signs of brain and spinal cord inflammation. The symptoms can vary in intensity with each individual. People with severe CFS will usually find carrying out everyday activities highly, sometimes excessively challenging. For some people, symptoms will improve over time. Others may have symptoms that persist for long periods, in some cases even years.
There is no specific diagnostic test for CFS. Usually, tests are done to rule out other potential conditions, such as diabetes, abnormalities of the thyroid gland, etc. CFS is not usually diagnosed until the sufferer has had fatigue and other symptoms for at least 6 months.
What can cause CFS?
The actual cause of CFS is still unknown, but there are several theories. Some experts suspect that viruses, such as the one responsible for glandular fever, may be the cause. Recent studies indicate that CFS documented abnormalities in endocrine function are consistent with reduced production of corticotrophin-releasing hormones in the hypothalamus.
The main factors contributing to and exacerbating CFS are as follows:
- Genetic factors
- Viral infections such as glandular fever, which weaken the immune system
- Emotional stress and depression
- Physical and mental exertion
- Poor diet
Symptoms of CFS
The primary symptom of CFS is severe fatigue, both physical and mental. Other common symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping, and not feeling refreshed after sleep
- Sore throat
- Muscular and joint pain
- Painful lymph nodes
- Nausea, stomach pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea
- Depression, anxiety and panic attacks
- Sensitivity or intolerance to light, noise and certain foods
- Dizziness, palpitations and night sweats
How TCM may help
From the perspective of Chinese medicine, CFS is considered a Qi deficiency. Qi, or life energy, gives a measure of the vitality of a person. The cause of CFS is considered to consist of various underlying and interacting factors. The typical TCM patterns for CFS include: spleen Qi and Yang deficiency; liver Qi stagnation and/or liver, spleen, stomach disharmony; heart blood and/or Yin deficiency; kidney Qi and Yang deficiency; phlegm obstruction and dampness retention; and heat toxicity.
In most CFS patients, it is shown that the liver and spleen are affected. The liver in Chinese medicine regulates the emotions, stores blood and regulates the flow of Qi. When the liver is in disharmony, there is emotional depression, stagnation of energy and blood flow. So, there is an actual depression of the whole system. The spleen transforms and transports the nutrients and fluids of the body and dominates the muscles. If the spleen is affected there is muscle weakness. The conveyance of body fluids is also impaired. Arthritic symptoms or swelling of the joints will occur. Many other organs are also affected as a result of the imbalance of the liver and spleen.
In Chinese medicine, all organs and functions of the body are connected in maintaining balance throughout the system. Therefore, when an organ is out of balance, it affects another.
Acupuncture works alongside Chinese medicine, acting on the body’s own subtle energy system to clear obstructions, and maximising the flow of energy and blood, in order to enhance the body’s own innate healing capacity, thus leading to an overall increase and vitality. Modern TCM treatment for CFS mainly focuses on adjusting immune dysfunction, regulating abnormal activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and detoxifying the system.
How we can help
Dr. Jim Xing has a great deal of experience in assisting patients who are suffering from CFS, and is very passionate about the area. He devises an individualised program for each patient, balancing the body’s Yin and Yang, and raising energy levels. His goal is to determine the root cause of the condition, based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of person’s organs.
Treatment may involve acupuncture and herbal medicine for the purpose of strengthening a weakened immune function, such as boosting vital energy, nourishing the blood, increasing lymph circulation and natural killer cells, promoting proper elimination of toxins, and improving deep relaxation as well as renewing mental function and spiritual healing.
Dr. Xing’s experience leads him to believe that most of the symptoms of CFS resemble a lingering infection; he therefore focuses treatment on expelling the pathogens by cleansing the blood and eliminating the body’s excess heat (toxins), thus helping patients avoid a vicious circle. His belief, after treating many patients, is that prolonged systemic stress diminishes immunity and obstructs energy flow; he employs treatment to support the adrenal glands and relieve adrenal exhaustion. He also undertakes his treatment in a way which regulates hormonal function and eliminates allergies in order to lower the risk of CFS from occurring.
Book your appointment today
We are dedicated to helping you achieve the health and wellness that you desire. If you are interested, feel free to call us at our Frankston clinic on 9785 6688, or our Murrumbeena clinic on 9041 8879 to book an appointment today.