Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Can Anything Help?, Part 1 – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 489
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Can Anything Help?, Part 1 – InViteⓇ Health Podcast, Episode 489
Hosted by Jerry Hickey, Ph.
InVite Health Podcast Intro: Welcome to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast, where our degreed healthcare professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that InViteⓇ Health has to offer at www.invitehealth.com/podcast. First time customers can use promo code PODCAST at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started!
Jerry Hickey, Ph.: [00:00:41] The percentage of patients who come into their doctor and complain about fatigue that’s so bad that it interferes with their lives will probably surprise you. 27%. 27% of patients who go to see a medical doctor each year in the United States are there because they’re so fatigued they can’t function. Then the doctor has to figure out the cause, which is not an easy thing because, you know, the way you live can make you fatigued. Like people who do illicit drugs, people who do prescription drugs, working many hours, having multiple responsibilities like children and a job… I mean, all these things are exhausting, so the doctors have to figure out, is it that. Then they have to figure out, is it alcohol? Is it marijuana? Is it partying? Is it a disease? They have to check for diseases. So… And even like psychological issues like depression, depression, anxiety, all those things can cause fatigue.† [00:01:43]
[00:01:46] So most people who are fatigued, it’s acute fatigue, you know, like a sudden onset and it occurs suddenly and it lasts, it can last less than three months. And that’s usually caused by over exercise, not enough sleep, not eating well, dieting. It could be a byproduct of diseases, okay? But there’s something a little more rare. Chronic fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome. Now, like I said, fatigue could be a byproduct of diseases. It could be a byproduct of cancer, severe depression. But if you have severe fatigue for six months or more and it’s accompanied by a lot of pain and the doctor has excluded all other causes, then they might come out with a diagnosis called chronic fatigue syndrome. It’s actually called myalgic encephalomyelitis, but people know it as chronic fatigue syndrome.† [00:02:50]
[00:02:51] So hi, my name is Jerry Hickey. I’m a nutritional pharmacist. I’m the Senior Scientific Officer over here at InViteⓇ Health. Welcome to my episode, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: What Can Really Help? I want to thank you for tuning in today to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. You can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or just visit invitehealth.com/podcast. Please subscribe and leave us a review. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @invitehealth and information on this episode is linked at the episode description, so let’s get going. So fatigue is the main symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome, but it’s not the only side. And by the way, studies show that women are four more times likely to develop a chronic fatigue type of condition than men. It’s more common in women. So in this chronic condition, myalgic encephalomyelitis, of course, the most common symptom is severe fatigue, but accompanying that is frequently pain and other symptoms. So they can have muscle pain and joint pain, problems sleeping, and that happens, you know, when you get overly tired, it’s hard to sleep. Headaches, persistent headaches, sore throats. Their lymph nodes can swell. They can have tender lymph nodes. And the thing is, this could be really disabling. Chronic fatigue syndrome, if it’s the true syndrome, it could be extremely disabling. I mean, it could be as bad as heart disease or severe kidney disease or multiple sclerosis.† [00:04:32]
[00:04:36] So what causes it? Nobody knows. And like I said, it’s, it’s, it’s a diagnosis of exclusion. They have to rule out other causes. They have to rule out cancer, diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, whatever it might be, they have to rule out anemia. They have to rule out an underactive thyroid. If your thyroid isn’t working, you’re going to be fatigued. So after all all these other things out. They have to rule out infections. They have to rule out psychological conditions, mood conditions like depression and anxiety, and they give you a certain test to try and help, like, like… Oh, and by the way, they take a very careful history, you know, to make sure it’s not cigarette smoking, you know, which doesn’t normally cause severe fatigue, but it can add to it or because it can make it hard to breathe right or, you know, using marijuana or whatever. But they give blood tests. They want to see your blood cell count. That can also tell them if there’s an infection or if your blood sugar is high or if you’re deficient in something. They give you a urine test to see if there’s an infection. They might do sleep studies. They want to see if you have sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, or if you have some kind of insomnia or restless leg syndrome because all those can cause severe fatigue. They’ll probably give you a stress test to see how your heart and lungs are working. They’ll probably want you to see a psychologist or psychiatrist for a psychological examination to see if there’s any kind of disorder.† [00:06:14]
[00:06:17] So there’s a lot of symptoms besides pain and fatigue in this condition. There’s just that horrible discomfort. In pharmacy, we call it malaise. It’s just it’s like, you know, when you have the flu and you’re just uncomfortable. Extreme fatigue, all kinds of body pain. Brain fog, your memory isn’t functioning. You have poor concentration. You have the tender lymph nodes, pain in your joints, a sore throat. Like I said, a headache. When you go to sleep at night, it’s not refreshing. People with chronic fatigue syndrome when they sleep, it’s not refreshing. They should develop a sleep schedule because that’ll help a little bit. Like going to bed at the same time each night, getting up to the same time each morning. Another thing that happens with chronic fatigue syndrome, when they do something mental, they could be exhausted for days after it. When they do something physical, they could be exhausted for days after it. So exercise is important. You don’t tell somebody with chronic fatigue syndrome not to exercise, but you have to really tailor it according to that person, because if they overdo it… I’ve had people with chronic fatigue syndrome who’ve exercised and wound in bed, wound up in bed for three days after because they were so exhausted from the exercise. So it really has to be tailored to what they can do, such as taking a short walk, etc.† [00:07:44]
[00:07:46] Now risk factors that they think might be related to chronic fatigue syndrome, and once again, they don’t know what causes it, but it might be infections like a viral infection, like they’re looking at Epstein-Barr virus, but they’ve been doing that for years. They’re looking at herpes six, but they’ve been doing that for years. Might be some kind of psychological trauma or physical trauma like abuse. They’re looking at exposure to toxins. They’re looking at certain personality traits like people who are perfectionists. Severe mental stress, problems with hormones like your stress hormones, problems with your thyroid, problems with your immune system. And once again, for some crazy reason, women are more prone to this condition.† [00:08:41]
[00:08:43] There are treatments that doctors normally prescribe for chronic fatigue syndrome like they might give you antidepressants, like amytriptyline or doxepin, for the mood problems. There are supplements that can get around that that may be important for people with chronic fatigue syndrome that may help with their energy, but also with their mood. We’ll get to that later. We’ll get to supplements later. You know, and I have to tell you this. People go to a nutrition doctor for chronic fatigue syndrome, and they… And they wind up using 20 different supplements. Let me tell you something. 10 or 15, those supplements aren’t going to help. They’re not bad. They’re not going to hurt, but they’re not really going to address the fatigue. There’s not a lot of supplements that have been proven to help with the fatigue, but there are some that do help. Now, it’s not hitting a grand slam during the last inning of the last game of the World Series, when you take the supplements or the drugs. You’re still going to be fatigued. But if you can feel 50% better, that’s saying a lot. That makes a big difference. Sometimes they use anxiolytics in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, which I think is crazy because those drugs make you sleepy. They’re drugs for anxiety. They make you sleepy. So giving it to someone who’s fatigued is really going to blow them away. They use NSAIDs for the pain. The problem with that is NSAIDs are not good for your kidneys. They’re not good for your heart, they’re not good for your blood pressure. That would be drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib, diclofenac. They might give you cognitive behavior therapy. That’s a good idea. They help you figure out your daily activities. You know what in your lifestyle will improve your, your, how you feel. Hopefully, you’ll see somebody who could give you some kind of graded exercise program, so they’ll, they’ll work very slowly to see how much exercise you can handle without being knocked out for three days in bed. And slowly but surely, they’ll try to increase the intensity of the exercise. Now, yoga, meditation, tai chi might help.† [00:11:06]
[00:11:10] You really need to not have caffeine. You really need to not have alcohol. And like I said before you need, you need a sleep routine. You need to handle stress. You need to learn how to handle stress. You need to avoid refined carbohydrates. You know, the refined foods that are real sugary. You need to avoid the overly processed foods, you know, like white bread, like a lot of the different crackers and cookies and sodas and cakes and things like that. Foods to focus on would be more like, you know, two or three servings of fresh fruit a day, three servings of fresh vegetables every day. Whole grains, could be a cereal, could be a whole grain bread. Legumes. Legumes are healthy. You can have chicken, remove the skin. You can have fish. I’m not a big believer in red meats, but there are things in red meat that help with energy, like carnosine and carnitine. Some of the doctors put you on low-fat dairy. That depends on a person. Certainly having a high-quality yogurt is not a bad thing.† [00:12:33]
[00:12:34] Now, let’s look at supplements that can help you. Let’s look at supplements that can help you. They looked at cocoa. Cocoa helped. Cocoa did help and cocoa is very rich in a lot of things that are good for circulation and good for your brain. There’s like a hierarchy of things in cocoa that are great for your brain and that energize your brain. So there’s salsolinol and phenylethylamine. These make you feel wanted and useful and socially acceptable, etc. There’s anandamide that makes you feel wonderful and happy. There’s methylxanthines, theophylline and theobromine that give your brain energy, that wake up your brain, that make it easier to concentrate and focus. That’s one reason why cocoa will be great for you. And then there’s flavan-3-ols that work as anti-inflammatory antioxidant agents in the brain that also help circulation to your brain. So the University of Hull is in England, and they took people with chronic fatigue syndrome and they gave them a flavanol-rich cocoa drink. That was not a big study, but it was a crossover study. A crossover study means one group got placebo, the other group got the cocoa drink, and then later on they switched it. The people who were originally on a cocoa are now on placebo, which is a fake thing, and the people that were on the placebo are now on the cocoa and always the cocoa helped them. It significantly improved their fatigue over this eight week study, and it’s very safe. I mean, I have cocoa every day because it’s so good for the brain. I’m an old guy. So the scores in a chronic fatigue, Chalder Fatigue Scale really improved. That’s one of the skills they used to gauge fatigue. That’s in the Nutrition journal. Well, you know, it makes sense also because cocoa feeds your healthy bacteria and your healthy bacteria have a lot to do with your brain and your heart and your immune system. So, you know, there are certain healthy foods that interact with the good bacteria in your intestines that are really good for your brain, so that might be part of it. Maybe the cocoa was… Part of the reason the cocoa is going to be good is because it’s good for the good bacteria in your intestines, who reduce inflammation in the brain. Part of reason the cocoa is going to be good is because the ingredients in the cocoa that are directly good for the brain. So if somebody comes on to me and says chronic fatigue syndrome, I’m going to say, “Hey, try our cocoa.”† [00:15:17]
[00:15:18] Now, what about chocolate? That’s hard to say, because when you process the cocoa butter into chocolate, you might lose some of these ingredients. And now, there’s studies also on probiotics and prebiotics. You know what? I think I’d better cut it short here. We’ll do this show in two segments. That’s what we’ll have to do, because there’s a lot more to say about this. So thank you for tuning in to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. You can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or just visit invitehealth.com/podcast. Please subscribe and leave us a review. You can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @invitehealth. Hope to see you next time on part two of this episode on chronic fatigue syndrome. Thank you so much for listening. Jerry Hickey signing off.† [00:15:18]