If you are like hundreds of thousands of other Americans, chances are you have experienced Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or a similar illness at some point in your life. A definition of CFS was adopted in 1988 which restricted the diagnosis to those who could demonstrate at least 6 of the following 11 symptoms: mild fever or chills, sore throat, painful lymph nodes, muscular discomfort, prolonged fatigue, headaches, diffuse joint aches without swelling or redness, neuropsychological complaints (forgetfulness, excessive irritability, confusion, inability to concentrate, depression), sleep disturbances, general muscle weakness, and sudden onset of symptoms.
These symptoms are all too familiar to us, working New-Yorkers. The most common ailment that strikes my office patients is the lack of energy. The number of 30, 40, and 50-year olds suffering from fatigue is shocking. Why are people so tired nowadays?
Some blame New York City’s fast-paced, aggressive, and highly demanding working lifestyles. As the saying goes: New Yorkers live to work, as opposed to Europeans who work to live. But let’s look at the statistics of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in our European counterparts. Applying a very broad description of this malady, a study of 3,874 people in a French community found that a striking 41% of people experienced daily fatigue. Perhaps, the pressure-cooker of our city is not the only culprit. Scientific Evidence of the recent decades gives us insight into various other causes of Chronic Fatigue: viruses, hormonal dysfunctions, environmental toxicities, nutritional deficiencies, and gastrointestinal dysfunctions.
The frustrating thing is that most people complaining of feeling drained of energy at all times, do not get a proper assessment of their symptoms. These folks are often overlooked by the mainstream physicals. And so, even if someone just had a perfect physical by their physician, they often still emerge asking themselves: Why do I feel foggy all the time, even though I ‘ve been getting plenty of sleep? Why do I feel like yawning all day long? Being a holistic doctor, I hear these questions every day. And I try to give ‘Fatigue’ complaint the attention it deserves. In this and in several posts to follow, I will outline the important evaluations, which people with Chronic Fatigue complaints should undergo. iStock_000016194050_ExtraSmall
Viral causes of CFS are quite wide-spread. Authoritative medical literature sites Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6) as the most common viral pathogens responsible. EBV is the same virus that can cause Mononucleosis, commonly called a “kissing disease” among teenagers. If you ever had mono, you remember the terrible fatigue and listlessness it wreaked in your body and mind. Epstein-Barr Virus belong to the Herpes family of viruses, however it is not tested in the usual sexually transmitted disease blood panel. Testing for EBV and has HHV-6 has to be requested separately. Both infections typically occur via mouth-salivary transmission and goes unnoticed in children. Both infections go latent in most adult, meaning that the healthy immune system manages to suppress the virus our of circulation, into the subset of immune B-cells.
By age 45 about 95% of all adults have been infected with Epstein-Barr Virus, according to the U.S. Center for the Infectious Diseases. That is why, unless you are planning not to kiss anyone in your lifetime, it is virtually impossible to prevent this infection from taking place. So, what do we do to keep the EBV latent, i.e. inactive? Conventional medications for EBV and HHV-6 are toxic and unnecessary in most people with CFS. Many patients have been asking me if Valtrex is a viable treatment option. I would say “NO”. This treatment is not FDA-approved for CFS patients. The toxic side effects are to frequent and the efficacy is too low for EBV and HHV-6. So, Valtrex and similar medications should be reserved for the sickest of all the CFS patients, and are the last resort.
There are many alternative/holistic approaches to most viral-induced cases of CFS, and I will just mention the ones I have personal experience with and have been successful with:
1) Infra-Red Sauna and Ionic Water Detox treatments once/week for 7 weeks
2) Ondamed Electromagnetic Pulsation Treatments twice/week for 5 weeks
2) Olive Leaf Extract 500mg taken 3-4 times/day between meals for 7 weeks
3 )Intravenous vitamin C infusions (dose customized for each patient) once every two-three weeks, until patient starts to feel better
4) Lysine 1,000mg twice/day for 8 weeks and then 500mg/day indefinitely
5) Eat a nutritious diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, get plenty of sleep, and avoid excess sugars and alcohol, to keep your immune system balanced.
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To your good health!
Dr. Svetlana Kogan