Darryl See, M.D., an immunologist who practices in Huntington Beach, California, believes that there is no one single cause for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but also believes that it can be successfully treated. He and his associates at the Immune Institute attack CFS on two main fronts: treating both nutritional deficiencies and bacterial infections.
Dr. See emphatically believes “that science has shown us that CFS is definitely an illness and not a psychological problem. Many patients are diagnosed with depression when there’s really something organically wrong with them.” He adds that it is important to understand that there is no magic or standardized protocol for CFS, that every patient is different, but that certain likenesses seem to be present in those with the condition.
“The body can heal itself with the right nutrients,” says Dr. See, and those very nutrients seem to be deficient in patients with CFS. In fact, he says, “All patients we’ve looked at in our practice are deficient in amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and a component called glyconutrients.”
Compounding to or causing the nutritional deficiencies, Dr. See adds, is Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition whereby the body cannot absorb certain nutrients from the GI tract. When examining patients, Dr. See looks for this malabsorption. If there is no apparent reason for it, the first part of treatment involves replacing the nutrients through supplementation.
In patients with severe malabsorption, intravenous supplementation becomes necessary. This way the nutrients bypass the gut and go directly to the blood. But Dr. See and his associates prefer administering supplements orally. They test to see which amino acids, minerals and vitamins each patient is deficient in and replace them.
One of these is frequently a substance called glyconutrients. Simply put, they are basic sugars, not like those in table sugar or fruit, but sugars necessary for normal cellular structure function and metabolism. About 85% of all structures in cells are glycoproteins. Although people generally get enough protein from their diets, they do not get the glyconutritionals. People with deficient glyconutrient levels are exhausted because cells are not structurally correct.
Enzymes drive all cellular metabolic functions and require fuel to act. Enzymes use essential saccarides–glyconutritionals–as this fuel. In people with deficient glyconutritional levels, the result is poor immune system function and poor cognitive function, among other symptoms. Replacing this deficiency results in great improvement, according to Dr. See.
The second area of CFS treatment involves treatment of micoplasma incognitus. “In studies we’ve done at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, 70% of CFS patients are superinfected with micoplasma incognitus,” he comments.
This bacteria is not to be mistaken for micoplasma pneumoniae, he cautions. It is a species of micoplasma called micoplasma fermentans. Most physicians will not test for this specific species unless they are sophisticated and knowledgeable about CFS. If tested for the pneumoniae, most people with CFS will test negative, and the problem will have been overlooked.
Micoplasma incognitus causes chronic infections, See explains. The bacteria has components that mimic normal cellular components and are able to evade the immune system. They “trick” the immune system to leaving them alone and not attacking, as it would ordinarily do. This enables a chronic infection.
Micoplasma incognitus can infect any tissues in the body, he adds. “We’ve found it in the brain, in joints, in the immune system, bone marrow, heart…any tissue. It settles in and causes significant dysfunction.” Then the immune system becomes dysfunctional because it is trying to fight an infection but cannot recognize it. This immune system dysfunction causes fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms related to where the bacteria has lodged.
This bacteria, Dr. See further explains, is a cell walled deficient bacteria. Most bacteria have cell walls, which make them easy for the immune system to kill. Micoplasma incognitus have no cell wall.
The good news is that if the patient with this bacteria is treated with antibiotics and certain supplements, the body can be rid of the organism. When it is eliminated, the patient improves dramatically, if not experiencing total cure according to Dr. See.
He further explains the process. “The micoplasma does not begin the illness; it is a result of immune system dysfunction,” he says. “It finds a nice home and exacerbates symptoms. The current postulate is that the person (host) has defenses that are decreased against the microorganism. Then the microorganisms cause chronic infection, which begin the symptoms of CFS. Then starts the vicious cycle. The initial infection causes the immune system to be more suppressed, which allows other organisms to come in and cause infection.”
Long-term antibiotics used to treat the bacteria are doxycycline, tetracycline, zithromax or any quinalone. Patients must be on the medications for at least three months, at which time they are re-tested for the presence of the incognitus bacteria. Dr. See notes that the micoplasma is hard to eradicate with antibiotics alone, and that nutritional supplementation while on the medications is especially important. “We always give pro-biotics with antibiotics,” he says.
If all this treatment sounds expensive, it can be. Dr. See notes that although many insurance companies cover the cost of testing for the bacteria, supplementation is often at the patient’s expense. And not all laboratories are capable of performing these tests. See’s clinic offers a weeklong evaluation (roughly $2000) and many patients fly to Southern California specifically for it. For those who cannot visit, phone interviews are set up. See’s office determines which tests are necessary and specifies where to send the specimens for evaluation.
Some patients who have undergone the treatment rave about their results. Mary O’Neill, a CFS sufferer and director of the Central California CFIDS Foundation, was tested and treated by one of See’s associates, Dr. Ferre Akbarpour. O’Neill’s symptoms, which included tender point pain, post exertional fatigue, malaise, cognitive deficits, and more are gone. “Now, unlike before, I can handle stress without getting sick.” She credits her recovery to the treatment she received.
Because Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is as unique as each person who contracts it, each individual should consider his or her own situation and decide which treatment options seem to offer the best solution.