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The Vitamin Cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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This book addresses the myriad causes of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and offers restorative vitamin and other treatments to safely reduce symptoms.

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10 Chapters

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CHAPTER 1: What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

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In the autumn of 1984, in Incline Village, Nevada, local physicians Paul Cheney and Daniel Peterson documented the first cluster of approximately 200 people who became ill with a prolonged flu-like illness. They were perplexed because all of their patients had similar unexplained symptoms, including high levels of Epstein-Barr virus antibodies in their blood. This mysterious syndrome was referred to as chronic Epstein-Barr virus (CEBV). About a year later, a second cluster of similar flu-like symptoms appeared in Lyndonville, New York, but this time it primarily affected children and adolescents. The media became interested in these phenomena, and soon after there were sporadic reports of similar flu-like illnesses across the United States.1

Sometime during the 1980s, CEBV was nicknamed the “yuppie flu” because it was believed to primarily affect affluent, young professionals. This is completely untrue since the majority of people having the illness are between forty and fifty-nine years of age and are mostly lower-income as opposed to high-income earners. Eventually, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) became involved and named the illness chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and they also created a U.S. case definition for diagnosis in 1988.2

 

CHAPTER 2: Lifestyle Modifications

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According to general practitioner Dr. Erik T. Paterson, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) usually starts with a “stressed” organism. The stress, he explains, is hastened by several distinctive personality traits: having a type A personality, working much too hard, and never refusing to take on additional responsibilities—the kind of individual, as Dr. Paterson states, “that no civilization can do without.”1 The overarching problem is that these individuals become weakened and are thus more vulnerable to other insults, such as toxic environmental chemicals (obtained from food, air, and water) and even viruses.

Some of these individuals will unfortunately end up developing CFS and must learn how to bring proper balance into their lives; otherwise, progress will not be possible. How can patients with CFS bring more balance into their lives? Numerous experts in the field of chronic fatigue evaluated the evidence and summarized effective lifestyle and self-help strategies that can benefit those with CFS.2 Here is a summary of the most important findings.

 

CHAPTER 3: Treating Allergies

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Dietary modifications can play a major role in improving quality of life for those with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). There is emerging evidence suggesting a link between adverse reactions to foods or diet-derived compounds (food allergies) and the development of CFS.1 An elimination diet can help provide relief, as can vitamin C and other nutrients.

One investigator reported less fatigue in 73 percent of CFS patients who implemented dietary modifications.2 This finding is important since fatigue is the central problem in CFS. Other research demonstrated a reduction in the inflammatory compounds called cytokines when food intolerances were eliminated by dietary modifications.3 When individuals with food intolerances were challenged with dairy and wheat, cytokine levels were significantly elevated. This can cause a myriad of symptoms that mimic the features of chronic fatigue, such as headaches, muscle pains, joint pains, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

When CFS patients eliminated wheat, milk, benzoates, nitrites, nitrates, and food colorings and other additives from their diets, 90 percent experienced symptom reduction in fatigue, recurrent fever, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, joint pain, and cognitive dysfunction.4 There was also a reduction in irritable bowel symptoms, which is particularly relevant since the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome is high among those with CFS.5 In another study in which CFS patients eliminated food intolerances, there was complete alleviation of chronic fatigue in twenty patients.6

 

CHAPTER 4: Optimizing Autonomic and Central Nervous System Function

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People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) suffer from nervous system impairments as a result of abnormalities in both their autonomic and central nervous systems. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) abnormalities lead to blood flow problems and even drops in blood pressure when standing, which can be responsible for symptoms such as light-headedness and fatigue. The central nervous system (CNS) abnormalities may involve alterations in brain blood flow and brain metabolism, which are presumed to be responsible for cognitive deficits involving concentration, attention, and short-term memory. I would also add mental fatigue and fogginess to the list of cognitive deficits that those with CFS experience. To remedy these nervous system disturbances, a number of nutritional options are available that can optimize the functioning of both the ANS and CNS.

In the previous chapter, I recommended that people with chronic fatigue consider following an oligoantigenic (elimination) diet followed by a challenge phase to pinpoint dietary intolerances (food allergies). Once all implicated dietary items have been identified, they should be strictly avoided or ingested only once every four days to limit ongoing allergic reactions. This is a vital step when trying to recover from CFS.

 

CHAPTER 5: A Detoxification Program for Chronic Fatigue

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Earlier in this book, research was presented about the relationship between toxic agents and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It is well known that exposure to toxins can produce an illness that would be clinically indistinguishable from CFS. The most implicated toxins are the organochlorine and organophosphate chemicals that have widespread use in both domestic and industrial settings, in items such as insecticides and pesticides. People with CFS who believe they are toxic can usually recall an event or exposure that seemed to trigger the onset of their illness. They might have lived near a golf course, where the spraying of pesticides is common practice, or perhaps they grew up on a farm where chemicals were needed to spare the crops from pest destruction. Some may believe that environmental toxic exposures created their illness, and they are probably correct, since they can pinpoint the exact time and place when the exposures occurred and when their symptoms began.

For environmentally toxic CFS sufferers, a detoxification program should be instituted immediately so that fat-soluble toxins can be safely and effectively eliminated from the body. Detoxification is the body’s ability to transform a fat-soluble compound into a water-soluble compound so that it can be eliminated.1 Although the urinary route of excretion actively removes transformed fat-soluble compounds, it is not always an effective avenue of elimination. Fat-soluble toxins can persist for years or even decades because they were never effectively removed from the body. People with chronic fatigue can have excessive amounts of fat-soluble organochlorine and organophosphate compounds that continue to wreak havoc since they remain imbedded in tissues, particularly fat, and in organs such as the liver, kidneys, and even the brain.2

 

CHAPTER 6: Restoring Balance to the Immune System

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Poor nutritional habits (such as eating too much junk food and sugar) or having specific nutrient deficiencies (vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc) will impair the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections. When immune status has been compromised by poor nutrition, the infections we actually succumb to become much more virulent and damaging. This is perhaps one of the central reasons why so many individuals that develop chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have an immune system that is chronically over-activated.

Not only are people with CFS vulnerable to the deleterious effects of a triggering agent like a virus, but it is highly probable that a virus or some other infectious agent causes more significant immune system damage as a consequence of inadequate nutrition. This is a vicious cycle: inadequate nutrition increased the vulnerability to infection, and once the infection triggered the immune system, inadequate nutritional status allowed the infection to persist longer, leading to a state of chronic immune system activation and the eventual development of CFS. Key symptoms of immune system dysfunction among CFS sufferers include: general malaise; being chronically fatigued; having a chronic sore throat or sinus congestion; experiencing daily muscle aches and pains; and potentially having abnormal skin, hair, and nail changes.

 

CHAPTER 7: Treating Mental Health Problems

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Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is strongly associated with both depression and anxiety-related symptoms.1 The mental anguish and physical toll that anxiety and depression impose is tremendous, especially since people with CFS are already burdened by the inherent difficulties of their illness. Even though chronic fatigue is often misdiagnosed as depression, many sufferers do in fact suffer from low moods. I have also observed that there are a sizeable number of people with CFS who suffer from anxiety and feel further incapacitated by being chronically stressed, nervous, and tense.

Since it makes little sense for those with chronic fatigue to suffer needlessly from debilitating mental health symptoms, they should undergo a therapeutic trial using several of the numerous vitamin and other treatments that are available. These natural treatments usually improve quality of life and significantly reduce symptoms of chronic mental health problems.

In Chapter 3, I recommended that people with chronic fatigue consider following an oligoantigenic (elimination) diet followed by a challenge phase to pinpoint dietary intolerances (food allergies). Once all implicated dietary items have been identified, they should be strictly avoided or ingested only once every four days to limit ongoing allergic reactions. Since food allergies can be responsible for mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression, removing ongoing allergic reactions is a vital component of an effective plan to overcome CFS.

 

CHAPTER 8: Alleviating Muscular Dysfunction

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People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) typically complain of muscle aches and pains (referred to as myalgias in the medical literature), as well as muscular fatigue and weakness. Since muscular dysfunction is such a common problem among many with CFS, natural treatments should be instituted to not only reduce muscle pain but to also increase the ability to perform daily activities, such as walking, completing household chores, and simply moving around. Carrying out these common activities depends on a normal and healthy muscular system.

Research confirms the likely relationship between chronic fatigue and muscular dysfunction. One CFS case documented early intracellular acidosis (a state in which there is not enough oxygen) following moderate exercise.1 Another, decades-old study evaluated clinical, pathological, electrophysiological, immunological, and virological abnormalities in fifty patients with postviral fatigue syndrome.2 Many of the patients demonstrated prolonged weakness in several bodily areas (arms and legs) following specific exercises. Muscle biopsies were performed on twenty of the patients and the results demonstrated necrosis (death) in many muscle fibers, as well as evidence of early intracellular acidosis. A more recent study found an increased amount of oxidative stress and marked alterations of muscle function among chronic fatigue patients who were subjected to incremental exercise.3

 

CHAPTER 9: Treating Red Blood Cell Abnormalities and Oxidative Stress

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The relationship between impaired microcirculatory blood flow and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a neglected area of inquiry. Normal tissue function depends on an adequate supply of oxygen and metabolic substrates, which is only possible in the presence of normal capillary blood flow. Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the tissues of the body. Since many of the smaller capillaries in the human body have diameters that are more narrow than the diameters of red blood cells (RBCs), adequate perfusion of bodily tissues depends on the ability of RBCs to change from their normal discocyte shape (a process called deformation) so that they can readily traverse (enter into) the capillaries.1

Numerous studies have evaluated microcirculatory blood flow and/or RBC deformability in subjects with chronic fatigue. In a study comparing blood filterability, samples of blood from acutely unwell CFS subjects were shown to be less filterable than blood from similarly aged blood donors.2 These subjects had prolonged blood filtration times that normalized to that of the aged blood donors once their acute illnesses had passed. Based on these findings, the investigators concluded that the numerous symptoms of chronic fatigue might result from impaired microcirculatory blood flow. A 1987 report discovered abnormal RBC shape changes among chronic fatigue patients in a state of relapse.3 The cell membranes of the altered RBCs were thought to be more rigid, thus impairing the delivery of oxygen and other nutrient materials.

 

CONCLUSION: Create an Individualized Treatment Plan

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CONCLUSION

Create an Individualized Treatment Plan

If you have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and want to obtain a better and more enjoyable quality of life, it is important that the recommendations in this book are used in conjunction with a comprehensive holistic treatment plan, which includes lifestyle and dietary modifications, along with the vitamin and other treatments. To help you prioritize your symptoms and then implement treatments, I have created a step-by-step approach—the Prousky Plan—to assist you. This approach has been successfully used with many of my CFS patients. It should allow you to more effectively and precisely treat your own symptoms and overcome chronic fatigue.

The Prousky Plan

Step One: Incorporate many of the suggestions in Chapter 2: Lifestyle Modifications. These will help you create a more balanced life, and teach you to “pace” yourself in your daily activities. Pay special attention to the type and intensity of regular exercise and look for ways to make your home more ergonomically sound.

 

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