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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Integrative Medicine

Patrick Massey MD, PhD – Integrative Medicine – ALT-MED Medical and Physical Therapy
Elk Grove Village and serving Chicago area

Chronic fatigue syndrome (click here) can be a devastating medical condition.  Theories abound as to the cause, including chronic viral and bacterial infections, weakened immune system, endocrine abnormalities and even psychosocial etiologies (it’s all in your head). 

The exact number of Americans affected by chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown but there are estimates of between 3 and 3,000 cases of chronic fatigue syndrome per 100,000 people (3,000 – 3 million people affected in the US).  Although the exact cause has not been determined, there is ample evidence that chronic fatigue syndrome may be related to another chronic medical condition involving the bowel, leaky gut syndrome.

Chronic fatigue syndrome usually starts after flu-like illness or a period of chronic stress. It is generally defined as having at least four of the following symptoms: profound exhaustion after exercise, impaired memory/concentration, un-refreshing sleep, muscle/joint pain, headaches, tender lymph nodes and recurring sore throat without obvious infection. 

Chronic fatigue syndrome patients often also have symptoms of irritable bowel (in my experience – 100 percent), new onset food allergies and chemical sensitivities and low blood pressure with dizziness when standing too quickly.  No medications seem to be effective and the success of many nontraditional medicine therapies is limited.  Chronic fatigue syndrome shares many symptoms with chronic infections, but a causal association with viral infections and lyme disease is inconsistent.  However, the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome do closely mimic the common symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky gut syndrome (click here) is a condition where the bowel literally becomes “leaky” and toxins can be introduced into the blood stream in high concentrations.  These toxins often come from bacteria and yeast and can affect many organ systems.  Leaky gut syndrome is related to chronic poor food selection, medications – especially antibiotics and stress.  It is related to a condition called bacterial dysbiosis, where “bad” bacteria colonize the bowel and, in some cases, can result in life-threatening illnesses.  Symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, insomnia, headaches, changes in memory and irritable bowel symptoms.

In a recent medical publication (BMC Medicine, 2010), the correlation between chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic inflammation associated with leaky gut syndrome was examined.  This paper concluded that a chronic inflammatory state may be one of the foundation stones of chronic fatigue syndrome.  They also suggested that a “leaky” gut would be a likely source for the regular introduction of pro-inflammatory and toxic compounds into the body. 

These compounds can damage DNA and inhibit energy production resulting in fatigue, muscle weakness and pain and changes in memory and cognition.  Many of these pro-inflammatory and toxic compounds may be related to many of the symptoms of both chronic fatigue syndrome and leaky gut syndrome.  Therefore, a reasonable argument can be made that the root cause of chronic fatigue syndrome may originate in the bowels. 

Although there are no specific tests for chronic fatigue syndrome, leaky gut syndrome can be measured by a simple urine test.  Treatment for leaky gut syndrome focuses on select supplements, food choices and other simple lifestyle changes.  In my personal experience, many people with chronic fatigue syndrome can get significantly better with lifestyle changes including improving bowel function.  

Dr. Massey’s Approach to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome May Include:
  • Complete history
  • Evaluation for Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Evaluation for adrenal fatigue
  • Evaluation for Sick Euthyroid Syndrome (click here)
  • Blood work for vitamin and mineral levels
  • Select vitamins and minerals
  • Intravenous vitamins (click here)
  • Acupuncture (click here)
  • Massage (click here)
  • ALT-MED physical therapy (click here)
  • Stress reduction - energy medicine (click here)

                          If you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome...we may be able to help
                                                                            Call (847) 923-0046

Dear Dr. Massey and staff:
You've been instrumental in getting our Beth back on to the playing field. We are so thankful to you and our God for restoring her. We praise God as we see her body moving and jumping as it did before the injury...

- Foster and Edie Rooks
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Tuesday June 18, 2024