HOLLY CARLING: Help for chronic fatigue

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Chronic fatigue syndrome was defined as a disease in the 1990s, yet there is no test to confirm it, no mutually agreed upon set of symptoms and no medically defined cure. If it was “just” fatigue, there are many tests to rule out diseases or to suppose a cause, but because of the complexity of chronic fatigue syndrome, it must be addressed as a multifaceted set of underlying etiologies.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects the head; foggy thinking, memory lapses, difficulty in concentrating and the anguish of feeling awful, but on the surface looking perfectly fine. Many times people are simply diagnosed as “depressed” and put on antidepressants. That is a disservice because it prevents the person from delving deeper into what is causing the chronic fatigue.

Physical symptoms include swollen lymph nodes (mostly in the neck, armpits or groin), chronic sore throat, achiness all over without a known cause, varying types of headaches, poor sleep (which worsens CFS), exhaustion, achiness above what is expected after exercise (and takes more than a day to recover), joint inflammation and pain, and of course, fatigue.

While there is no medication that does anything except control individual symptoms, there are things you can do to minimize symptoms as well as work on changing some underlying mechanisms.

Nutrition is key. Chronic fatigue has a very strong underlying nutritional deficiency. Eating the right foods as well as avoiding the nutritionally depleting ones is very important.

I’m sure you’ve probably guessed one of the biggest substances to avoid is sugar. All sugar is on the bad list (some fresh, organic fruit is OK) in all of its names — sucrose, dextrose, malto-dextrose, high fructose corn syrup (the worst), cane syrup, barley malt, etc. Also watch for and avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, neotame and saccharin. Even stevia and xylitol should be avoided if not processed properly.

Stimulants of any kind are not recommended for people with CFS. The most difficult part about that, is with such emptiness of energy, people suffering such profound fatigue reach out for the sugar and stimulants just to get through the day. But it is counter-productive. Although it helps at the moment, the more it is depended on, the worse you can expect the CFS to progress.

Eating nutritionally depleted foods can also be detrimental to CFS sufferers. The more processed the foods, the worse you will sink. Eating nutritionally dense foods is an important contribution to getting well. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Seeking the services of someone who can untangle the combination of factors involved in the life-altering condition of chronic fatigue syndrome is crucial. Seeking the care of an acupuncturist is as well. Acupuncture is known for its positive influence on the symptoms of, and addressing of the underlying conditions, that add up to what we call chronic fatigue syndrome. Don’t wait to get help. The longer you wait, the deeper the condition degrades!

• • •

Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Carling is a “Health Detective.” She looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’Alene clinic. Visit Carling’s website at www.vitalhealthcda.com to learn more about Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.

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