Tag Archives: fatigue

Did you need that buzz and burn just to feel well… before you got fibromyalgia?

Marcusby Holistic Osteopath, Marcus Webb

Over the years of working with fibromyalgia (FM) sufferers and writing about FM stress always bobs up as a key associated factor closely followed by the inevitable cause and effect argument that tends to ensue with no one really coming out any the wiser! Naturally, suffering from a disabling, medically unexplained and often untreatable condition brings inherent stresses of its own with it, but there is some compelling data suggesting that a pre-FM state of being may exist in many sufferers that is stress sensitive and may possibly form the basis of their system breakdown that ultimately leads on to the clinical picture we know as FM.

It is not uncommon for me to hear how a FM suffer is finding it so hard to get use to a reduced level of activity after being “so busy” or “driven” in work or sports. Many FM sufferers can recall how well they use to multi-task juggling work, family life and the gym without a second thought and how they needed that ‘burn’ at the gym to feel energised and on top of life and if they missed their routine fix of exercise how flat they felt, and this was before they developed FM. The interesting thing with all these stories if just how similar they are; active, driven often very successful individuals now living lives they could never imagine; lives of pain, fatigue, loss of motivation and in many cases social isolation. Naturally, depression and stress are more than likely to develop in such circumstances but what is even more intriguing is the idea that a pre-FM state existed that actually required all the stimuli of multi-tasking, the work-buzz and the physical burn of the gym just to keep that person feeling normal. The key tipping point is when it all stopped… that’s when the system crashed and burned.

Within the FM community, how many times do we hear the story of how well everything was going before that ‘virus’ hit and confined the person to bed for some time or that ‘injury’ took the person out of circulation for a good while as it healed. Alternatively, someone’s entire life and routine could be blown out of the water by a bereavement or redundancy at work. A virus, an injury, loss/bereavement, redundancy… there are all very common triggers for FM but are they actually to blame or were they simply the catalyst that broke the behaviours that simply kept the person going? Data to support this theory does exist and revolves around exercise-based research. We now know that within a group of healthy individuals who are exposed to regular exercise some develop widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and mood disturbances (the same or very similar profile to that of FM) after a brief period of the exercise withdrawal while some don’t. Even more profound was the fact that the symptomatic individuals, who appeared to suffer so badly following the withdrawal of their exercise, also displayed other typical features of FM such as altered autonomic function, reduced immune (especially NK-cell) responsiveness and other bodily reactions typical of hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) dysfunction. In essence, they appeared to develop all or many of the clinical features of FM!

The authors of the study suggested that, in some, there exists a pre-existing hypo-functioning stress system that requires regular stimulus just to remain normally stimulated. This mechanism follows the principles of what is known as ‘allostasis’, in which the body seeks to maintain balance, and may explain why so many FM sufferers report living very active, stimulating and to onlookers stressful lives prior to developing FM. It appears that while they were unknowingly self-medicating with stimulus from all angles they were doing so simply to feel normal; it was the only way they could kick their hypo-functioning stress systems into life. However, with this theory comes further questions such as why do some people have hypo-functioning stress system to start with? The possible answers to this part of the puzzle may lie in the long accepted association between early life stress and a dysfunctional stress regulating systems. It is known that early life stress is strongly linked to the development of FM with the pivotal trigger being an over or under active stress regulating system; it is known that early life stress can trigger one or the other. In the case of an under active stress regulating system, having a life full of stimulus and arousal not only distracts from us from dwelling on negative life events it also stimulates the body and maintains a normal level of being. Anything that interferes with this will tip the body into a negative spiral both emotionally and physically as the full effects of the underactive HPA system kicks in. With prolonged removal from life events and routines that enhance arousal a chronic state of low HPA activity becomes the normal and the clinical picture of chronic fatigue syndrome with FM (CFS/FM) becomes established.

While this will not offer a universal explanation to the development of CFS/FM it does put forward a provocative argument for many cases and should assist in managing stress or a system that needs a bit of stress to feel normal. May be this helps to explain why some CFS/FM sufferers do so well on natural agents such as TriAdren (a special blend of standardised adrenal supporting ingredients; ginseng liquorice root and vitamin C) while others feel such a benefit from agents designed to calm an over active HPA system such as Zen-Time with Lactium. In the case of the low functioning HPA system enhancement with graded exercise and carefully balanced adrenal stimulants such as those in TriAdren help to give the lift this subset of CFS/FM sufferers need while the central nervous system calming effects of the Lactium ingredient contained in the Zen-Time formula eases the agitation and stress related symptoms that typify an over active HPA system. Either way, managing CFS/FM is an ever evolving science and art but the basic science that underpins the simple act of withdrawing exercise and observing the effects on healthy individuals has open many new angles for further study.

Learn more about TriAdren at www.supersupps.com

Learn more about Zen-Time with Lactium (and take the FREE online stress test) at www.zen-time.co.uk

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Gluten sensitivity and fibromyalgia… is there really a link?

Marcusby Holistic Osteopath, Marcus Webb

By the time you read this little article I am sure you will have heard about a study linking gluten sensitivity with fibromyalgia and reporting on how ‘remarkable clinical improvement can be achieved with a gluten-free diet in patients with fibromyalgia (FM) even if coeliac disease has been ruled out’. The conclusion also goes on to say that ‘non-coeliac gluten sensitivity may be an underlying treatable cause in FM syndrome’.

However, the plot thickens; in all 20 of the FM subjects studied biopsies of their intestine revealed a pathological change known as intraepithelial lymphocytosis, a finding the authors use to help support their hypothesis that gluten sensitivity is a causal agent and underlies FM. This cause and effect relationship that this latest study hints at does sound convincing especially when we keep in mind that intraepithelial lymphocytosis has been associated with gluten sensitivity in the past but should we be jumping to such a definitive conclusion; what about those FM patients who don’t have intraepithelial lymphocytosis, were they removed from the study because they did not respond to a gluten-free diet? Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to discredit or down play the study or the potential benefits of a gluten free diet in cases of FM but I am aware that many FM sufferers may read this and feel that they have to follow a gluten-free diet in order to get better but before going on it may be good to lay out a little additional information about intraepithelial lymphocytosis.

Within the tissue of the gut known as (epithelial tissue) special white blood cells known as lymphocytes reside waiting like guard on duty to be triggered into life by an invading army. In the case of the gut this is would normally be a bacterial infection. In around 3% of routine biopsies increased levels of lymphocytes can be observed (ie. intraepithelial lymphocytosis) and between 9-40% of cases celiac disease has eventually been diagnosed. In some cases intraepithelial lymphocytosis occurs in other multi-system disorders such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, Systemic lupus erythematosus, ankylosing spondylitis and autoimmune enteropathy. The other cases tend to be viewed as a non-specific finding related to other health issues such as bacterial overgrowth (SEBO), inflammatory damage secondary to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use or other chronic inflammatory bowel disease. In other words, the presence of intraepithelial lymphocytosis is not diagnostic of gluten sensitivity but in the absence of other causes gluten sensitivity could be a possibility since it has been reported to account for around 10% of the cases of intraepithelial lymphocytosis but it should be kept in mind that hypersensitivity to other non-gluten components of food may also trigger this tissue change. Interestingly, a good number of the 20 subjects had co-existing health problems that have also been linked with the bowel tissue chances characteristic of intraepithelial lymphocytosis such as psoriasis (in 2 cases), hypothyroidism (in 3 cases), inflammarory/irritable bowel (in 5 cases) and gastric reflux (in 10 cases) which is a problem that commonly receives PPI drug therapy. As a drug class, PPI’s are also known to trigger intraepithelial lymphocytosis. However you critique this study as much as you want but what you can’t ignore is the outcome; for many, great relief of their chronic and disabling symptoms using a drug-free approach.

For many FM sufferers having a condition that is resistant to conventional therapies places them in a real corner when it comes to treatment and management options. From my experiences working with FM/CFS sufferers we tend to do what works or what works for that person! Science tends to take its time in catching up with the clinical observations but while it is catching up in many cases there is no real harm in exploring options that appear to have some evidence to support their use such as a trial of a gluten-free diet. From the results of the current study the gluten-free diet was followed for 16 months on average but in one case (a FM sufferer for 20 years) improvement in pain, fatigue and gut symptoms were felt after just 5 months and in another case (a sufferer for 10 years) complete remission of FM and improvements in gut and migraine was also observed after just 5 months. In some cases significant improvements and a return to normal life activities and work were seen after more prolonged (over 30 months) exposure to the gluten-free diet. However you look at it, cutting the gluten has made a dramatic difference to many sufferers in this small study.

If you feel that a gluten free approach is something you fancy trying its not a diet to be taken on lightly… so many foods contain gluten! Despite this, I would advise that you seriously consider going gluten free if your FM is of long standing and you have exhausted all other approaches. Keep in mind that you may have to stick to it for many months before you feel any tangible benefits but again, for what its worth, I can support the observations that many ill-defined inflammatory and pain related conditions simply improve with the elimination of gluten.

To help get you started you should avoid Barley, bulgar wheat, couscous, durum wheat, rye, semolina, spelt, wheat, all biscuits, breads, cakes, chapattis, crackers, muffins, pastries, pizza bases, muesli, wheat based breakfast cereals and anything made from wheat, rye or barley flour. By no stretch of the imagination is this a complete gluten free diet but it’s a start and something you can instigate today. Sitting down with an experienced nutritionist or naturopath should be your next step so you can get a more complete understanding of the complete gluten free diet and what it involves. In the early days of a gluten free diet I tend to recommend the use of a special dietary enzyme supplement based in a blend of plant derived gluten splitting enzymes. In addition to the cellulose digesting enzyme known as cellulase the key ingredient in Gluten Relief is Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (or DPP-IV for short). DPP-IV is a type of protein splitting enzyme, known as a protease, and has been shown to break down the wheat protein gluten and milk protein casein. This combines with alpha-galactosidase to aid in the digestion of long chain sugars found in beans, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts etc… Using an enzyme preparation such as Gluten Relief (by the Canadian manufacturer Natural Factors) does not replace in anyway a gluten free diet but when you are unsure or are out and about with limited choices it may help to ‘defuse’ a potential gluten containing meal.

Link to study: Fibromyalgia and non-celiac gluten sensitivity: a description with remission of fibromyalgia. 

Link to Gluten Relief product

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Vitamin B12 – the story continues

Marcus Webb

Observations and comments by Marcus Webb

Vitamin B12 has always been associated with fighting fatigue and supporting nerve function. However, this complex vitamin with many biological functions that new research indicates extend beyond simple physical wellbeing.  

Vitamin B12 has an established key role is the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system as well as for the formation of healthy blood cells and is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the body. For such an essential nutrient it may come as a surprise that the human body is unable to produce its own B12 and is completely reliant on dietary sources. While some may quote authorities who state that our bowel bugs generate some vitamin B12 it has been shown that this tiny trickle is not absorbed from the colon and serves as no real nutritional source. We vitamin B12, albeit in small amounts, but we have to get it from our diet. Some key dietary sources are describe later on but in essence there is no reliable non-animal source of vitamin B12 making it very difficult for strict vegetarians or vegans to obtain significant amounts.

Interestingly, vitamin B12 was initially discovered due to its relationship with the condition pernicious anaemia. This is an autoimmune disease whereby the cells in the stomach responsible for secreting intrinsic factor (IF), which is crucial for the absorption of B12, are destroyed.

Taking vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is often used to treat nerve pain. In most cases, the reported benefit of B12 is related to the injected form of B12 in people suffering from nerve pains in relation to diabetic neuropathy or shingles pain.

There have been some news stories relating to poor B12 absorption in people taking gastric acid blocking drugs. These drugs take effect on the same cells within the stomach that produce IF. In regular users, regular tablets or capsules of B12 will not help much because the absorption of B12 has become impaired as a consequence of the drug action. This is where the suckable/chewable tablets (B12 Infusion tablets from Enzymatic Therapy) come into their own. Vitamin B12 can be effectively absorbed across the delicate membranes of the mouth in sufficient amounts to readdress any deficiency without the need for injection therapy in most cases. For those with true pernicious anaemia who need regular injections of B12 every 3 months a top-up using the B12 Infusion tablets in the month leading up to the next injection can offer a great ‘lift’ for those who notice a general low energy phase before their next injection. So long as the B12 is in the biologically active form known as methylcobalamin and in a chewable/suckable form dosing up on one tablet per day for a month or so could make all the difference to fatigue or ‘brain fog’. Even if you have not been using the acid-blocking drugs, it may be worth trying a course of sublingual B12 for a month especially if you are over 50 years old or follow a strict vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Vitamin B12

Scientific studies into the causes of fibromyalgia (FM) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are always interesting, especially when they appear to support what we notice in the clinic. In the case of vitamin B12 many FM/CFS sufferers report improved energy and overall well-being following a course of high-dose B12 supplementation over 4-6 weeks. Lending some scientific evidence to this anecdotal observation, a study carried out in Sweden back in 1997 gave support to the use of B12 in FM/CFS cases when it was shown that the fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord (the cerebrospinal fluid of CSF) was significantly lower in vitamin B12 than expected. Having such a low CSF B12 level was closely associated with increased levels of a metabolite known as homocysteine. This in turn was linked to profound symptoms of fatigue. The study concluded that these findings were probably contributing to the FM/CFS in their study group. Sadly, since then, little work has been performed in this area of vitamin B12 research but a team from Kings College did provide preliminary evidence of reduced functional B vitamin status in CFS patients. It’s not often practical to perform routine blood testing for B-vitamin status in cases of FM/CFS let alone sampling of the CSF, but in the holistic management of this complex spectrum of disorders, a trial of vitamin B12 or a good vitamin B complex often yields impressive results and is well worth considering.

Product link: BioActive B12 infusion 1000mcg vitamin B12 in the sublingual methylcobalamin form

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Helping to combat fatigue and body-energy crises using D-ribose.

What frustrates many people who suffer from fatigue with or without the associated muscular pain known as fibromyalgia is the fact that, on paper, they are too well to be ill. Routine blood tests are typically normal in both situations but the level of pain and fatigue are far from normal and can be life destroying.

Back in August we posted a brief note on the research behind ribose and fatigue. In this post we take it a bit further and explain more of the detail.

It is true to say that there is no known cause for fibromyalgia with all laboratory tests including muscle samples (biopsies) taken from the most tender regions appearing perfectly normal on specialist examination and analysis. This lack of medical evidence places sufferers in a dilemma; how to manage the problem? Exciting work coming out of America is throwing new light on the issue. The latest in a number of small scale studies confirms what has been observed clinically. A simple sugar-like substance, known as ProRibose (contains pure D-ribose), can be of help. The study in question involved 41 sufferers and was set up to investigate the effects of D ribose on two key end points; improvements in pain relief and easing of fatigue. The average age of the study group was 48 years old and 78% were female. This is in keeping with the typical profile of a fibromyalgia and fatigue sufferer. As with many studies, some people dropped out before the test month was finished but of the 36 who completed the trial 69% reported significant improvements in both of the symptoms being investigated and a 25% improvement in quality of life, as assessed by a special questionnaire. The mechanism behind this exciting set of results is not clear. What is known, however, is that fibromyalgia sufferers have lower levels of the energy molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and a reduced capacity to make ATP in their muscles. It is also known from previous studies that D-ribose can fuel ATP production. This may, in part, be responsible for the effects of D-ribose supplementation which appears to reduce muscle pain and enhance quality of life for those suffering with fibromyalgia and / or chronic fatigue. D-Ribose, also known simply as ribose, is a simple sugar. Technically known as a 5 carbon monosaccharide, or pentose sugar it is used by all the cells of the body and is an essential compound in energy metabolism. Ribose also provides the structural backbone of our genetic material, DNA and RNA, certain vitamins and other important cellular compounds. If the cellular energy pool is depleted by disease, overwork, or exercise it must be replaced. Supplemental ribose can be viewed as jump-starting the energy manufacturing mechanisms and accelerating the process of energy production. To date D-ribose has been shown to be a safe supplement. Only two side effects have been noted; in very large doses, in excess of 10 grams, loose stools (diarrhoea) has been reported and in similar doses a transient dip in blood sugar levels. However, when using any supplement that contains or influences the blood sugar levels or energy levels it is always recommended that a diabetic patient consults a health professional beforehand. To reduce both of these potential but rare side effects, sensitive individuals should take D-ribose with a carbohydrate meal. Taking D-ribose at the recommended intake of between 2-5 grams per dose is not normally associated with any dose effects. A great advocate of the use of D-ribose in CFS/FM is Dr Jacob Teitelbaum. He has suggested that its critical to use the proper dose for the first 3 weeks, which is 5 grams (5000 mg) three times a day, after which the intake can be dropped to twice a day. Dr Teitelbaum is keen on using D-ribose in CFS/FM patients because he has noted that when people consume D-ribose, their body recognizes that it is different from other sugars and preserves it for the vital work of actually making the energy molecule that powers our hearts, muscles, brains, and every other tissue in the body. With its established association with the energy currency of the cell (ATP) D-ribose provides the key building block of ATP, and the presence of D-ribose in the cell stimulates the metabolic pathway our bodies use to actually make this vital compound. If the cell does not have enough D-ribose, it cannot make ATP. So, when cells and tissues become energy starved, the availability of D-ribose is critical to energy recovery. In his detailed article about D-ribose (available online) Dr Teitelbaum describes how normal, healthy heart and muscle tissue has the capacity to make all the D-ribose it needs. However, when normal tissue is stressed by overexertion, several days of rest will usually allow it to fully recover. The muscle may be sore during recovery, as we frequently see for the three or four days after a hard day of gardening or similar unaccustomed work. Eventually energy levels will be restored and the soreness will disappear. But when the muscle is chronically stressed by disease or conditions that affect tissue energy metabolism, the cells and tissues simply cannot make enough D-ribose quickly enough to recover. Heart and skeletal muscles just don’t have the metabolic machinery they need to make D-ribose very efficiently. The result is chronic, persistent pain, stiffness, soreness, and overwhelming fatigue that may never go away. Given the high level or reported muscular pain in cases of CFS/FM that fit this clinical picture it would appear reasonable to consider a trial of D-ribose following the dose recommendation outlined by Dr Teitelbaum, who as a CFS/FM sufferer himself, takes D-ribose every day. Most natural agents are needed for 4-9 months to help restore deficiencies but if D-ribose works for you its safe to use on a regular basis.

Study supports D-Ribose use

In a very recent study published in the Pain Journal this year, Dr Teitelbaum and colleagues followed 203 diagnosed CFS/FM patients over a 3-weeks course of D-Ribose therapy. They discovered that improvements began in the first week of treatment, and continued to increase at the end of the 3 weeks of treatment. Their findings are summarized below;

61.3 % increase in energy

37% increase in overall well being

29.3% improvement in sleep

30% improvement in mental clarity

15.6% decrease in pain

 

At the end of the study they concluded that D-ribose resulted in markedly improved energy levels, sleep, mental clarity, pain relief, and well being in patients suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Further Information

The study can be view on line (Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia with D-Ribose– An Open-label, Multicenter Study. The Open Pain Journal, 2012, 5, 32-37).

Useful product link to ProRibose.

 

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10 top tips for the 21st century syndrome; unexplained fatigue

We all get phases of feeling tired but there is a big difference between occasional tiredness and the incapacitating effects of true fatigue. However, before chronic fatigue syndrome is diagnosed a number of easily fixable health issues can be addressed. Some will need you to work with your doctor while others will simply involve a few basic lifestyle changes.

If you or one of your family is suffering from fatigue work your way through our 10-point check list, you may discover one or more pointers that could make all the difference to your health and boost your natural energy levels again.

  1. Your sleeping, but are you?: If you feel that you are getting enough sleep but are still feeling fatigued and can’t fathom it may be worth considering a condition known as sleep apnoea. This problem causes interrupted breathing during sleep and as a result disturbs your sleep but does not necessarily to a point where you wake up. Because you body and brain need a certain amount of sleep to feel refreshed any disturbance of this delicate balance can result in unexplained fatigue if its not picked up on. In the UK, sleep apnoea affects 4 in 100 middle aged men and around 2 in 100 middle aged women with around 60% of the over 60’s experiencing the problem. One of the quick fixes for sleep apnoea is simply loosing weight especially is you carry fat around your neck.
  2. Could you be anaemic? If you are a women and having regular periods, the monthly blood loss can add up, especially If you are not obtaining enough dietary iron to help replace the losses. A low level of circulating red blood cells can cause profound fatigue because adequate oxygen levels will not reach the tissues of the body. There can be many causes for anaemia so its worth getting a blood test but you can easily top up your iron levels by eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, liver and shellfish. In general, vegetarian iron is not as easy to absorb but is available in beans, bran flakes, Tofu, figs, kale and lentils. If you feel you can’t get your iron up through diet alone supplements can help.
  3. One coffee too many? Many of us will reach for a mug of coffee to help fight off fatigue because we all know that coffee can boost alertness. However, the positive effects of this pick-me-up are seen in moderate intake levels but the effects tend to diminish the more we drink. In fact, with higher levels of intake coffee simply causes agitation, raised heart rate and blood pressure and, ironically, fatigue! If you are hitting the coffee more that you feel you should, start cutting back slowly to avoid withdrawals and headaches. Also be aware of the caffeine content of soft drinks. Dropping your coffee intake can actually boost energy!
  4. Check your sugars. It’s not uncommon for diabetes to become an issue the older we get. Type-2 diabetes can creep up on us in a rather stealthy manner and present itself with unexplained fatigue in the early stages. If the dietary sugars stay in the blood and don’t get into the cells we suffer from fatigue. Glucose is a key nutrient needed by the cells to generate energy. Having it circulating in the blood but not getting into the cells causes an energy crisis with fatigue as a prime symptom. A family history may point to Type-2 diabetes but a simple blood test is all that is needed to diagnose it. Adopting a whole food diet and avoiding the cakes and sweeties is a must. Cinnamon or fenugreek supplements can help regulate sugar metabolism and are worth considering.
  5. The wrong or not enough of the right foods. Skipping meals or not eating enough will contribute to an energy crisis within the body. Even at rest, our bodies burn food to keep the metabolic fires burning in each and every cell. Not enough food makes us feel fatigued and can adversely affect our ability to function physically and emotionally. Equally as bad is existing on junk food which tends to be sugar high and nutrient low. Getting your sugar fix will play havoc with your blood chemistry that further contributes to fatigue. Try and eat regularly and make sure that your complex (unrefined) carbohydrates and proteins are at the centre of your meals; poached eggs on whole meal toast is a great start to the day!
  6. The hormone connection. Sitting in the front of our neck is a special gland that is at the heart of regulating our metabolic rate. Known as the thyroid gland, it produces the hormone thyroxin, which, in turn, keeps our metabolic rate on the right tracks. If this gland starts to fail the hormone level drops and our overall metabolic rate shows and we can experience severe fatigue. Getting a blood test will confirm what type of thyroid problem you may have but in some cases very early cases can be overlooked. Borderline low thyroid function may be an issue in those with medically unexplained fatigue. To help determine if this is the case a simple body temperature test can help. Despite being quite controversial the Barns Temperature test may uncover a sub-clinical low thyroid condition.
  7. Check your water works. When we are ill we tend to want to go to bed and sleep it off. To a lesser degree, a background non-acute infection can cause unexplained fatigue. Bladder infections may be a cause of fatigue especially if the infection is not at an acute level but grumbling away as a chronic infection. Testing a sample of urine is easy and can help detect these infections. While antibiotics may be needed by some, using a slow release cranberry and d-mannose supplement can help keep the bladder clear.
  8. Feeling low? While feeling low can be thought of as an emotional issue depression does affect the body on a physical level. Those suffering from depression will commonly complain of fatigue as a key feature of the problem. Because of the complex nature of depression, other factors such as poor appetite and sleep disturbance all add up and compound the feelings of fatigue and tiredness. For those with mild to moderate depression a course of St Johns wort may help lift the mood but care is needed if you are taking other medications. In general, you should seek professional support of you feel depression could be an issue.
  9. Dehydrated? You don’t have to be a sports fanatic to take control of your fluid intake. Your body just sitting at a desk, at a PC or driving a car required adequate hydration for optimal health and performance. Drinking coffee in addition to the comments in point 3, also stimulated the need to have a wee. Coffee is a strong diuretic. However, sipping bottled water is the way to maintain adequate hydration. Even mild dehydration can be associated with fatigue. You can check your hydration level by looking at the colour of your urine; it should be light in colour. Dark urine can be a sign of dehydration and an indication that you need to drink more water.
  10. Are you a shift worker? We all have an internal body clock that tells us when it’s time for bed. Forcing this system to adjust to shift work can cause the body to become confused regarding the sleep-wake cycle so you have trouble sleeping during the day while you find it difficult to concentrate and function when you should really be sleeping. Although we can manage for a while, prolonged exposure to this can be a cause of fatigue. To help ease the effects of shift work try to limit your exposure to daylight after a night shift and make your bedroom as dark and as quiet as possible.

Useful resources:

Dr Jacob Teitelbaum MD., expert on chronic fatigue syndrome

Health supplements recommended by Dr Teitelbaum

 

 

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Ann’s story; a real life ME battle

Me at my worst in 1993, with Mum and dogs and chicken!

M.E. and Me; Part 1: the dark days

By Ann Caird

The following post will be published in two parts; Part 1: The dark days and Part 2: Light at the end of the tunnel. Ann, a patient at Hadley wood Healthcare has generously supplied her real life story. It traces her persons battle with a debilitating illness and her eventual recovery and progression into a successful and for filling profession. Ann was keen to share her experiences with others in order to help support their fight and personal battles with similar health problems. ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia present in so many ways and have so many treatment approaches; what helps one may not help another. What Ann’s story highlights is the fact that treatments can take different directions along the path to wellness and the sufferer has to take the rough with the smooth but perseverance and support wins through in the end!

1994. I had been lying in bed for nearly 2 years with an M.E. type illness. The doctors had done all the tests possible, which collectively indicated M.E.; there was nothing else that could be done for me within conventional medicine. Previously I had enjoyed a full active life and had travelled the world as a nanny and maternity nurse. Jim and I married in 1990, and I’d had shingles just before our wedding, from which I never really fully recovered. Over the previous 2 years, Jim had become my sole carer as my parents lived in Hertfordshire and we were in Perthshire, Scotland. Jim fed me, bathed me, shopped, cooked, as well as working full time on the family farm. He understood when I cried because I couldn’t speak to tell him what I needed or felt; the messages from my brain got confused and so at times it was too difficult for me to physically communicate my needs or emotions. I had immense pain when I ate, was losing weight rapidly, and weighed less than 7 stone. Something had to be done; help had to be found soon.

My parents attended a local M.E. group meeting where Jan de Vries gave a talk and there met Marcus Webb. They got an appointment with Marcus at the Hadley Wood clinic, described my symptoms and medical condition, and immediately my treatment started – we had a ray of hope! Marcus suspected a candida albicans infection in my gut, and his ‘blue loo’ test which he sent me confirmed his suspicions.

Marcus treated me ‘long distance’; the process of clearing my system of the candida was not pleasant, Marcus had warned me of this, but this was the only way to go now. I cut out all sugar, yeast, fruit and simple carbohydrates from my diet, and took medication to kill off the candida in my gut. As the candida died off, the Herxheimer Reaction kicked in, the spores released into my body caused undesirable side effects, but, this was evidence that the treatment was working. This was my lowest point, I felt like my body couldn’t take any more, I felt like I was dying, but I had to stick with it, it was the only way, and Marcus said it would get better… and of course, it did. Marcus then prescribed acidophilus pearls to reintroduce the good bacteria into my gut, and gently returned to a normal diet. I had no more stomach pain, I could eat freely now, so the recovery process could begin.

Once strong enough to travel, I stayed with my parents for a while so I could see Marcus weekly for treatment, and this is when the consequences of 2 years of enforced bed rest and poor digestion became evident. A bone density scan revealed the impact on my bones – I was at high risk of osteoporosis and my hips were on the osteoporosis fracture line on the charts. My muscles were weak and my spine bulged out as it had taken the shape of the bed I had been lying in, rather than having a strong ‘S’ shape. A displaced disc in my lower back caused immense pain when I walked more than 20 meters, so although I was on my feet, I was using a wheel chair much of the time. Marcus stressed the importance of a good, high quality diet, movement to whatever extent I could to start to reverse bone loss and work the muscles again and I started to take osteoprime and protein capsules. At this point I asked Marcus if I would ever be able to work again. The answer? Yes, if I did what I was told, worked at it and didn’t give up, there would be nothing stopping me doing whatever I wanted. So, a glimmer of hope for a normal life again, more than Jim and I had ever hoped for.

Back in Scotland again, and my hormones were in crisis. The mood swings were unbearable for both Jim and I, and I became very depressed as although the pain when walking was slowly improving, the improvement was very slow. Marcus suggested I take Femtrol to help me cope with extreme hormone fluctuations as my body tried to readjust to increasing weight gain and food, and fearing permanent nerve damage, arranged for me to have a cortisone epidural in the hope that the displaced disc would settle.

The results were miraculous! I could now walk without pain, no more wheel chairs! I could start gentle physical exercise to help strengthen muscle and bone and my moods swings began to even out a little. My recovery had taken huge positive step!

Continuing a good nutritional diet, osteoprime, femtrol and occasional digestive enzymes to support digestion, and walking regularly at last, I began to feel able to do something outside the home. I became a (very) part-time guide at Scone Palace, and how I loved it! The company of the other guides, talking to the visitors, giving talks to coach parties, what an improvement in my confidence! I coped by preparing and memorising an ‘informative talk’ for each section of the palace that I worked in, and it was clear that my ability to think and communicate had returned. However, when I get tired, I still occasionally struggle to speak, my brain goes into ‘shut down’, but it’s manageable and predictable now, and doesn’t affect my quality of life. My work at Scone demonstrated the increasing possibilities of a more ‘normal’ life for us.

My diet became critical to my ability to function and perform. I was eating 3 meals and 3 snacks daily, and if I didn’t eat regularly my blood sugar would plummet and I would shake with weakness. I now learned to have snacks concealed about my person in pockets and bags, wherever I was or whatever I was doing. To this day, I still can’t eat large meals; I continue to eat the 3 meals and 3 snacks every day.

Encouraged by my experiences at Scone, I updated my childcare knowledge at college, proving that I really could function in the outside world. In 1999, my updates complete, I started to work full-time within Early Years Education, a huge step, but weekends and holidays were critical resting periods for me. However, in 2001 niggling back problems returned. After an MRI scan Marcus referred me to Keiser Therapy for targeted strength training in London. The therapy was liberating – I was in the gym and my muscles were visibly building, huge progress once again. The niggling pains stopped, and I began to feel really strong again and cope more easily with everyday tasks.

Back in Scotland, I continued strength training myself. Using the Keiser Therapy as my foundation, I bought ankle and wrist weights, dumb bells, and resistance bands and began regular muscle and bone building exercise at home using the weights and combining them with Pilates exercises. Regular bone scans showed reversal of the previous bone density loss, and now I was building bone density steadily in both the hips and lower back.  I also now knew that my muscles had to be kept strong if I was to cope with everyday life. At this point, on Marcus’s suggestion, I began taking glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM to support my back, bone and joint health.

Unfortunately another problem hit… I began experiencing deep pain in my right piriformis muscle when I walked, eventually being restricted to walking no more than 200 meters at a time (on a good day), and wearing just one pair of shoes. Trying to wear any other shoes resulted in immediate pain that lasted days. I became very depressed and fearful of losing everything I had worked for, including my job. Marcus advised as much physical therapy as possible – massage, craniosacral therapy, physiotherapy, reiki, orthotics – and I tried everything. My GP referred me to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for emotional support and to help me overcome the practical issues of living with such pain. There were no more outdoor walks, walking in a classroom at work was bearable, I could cope with that, but that was my limit.

Part 2 to follow…

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Fibromyalgia: the basics

By Dr Magdalena Cadet MD.

Dr Magdalena Cadet MD

Fibromyalgia is a common  condition, with a large prevalence in females, that is characterized by chronic and diffuse body pain.  Most patients report these symptoms: – pain at several tender points in the joints and muscles – incredibly painful response to pressure – fatigue – depression – anxiety – inability to sleep These patients may also complain of joint stiffness, headaches, bowel and bladder problems, and numbness or tingling. Patients with these sympotms should also seek evaluation from their health professional for thyroid disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme Disease, Sjorgren’s Syndrome, or Lupus.

Recent studies have found a link between fibromyalgia and abnormal activity of certain hormones including dopamine, serotonin, growth hormone, leptin, and cortisol.Patients should understand that the treatment involves a comprehensive regimen which may include some conventional medication and exercise along side behavorial or psychological counseling for any issues contributing to their depression and anxiety.

Also  the importance of stress reduction with low impact exercise such as swimming, walking,tai chi, and yoga should be emphasized. A recent article on CNN commented on a  study of 53 females  who had decrease in pain, fatigue, stiffness using a weekly two hour yoga regimen comapred to placebo.Yoga may offer these patients enough exercise to keep them moving while also offering breathing exercises, time to meditate, and group interaction which may help the patients cope with pain. Conventional medications used to treat fibromyalgia include: pregabalin. antidepressants, non opiod pain killers and muscle relaxants. Narcotics should not be used because there have been no studies showing any efficacy for pain and these patients may be at risk for narcotic addiction.  Some of these patients may not ever be pain free but a multidisciplinary regimen does help improve some symptoms and quality of life.

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