Chronic fatigue syndrome CFS

Seleno Health is the brainchild of founder Dr Corin Storkey, a New Zealand born scientist with 15 years of academic and research experience, specializing in antioxidant biochemistry, medicine and health. Following his own personal experience with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) his goal is to enrich the lives of others and inspire them to achieve better health with natural supplements and education. This is Corin’s story:

14 years ago an event changed the direction of my life forever

It was September 2002, I was a budding young scientist studying for my honours year exams. For me, exams and grades were everything, I was an extremely high achiever and a straight ‘A’ student. I had won scholarships, awards and was “destined for great things” according to my professors. I was a true scientist: rational, organised, methodical, in control and very sure of myself. I was a workaholic and felt like it was my job to ensure everything in my life ran smoothly, from my work, to family, to relationships, it was almost like I felt responsible for the happiness of others.

It had been a stressful year with the pressure I had put on myself to succeed, which was compounded by my pending application to study a PhD at a reputable American university. I was spending about 25-35 hours per week in the laboratory, 20-30 hours per week studying and the remainder of my time was spent teaching and trying to earn enough money to get by. As the end of the year beckoned my body began to show signs of cracking, with constant headaches, insomnia, increasing fatigue and emotional swings that affected my mood and balance. What I didn’t know was that my body was stressed, and I mean really stressed. I was on the verge of a breakdown and was just managing to teeter on the edge of functioning long enough to get by. I didn’t know I was stressed or I chose to ignore it and power on as I felt like my end goals were in sight.

One memorable day after arriving home late from university I remember feeling strange, like I wasn’t connected, like my head and body were not on the same wavelength. I was dizzy, exhausted, numb and started to lose control of my body. The next thing I knew I was lying on the floor shaking uncontrollably, having passed out. The ambulance that was called checked me over and said there was nothing wrong and couldn’t identify a cause except that it must have just been a panic attack bought on by exam stress. Over the coming weeks my health rapidly deteriorated, I began to feel exhausted, tired, anxious, unable to sleep, then unable to get out of bed in the mornings. It was a nightmare, and the thought of it affecting my exams made it even more stressful for me. I had hit the bottom layer of the “downward spiral” and my body had begun to give up from the prolonged stress. I ended up just managing to complete my exams before I completely shut down and was forced to move home and go on a sickness benefit, unable to function. It became so bad that even a walk to the shops ended in me collapsing again and being taken to hospital.

During the months that followed I had three more trips to the emergency department, countless blood tests and specialists examining me for everything. Each expert prescribed a different drug, my neurologist gave me pills for migraine, my cardiologist gave me pills for tachycardia, my GP gave me pills to help me sleep and anti-depressants to enhance my mood. With each test I kept hoping for a reason or an answer, something they could identify, so that they could find the magic tablet to fix my problems. As a scientist I had always believed 100% in the health system and conventional medicine, I put all my faith in their hands and was sure eventually they would find a solution.

After months of waiting the only answer I received was “you have chronic fatigue syndrome” (CFS). I didn’t even know what this meant and after researching it I realised it meant nothing…it was just a label, a label saying you don’t have anything we can diagnose using conventional medicine. “You have physical symptoms for some reason but nothing seems to be wrong with you”. It is a syndrome of exclusion. This is when I realised that the conventional western health system has flaws when it comes to “non-specific” disorders or other non-genetic auto-immune conditions. By breaking down the body into systems and refusing to see the whole picture they were limiting their ability to treat the root problem and only masking individual symptoms one at a time.

How the Western health system attempted to manage my CFS. Looking only at independent symptoms.

When people ask what it was like at that point in my life, I find it hard to describe, it was like a hazy memory. All I can remember is that it felt like my body had a horrific flu, completely exhausted, with the feeling of not having slept for days, where my body and mind were no longer connected. This mixed with the anticipation you get before giving a big talk in front of a large group of people, anxious and uneasy, all at once and permanently. I had no immune system, I was constantly sick with colds and flus, a shingles outbreak, unexplained rashes and a severe bout of toxoplasmosis that left me debilitated.

My body had practically died and I was barely managing to function. I was on autopilot, while I waited for something to change. I don’t really know what I was waiting for and it’s hard to remember a lot of what happened those days. There were times when I felt like there was no point, no hope and nothing left to live for. After months of struggling and collapsing I made a promise to myself as I was fighting through the tears, that if I ever got through this I would make sure I put my health and happiness first. I finally understood the true value of good health.

The array of drugs I was placed on for CFS by different doctors. All of which gave no relief or worsened my health.

How CFS feels

How the body feels for people with chronic fatigue.

The turning point…

The next day I woke up and with every ounce of energy I had I took myself to see an acupuncturist. As a scientist I was torn, I had always seen alternative medicine as ‘quackery’ and although I didn’t believe in it I was so desperate for help I was prepared to try anything. Something that he said truly resonated with me – He told me that the ancient villagers in China would only pay the local doctor when they were well, as it meant the doctor was doing his job. It was when they became ill that their payments would cease, forcing the doctor to work harder to bring them back to health. Doctor’s salaries were determined by how healthy their patients were, unlike our doctors today who generally make a living from treating those who are so sick that they need to seek medical assistance. Our Western system promotes illness solutions or management, while the Ancient traditional or Eastern philosophies seem to focus more on prevention or early intervention. It’s funny how it still resonates in my head today but something clicked that day and I began to realize the connections between the mind, the body, stress and health. I thought to myself “if my body and mind have the propensity to make me ill on their own free will, then damned if I am not going to make me better again using the same free will”.

The first few weeks of treatment offered no relief from the condition but after 4-5 weeks i remember one day not having to nap to make it through the day. For me this was the confidence and belief I needed to realise that change was possible. I returned to my acupuncturist and asked what else can you teach me? This began my 5 year recovery that took a sharp 180 degree turn into the complex world of alternative medicine. From everything I tried and learnt I summarised it into a final 8 steps of recovery from a treatment plan that looked like this (read more here about customising a recovery plan to CFS):

treating chronic fatigue

A summary of my approach to healing involving a multitude of holistic approaches.

Here are a list of some key changes that I bought about to improve my health, to see more information on creating a recovery plan to chronic fatigue click here:

  • I slowly withdrew all the drugs I had been prescribed, until my body was medication free and all my symptoms were unmasked.

  • I healed my gut and rebalanced my gut biome through nutrition and supplements. I eliminated all inflammatory and refined foods (including gluten, lactose, refined sugar etc) and focused on a low GI organic wholefoods diet, rich in antioxidants. I introduced daily pre- and probiotics including fermented foods, broths and other gut healing approaches.

  • I began a twice weekly acupuncture treatment plan and I started to learn Qigong and meditation to help balance my body and mind. It alleviated some of the symptoms I was experiencing, built stamina and strength, and made me feel more connected to my body.

  • I attended neural linguistic programming (NLP) sessions to reprogram my subconscious mind and convince myself consciously and subconsciously that I was healthy and able to achieve anything I put my mind to.

  • I assessed all stress in my life and looked at ways of making health centripetal to my journey with better work-life balance, including a career change.

  • I began taking a regime of potent nutraceuticals and glutathione supplements that i eventually developed into my own custom label GPx Cell Protect® formulation. I also used a range of other supplements that can be viewed in more detail here.

  • I discovered Peruvian Maca. An ancient medicine used by the Inca for hormone balance, adrenal fatigue, mental health, energy and vitality. It helped further boost my energy, boosted my mental health, focus and concentration and gave my body stamina, Maca is all about bringing balance back to the endocrine system and restoring the body to good health. It builds incredible strength and resilience and protects the body from crashing again during stress.

The proud practitioner of Wu style Qigong. Beginning to feel more alive with energy and vitality as I changed my life.

Practicing the form called baduanjin (8 pieces of treasure). One method I used to slowly re-strengthen my body and rebuild fitness.

It wasn’t as simple as it sounds, as I still encountered many setbacks along the way, but over time I slowly began to notice myself having more “good days”. My sleep started to improve and I would occasionally wake up feeling a little rested. I could begin to walk to the shops without needing medical help. Once I had recovered to the point where I was able to function again I continued to place my health as a priority in my life to ensure that I never returned to the state I had reached. I learnt to let go, to create realistic goals, to listen to my body and to be mindful. It was a process and a journey that ended up re-shaping my health, my entire being and my whole personality. I really found that the Qigong and meditation gave me a deeper understanding and connection with my body, I began to “feel” myself and my health in a way I had never felt before. NLP helped me to remove negative habits, phobia’s and convince my body that it was well again and I need not fear relapsing. The supplements and dietary changes enabled me to build my immunity, to repel infections and fuel my physical recovery to the point where I was able to begin to exercise normally. Peruvian maca now acts as my insurance policy from spiralling downwards again, it provides a platform to maintain my good health and well-being. Interestingly enough this is how it is predominantly used in Junin (Peru) as a protection from disease with children from the ages of 5 upwards consuming it daily. It’s not surprising that the people of this region are the happiest and healthiest on the planet as they consume it daily throughout their long lives.

Working in the laboratory during my PhD at Melbourne University to further understand the mechanisms of oxidative stress and disease.

Promoting holistic management for diabetic patients and sharing my passion for health and happiness.

I went back to study again, but this time in a completely different way, with different expectations of myself. I completed my PhD specializing in diseases of oxidative stress and the role of Selenium (GPx) in protecting our body. I was able to combine my new found passion for health with my former passion for science in a more balanced approach. After some years furthering my work in antioxidant therapies I began a role in the pharmaceutical industry focusing on metabolic lifestyle diseases (diabetes and heart disease). Having seen the effects of drugs on patients with lifestyle disease I noticed similar trends for people with non-specific disorders (CFS, ME, fibromyalgia, auto-immune disorders). Patients who were able to achieve health success all shared the same characteristics: they were all motivated, educated, determined, engaged and managed their health holistically. What I learnt was that, for these people, the drug was only at most 50% of the solution, the other 50% was up to the person taking the drug.

My holistic health map to maintain good health and prevent future health problems.

I turned 35 this year and decided I wanted to start my own company and spread the message of better health and well-being. So i quit my job and moved part-time to Peru to begin a new adventure of traveling Latin America and finding challenges to conquer to prove that there is life beyond CFS. I can honestly say that I feel younger, more energetic and healthier than when I was 18 years old. I have a strong immune system and rarely suffer from colds or flus. From my rock bottom days 14 years earlier I never imagined that I would reach this point in my life. This year I surfed the worlds longest wave in Chicama Peru in a day that included 8+ hours in the water without any repercussions. I climbed to the top of Rainbow Mountain (5300m), literally on top of the world in a gruelling 8 hour hike that left me absolutely breathless. I donated my services to help underprivileged children in Peru be inspired by the ocean with free surf lessons. I helped the people of Ecuador rebuild after their big earthquake. I traveled and experience all of the best that Latin America has to offer. All of this while running and maintaining a global health business that is specific for people looking to take control of their health and happiness. For me chronic fatigue was a blessing not a curse, it changed my life for the best and every day i wake up feeling content, inspired and at peace knowing I have my health and happiness.

My new found passion for surfing. I could never have imagined being able to surf for 8 hours in a day without any problems.

Holidaying in Costa Rica. After a long hard journey I had made a full recovery, with more energy than I could ever remember. Enjoying my life, my health and my happiness.

From the last 15 years of experience in research, health and life I have come to the following conclusion:

Health is a never ending journey, it is a mindset, a way of life. It is holistic, and relies on education, engagement, determination and a little discipline. There is no single magic solution. You control your health and only you can make yourself better. At the end of the day you need to find the right path for you and your health to reach a destination of true well-being, happiness and inner peace

My company Seleno Health is a representation of my health journey. I now travel the world promoting health and well-being as an avid surfer and adventurer (Please follow me on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter) I hope my journey inspires you to follow your own path to achieving better health, happiness and inner peace in your life.

I’VE BEATEN CHRONIC FATIGUE AND SO CAN YOU!

Written by Dr Corin Storkey, Founder and Director Seleno Health 

6 – How does maca work ?

March 29th, 2019|0 Comments

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian root vegetable unique to the central Andean region of Junin that grows over 4000 m above sea level. For the indigenous people of the region maca [...]