So what exactly is chronic fatigue syndrome? Chronic Fatigue is a chronic condition characterized by symptoms such as extreme fatigue, exhaustion, and weakness. It is often accompanied by muscle weakness, headache, memory issues, and pain. For many years, chronic fatigue was treated as “psychological” and the medical establishment didn’t totally buy into its existence at all.
Fortunately, it is now recognized as a “real thing,” and yet the typical treatment is often about masking symptoms rather than about healing the root cause of this debilitating condition.
How is Chronic Fatigue Treated by Conventional Medicine?
Although Chronic Fatigue has finally been recognized as a real problem, conventional medicine primarily treats this condition with a collection of medications used to mask or minimize the primary symptoms. Multiple medications are often prescribed to reduce pain, to improve sleep, or to reduce depression. Although masking symptoms to some degree, the conventional medicine approach does little to treat the root cause of this condition.
How is Chronic Fatigue Treated by Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine recognizes that Chronic Fatigue is a disease of the mitochondria. The body has trillions of mitochondria that create energy in the body. The food we eat is turned into energy by these mitochondria.
When the food we eat doesn’t have adequate nutrients, our mitochondria begin to fail. They are unable to create adequate energy for the body and this creates severe and persistent fatigue.
Mitochondria can be damaged from a variety of things. Infections, stress, toxins, allergens, and eating a low-nutrient diet are all possible contributors to damaging the mitochondria. Since the damaged mitochondria are unable to create sufficient energy for the body, the person feels exhausted and develops all the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue.
In order to treat Chronic Fatigue, the functional medicine approach first looks to correct the problems affecting the mitochondria. So, the functional approach will first look at the root cause, diet. Eliminating processed food and sugar is a good start. The diet will be evaluated to be sure it has adequate nutrients – protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
Next the functional medicine approach will look at toxins, hidden inflammation, the presence of allergens, and stress. Since all of these things can be damaging your mitochondria, they must all be addressed in order to maximize the functioning of the mitochondria.
By healing the root cause, damaged mitochondria, the functional medicine practitioner is removing the issues that have triggered the Chronic Fatigue. They do not mask the symptoms by hiding them with a collection of pharmaceuticals. Instead, they develop a long-term path to correct the issues that caused the problem.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a condition where the nerve cells have become damaged. This results in a variety of symptoms that include numbness and fatigue. As the disease progresses, there can be a significant impairment of muscles and also increasing difficulty with speech. MS is an autoimmune disease where a person’s own immune system begins attacking the person’s body.
The immune system attacks the person’s myelin, a protective coating around the nerves. As this myelin is gradually destroyed, the body loses its ability to react properly. The damaged nerve coating results in a gradual, progressive loss of control over muscle function, balance, vision, and sensations.
A patient with Multiple Sclerosis may have numbness, muscle pain or weakness, fatigue, and significant balance issues. As the disease progresses, the symptoms increase significantly.
How is Multiple Sclerosis Treated by Conventional Medicine?
Again, the conventional medicine approach involves managing symptoms. This often starts with numerous medications. These medications aim at preventing the autoimmune action of attacking the myelin coating. This is primarily aimed at reducing new damage and does little to correct the root causes that are creating the autoimmune attacks on the myelin.
These medications may be serving a very important purpose, but they are not addressing the issues that caused the immune system to start attacking its own body. They aren’t dealing with the root cause.
How is Multiple Sclerosis Treated by Functional Medicine?
Autoimmune disorders often start in the gut. When the gut starts to “leak”, foods like gluten are able to pass through the gut and pass into the bloodstream. As microscopic particles pass through the intestinal wall, they create inflammation that travels throughout the body. This inflammation leads to issues with autoimmunity, the root cause of Multiple Sclerosis.
Gluten in particular is a problem. The proteins in gluten resemble the proteins that are in myelin. So, when the body has an immune reaction against gluten, it also can start to attack the myelin which is coating the nerves. This is called molecular mimicry. The immune system is confused. While attacking food particles that your body is sensitive to, like gluten or dairy, it also starts attacking similar protein particles like the myelin.
Healing leaky gut and removing foods that might be causing sensitivities is a starting point for the functional approach. Other things might also be triggering these autoimmune reactions and each of them must be investigated and eliminated. This include mercury, mycotoxins, and other infections.
Finally, the immune system must be supported with the appropriate nutrients such as omega-3 fish oils and vitamin D. Carefully increasing the nutrients in the daily diet and supplementing where appropriate is a critical step for healing the root cause of Multiple Sclerosis.
Choose Functional Medicine for Chronic Health Conditions
Chronic Fatigue is a condition that results from damaged, unhealthy mitochondria. Multiple Sclerosis is a condition that results from a damaged immune system where the body’s immune system malfunctions and attacks the body’s systems. In both cases, the conditions are chronic and often progressive.
Traditional medicine offers a variety of medications whose primary aim is masking symptoms and providing temporary relief from these symptoms. It does little to solve the problems that caused these diseases.
Functional medicine takes an entirely different approach. It investigates the root cause of these diseases and then creates a plan to remove or sharply reduce those root causes. The plan will look at nutrition, toxins, infections, nutrients, and all of the “whole body” issues that can trigger these serious conditions. Medications may still be used to reduce symptoms but this is done in conjunction with a detailed plan to remove the factors that caused the conditions.
If you or someone you love is suffering from Chronic Fatigue or Multiple Sclerosis, you might want to consider getting a consultation with a functional medicine practitioner. Many people can reverse the worse symptoms of both of these conditions by following a plan designed to remove the root causes of these diseases.