Chronic Fatigue, Adrenal Fatigue & Post Viral Fatigue
For anyone who has experienced chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal fatigue or post viral fatigue, they needs no introduction. Characterised by a debilitating array of symptoms, the vast majority of sufferers experience shattered lives and can feel hopeless because conventional medical practice does not have an answer as to the cause – and therefore – a cure for this complex condition.
What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
CFS has become something of an umbrella term for a range of diagnosed conditions:
- myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.)
- chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Post viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS)
- chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CIFDS)
- adrenal fatigue
CFS symptoms include:
- extreme fatigue
- flu like symptoms (swollen glands and weakness)
- muscle and/or joint pain
- cognitive dysfunction, including memory and concentration problems (brain fog)
- heat intolerance
- stomach and bowel complaint including food intolerances)
- sleep disturbance
- visual and auditory disturbance (visual ‘floaters’ and tinnitus being the most common symptoms)
- allergies and sensitivities to chemicals, medications, light and noise.
What causes chronic fatigue
Despite there being no official recognition of a cause for CFS, there are a growing number of researchers implicating changes or irregularities within mid-brain structures as the significant contributor. The mid brain structures are essential to all aspects of human survival, and play a critical role in regulating body temperature, blood pressure, heartbeat, metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, sugar levels in the blood, wake/sleep cycles, sexual function and emotional behaviour, to name a few. They are involved in the regulation of the endocrine, immune and autonomic nervous systems, as well as maintaining homeostasis within the organs of the body.
When there is irregular activity within the mid-brain, chaos ensues as a chain reaction of events is triggered through the the autonomic nervous system, immune system, endocrine system and the organs. This dysfunction results in the manifestation of a very diverse range of debilitating symptoms.
The pioneer of this research was Dr Hans Seyle. He developed a theoretical model that he called General Adaptation Syndrome in 1936. He proposed the idea of transduction – the conversion of one form of matter, energy or information into another. Seyle’s work postulated that internal and external ‘stressors’ could be transduced and manifest as physical symptoms through the hormones of the ‘hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal’, or HPA axis.
Some theorists have drawn heavily on General Adaptation Syndrome and extended it to look at the role of the limbic system, hypothalamus and emotions and their effect on the endocrine, immune and autonomic nervous systems – a foundation of mind-body healing.
What is the brain & body connection?
The medical approach, and to a large extent the view that sits with the general population, continues to assume that the mind and body are separate and distinct from each other. The idea that things are either medical and physical, or mental and psychological is still very much the norm. However, new understandings of emotion and stress reveal a different picture. Far from being an ‘all in the mind’ concept, emotion is a complex physiological process that affects all of the body and all of the brain.
Emotions and stress result from our interaction and interface with our environment – the world around us – and our unconscious appraisals of that environment. They are not something that can be controlled by our thinking. Emotional processing often occurs at higher speeds than cognitive processing, so our emotions can be triggered and impact our body and brain without us being aware of it. When this happens emotions can become blocked and imbalanced triggering a stress response within the body that can become chronic over time.
Emotional trauma and physical trauma, such as an injury or disease, trigger the exact same stress response within the body and brain. Stress, therefore could be defined as an objective measurable set of biochemical events in the body rather than the subjective internal discomfort that many people think of as ‘stress’. It can be triggered without any perceptible changes in an individuals behaviour and outside conscious awareness.
Chronic emotional stress often exists outside of the individuals’ awareness and it keeps the body locked in an adaptation mode on high alert. It is this chronic emotional stress that leads to a re-wiring within brain regions which in-turn modulates body systems through the HPA axis leading to inflammation in the body and the presence of symptoms.
How can I recover from chronic fatigue syndrome?
The key to effectively treating chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is not to treat the symptoms and signs of chronic fatigue or even attempt to treat the body’s systems. Rather it is to look at the underlying cause that leads to the dysfunction within the mid-brain structures. This is done by understanding that symptoms are purposeful and are seeking to direct our attention to an imbalance or blockage. In much the same way as a rumbling stomach sensation is present to inform us that our blood sugar level is low (an imbalance), CFS symptoms and signs inform us of an energetic imbalance of a different variety. As we embrace these new understandings of the emotional system and its modulating effect on the brain, nervous system and organs, we can build a picture of the cause of symptoms and also the route to recovery from symptoms.
The key to success in treating CFS or mental fatigues in understanding the underlying cause of the symptoms and dealing with the cause rather than simply medicating symptoms. Having spent the last 12 years successfully treating hundreds of sufferers of CFS and helping them return to health, I have seen the devastation created when these conditions present themselves.
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