U-OK Optimal Health Center

Dr. Elena Koles, MD

alternative medicine chicago

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia - Natural treatments


Most doctors who study both Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia find the two disorders so similar that we consider them "identical" for most intents and purposes. However, there are some subtle differences. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is most likely triggered by an infectious or flu-like illness, whereas a number of Fibromyalgia cases are triggered by minor injury or trauma.

The science:
CFS is characterized biochemically by elevated levels of an anti-viral enzymes, whereas Fibromyalgia is unique in having excess Substance P (which triggers pain in nerves) in the bodily fluids. Profound exertional fatigue, post-exertional malaise, deep myalgias, sleep disruption, cognitive dysfunction, and autonomic abnormalities are common to both.

Persons with Fibromyalgia tend to improve with low level, slowly progressive exercise, whereas those with CFS are more likely to flare or relapse with even minimal activity.

There are some abnormalities that are common too. For instance, close to 100% of individuals with these syndromes have low thyroid gland function. However, standard blood tests for TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is usually not elevated in these individuals due to pituitary dysfunction. Many CFS and Fibromyalgia sufferers will also have high levels of the anti-thyroid antibodies or reverse T3, which is usually not measured on standard blood tests. In addition, the majority of individuals can also have a thyroid receptor resistance that is not detected on the blood tests. Consequently, thyroid treatment, especially with timed release T3, is effective for many patients. T4 preparations (inactive thyroid), such as Synthroid and Levoxyl, usually do not work well for these conditions.

There are currently no FDA-approved prescription medications for use in treating CFS. There are, however, a number of medications that are used to treat the various symptoms of CFS. Many are recommended for the effects that may be unrelated to their primary use. These may include antidepressants, antifungals, antihistamines, antivirals, CNS depressants (or stimulants), immunoglobulins, cardiac medications, anti-inflammatories, anticonvulsants, corticoids and expectorants.

A report in the Annual Review of Medicine stated that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome "is an illness characterized by activation of the immune system, various abnormalities of several hypothalamic-pituitary axes, and reactivation of certain infectious agents" (Komaroff et al. 1998). This suggests that an individual with CFS should follow a regimen that involves protecting and enhancing the immune system with proper nutritional supplements, proteins, and hormones. Free radicals play a role in causing damage to the immune system.

CFS and Fibromyalgia are serious and debilitating illnesses that are often dismissed as psychosomatic. Actually, a disturbed immune system may play a central role in their development, as well as the environment, diet, viral or fungal infection; all aspects of a human being including the physical body, emotions and thoughts.

It can occur at any age and presents in childhood as a loss of concentration, often accompanied by colds or rhinitis. It may fluctuate and can be more severe on certain days.

How we can help:

Because CFS and Fibromyalgia affect the entire body, we attempt to address every underlying factor in our treatment.

Our comprehensive approach addresses several key areas, based on the results of laboratory tests, including:

  • Immune support (antiviral): herbs, essential fatty acids
  • Individualized dietary plan with trigger food avoidance
  • Supplements involved in energy and brain hormones and neurotransmitters' metabolism
  • Adrenal and Thyroid support
  • In heavy metal toxicity, gentle detoxification with painless chelation (baths, rectal, oral), magnetic therapy, lymphmassage and far infrared sauna.
  • Acupuncture for body meridian stimulation
  • Intestinal friendly bacteria support with specially designed supplement protocol with European probiotics and homeopathy.
  • Digestive support with digestive enzymes
  • Myofascial release and massage to balance your nervous system
  • In medication side effects (antibiotics, steroids, vaccines, ets), homeopathic treatment with special drug and vaccine formulas
  • Applied kinesiology with the BioSET technique

Stress is an underlying factor in many patients with CFS. We offer acupuncture and stress management techniques to reduce its health effects.

Exposure to food additives, solvents (cleaning materials, formaldehyde, benzene, etc.), pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins can greatly stress the body’s detoxification processes. We offer a detoxification program and liver support with appropriate nutrients.

Food allergies are now one of the most frequent causes of various illnesses, including CFS. Up to 85% of the patients with CFS have food allergies. Fortunately, they can be diagnosed and treated. We offer the diagnostic tools and treatment protocols necessary to mediate food allergies.

Self-care is essential for patients with CFS and Fibromyalgia, along with doctor prescribed remedies. Good posture, breathing from the diaphragm and bodywork (massage, spinal manipulation, etc.) help to relieve the stress and fatigue that is frequently a part of CFS.

Regular exercise alone has been shown to have a tremendous impact on improving mood and the ability to handle stressful situations. We design exercise programs that take into account you specific hormone circadian production patterns and the adrenal gland “schedule”.

Nutritional supplementation is essential in the treatment of CFS. A deficiency of virtually any nutrient can produce the symptoms of CFS and render the body more susceptible to infection. All vitamins and minerals are important, but magnesium, vitamins E and B5, and omega-3 fatty acids are essential.

Many herbal remedies may help with CFS. The best known are Siberian Ginseng and Licorice. Dr Koles can direct your herbal treatment. You should never take herbs without consulting a doctor. Although herbs are natural, they may be lethally dangerous.

We take a multi-layered approach to help patients with CFS and Fibromyalgia. In the majority of cases where environmental or food sensitivities are involved, the results of the treatment are quick and stable.