Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia
By Vickie Van Scyoc, RN, and Dr. Mark Light
Chronic fatigue and chronic pain are common in today’s world. The core symptoms include feeling tired and achy. Many people also experience brain fog and an inability to sleep. Occasionally, chronic pain and fatigue sufferers also have chronic sinusitis, allergies, frequent infections, digestive disorders, depression, or confusion.
The good news is that chronic fatigue and chronic pain are treatable!
Chronic fatigue (CF) and chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia (FM) are often the culprits for these debilitating symptoms. Until recently these disorders were hard to identify and treat but new innovations in health and wellness research are helping thousands of people find the relief they have been looking for.
The symptoms are easy to identify but what is their source? The source of the symptoms for CF and FM is the same: a dysfunctional part of the brain, specifically the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls sleep, hormonal function, temperature regulation, autonomic function (blood pressure, pulse rate, bowel function, etc.) and some pain receptors in the nerves.
When someone experiences CF or FM, it’s because the hypothalamus essentially has blown a fuse.
Why? If CF or FM has a sudden onset, the cause can be a viral infection, parasites, bacterial infection, injury, or pregnancy. If there was a gradual onset of symptoms, CF and FM were likely caused by a yeast or Candida infection, autoimmune disease, hormonal or nutritional deficiencies, sleep disorders, or severe stress.
The treatment is the same for both conditions: Repair the broken fuse in the brain causing the uncomfortable symptoms.
To repair the blown brain fuse, we use a five-tiered approach called the SHINE protocol, created by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum. Dr. Teitelbaum had CF and FM while he was a medical student. In fact, the pain forced him out of medical school temporarily while he was looking for his own cure. A well-known expert on FM, Dr. Teitelbaum has since written books on fatigue and appeared on national television and radio shows, including The Dr. Oz Show.
SHINE stands for Sleep, Hormones, Immunity/Infections, Nutrition, and Exercise (as able). The protocol identifies the five key areas that, when addressed in combination, provide a blueprint for promoting optimal energy and living pain free. Tending to these can help you maintain healthy energy levels when you are well and can help support recovery when dealing with CF and FM.
Get adequate sleep, preferably eight to nine hours a night. Sleep replenishes your body’s energy and helps heal your muscles. Inadequate sleep will leave you exhausted and in pain. Because your sleep center isn’t working if you are experiencing CF/FM, aggressive sleep support is necessary.
Hormone deficiencies can contribute to CF and FM. Unfortunately, blood testing misses the large majority of people with hormonal deficiencies in these illnesses. The large majority of people with FM need to treat their thyroid in some way. If you get irritable when hungry, adrenal support is needed. Most men with CF/FM find that their testosterone level is in the lowest 30 percent of the population. If a woman’s FM symptoms are worse around her menses, estrogen and progesterone support may be helpful. Low blood pressure (hypotension) is also a major contributor to CF and FM.
Underlying viral, bacterial, bowel, sinus, and yeast infections are common and can be contributing causes of CF and FM, or even the result of it. Infections must be treated and the immune system supported and improved.
To maintain normal health and optimal energy levels you need to make sure you get an optimal balance of nutrients, particularly as nutritional deficiencies can result from CF and FM. Vitamin B-12, magnesium, acetyl L-carnitine, glutathione, as well as your basic A, B, C, and D vitamins are especially vulnerable to depletion. At Chico Integrative Health, we also offer advanced nutritional support with excellent supplements created by Inno-Vita.
Exercise as able. After 10 weeks on the first four steps above, you should be able to slowly increase your amount of exercise without being wiped out the next day. Don’t overdo it in trying to follow “normal” exercise recommendations, as doing too much can result in postexertional malaise, a condition that can last for days that leaves you feeling as though you were hit by a truck. But by following the SHINE protocol, you should gradually begin to return to a fit condition.
Get Help Locally
If you’d like some help implementing the SHINE protocol, both Dr. Mark Light and Vickie Van Scyoc of Chico Integrative Health are trained practitioners of Dr. Teitelbaum’s SHINE protocol. We offer 30-minute free consults to see if our program is right for you.