- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Myalgic Encephalitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
Myalgic Encephalitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is also known as Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome or Chronic Fatigue and Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS) or Epstein-Barr Syndrome and also colloquially as Yuppie Flu. It also has many similarities to the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
This condition was only officially recognised in 1996 and little is known other than it is a debilitating and lengthy condition The medical profession is still not certain if it is a viral or other type of infection. There are no definitive tests to confirm the diagnosis but about 60% of sufferers will have a specific protein in their blood currently designated Viral Protein 1 (VP1)
However, doctors generally diagnose on the basis of the prime symptom which is 'Post-Exertional Neuroimmune Exhaustion' - a profound loss of energy following exertion, with impaired recovery. In addition, the patient must have at least one symptom in each of the following categories: pain; food sensitivities and laboured breathing.
Strangely people suffering from candida albicans (thrush) are rather more prone to suffer from it, but indeed accidents and emotional shock can bring it on.
Commonly extreme weariness and acute muscle pain is experienced by many but lack of co-ordination, dizziness, sore throat, headaches and digestive problems are often exacerbated by depression. Chronic fatigue tends to keep the body constantly under stress and eventually this over strains the adrenal function which lowers immunity.
There is another area of work being carried out on the assumption that Chronic Fatigue is caused by an overload of toxins. The researchers’ suggestion is to eliminate wheat, dairy, and meat for two weeks. Flush through the system with at least 2 litres of good quality mineral water each day and take a vitamin B complex supplement together with magnesium to reduce the muscular pain. This pain is one of the more difficult symptoms to deal with. Work so far suggests that high doses of magnesium (600mg) and malic acid (2400mg) can help.
Currently, no medications have been approved by the FDA for the specific treatment of CFS. Until relatively recently, the same was true for fibromyalgia. In the last few years, however, the drugs pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella) became FDA-approved to treat fibromyalgia pain. Each of these drugs is thought to affect chemicals in the brain that play a role in pain perception. Side effects include drowsiness, nausea and dry mouth. Duloxetine and Milnacipran are used with care as they have also been linked to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts in people with depression.
The use of Essential Oils
The first stage of any treatment is to improve the immune system and Tea-tree and Lavender essential oils can help here. To control the pain use Rosemary and Thyme and citrus oils such as Petigrain, Bergamot and Orange can help with depression.
Full body massage is important and very beneficial but be very careful with people who are extremely weak and exhausted.
I would suggest a rich carrier oil such as Peach or Apricot Kernel or Avocado to which about 25% Wheatgerm oil (as an antioxidant) has been added. Don’t add more than 2 to 3% of the blend of essential oil. If the person is suffering from very dry or irritated skin use Argan or Rose Hip oil as the carrier, however this is much more expensive, but will drastically improve the skin condition.
One of the traditional treatments is liquorice which controls the blood pressure which can become elevated due to stress. The New Zealand Medical Journal reported a case in Italy of Chronic Fatigue being cured by taking just 4 grams each day. However in large amounts, liquorice containing glycyrrhizin which can cause high blood pressure, salt and water retention, and low potassium levels, which could lead to heart problems.
New Treatments for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Fibromyalgia causes severe and penetrating joint and muscle pain that can affect mood, interfere with sleep and lead to profound fatigue. Like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, causes debilitating fatigue. Many people with CFS also experience depressed mood and chronic pain. The causes of these disorders are poorly understood. Pain relievers, antidepressants and sleep aids have historically been the basis of therapy for both fibromyalgia and CFS. In recent years, however, newer treatment strategies have been developed.
Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve pain and sleep quality in people with fibromyalgia and CFS. More recently, attention has turned to the mind-body practice of tai chi. Tai chi combines deep breathing and gentle movements. According to guidelines from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, people with CFS may benefit from the gradual introduction of activities such as tai chi into their exercise plan. Tai chi may also be helpful for people with fibromyalgia. A randomised trial published in August 2010 in "The New England Journal of Medicine" showed that tai chi was associated with reduced fibromyalgia symptoms and improved quality of life in 33 people who participated in 60-minute sessions twice a week for 12 weeks.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychotherapy that encourages changes in thinking, on the premise that changes in thinking can lead to changes in behaviour. CBT has been associated with improved symptoms of depression and anxiety. Results from studies of CBT in the treatment of CFS and fibromyalgia have been inconclusive. Nevertheless, a March 2011 study in "The Lancet" found that CBT may help manage symptoms of CFS. The 161 participants who received CBT experienced improved physical functioning compared to those receiving traditional medical care alone.
Likewise, researchers of a study published in 2012 in the journal "Pain Research and Treatment" evaluated the use of individualised CBT and showed that it was associated with decreased fibromyalgia pain and improved mood up to 9 months after therapy. The researchers speculate that individualized CBT sessions may be more effective than previously studied group CBT sessions.
The acknowledged powerful effects of Reiki treatment is known to offer considerable help with all of these conditions. A few sessions with an accredited practitioner will pay dividends in relieving problems in many areas.
On the Horizon
Work is continuing to determine whether other therapies might be useful for fibromyalgia and CFS are ongoing as of 2013. In July 2008 a study published in the "European Journal of Internal Medicine" found that the drug raloxifene (Evista) reduced pain and fatigue among menopausal women with fibromyalgia. More extensive studies are necessary, however, before it can be approved.
Researchers are also examining whether duloxetine, another drug used for fibromyalgia, could benefit people with CFS. In the meantime, using multiple strategies to address chronic pain, changes in mood and sleep disturbances related to CFS and fibromyalgia is the best approach for reducing symptoms and enhancing quality of life.
Treatment of ME/CFS can be lengthy and it is important that the person does not lose confidence. The relaxation and comfortable feeling from massage can also help to lift the mental well-being of the person and give them hope for the right result.
© 2012 Peter Geekie