11 Apr Overcoming Chronic Fatigue… Reversing Chronic Disease
Paul A. Goldberg MPH, DC, DACBN, DCBCN
Consultant to The Goldberg Tener Clinic
Chronic Disease Reversal
To reverse chronic disease of any type, a priority is the generation of a reliable level of energy. Real energy is generated by the body through normal physiological processes, not through stimulation by drugs, caffeine, herbs or other means.
Until the energy producing portion of our cells known as mitochondria are functioning adequately, we cannot expect reversal of any chronic disease to take place.
Fatigue can have numerous causes. It is important to remember, however, that all fatigue, whether transient or chronic, has causes behind it. When fatigue is chronic we are unable to accomplish the everyday tasks we need to live successfully and it interferes with our achieving long term life goals. Fatigue indicates that something, whether minor or major, needs correcting.
We all know what it is to feel fatigued occasionally. It is a signal broadcast by the body that our cellular batteries are not adequately charged, that our production of adenosine triphosphate is low and that we need to obtain rest and sleep. If in good health and we simply have a sleep deficit, a solid night or two of sleep will recharge our batteries. We can then return to feeling top notch so we can awake with gleeful anticipation of the challenges of the day ahead with an inner strength that says “bring it on!”
Many people, however, even after a decent night’s sleep, wake in the morning with a sense of dread as they face challenges they lack the strength to meet. A growing number of people are in a persistent state of unrelenting fatigue finding themselves altering between being tired, very tired and exhausted. Dragging themselves into the physician’s office these are the individuals commonly labeled with the medical diagnosis of “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” (C.F.S.).
Prior to “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”
At least as far back as the eighteenth century, there are references to the causes of fatigue. George Miller Beard, an American Neurologist, popularized the idea that nervous energy can become exhausted and in 1869 coined the term “neurasthenia”. Beard hypothesized that the problem was due to increasing technology taking its toll on the individual’s homeostasis. The notion of lost nerve energy playing a critical role in disease was taken up later by S. Weir Mitchell, who became an advocate of his “rest cure”. Numerous explanations have arisen for chronic fatigue since then.
“Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” as a Diagnosis
The popularity of the term “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” (CFS) began in the late 1980’s. Modern Medicine has chosen to encapsulate chronic fatigue as a disease entity that is baffling and difficult to define. CFS as a medical diagnosis has grown in popularity as physicians encounter growing legions of patients complaining of fatigue, depression, difficulties in concentration, irritability, muscle and joint pains and a host of other complaints not traceable to a specific “diagnosis”. Patient’s symptoms are often severe to the point of disability. These weary individuals can be found doctor shopping trying desperately to arrive at a plan to restore their health.
Those labeled with chronic fatigue often go through a myriad of tests running from one specialist to another only to be labeled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Chronic fatigue is a very common complaint physicians hear from patients. When other diagnoses have been eliminated, CFS has become a convenient default, a “diagnosis of exclusion”, a way for the physician to say, “I don’t know what is wrong so I am labeling you with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”
Definition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Much debate has surrounded the issue of defining CFS. Attempts at a definition are along the lines of excluding conditions more so than stating what CFS is. According to guidelines set in 1994 in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control, in order to receive a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, a patient must satisfy two criteria:
- Have severe chronic fatigue of six months or longer with other known medical conditions excluded by clinical diagnosis.
- Concurrently have four or more of the following symptoms: substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration; sore throat; tender lymph nodes; muscle pain; multi-joint pain without swelling or redness; headaches of a new type, pattern or severity; un-refreshing sleep; and post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours.
This diagnosis serves no real benefit. The patient is left clueless (as was the physician giving the diagnosis) as to what is wrong with them. Labeling a patient’s symptoms does not explain why they are ill or how to return to good health. The diagnosis of CFS has nonetheless grown in popularity as increasing numbers of patients complain of fatigue, depression, digestive issues, difficulties in concentration, irritability, muscle and joint pains and other complaints.
Numerous patients arrive at our office having been diagnosed with CFS or simply suffering with chronic fatigue, not knowing what to do even after seeing multiple doctors and trying numerous “remedies”. Most have long stories of how they have been unsuccessfully “treated”. The patients we see with “chronic fatigue” are very different from each other despite often being diagnosed with the same title of “chronic fatigue syndrome.”
Watch the video interview below with one of our patients that successfully reversed her chronic fatigue and other interrelated health problems following a long journey of unsuccessful treatments with several other physicians.
“Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” is a” Garbage Can Diagnosis”. It constitutes part of a medical junk pile that thousands of patients are placed into each year. Other popular garbage can type diagnoses include “fibromyalgia” and “irritable bowel syndrome”.
Patients labeled with CFS are typically treated by physicians with anti-depressants, stimulants and prescriptions for psychological treatments or simply given the advice; “you will have to learn to live with it”.
What purpose does it serve the physician to attach the name “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” to the patient’s symptoms? The title does not help the patient recover nor lead the patient to a constructive course of action. The diagnosis of CFS, however, serves the physician in two ways:
- It gives the patient a name for their symptoms. The physician therefore has “done their job.”
- The physician can assign an insurance code to the patient’s bill and prescribe a drug for the patient’s symptoms. The patient continues down the road of illness but the “problem” has been “diagnosed’ and a “treatment” given.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a misleading title often used by physicians when unable to determine why a patient is chronically ill.
Based on my experience working with numerous patients labeled with CFS over the past forty-seven years, there is an over-riding denominator and that is poor health. As long as the causes of their poor health are not addressed, patients will remain fatigued and become part of the majority of people in our nation who are chronically ill. Few physicians take the time, make the effort or are oriented to identify the individual causal factors responsible for the chronic fatigue in each patient.
Patients labeled with “CFS” generally feel poorly all over with patients often hesitant initially to say how poorly they feel. In many cases they will voice their most bothersome symptom, e.g., headaches, poor digestion, low back pain, arthritic pains, etc. With medical specialization, patients have been trained to focus on symptoms in one body area. Further probing, however, usually reveals an individual who has not felt well in many aspects for a long period of time. For some, the decline in their health has been so gradual they do not recognize how much it has deteriorated until an individualized health program is initiated and the patient finds their vitality being restored. It is astounding how many patients (including physicians who have consulted with me regarding their own health problems) have learned to accept feeling run down as a way of life until they are unable to function any longer.
The patient, who on our clinic’s questionnaire states that their health is “excellent”, often later reveals they have constipation and/or diarrhea, excess gas, trouble getting out of bed in the morning, relies on coffee, cigarettes, soft drinks, energy drinks or other stimulants, have skin problems, bad breath, joint stiffness, etc., but overall “their health is good’!” “After all,” the patient continues, “doesn’t everyone have these kinds of problems?” Sadly, the answer is almost yes, as more and more individuals are experiencing physical degeneration and feeling lousy earlier and earlier in their lives.
Chronic fatigue has become the norm for many, accompanied by muscle pains and aches, headaches, indigestion, irritability, skin outbreaks, sleep disturbances, etc. Insidiously, these problems have been swept into the realm of normalcy. I have witnessed this even in young people in their twenties already experiencing early signs of physical decay. Many accept their digestive problems, reliance on stimulants, inability to concentrate, chronic fatigue, depression, etc., as being “normal.”
Steps to Overcome Chronic Fatigue and Restore Health
Two steps should be taken to help ensure the patient’s journey to good health (including eliminating their chronic fatigue) is successful:
- Address the health of the patient by taking steps to build health not just treat disease. This includes addressing sleep patterns, sun exposure, activity, water intake, fresh air, a comprehensive look at diet and digestion, mental poise, toxicology and toxic habits. These elements are basic to what make us up as human beings yet are overlooked or given mere lip service in most doctors’ offices. Because these are basic to health, any other measures instituted without addressing these first will certainly fail. Most physicians simply do not choose to go over these important aspects of health with their patients as they run from room to room to see as many patients as possible each day to fill their quotas.
- Address specific weaknesses in the person’s biochemical make-up. Each of us is unique in an infinite number of ways. There are a myriad of differences among us. Added to this genetic variability are numerous environmental variables that interact with our genetic makeup. Understanding what makes each person unique allows an effective, individual approach to be taken. A practitioner with an in-depth knowledge of clinical nutrition, clinical epidemiology and the appropriate use of functional laboratory testing should be utilized to perform this assessment. Factors the practitioner should evaluate that can contribute to the patient’s chronic fatigue include:
- Hypoglycemia/diabetes/blood sugar dysregulation/dysglycemia. This often includes not only a fasting glucose and HgA1C, but a properly interpreted 6-hour glucose tolerance test, a fasting insulin and a C-Peptide Analysis all carefully interpreted and the results applied to the patient. Read our two part article “Blood Sugar: Beyond Diabetes and Hypoglycemia” Part I and Part II.
- Toxicology – Accumulated environmental and metabolic toxins such as Styrene, Elevated Indican, Glyphosate, lead, arsenic, mercury, and many others can result in a significant impairment of the body’s ability to produce energy. In practice, we have found this to be increasingly common upon laboratory testing. Our public health background helps us analyze this correctly and take the appropriate remedial steps. Read our article “Environmental Toxins and their Role in Chronic Disease”.
- Digestive Efficiency (including intestinal health)
- Comprehensive Dietary Analysis
- Food and Environmental Allergies
- Sleep patterns.
- Anemia and other metabolic imbalances.
- Thyroid Status
- Hypoadrenalism – The adrenal glands produce adrenalin and cortisol both of which influence energy production. Special testing allows us to analyze adrenal function in a comprehensive manner.
- Autoimmune disorders and analyzing the reasons behind them in each patient.
- Psychological depression contributing to chronic fatigue.
- Prescription Drug Medications – fatigue is a side effect of many pharmaceuticals.
- Environmental/Occupational Illness
- Toxic Health Habits
Fatigue represents the body crying out for help. It prompts us to identify what we are doing that is draining our body’s vitality and correct the problems before extensive damage occurs. The reasons for fatigue are numerous but to a conscientious doctor and a cooperative patient the answers can be found, applied and good health restored. The video interviews shown below with patients from our clinic illustrate the positive outcomes that are possible through the Goldberg Tener Clinic Bio-Hygienic Approach.
Learn more about our approach to reversing a variety of chronic disease conditions:
1) Chronic Allergies
2) Ankylosing Spondylitis
3) Autoimmune Disease
4) Chronic Skin Conditions
5) Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
7) Digestive Disorders
8) Eosinophilic Esophagitis
10) Irritable Bowel Syndrome
11) Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis
12) Rheumatoid Arthritis
14) Thyroid Conditions
15) Other Chronic Conditions
See more interviews with patients from the Goldberg Tener Clinic:
1) Autoimmune and Allergic Disorders
2) Digestive Disorders
3) Rheumatoid Disorders
4) Chronic Skin Conditions
5) Hormonal/Weight Disorders
6) Diabetes / Blood Sugar Disorders
7) Cardiovascular Disease
8) Chronic Headaches
9) Thyroid Disorders
11) Chronic Fatigue