Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is characterized by prolonged fatigue associated with a wide range of accompanying symptoms. It affects one’s everyday life, and doesn’t go away with sleep or rest.
As the name CFS suggests, people with this disease feel very tired and exhausted most of the time. As the term ME 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.
Causes of 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
TCM perspective on CFS
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. In Chinese medicine, the liver and spleen have different functions to those outlined in Western medicine. 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.
Treatment of CFS
From the perspective of Western medicine, there is no cure for CFS, but treatments can help relieve the symptoms. For example, anti-inflammatory medicines can alleviate headaches, fevers, muscle and joint aches; antihistamines or decongestants may help to relieve allergy symptoms in patients with CFS; while non-sedating antidepressants may improve mood and disordered sleep and thereby attenuate the fatigue to some degree. Currently, western medicine has no successful treatment for the syndrome as a whole. Most of the drugs used to relieve the symptoms often come with side-effects.
Fortunately, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, taken as a complementary or alternative medicine, effectively treat the various symptoms associated with chronic fatigue. In addition, the root causes of the conditions are also treated.
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 can we help you?
We offer a natural, safe and effective alternative treatment to restore and maintain the energy and harmony in your body. Dr. Jim Xing of our clinic has treated this condition with excellent results in his long clinical career. He devises an individualized 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.
Results from his treatment, in many cases, have been achieved in just a few weeks. In many instances, patients achieve a deep state of relaxation within 5-10 minutes of the start of acupuncture treatment. Research has indicated that such deep relaxation helps regulate the autonomic nervous system, which can help reduce stress and anxiety, rebalance the immune system, and expand a sense of well-being. Most of Dr. Xing’s patients experience significant improvement within 3-4 months, and remain in good health afterwards. In addition to acupuncture and herbal treatment, Dr. Xing emphasizes that regular exercise, as well as healthy diet and lifestyle, are all important for recovery. His goal is to improve your self-healing abilities by working with your specific symptoms. He will also work to greatly enhance your immune function, so that you can regain vitality, have better overall health and enjoy your life more fully.
Helped at the centre:
CFS is a condition which can be effectively treated through the use of TCM, and Dr. Xing has successfully helped a large number of people who had previously been suffering from this condition regain control of their lives. Below is an example of a patient who was successfully helped at our clinic:
A 10 year old boy had been suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome for several months, which had severely impacted upon his life, being only able to attend school for around 2 hours per week and spending most of his time in bed. After seeing Dr. Xing, the boy had recovered from his condition within weeks, and was once again leading a normal life, attending school full time. His mother wrote a letter of recommendation for anyone suffering from CFS, suggesting that they visit Dr. Xing for treatment.