Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a widely misunderstood illness. It has been difficult to diagnose and difficult to detect by Western medical technology. Sometimes a blood test for Epstein Barr Virus can help identify it, but the most identifiable features of the illness are listed below, plus the cyclical nature of the illness. It is characterized by symptoms such as extreme fatigue, dizziness, muscle spasms, insomnia, heart palpitations, joint pain, tender lymph nodes, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, ringing of the ears, shortness of breath, depression sometimes, fever and chills, etc.
Most certainly, it is an immune system disorder. Recent discoveries utilizing electron microscopy have shown that the red blood cells of patients with CFS have a characteristic rigid cell membrane, compared to patients without the illness. When it is recognized and diagnosed, Western medicine sometimes uses Acyclovir, and anti-depressants to treat the disease.
However, Chinese Medicine looks at CFS in a very wholistic and individualistic way. CFS in terms of Chinese Traditional Medicine is usually characterized by spleen and kidney meridian deficiency, with liver meridian congestion. There may also be lung chi deficiency, kidney and heart yin and yang deficiency. The precise nature or the patient's diagnosis can be ascertained by taking their 12 pulses which correspond to the 12 meridians of the body. Some patients may have more kidney or spleen deficiency, or more liver congestion than other patients. It is very important to treat patients very specifically for their particular diagnosis.
For example, as the kidney and spleen energy is built up with acupuncture and herbs, the patient may be able to have a type of therapy which decongests the liver. In addition, each particular patient with CFS may have traditional herbal formulas which center more on spleen, liver or kidney meridian problems. As the patient's immune system and energy is built up, his/her system may be able to absorb nutritional therapies such as fatty acids, vitamins and microflora which normalize the intestine, and further builds up the immune system.Because CFS is an immune disorder, most CFS patients also have some type of food, environmental and chemical allergies. Because Chinese Medicine works on the root cause of the patient's systemic problem, these allergic disorders gradually get significantly better also.
Many people with CFS who go untreated, may have their associated symptoms for several years. However, it is possible to experience remission from this debilitating illness. After recovery many patients are able to resume a meaningful life and resume work routines, provided they keep their stress level down, exercise and maintain a healthy diet.