by Kimberly Allen R.N.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is just that a “syndrome”. A syndrome is a collection of signs (visible to others) and symptoms (described by the patient) that occur together. As with many “syndromes” there is no cure. For this reason, many people are turning away from the medications or “conventional medicine” toward alternative and natural treatments.
There are a wide variety of alternative and natural therapies available today. Many CFS sufferers choose to use a combination of both conventional and alternative treatments. The most important thing to remember when considering the path you want your treatment to go on is consulting with your doctor, especially if you are considering both conventional and alternative treatments to avoid any interactions or complications.
Some of the alternative treatments that are currently in use for the treatment of CFS are acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal products, specialized diets and vitamins to name a few. The first and probably the most important non-medical “treatment” you can do for yourself is to understand the importance of balancing rest and activity. It will do you no good to over exert yourself and then have to stay in bed for the next 2-3 days. Listen to your body and if you don’t hear it the first time when your lying in bed try to remember what your body was trying to tell you and when it was trying to tell you that you were crossing the line between enough and too much. Maintaining a regular exercise program is crucial to maintaining muscle strength and endurance. It is possible to increase your exercise/active time if done slowly giving your body plenty of time to adjust.
Nutrition and diet are as important as exercise. There is research to indicate that a diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and essential fatty acids while avoiding foods that are processed and high in preservatives,saturated fats and dairy products as well as sugar, caffeine and alcohol is beneficial. Along with diet there are numerous supplements that have shown promise in treating the symptoms of CFS. The most common supplements used to treat CFS are; Magnesium, Vitamins C and B12, fish and evening primrose oils.
Many herbs are the source of numerous pharmacological medications on the market today. There are a number of herbal supplements that have been reported to improve the symptoms of CFS including ginko biloba, ginseng, garlic, echinacea and St Johns wart to name a few.
Other therapies that have been reported helpful are massage therapy by a qualified practitioner using essential oils has been known to significantly improve the symptoms of CFS. Certain oils are known for relieving muscle pain, improving your mood and sleep as well as boosting the immune system. Adding a few drops of one to your bath or in a dispenser can be very beneficial. Some of the most commonly used oils are; jasmine, chamomile, peppermint, and lavender though there are others.
Acupuncture is an ancient traditional Chinese medicine that has been used with good results in relieving the symptoms of CFS. Frequently relief is felt immediately though the best results have been seen with weekly treatments over a 2-3 month period.
In order to get the most benefit out of any treatment program you need an effective stress management program. Stress affects the body in many ways and it doesn’t matter whether it’s physical or emotional stress the first thing it does is cause fatigue. For people suffering with CFS unmanaged stress can mean the difference between bedrest and being able to perform the activities of daily living.
While many CFS sufferers claim that alternative and natural treatments have helped them there is no scientific proof or clinical trial documentation to verify the effectiveness of alternative and natural treatments.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.