Healing from CFS
While the symptoms and causes of CFS are diverse, so are the treatments. As a Functional Medicine practitioner, my goal is to address the underlying root cause of your health imbalance.
There is no one diet, supplement, or medication that fits everyone. If you feel like you have CFS or one of the underlying causes as listed above, I recommend working with a Functional Medicine practitioner. They will listen to you and help you start working towards making healthy changes and heal the body at a cellular level, instead of trying to simply treat the symptoms.
5 Strategies to Start Healing the Cellular Level
1) Reduce Inflammation Through Diet and Hydration
You can immediately begin healing your body because you have choices every day that you make that will either bring you toward or away from healing.
The most simple, but perhaps not the easiest, is choosing better foods for your body. Inflammatory foods such as refined sugar, processed foods, processed grains, dairy, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, food dyes, and synthetic chemicals can cause inflammation throughout the body, leaving you lethargic and tired.
Remember that the nutrients, or anti-nutrients, you put into your body are the resource your cells use to grow, repair, and function properly. Giving your cells what they need to regenerate and self-cleanse yields a reduction in inflammation, which often means you start feeling better.
Removing waste material from your body is just as important, so water concentration and proper hydration are key.
Start with these 3 simple steps:
- Follow the Mediterranean or Paleo Diet, or for more severe cases begin an Elimination Diet
- Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water per day
- Add in electrolytes such as Himalayan salt, trace minerals, fermented foods, and a healthy dose of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds
2) Heal the Gut
A leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability, is a common issue that needs to be addressed. Genetic factors, the use of antibiotics, and virulent microbes can lead to inflammation and autoimmunity.7
A simple test can show you whether you have leaky gut, microbiome imbalance, overgrowth of bacteria, or gut infections such as viruses, pathogens, and parasites. However, there are also many patients who have all these same symptoms but do not have a leaky gut.
It’s important to realize that leaky gut is not in everyone. That is why testing is important if you are struggling to get well. Don’t guess, test.
Here are several ways to start healing the gut:
- Get a microbiome test and food sensitivity panel
- Follow an Elimination Diet
- Drink 2 cups of bone broth daily
- Add more fiber to your diet
- Helpful supplements: probiotics, prebiotics, glutamine, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, Omega-3s
3) Cellular Energy and Balance
Boosting cellular energy starts with the mitochondria. While there is no one cause of mitochondrial dysfunction, it’s important to help support the body by opening the detoxification pathways (liver, kidneys, spleen, and skin) and improve the drainage of toxins through the lymphatic system.
Decreasing stress on the organs and detox pathways will free up energy resources for your mind, body, and muscles. Improving mitochondrial function will increase cellular energy and improve fatigue symptoms.8
Here are several steps you can take to support healthy mitochondria:
- Eat enough protein for your body: 1.2 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight
- Increase dietary flavonoids including berries, red cabbage, green tea, dark chocolate, onions, grapes, apples, tomatoes, lettuce, and kale
- Helpful supplements: L-carnitine, CoQ10, fulvic and humic acids, vitamin C and E, alpha-lipoic acid, n-acetyl cysteine, milk thistle, dandelion root, and echinacea
4) Sleep and Relaxation
CFS sufferers commonly experience difficulty with their sleep. In particular, falling asleep, staying asleep, muscle spasms, restless legs, and vivid or frightening dreams.
It’s important to establish a regular bedtime routine, which includes a physical and emotional wind-down period.
While better sleep will come as you heal the underlying causes, you can promote healthy sleep with several simple tips:
- No electronic devices or cellphones at least 1.5 hours before bed
- Wear blue-light blocking glasses
- Keep the room dark and cool
- Listen to delta wave music
- Apply Essential Oils such as lavender, sandalwood, chamomile, and valerian
- Helpful supplements: melatonin, CBD oil, magnesium, valerian, L-theanine, and phosphatidylserine
5) Gradual Physical Fitness
As your energy improves it will become easy to over-do your workouts at first in an attempt to regain your former physique and self. Take it slow as your body is healing. Gradually increase physical fitness and exercise.
Here are several helpful tips to work up into your workouts:
- Start a graded walking program ¼ a mile at a time on flat ground, then graduate to more hilly terrain
- Gentle hikes and walking in nature
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Yoga or active stretching