Acupuncture and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
No, it’s not in your head!
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a serious, long-term illness that impacts multiple body systems. It is also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). CFS can often render you unable to function in daily life. Sometimes you may not even be able to get out of bed.
It wasn’t all that long ago that ME/CFS was identified as an illness — for many years, women and men were told that it was “in their head” — doctors found nothing wrong with them; at least nothing that could be measured through western testing at that time. The cause and triggers of this syndrome are still not known which makes it that much more difficult for western medicine to diagnose or treat.
Anyone can get CFS, but it is most common in people between 40 and 60 years old. Adult women tend to be diagnosed with ME/CFS more often that adult men.
Symptoms and signs may include:
- Debilitating fatigue that is not improved by rest
- Body aches and pains/fibromyalgia
- Insomnia/Disturbed sleep patterns
- Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM) — symptoms worsen after any physical or mental activity
- Longer muscle recovery time after physical exertion (e.g., body aches long after a gym workout)
- Brain fog and mental confusion and depression
How do we view “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we see ME/CFS as a deficiency of energy in the body that creates deep imbalances in various organ systems and meridians. Whether you feel “burnt out,” heavy and dragging, and/or foggy-headed and achy, our approach is to rejuvenate and replenish your body’s essential energy, just as you would plug a battery into a charger to feed it more juice and re-charge it.
How can acupuncture help?
After conducting a thorough evaluation and a complete health history, an acupuncturist will use the information gathered to create a unique treatment plan to address your individual needs and concerns. Once they have identified which organ system or line of energy has become unbalanced, this helps them to find the “root” of your symptoms to treat you more effectively.
Your acupuncturist will strategically place needles in order to stimulate blood and energy flow at a deep level, while at the same time nourishing and relaxing your body and mind. The treatment allows the brain to quiet down, creating space for deep rest that the body desperately needs. More often than not there is a mental/emotional component at the root of this illness and Traditional Chinese Medicine is able to address this as well as the physical symptoms showing up, without the use of addictive or steroidal drugs.
At the Shenzhen Hospital of Chinese Medicine, researchers found acupuncture and to be a safe and effective treatment for the alleviation of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Results were based on both how the individual felt (subjective documentation) as well as objective measurements, which included measurements of both IgA and IgG blood levels (these are immunoglobulin’s or antibodies in the blood which is our immune system’s defense against antigens or foreign bodies). The results showed a 90% total effective rate and a 50% total recovery rate in using acupuncture for CFS. Thus demonstrating a definite therapeutic effect on CFS and improving the immune system function in CFS patients.
When a Chinese Medical practitioner is gathering information to put together a treatment plan, the pattern of the ME/CFS will be taken into consideration. Treatment may include 1) acupuncture, first and foremost, 2) herbal medicine, 3) nutrition or a combination of any of them.
Acupuncture is a safe, natural way to treat your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome — the only side effects are feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated when you come out of each treatment.