Chronic Fatigue Sydrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is the current name for a disorder characterized by debilitating fatigue and a variety of associated physical, constitutional and neuropsychological complaints. The clinical manifestation of CFS includes fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, muscle aches, joint aches, fever, difficulty sleeping, psychiatric problems (such as depression), allergies, abdominal cramps, weight loss or gain, rash, rapid pulse, chest pain, and night sweats.

Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with CFS. Most patients with CFS are generally between 25 and 45 years old, although cases in childhood and in middle age have been described.

The typical case of chronic fatigue syndrome arises suddenly in a previously active individual. An otherwise unremarkable flu-like illness or some other acute stress is recalled with great clarity as the triggering event. Unbearable exhaustion is left in the wake of this incident. Other symptoms, such as headaches, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, muscle and joint aches, and frequent feverishness, lead to the belief that an infection persists, requiring medical attention. Over several weeks, the impact of reassurances proffered during the initial evaluation fades as other features of the syndrome become evident, such as disturbed sleep, difficulty concentrating, and depression.

Physical examination and routine laboratory tests are required to rule out other possible causes of the patient’s symptoms. Prominent findings argue strongly in favor of other processes. However, no laboratory test, no matter how esoteric or exotic, can diagnose this condition or measure its severity.

Many symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome respond to treatment. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can alleviate headaches, diffuse pain and feverishness. Antihistamines or decongestants may help allergic rhinitis and sinusitis in patients with CFS. Non-sedating antidepressants improve mood and disordered sleep and thereby attenuate the fatigue to some degree.

Typical TCM Patterns for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Spleen Qi and Yang Deficiency: occurs over a long-time, with fatigue for no clear reason, mental listlessness, poor appetite, bloated stomach, loose stools or diarrhea, cold extremities. Enlarged, pale tongue, with teeth-marked edges and thin white coat. Weak pulse.
  • Liver Qi Stagnation and or Liver, Spleen, Stomach Disharmony: physical and mental fatigue, headaches, depression, sighing, chest tightness and hypochondriac distension, alternating loose stools and constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, bitter taste in the mouth. Tongue is dusky, with thin white coat. Pulse is wiry.
  • Heart Blood and/or Yin Deficiency: fatigue, palpitations, irritability, disorientation, forgetfulness, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, hot flashes, night sweats, pale face. Tongue is pale or has a slightly red tip, with thin white coat. Pulse is thready, rapid or choppy.
  • Kidney Qi and Yang Deficiency: fatigue, soreness or pain of the low back, weakness in the knees, cold sensation all over body, morning diarrhea, frequent urination, shortness of breath that worsens with movement. Men will have impotence; women will have irregular menses. Tongue is enlarged and pale, with scallops and a thin white coat. Pulse is thready, weak and deep.
  • Phlegm Obstruction and Dampness Retention: fatigue, listlessness, sleepiness, plum-pit qi, chest tightness, puffy face and legs, and overweight or heavy sensation of the body. Dusky tongue with moist or greasy coat. Slippery or full pulse.
  • Heat Toxicity: fatigue, whole body aches, sore and tender muscles and joints, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes around the neck, slight fever, and hot flashes. Tongue body and edges are slightly red. Pulse is floating or thready and sometimes rapid.

Studies show that the main benefit of acupuncture for CFS are the released endorphins, which can raise the amount of white blood cells, T-cells and anti-bodies in the body, which increase the body’s level of immunity. Chinese herbal medicine (an herb remedy ), which is one of the most sophisticated herbal medicine systems in the world, also helps to boost the immune system by creating more antibodies, which fight disease. Each benefit of acupuncture and herb remedy treatments has a marked effect on a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptom . Acupuncture and an herb remedy treat this illness by reducing the level of harmful hormones in the body; restoring the balance of hormonal regulation; reducing stress, anxiety and tension; regulating a distorted immune function and promoting body detoxification.