Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome is a medical condition that is characterized by constant and extreme tiredness and constant lack of energy; many people suffer from this on a daily basis globally and most are helpless because this condition can only be reversed when the root cause is addressed.
This condition is also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or Systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID). This is a real medical condition that can affect anyone but it mostly common among women in their 40s and 50s.
Currently there is no cure or treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome; diagnosis is even difficult, the doctor can only diagnose this condition when other causes have been ruled out, present treatment for this condition focuses on relieving the symptoms and trying to find the root cause and address it.
Our habits, routines, diet, hydration and sedentary lifestyle are the main causes of this condition; it can also be caused by an underlying medical condition that needs treatment. This condition can only be diagnosed by ruling out other illnesses with similar symptoms. Psychology, genetic and environmental factors can also contribute to this condition.
In other to be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, a patient must have severe and chronic fatigue for at least six months; the fatigue must significantly interfere with work and daily activities.
There must also have the following symptoms listed below; at least five of these symptoms must be present before it is diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome.
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
- Unexplained persistent and relapsing exhaustion
- Waking up in the morning very tired (refreshing sleep)
- Impaired memory (especially short term memory)and concentration
- Brain fog
- Impaired judgment and indecisiveness
- Irritability and moodiness
- Sleepiness and drowsiness
- Sore throat
- Problems with visions such as blurriness
- Lack of motivation and energy
- A weakened or suppressed immune system
- Slow response to stimuli and slower reflexes
- Difficulty concentrating and reduced hand to eye coordination
- Headache with a new pattern, severity or type
- Joint pain without swelling or redness
- Unable to function and be productive during the day
- Too exhausted to do home chores
- Lack of appetite
- Chills and night sweats
- Aching and sore muscles and muscle pain
- Tender and painful lymph nodes
- Fatigue that lasts more than 24 hours
- Increased sensitivity to light, sounds and smells
- In severe cases; the patient may experience hallucinations
- Cardiovascular and respiratory distresses
- Digestive problems like gastrointestinal problems and irritable bowel disease.
Lifestyle factors that can lead to chronic fatigue
- Malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies
- Medications such as antihistamines and cough medicines, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, heart drugs, pain relievers and antidepressants.
- Insomnia or lack of quality sleep
- Night shift can lead to shift work disorder which can wreck the circadian rhythm and cause chronic fatigue.
- Sedentary lifestyle (physical inactivity)
- Excessive physical activity
- Caffeine overload
- l8Uses of alcohol and illicit drugs
- Emotional stress
When the root cause (except those caused by an underlying medical condition) is addressed and treated, the condition is reversed in less than a month and the affected person is energized, but there are cases that chronic fatigue can take a sudden turn that requires immediate medical intervention. Call a doctor immediately these signs are noticed:
- Chest pain
- Severe headache
- Shortness of breath
- Severe abdominal pain or severe back or pelvic pain
- Irregular or fast heart beat
- The feeling that you might soon pass out
- Abnormal bleeding including bleeding from the rectum or vomiting blood
Emergency help should be gotten if the patient is having mental problems alongside chronic fatigue syndrome; signs of mental problems are:
- Concern that you might harm someone else or thought of harming yourself or committing suicide.
If chronic fatigue is still experienced after two weeks despite nutritional changes, exercise, hydration, stress reduction, quitting alcohol and medications; then you need to see a doctor. It might be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Medical conditions that can cause chronic fatigue
Medical conditions that can lead to persistent exhaustion are: obesity, persistent pain, stress, sleep apnea, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, dehydration, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, allergic rhinitis, fibromyalgia, grief, fibromyalgia, emphysema, diabetes, depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), concussion, hormonal imbalance, a weakened immune system, chronic kidney disease, food allergies, urinary tract infection, chronic infection or inflammation, acute liver failure, anemia, anxiety, cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that chronic fatigue syndrome may be the end stage of multiple different conditions rather than one unique condition; it is a fact that 10% of people with Epstein-Barr virus, Ross River Virus and Coxiella burnetti develop a condition that meets the criteria for the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. It is even noted that those who have had severe symptoms of any of these three infections are at a higher risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome later.
Lifestyle changes that can help reduce or reverse chronic fatigue
A person suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome can do a number of things to lessen this and boost the energy level and overall health; if not long term chronic fatigue can lead to mental fatigue and other health problems. They include;
- Quality hydration
- Intake of quality nutrients
- Regular exercise
- Good sleeping habits
- Getting quality sleep every night
- Avoid stress
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other illicit drugs
Natural remedies for chronic fatigue syndrome
Ginseng: Stress is a very common cause of chronic fatigue and ginseng is a powerful herb known to prevent stress, improve vitality and alertness; it is used to treat people suffering from both physical and mental exhaustion, its rich antioxidant content boosts the immune system and improves both mental and physical performances which are affected by chronic fatigue syndrome.
Vitamin D: Though it is not yet certain but researchers think there is a link between CFS and vitamin D; it has even been found that 50% of the general population is deficient in this vitamin. Deficiency in this vitamin leads to fatigue, pain and other discomforts. Expose yourself to early morning sun and sunsets; you can also eat vitamin D rich foods like poultry and eggs.
Valerian root: This root is effective against insomnia and restless sleep disorder; it guarantees a good night’s sleep and makes one full of energy and revitalized in the morning, this makes it effective in reducing or countering the effects of CFS.
Coenzyme Q10: This supplements helps the body produce more ATP which will help in preventing fatigue and tiredness; it is also a powerful antioxidant, it boosts the immune functions and relieves muscle pain. It increases the ability of those suffering from CFS to exercise and it also improves other symptoms; take 100 mg daily or 60 mg twice daily.
Alfalfa: This herb treats loss of appetite and digestive problems; it increases the energy supply of the body and helps the body to function properly and overcome the symptoms of CFS.
It is effective in boosting the immune system; it also prevents bacterial and viral infection and it shortens the recovery time after illness or surgery. This herb is a wonderful remedy in treating CFS at home.
Melatonin: It helps one sleep well at night; it can be taken an hour before bedtime in addition to valerian; it will improve the sleep-wake circles and boost the levels of energy in night shift workers and people suffering from jet lag.
Acupuncture: There have been many positive research results which show that acupuncture is a good remedy for a weak or suppressed immune system; it also treats insomnia and exhaustion.
It regulates the internal functions of the body and makes the functions of the organ more stable and it also balances the levels of hormones. You can meet a trained acupuncturist.
Essential fatty acids: People with CFS have low levels of essential fatty acids according to studies and taking these supplements will help improve this condition.
They will boost the immune system and reduce inflammation and even reduce the severity of the symptoms. Take 2 grams of fish oil and 2 grams of flax oil, or four grams of a combination of evening primrose oil and fish oil.
Licorice: This acts in a similar way as steroids; it boosts the production of cortisol and adrenalin in the body which helps in improving the response of the body to stress, depression and anxiety. It is used to treat a weak immune system because it is a powerful immune booster and it provides the body with excess fatigue which is used in combating fatigue.
Potato water: This is a great home remedy for fatigue; soak slices of potato in water, this drink is rich in potassium which can fight fatigue and sluggishness.
Chiropractic treatment: This home remedy relieves internal stress on joints, bones and muscles; it is usually conducted by a chiropractor, this alternative and allopathic form of treatment brings the body into a balanced and less painful state. It relieves the inherent stress in the body and increases energy.
Lemon water: Starting your day with a glass of lemon water will reduce the severity of the symptoms and will help you cope with your daily activities.
Oats: Oats are good source of energy; it provides the body with necessary nutrients that can combat any type of fatigue regardless of the cause.
It even regulates the cardiovascular system and eases heart palpitations; it prevents insomnia by aiding a deep sleep at night, it is also good for the brain as it stimulates mental clarity and acuity and it prevents brain fog caused by severe exhaustion.
Eliminate food sensitivities and allergens: Many research results have proved that there is a link between CFS and food sensitivities and allergies; allergies to certain foods, pollen, metals and environmental chemicals is responsible for a rising number of individuals with CFS.
Poor digestion and foods sensitivity was observed to be a common cause in CFS in a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Other common causes are gluten and common intolerance, candida imbalance, casein and H. Pylori.
Bee pollen: It is rich in amino acids, proteins, enzymes and other phytonutrients which keeps the body in good health and in proper working condition; it combats physical and mental weaknesses and release enough energy for the body to combat fatigue.
Bee pollen can also desensitize the body to allergens which has been implicated as one of the causes of CFS.
Vitamin B: A study published in the Journal of Royal Society of Medicine found a direct link between a deficiency in vitamin B6 and CFS; this vitamin prevents and relieves fatigue and supports a healthy immune system. It also boosts the functions of the T-cells which are responsible in fighting off viral infections; increasing the intake of vitamin B6 can help one recover from this condition.
Good sources of vitamin B6 are salmon, grass fed beef, wild tuna, bananas, grass fed beef, sweet potatoes, turkey, hazelnuts, garlic and cooked spinach.
Vitamin B12 is also used to treat this condition; it is needed for methylation in conjunction with vitamin B6 and folate.
Methylation is the process whereby methyl compounds are used in critical body functions like immune function, energy production, mood, inflammation, nerve function, detoxification, and even DNA and all of these are affected in people with CFS; it helps the body to process toxins, make hormones, and even helps in the production of neurotransmitters such as melatonin, Poor methylation can lead to a variety of chronic conditions including certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, allergies, digestive upset, diabetes, mood and psychiatric disorders and CFS.
A deficiency in vitamin B12 impairs the process of methylation and causes numerous malfunctions that can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome; symptoms of deficiency are similar to symptoms of CFS and they include a lack of motivation, low energy, poor focus, poor memory, emotional mood swings, fatigue, muscle tension and more. Good sources of vitamin B12 are beef liver from grass feed cows, sardines, tuna, raw cheese, cottage cheese, lamb, raw milk, eggs and wild salmon.
Maca root: This herb is powerful in regulating the level of hormones in the body; it also boosts energy and vitality, it is very rich in vitamin B which can positively affect the endocrine system by stimulating the adrenal and pituitary glands. This will boost the level of energy and the functions of organs in the body.
Increase your intake of magnesium and potassium: Studies have shown these minerals can improve the symptoms associated with CFS; good sources of magnesium are spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, yogurt and kefir, almonds, black beans, avocados, figs, dark chocolate and bananas while good sources of potassium are avocados, spinach, sweet potatoes, coconut water, kefir and yogurt, white beans, bananas, acorn squash, dried apricots and mushrooms. CFS and potassium deficiency, share similar symptoms like fatigue, irritability and muscle cramps.
St. John’s wort: This popular herb is effective in treating CFS; it can relieve depression, anxiety and sleep problems and due to its powerful antiviral property, it is powerful against various viral strains that can easily cause fatigue and excess exhaustion, example is the herb simplex virus.
Ribose: This is an important sugar that is used by the body to produce energy; it is different from common sugar and it can be taken as a supplement. A study proved that taking D-ribose significantly reduced the symptoms of CFS; especially sleep problems, pain and mental fogginess in people with CFS and fibromyalgia.
Use of essential oil: Essential oils are effective in reducing fatigue without causing any side effect; use of essential oil is a popular home remedy in handling fatigue due to their rich content of antioxidants, their ability to stimulate, energize and soothe the body.
Do not consume any of these oils internally unless stated otherwise by a trained and experienced herbalist; these oils are very potent because they are concentrated in the healing phytochemicals of the plant they were gotten from, they can give a number of side effects like allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset, skin inflammation, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, sedation, etc.
You can also speak with your doctor before using essential oils especially if you are on medications; if it is stated that an essential oil is safe for consumption, then you can take it but not in excess and mix it with carrier oil like almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil or jojoba oil when applying it on the skin to reduce its potency which can lead to skin reaction or inflammation on sensitive skin and you can also use them as aromatherapy. Below are effective essential oils that are potent in relieving the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Basil oil: This is an effective mental stimulant, it can clear fatigue and exhaustion; it also stimulates proper circulation of blood in the body and this will increase the overall energy levels in the extremities and muscle systems. Mix 10 drops of this essential oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil and apply this topically to your chest, neck and wrist.
Rosemary oil: This oil has a direct and positive impact on the central nervous system; it is one of the best essential oils for relieving fatigue, it stimulates the production of energy and invigorate cognitive functions, it also improves, focus, concentration and memory. Inhale this oil or you can diffuse it in your room during the day but don’t use this oil in the evening as its effect can last up to 5 hours.
Bergamot oil: This is one of the most stimulating oils available in the market; it is used to treat people with depression, sleep disorders, anxiety, exhaustion and fatigue; it re-balances the cardiac rhythm, uplifts mood, stimulates the production of key neurotransmitters and boosts the levels of energy in the body. At night, diffuse it in your room to have a good night rest, it can also be inhaled directly for a rapid burst of energy especially when feeling drowsy during the day.
Eucalyptus oil: This oil is effective in boosting mood and increasing vitality; it is rich in antioxidants and therefore fights inflammation in the body, it increases the flow of blood in the body, improves mood and counter negative feelings and it also increases energy to the organs, systems and muscles. Diffuse through your entire home or add it to warm bath, its aroma is as effective as topical application and it leaves one energized and alert.
Lemon oil: Its rich content of limonene is an effective stimulant; it is also rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and discomfort, it stimulates cognitive functions, increases energy and treats the underlying cause of some fatigue conditions.
Geranium oil: This essential oil is famous for its ability to balance the levels of hormones and boosts mood; it helps with the symptoms of depression and anxiety and at the same time reduces the levels of stress hormone in the blood, it also reduces oxidative stress and promotes the normal sleep pattern. Add a few drops of this oil to a pot of steaming water and inhale deeply a few times; it is so energizing and soothing but don’t use it in the evening so that it won’t disrupt your sleep.
Peppermint oil: This stimulant oil can boost cognitive alertness and memory by increase the capacity of the memory; it keeps one awake and energized to carry on normal activities during the day. Mix 10 drops of peppermint oil with a teaspoon of any carrier oil of your choice and rub it directly on your chest or neck for a rapid boost of energy; it can also be added to your morning bathing water, this is invigorating and will release enough energy for your day.
Black spruce oil: This oil helps one recover from a period of chronic fatigue; it promotes restful and energizing sleep, it calms the nerves, it also lowers inflammation and chronic pain. Mix 5 to 6 drops of black spruce oil in a warm bath and soak in it for 20 to 30 minutes; the powerful ingredients will work wonders in the body while the aroma will relax the mind.
Lavender oil: This oil is used in overcoming chronic fatigue by fighting sleep problems and stimulating the body; it boosts circulation, produce a revitalizing feeling, reduces the levels of stress and inflammation and it also helps one sleep well at night. You can put a few drops of this oil on your pillow to ensure a restful night sleep or you can inhale it directly or put it in a room diffuser to improve your mood during the day.