Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any known medical condition. The fatigue often worsens with physical or mental activity and doesn’t improve with rest. Many people with CFS have significantly reduced functional capacity and are unable to perform many daily tasks. It affects women more frequently than men. There are many similarities in symptoms shared between people with fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity and CFS.
Conventional Treatment of CFS
Conventional treatment for CFS focuses on symptom relief and may include the following medications:
- Antidepressants. Since many people who have CFS are also depressed, antidepressants are commonly used in these patients. Low doses of some antidepressants can also help improve sleep and relieve pain.
- Sleeping pills. Since many people with CFS have sleeping problems, various prescription sleep aids are often used.
Functional Medicine Management of CFS
A comprehensive approach to the management of complex conditions such as CFS must take into consideration many aspects of health, including gut barrier integrity and imbalances of gut flora, liver detoxification capacity and toxic burden, hormone imbalances, immune imbalances, nutrient status and most importantly, mitochondrial energy production capacity, which recent research indicates may be an important part of the development of CFS. More specifically, Functional Medicine approaches CFS by supporting normal physiology of the organ systems which become imbalanced in this condition and may contribute to the development and progression of this condition.
There are several areas of management of CFS in the Functional Medicine approach:
- Assessing for and eliminating pathogenic infection and supporting immune health
- Restoring normal gut barrier integrity, digestion and gut microbial balance
- Supporting liver detoxification processes and decreasing toxic load
- Supporting restoration of hormone levels, including adrenal hormones involved in the sleep-wake cycle
- Supporting restoration of brain neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter function responsible for mood, cognition and pain perception
- Supporting energy production by the mitochondria, the “power-houses” of the body’s cells
- Restoring healthy levels of nutrients in cases of nutritional deficiencies