“I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
~Fannie Lou Hamer
Are you SUPER tired? If you’re like most people, your schedule is jam-packed every day! Career, family, and/or household obligations can really pile up and there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. When you finally crawl into bed, your mind is racing, thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list. In today’s hectic, fast-paced world it’s normal to be tired, but do you ever worry that your exhaustion is too severe and constant and might have a more serious cause?
How can you tell if you simply need more rest and “me-time” or if you’re suffering from something more serious, like chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about half a million people in the United States suffer from a “CFS-like condition.” The number is probably much higher because so many people do not seek medical help. They think the fatigue is something they will just get over; but unlike just being tired, CFS symptoms persist for months. In fact, to be diagnosed with CFS, extreme fatigue must be accompanied by at least four of the following symptoms for six months or longer:
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of concentration and/or memory
- Flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, enlarged and painful lymph nodes in neck or armpit, muscle soreness
- Joint pain without swelling or redness
- Headaches that differ in type, severity, or location
- Extreme exhaustion accompanying physical or mental strain which lasts longer than twenty-four hours
Many people with CFS also report other symptoms, such as panic attacks, night sweats, depression, weight loss or weight gain, shortness of breath and/or nausea.
If you think you might be suffering from CFS and are ready to be diagnosed, cured, and move on with your life, it might not be that simple. It’s tough to get clear answers about this condition from mainstream medicine. The medical community doesn’t know much about CFS or what causes it. There are several theories as to what may cause CFS. These include:
- Hypotension, or mild chronic low blood pressure
- Changes in hormone levels in pituitary or adrenal glands or hypothalamus
- Immune system dysfunction
- Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar
- History of allergies
- Viral infections, such as Epstein-Barr Virus
If you suffer from CFS you may wonder, “Am I ever going to feel like myself again? Is my life ever going to be normal?”
Medical treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome aims not to cure the illness but to alleviate and manage the symptoms. This is extremely helpful in helping people to cope with their illness. But you want to do more than cope – you want to enjoy life! Is this possible when you have a chronic illness? Yes, and western medicine isn’t the only answer. Supplementing your treatment with changes to your lifestyle and alternative healing techniques can help you achieve a much greater level of vitality and physical and emotional health. The following techniques have been shown to provide relief to people suffering from CFS:
Energy Healing: As an energy healer and spiritual teacher, I’ve come across countless people suffering from unexplained symptoms of tiredness, depression and pain. It’s been my experience that most if not all of these symptoms are rooted in unaddressed feelings of fear and that having that fear removed by a qualified energy healer is a great first step to take. Additionally, in addition to getting yourself checked out by a physician, I always recommend that you take steps to work on your emotions – by meditating, journaling and working with your practitioner to address any past traumas or unexplored emotions.
Acupuncture: Studies have shown positive results when treating chronic fatigue syndrome with acupuncture. A high percentage of patients suffering from severe CFS, who participated in the studies were able to sleep more deeply, and felt more energetic during the day – allowing them to return to work and normal activities.
Therapeutic Massage: Therapeutic massage helps you to sleep longer and move less in your sleep (resulting in a more restful, deep sleep), as well as providing a sense of well-being. Lessening fatigue, as well as anxiety and depression, can mean the difference between getting out and enjoying the day or staying in bed. Studies have shown that people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome respond best to gentle massage.
Avoid foods that intensify symptoms: With chronic fatigue syndrome, eating whole foods and staying away from fats, sugar, and starch is important, but there are also some foods you should avoid. These include MSG, Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, caffeine, yeast and gluten.
Get enough vitamins: Make sure you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Talk to your health practitioner about multivitamins and really pay attention to balancing your diet.
Exercise: It is very important to set limits when exercising. Doing too much, even if you feel all right at the time, can set you back. Listen to your body. Moderate exercise could include:
- Warm water activities
- Tai Chi
Gentle exercise on a daily basis will help you reduce stress and anxiety, create energy and and improve your overall emotional wellness.
Want to go from tired to terrific? Be sure to tune in, Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 2:00pm pacific on Hay House radio where I’ll be interviewing Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, an alternative physician, whose specialty is chronic fatigue. If you call into the show, you can ask “top doc” your personal fatigue question!