Our culture is filled with stress, and, try as we may, it eventually catches up with us. We all get tired, sick, and even depressed from time to time. But the illness called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is not the kind of tiredness that we experience after a particularly busy day or week, after a sleepless night or a stressful event. It is a severe, incapacitating fatigue that is not improved by rest, and may worsen after physical or mental activity. It is an all-encompassing fatigue that results in a dramatic decline in both activity and stamina, and the diagnosis is not even considered until the patient has suffered at least 6 months’ unexplained fatigue accompanied by other characteristic symptoms.
Accompanying symptoms may include frequent infections, sleep disturbances or unrefreshing sleep, joint pain without redness or swelling, persistent muscle pain, impaired memory or concentration, chronic cough or sore throat, tender lymph nodes, headaches of a new type or severity, digestive disturbances, shortness of breath, visual disturbances (blurring, light sensitivity, eye pain, dry eyes), allergies or sensitivities (to foods, odors, chemicals, noise, or medication), weight loss or gain, and psychological problems (irritability, depression, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks).
The course of CFS varies from patient to patient, but by definition, significantly limits work, play, and family activities. It often follows a cyclical course, alternating between periods of illness and well-being. Some patients experience full remissions, but symptoms often reoccur.
Traditional treatment often consists of symptom relief with medications. However, this “chase the symptom” approach is usually not terribly effective, and the body often gradually becomes less responsive to the drugs, requiring higher and higher doses, resulting in chemical side effects.
Acupuncture has been shown to be remarkably effective in balancing the body, allowing it to heal itself and completely resolving many if not all symptoms. In addition, a balanced treatment approach should include appropriate nutritional or herbal supplements carefully prescribed for the individual patient. Since different patients present with different symptoms, all supplements are not appropriate for all patients. Many products purchased from health food stores are not only ineffective, but actually harmful! Individualized nutritional and activity assessments, and planning can make a remarkable difference in a patient’s energy level. All of these approaches are helpful, but the combination of them can yield truly remarkable results in a very short time. This is the approach used at Golden Leaf Health Services.