Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ( CFS) usually develops after receiving a trauma, contracting a virus like Covid or the flu, or recovering from a more severe disease. As fatigue progresses, it affects movement and lung capacity, and then neurotransmitters in the brain are affected, usually leading to feelings of frustration and depression. Anti-depressive drugs are typically prescribed that may help short-term with mood. Still, unfortunately, they do nothing for the fatigue situation in the long term, may worsen it, and can lead to drug dependency.
There is no “simple fatigue” in this situation as it usually involves several factors that down-regulate Mitochondrial function. ( mitochondria are organisms within cells responsible for producing ATP, our body’s energy currency -which give us energy ). Restoring mitochondrial efficiency and function is critical to overcoming fatigue issues.
There are no therapies that “boost “the immune system; indeed, the healthy working of the immune system, which may have been compromised at some stage, depends on several factors, not just one.
The following will help with restoring immune integrity and mitochondrial function-
- Good nutrition and avoiding toxins
- Specific herbal customised formulas to improve metabolism and organ function.
- Receiving Specific body work like Reiki or Moxa therapy ( heat therapy)
- Qigong +meditation / yoga Nidra + contemplative art ( poetry, painting etc.)
- Good quality sleep
- Supportive family life
All these will have a positive effect, and restoration will occur in time. Sounds simple? Well, it is, but as usual in today’s fast-food society, everyone wants results immediately !! This, alas, will not happen with this sort of disorder.
One needs to “rebuild” the body’s systems, which usually takes time. How long? For some, it may take months, and for others, years. Sounds depressing? The old proverb is ‘the thousand-mile journey starts with the first step”. It’s about the journey, not the destination. If one focuses just on the destination and the hurry to get there, then feelings of frustration are bound to follow, and that can be counterproductive to the healing process.
Where does one start? Look at the A list. Review where one can begin, where one is, or what needs attention. Look for the weakest link.
We receive energy into the body in four ways. Breathing, eating, sunlight and water. All are important. Sunlight exposure and drinking lots of water are essential, but breathing and the type of foods consumed are the most important for recovery. A mixture of internal therapies ( ingestive) and external therapies (non-ingestive) may be a good start.
Nutrition: A diet based on the “Mediterranean “diet with lots of warm cooked whole foods for easy digestion could be a good starting program. Drinking warm water or warm weak ginger tea ( grated ginger steeped in a cup ) throughout the day assists digestion and assimilation of nutrients. For those where ginger disagrees, apple cider vinegar with warm water before meals is an alternative. Taking digestive enzymes with meals could be better and more convenient for some. Nutrient absorption is essential.
Herbal Formula: A customised herbal formula will help to increase mitochondrial function and improve the body’s overall metabolism. Adrenal fatigue is quite familiar with CFS, so this needs to be addressed. Herbs are like potent functional foods with both a nutritional and a weak pharmacological effect and must be matched to the presenting signs and symptoms- “the pattern of the disorder”. Herbal therapy is biocompatible with human physiology and must be considered an essential therapy for CFS patients.
Breath: I always recommend meditation for those with CFS for its many benefits; however, many comment that they cannot meditate as they are too tired or unable to focus. This is where breath meditation or Pranayama ( yogic terminology) may be beneficial. A simple routine is learning the alternate nostril breathing technique, as may be found and explained on U – tube or with a yoga teacher and performed to one’s capacity. This may be only a minute or two to start.
This is an excellent routine to calm the mind and increase lung capacity. The practice of meditative breathing goes back 6000 years or more in India, and it is said that developing the breath is central to developing the body and mind connection. Modern science has verified this and demonstrates that breathing is connected to regulating the body’s autonomic nervous system ( ANS). The ANS becomes dysfunctional with CFS.
One may have heard of the Vagus nerve, the longest nerve in the body. It regulates. Digestion and Immune function in the GUT, It, too, is part of the ANS system and becomes dysfunctional with CFS.
If only one technique or therapy can be done, then Breath meditation is the Best!
Yoga Nidra: Yoga Nidra or guided meditation is passive and always good for CFS patients. This guided meditation is done lying down and does not involve concentration or energy. There are many methods to choose from on U tube or on podcasts, or free app sites such as -Insight Timer. Try a few and pick one that suits what you would like to do regularly. If one has brain fog or poor concentration, then Yoga Nidra is a good option.
Once the above is in place, a gentle External exercise program can be contemplated. I suggest Qigong for its many health benefits.
Qigong: Qigong Movements are gentle and supportive, with rhythmic breathing that will increase energy levels.
An excellent free resource is Lee Holden Qigong on U tube. Lee has a variety of programs and has one specifically for CFS. Naturally, start simple, or even with seated Qigong programs if that is all one can do. Qigong seems simple; indeed, many programs are, which is why it works!
A sample daily program, to begin with, could be –
Morning: Breathing exercises (Pranayama) followed by a guided meditation ( yoga Nidra )
Afternoon: Gentle Qigong exercise seated or standing.
The key is regularity. Length of time performing technique is less important than developing quality time and frequency. 6 days a week for best results. Some days will go better than others, but eventually, one can expand the time spent performing the exercises or move on to more involved programs. It may take several weeks or months to progress, but it’s about the journey, not the destination!
Recovery is important. Although I have mentioned Qigong as a way to commence, yoga also has lots to offer, so that could be an option for those with more energy. If any exercise exhausts, then either look for something else or tone down the amount of exercise one performs.
Other external therapies add “energy” to the body. Qigong can be applied as an external therapy by a practitioner or Reiki, which is very popular and has had good reports of helping with CFS.
“Moxa therapy “, in particular, is used extensively in the East to treat fatigue conditions. Could you look up Moxa on the internet? Samples of moxa therapy are on U tube, and for those who do not like exposure to smoke, Moxa can be done using smokeless techniques. Moxa can be done at home and is a great way to feel warm and relaxed. Moxa is usually applied to Acupoints for the best effect. For those who are immune compromised, moxa has been shown to increase white cell, blood count. Moxa is ideal for those who have fatigue through conventional cancer therapy.
Warning: There are many “breath work” or breathing programs on the internet. These may or may not benefit those with CFS if improperly applied. If you have any doubts, please refer to your health professional. Similarly, “special supplements” that are touted as being “amazing” for your health may not be so. Refer to your Health professional for the best advice. The advice given in this article is generally based on tried and proven therapies that work. In time they will assist in improving anyone’s health outcomes.
Peter Farnsworth N.D