Although chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has only been in the news since 1985, it has established a reputation as a debilitating illness that incapacitates thousands of people. At various times, it has been called “yuppie flu,” chronic Epstein-Barr virus syndrome, chronic mononucleosis, myalgic encephalomyelitis, low natural killer syndrome and chronic candidiasis.
In the mid-1700s, Sir Richard Manningham, an English physician, described an illness resembling CFS and called it “Little Fever” or “Febricula,” according to Jean M. Carey, M.S. In the 18th century, the disorder was referred to as “the vapors.”
“Later, American neurologist George Beard described what he called neurasthenia, or nervous exhaustion, in 1869,” Carey reported. “Other physicians in the late 1800s described Da Costa’s (Effort) Syndrome in patients who complained of symptoms nearly identical to those of CFS. The early half of the 20th century saw outbreaks of a fatigue syndrome similar to CFS, called chronic brucellosis, or benign myalgic encephalomyelitis, which occurred sporadically throughout the U.S.”
According to the CFS Research Foundation in Santa Barbara, CA, some of the symptoms of CFS include mild fever, recurrent sore throat, painful lymph nodes, muscle weakness and pain, prolonged fatigue after exercise, recurrent headache, painful joints, neuropsychological complaints and sleep disturbances. The foundation reports that some CFS specialists are recommending a combination of malic acid (found in apples and tart fruits) and magnesium hydroxide for patients with chronic muscle soreness and fatigue. Daniel Peterson, M.D., a pioneer CFS researcher, commented that 40 percent of the patients will benefit from this therapy.
Writing in The Big Family Guide to All the Vitamins, Ruth Adams reported that, since 1969, Robert H. Cathcart III, M.D., a physician in Los Altos, CA, has been using massive doses of vitamin C to treat acute viral diseases, such as CFS, the common cold, mononucleosis, acute hepatitis, influenza, measles, mumps, chicken pox and AIDS. Although vitamin C is not a cure for AIDS, it does ameliorate symptoms considerably, he said.
In treating over 13,000 patients with vitamin C therapy, Cathcart may prescribe from 10,000 to 200,000 mg in a 24-hour period. As an example, a severe cold may require 100,000 mg/day.
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Vitamin C is successful because it is a free-radical scavenger. Susceptible people may experience diarrhea following large doses. But, Cathcart maintains, severely ill patients may use up all of the vitamin before it reaches the rectum and will not have diarrhea.
In his book, Natural Health, Natural Healing Andrew Weil, M.D., Tucson, AZ, recommends for CFS patients a balance of exercise, antioxidant supplements (A, beta carotene, C, E and selenium), a B complex supplement, two cloves of garlic a day and an astragalus root supplement.
For female patients, CFS may be related to Candida albicans, a yeast infection, which produces an overgrowth in the digestive tract and/or vagina, according to William G. Crook, M.D., Jackson, TN. A sugar-free diet, anti-yeast medications and nutritional therapy often help both men and women, he explains in his book Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Yeast Connection. For males, the yeast infection may appear as a gastrointestinal complaint or jock itch.
Although Joan, a patient of H.L. Newbold, M.D., New York, NY did not have CFS specifically, she did complain of depression and fatigue. He recommended B1 and B6 supplements and B12 shots. And she was allergic to 21 of 24 substances checked (fish, milk, corn, cat dander, etc.)
Newbold placed on a rotation diet to eliminate the foods to which she was most sensitive, added a vitamin-mineral supplement to correct any deficiencies and, because she was sensitive to cold, had dry skin and hair, he prescribed thyroid tablets, even though her thyroid tests were normal. Following three months of therapy, Joan had greatly improved.
References available upon request.
Copyright 1993 by Better Nutrition For Today’s Living. Reprinted with permission from the October 1993 issue.