Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) is a multi-faceted condition with an array of non-localised symptoms that can often be seemingly unrelated. Recent advances in better understanding this condition have enabled us to construct a model for what the body looks like for people with CFS and the underlying mechanisms behind it progression (Mechanisms of chronic fatigue – read more here). Given that people with CFS are experiencing imbalances and dysregulation of so many aspects of their natural physiology they often get stuck at the bottom of the downward spiral and find it very hard to escape. Even with focus on one or more aspects of managing CFS and improvements in health people often reach a plateau without being able to progress further towards full health. They can find themselves fighting to maintain their current level of health or being pulled back into the spiral of illness again over time. These frustrations and seeming feelings of helplessness can lead to ongoing issues with anxiety, depression and mental health. The most successful stories of recovery from CFS have come via people addressing ALL aspects of the condition simultaneously and taking an integrative and holistic approach to health. This model is also highly applicable to all autoimmune conditions. Below I outline an 10-step approach to treating and managing CFS based on the scientific model of what we currently know about the condition and my own personal experiences with recovery to full health.

“The best way to manage a chronic full-body condition is to take a holistic, full-body approach that attacks all aspects of imbalance at once.” 

Before reading we highly recommend reviewing the previous article about understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Given that chronic fatigue originates in the gut, the gut is the first place to start with regards to treatment:

Mechanism of CFS

The 7 step mechanism of chronic fatigue pathophysiology

A 10 step holistic approach to treating chronic fatigue 

Step 1 – Nutritional Therapy for gut healing

Studies have shown that CFS is associated with an underlying increased incidence of microbial translocation (leaky gut) due to chronic inflammation and breakdown of the gut lining proteins.This leads to an ongoing drain on the immune system, immune dysfunction, increased production of inflammatory cytokines and signals and ultimately HPA dysregulation (hypothalamus – pituitary – adrenal glands). The first way to remedy this issue and to begin to heal the gut is to look at the kinds of foods we are putting into it. Food can either act as medicine or poison on our gut and either heal or inflame it. Gut healing is a long and slow process and requires sustainable dietary changes to ensure we are not fuelling the underlying gut issues.

There are specific programs aimed at gut healing that have been shown to be beneficial for many people dealing with chronic inflammatory disorders. Programs like GAPS – gut and psychology syndrome that specifically target issues like leaky gut have substantial research and evidence behind them. For some this can be fantastic but for others the program is too rigid to fit within their lifestyle as it can require significant time to uphold and offers little flexibility. I have seen great success with programs like GAPS but personally prefer a whole foods and elimination style approach to change as for others it offers more flexibility and can be maintained sustainably for longer by most.

Foods all are selected for their therapeutic value and have benefits in either reducing levels of gut inflammation, improving digestion, balancing bacterial levels (biosis), feeding good gut bacteria and improving gut absorption of nutrients. Firstly eliminating all inflammatory foods is of upmost importance and ensuring that you limit the intake of common allergens. For a good list of foods to eat and avoid review our healthy living guide book (here) and see some examples of foods to include and avoid below.

nutritional therapy for chronic fatigue

A visual representation of a CFS diet, with foods to eat regularly

Eliminate the following inflammatory initiators:

  • Gluten

  • Sugar

  • Artificial sweeteners

  • Dairy products

  • Soy products

  • Fried foods

  • Preservatives

  • Artificial colours

  • Artificial flavours

  • Bulking agents

  • Corn (GMO foods)

  • Lectins and phytates (Reduce)

  • NSAIDs – non steroidal anti-inflammatories

  • Antibiotics

Step 2 – Increase Prebiotic Intake

Prebiotics are foods containing indigestible forms of fibre found in some fruits, vegetables, and starches. They act as a food source for the friendly bacteria in the gut and are rich in important molecules like fructans, pectin, inulin, beta-glucans and galactans. Prebiotics do not contain positive bacteria but they are molecules that resist digestion and absorption in the upper gastrointestinal tract, are subsequently fermented by the intestinal microflora and selectively stimulate the growth or activity of friendly intestinal bacteria. Several studies investigating prebiotic use in gut inflammatory models demonstrated them to be highly affective at reducing down levels of inflammation and encouraging the growth of healing bacteria. Think of prebiotics like the fertiliser for growing a good quality lawn, before we introduce good bacteria to return biosis to our gut environment we need to create a nutritious and rich environment for them to thrive. Below I have outlined a few of my favourite food sources rich in prebiotics. Try to include 1 or more prebiotic fibre sources into your daily routine.

prebiotics for chronic fatigue

My favourite foods rich in prebiotic fibres

Step 3 – Probiotics

The intestinal microbiome plays an important role in the function and integrity of the gastrointestinal tract, maintenance of immune homeostasis and host energy metabolism. Perturbations in the composition of microbial communities, also known as dysbiosis, can result in disrupted interactions between microbes and its host. Studies have shown that these changes in microbiome composition and function are thought to contribute towards CFS susceptibility and progression. Other studies have demonstrated introduction of positive bacterial culture (probiotics) into this gut environment can help in maintaining gut integrity, reducing inflammation and rebalancing the microbiome.

Probiotics are living microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts can offer health benefits on the host. There are many forms that probiotics can take and each person may respond differently to each. For some it is about trying different cultures and seeing which is the most effective at normalising gut health and improving overall health. Cultures can be specific or in food sources, such as fermented foods. Below are a list of my favourite probiotics that I try to include at least once daily into my routine.

Probiotics for chronic fatigue

My favourite probiotic cultures that I consume daily

Bringing it all together for your gut…

Consume 1 portion or more from each list per day:

Prebiotics

  • Chicory Root

  • Flax seed

  • Psyllium husk

  • Asparagus

  • Onions

  • Leeks

  • Garlic

  • Dandelion root

  • Apples

  • Jerusalem Artichoke

  • Green Bananas

  • Raw Cacao

  • Seaweed

  • Radish

  • Coconut flour

  • Sweet potato

  • Yacon root

Probiotics

  • Kefir

  • Coconut kefir

  • Water kefir

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kraut juice

  • Kimchi

  • Kombucha

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Miso

  • Kvass

  • Brine cured olives

Digestive Enzymes

  • Papaya

  • Paw paw

  • Honey

  • Kefir

  • Ginger

  • Miso

  • Pineapple (pineapple skin)

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Avocado

  • Apricots

  • Bananas

  • Kiwifruit

Gut Healing

  • Bone Broth

  • Collagen

  • Aloe

  • Liquorice root

  • Slippery elm

  • Marshmallow root

  • Turmeric

  • Coconut

  • Peppermint

  • Raspberries

  • Salmon

  • Lemon

  • Ginger

  • Cinnamon

  • Apple cider vinegar

Step 4 – Lifestyle Adjustments

Better health is built on a foundation of the 3 holistic pillars: diet, exercise and mindfulness. These all act as the foundation for ‘self-healing’ and a source of balance to prevent future health problems. During recovery from chronic fatigue discipline is required and often lifestyle adjustments are needed to allow the body time to heal. It is also important to try to overcome barriers to better health as in our modern world we are constantly faced with hurdles that prevent us from putting our health first. Below is a list of 10 pieces of advice I would give to follow:

Cupboard full of junk food

Follow what your body needs in each season and try to shop organic where possible

  • 1. Shop seasonal, local, organic and vary your diet

Avoiding sprayed fruit and veggies and going for local organic produce is a great way to reduce gut inflammation and to ensure your body is eating right for the season. Local farmers will provide you with all the seasonal foods ideal for your body at that time. Hearty vegetables for winter soups and stews and leafy greens for summer time salads. Feed your body the sustenance it needs with what the earth naturally provides for you, make food your medicine not your poison.

  • 2. Empty your cupboard of tempting foods and drinks

With chronic fatigue the body is always craving sugar and fat as it is low on fuel and burnt out. The problem is that the food you crave is what fuels the inflammatory cascade that makes you worse. How many times have you said to yourself, “just one piece” before devouring the whole chocolate bar. The easiest way to avoid this self-conflict is to remove the temptation in the first place. When shopping it’s much easier to skip the junk food aisle than it is to try and restrain yourself from eating the food later. The reality is junk food is almost impossible to resist if it is right in front of you. Don’t fuel the inflammatory fire more by stoking it with sugar or caffeine, detox yourself and long-term your energy levels will improve. Substitute your refined carbohydrates for unrefined whole grains (low GI – glycemic index). Refer to our Foods to Eat and Avoid Guide for some examples to help you make better sugar choices and improve your health and well-being.

Cupboard full of junk food

It’s easier to avoid temptation than it is to try to restrain yourself from indulging

Cupboard full of junk food

How you eat is just as important as what you eat, digestion begins in the mouth

  • 3. Create a mealtime routine – how you eat is equally important 

Over eating or eating to fast causes stress and inflammation in the gut. To avoid putting pressure on your gut when you eat it is important to ensure all food is chewed properly and the body is in a calm, relaxed state. Digestion begins when you begin to chew and continues while the body is in a para-sympathetic (relaxed) state. If you are relaxed the body will begin digestion with less inflammation and better extraction of nutrients. Fast eating can lead to indigestion and gut inflammation, making the gut situation worse. Before eating, take 1 minute to stop, close your eyes, breathe from the gut and allow all your stressor to subside with each exhale. After this – relax, chew, taste and focus on the food, not the television.

  • 4. Choose quality over quantity

In our culture we think that ‘quantity equals value’ and as a consequence many people eat almost twice as much as their body actually needs. For food portion guidelines see our Daily Planer here to give you your ideal portion sizes. One good idea is to use a smaller plate to avoid overeating. Smaller portions reduce your levels of oxidative stress associated with digestion, allow for a healthy gut and also provide better nutrient absorption from your food. For those recovering from CFS it is best to have 5 small meals per day rather than 3 big ones.

Cupboard full of junk food

Don’t over eat, use a smaller plate to ensure you reduce you portion sizes.

Cupboard full of junk food

Ensure you are getting 8 glasses of water per day.

  • 5. Increase your water intake and avoid dehydration

Your body needs 1.5-2L (8 glasses) of water per day to function effectively. If you feel sluggish and tired often simply increasing your water intake can help you feel immediately more alert and energised. Try to avoid diuretics like coffee as these can cause your body to become dehydrated and puts a lot of pressure on your kidneys. Upon urinating your stream should be a clear to a pale yellow colour. Any darker and you may want to consider drinking some more water.

  • 6. Make health and food your number 1 priority, don’t just tick boxes

To be sustainable it is important that you focus on developing a passion for healthy living and not just tick the boxes. You must make time and save energy for shopping, food preparation and cooking. Your health should be in your own hands not someone else’s. Become excited about medicinal foods, fermentation, bone broths, gut healing diets, detox routines and bringing nourishment to your body through nutrition. It’s not just about drinking a glass of kombucha per day, gut healing and recovery from CFS takes prioritising health and following a dietary and lifestyle regime for 1-5+ years or more. It must be something you are passionate about, not just a box to tick. Truely connect with your food, go to a farm or grow your own vegetables and fruit, understand the journey of your food to your table. Every day think “what can I do to heal my gut today?  What can i do to nourish my body and reduce inflammation today? What can I do to calm my brain and balance my HPA axis today?” Health should be centripetal to your choices and it should be fun, not a chore. This is a lifestyle change, not a curse.

Cupboard full of junk food

Become passionate about health and food. Enjoy the journey to good health.

Cupboard full of junk food

Sunlight and Vitamin D can regulate sleep and improve energy and mental health

  • 7. Ensure you are getting enough sunlight and vitamin D

Adequate sunlight is essential as it can regulate the production of melatonin, which can help with sleep patterns and also activate and increase the body’s natural vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an essential role in calcium balance and has positive benefits on healthy immune function and bone density.  It is estimated that sensible sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week allows most people to produce sufficient vitamin D. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Frequent infections

  • Fatigue

  • Painful bones and back

  • Depressed mood

  • Impaired wound healing

  • Hair loss

  • Muscle pain

  • 8. Assess the stressors in your life and look at bringing change

Everyone is different and every body responds to stress in different ways. To fully understand your body it is essential to start to look for correlations and triggers that cause symptoms such as fatigue, headaches or anxiety. Keep a diary of how you feel on a day to day basis, recording what you eat, drink and how you are exercising, so you can create a clearer picture of how your body responds to exercise and eating habits. Write down everything that ignites exacerbation of symptoms from physical to chemical to emotional or environmental. See what on the list is able to be eliminated or minimised and what you can change. It is also essential when introducing new health solutions as it can help you keep track of positive changes. This way you can refine the right health solutions for you down to the bare essentials and save yourself time and money. Some other bigger things to think about: Do you need – A career change? Lifestyle changes? Better work-life balance? Personality changes? Changes in your climate or where you live?

Cupboard full of junk food

Keep track of what harms and what heals the body, writing it down can help more easily define trends

Cupboard full of junk food

Ideally you should be having type 4 bowel movements, without urgency 1-2 times per day.

  • 9. Look at your faeces for indications of your gut health

Studies have shown that the make-up of your biome can determine your levels of inflammation and severity of chronic fatigue. Your faeces can tell you about the internal balance of your biome and also about your gut health. Ideally you should be having soft, yet well-formed bowel motions that are easily passed 1–2 times per day. You should be able to wipe completely clear or near clear after each motion. You should be able to hold on for a short time after you feel the first urge to go to the toilet without pains, discomfort or urgency. It should be easy to completely empty your bowel within 30-60 seconds of attempting and when you pass a motion you shouldn’t have to go back to the toilet soon after. If this doesn’t sound like you then you need to focus more on gut healing and balancing the biome with nutrition, pre- and probiotics. To see the ideal stool check the stool chart:

  • 10. Practice mindfulness and learn ways to still your thoughts

All stressors, including thoughts and emotions have the ability to negatively affect the patterns of energy which influence the functions of the whole body. Over time prolonged stress can cause energy imbalances in our body that can lead to chronic health conditions. Energy therapies place great emphasis on the breath and mind to balance and direct energy within the body, to activate self-healing. Examples of these include yoga, tai chi, qigong, meditation and pilates. As such regular practice of an energy art or mindfulness has the ability to free the body and mind of internal stress and either heal or prevent future health problems. Everybody dealing with chronic fatigue should be practicing a holistic energy medicine.

Cupboard full of junk food

Holistic energy arts like yoga, tai chi, qigong and meditation are amazing tools to enhance self-healing and promote mindfulness.

Step 5 – Exercise

One of the biggest issues with recovery from chronic fatigue comes from difficulties with exercise. Too much harms the body and not enough halts recovery. Studies have demonstrated that people with chronic fatigue have altered metabolism that often results in increased production of inflammatory species with exercise and subsequent post exertion malaise (PEM). So pushing the body when it isn’t ready for exercise will just cause more fatigue and can even result in a health collapse. So how do you find the right balance between over-doing it and under-doing it? The answer to this is to listen to your body and its requirements. This can be done via analysis of symptoms and/or using technology to measure your sympathetic/parasympathetic response via heart rate variability (HRV). The other key is to never plan exercise, but just to do when your body is ready and also to perform the right exercise at the right time.

1. Listening to you body via symptoms:

A little trick i learnt from studying qigong came in very handy during my recovery. It relies on the underlying principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that most people with chronic fatigue experience both conditions of Liver Qi Stagnation and Spleen Qi Deficiency simultaneously. In TCM the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body and smoothing our emotions such as anger, irritability, and frustration. When the liver becomes sedentary (not enough exercise) and stagnant we feel tired, depressed, pain, tension, headaches, brain fog, frustration, muscle weakness, short of breath and joint stiffness. The best way to free the stagnation and improve the liver qi and symptoms is to do physical (light) exercise. This can make you feel better and help with recovery, however as long as you don’t overdo things.

In TCM the spleen extracts Qi from the food we eat that is used by the body to build immunity, feed the muscles and organs and provide energy and sustenance. When the spleen becomes Qi deficient we feel exhaustion, anxiety, pensiveness, palpitations, mood swings, we crave sugar and fat, experience excessive sweating, a feeling of fever, have achy bones and lower back and often have poor sleep. Unfortunately excessive exercise on a day when spleen Qi deficiency dominates over liver Qi stagnation may harm the body more than healing it. On spleen Qi deficient days the best medicine is rest, hearty, warming foods and mindfulness.

So an ideal way to approach exercise is to create a symptom chart and highlight what is dominant on each day then determine how much and which type of exercise is most suitable. Rough guide: Liver days – 15-30 mins walking in the sun, 10-15 mins light stretching, 10-15 mins breathing exercises or mindfulness (eg yoga, qigong, meditation). Spleen days – 10-15  mins light stretching, 20-30 mins breathing exercises or mindfulness.

2. Measuring using your Heart Rate Variability (HRV):

HRV is the term used to describe moment-to-moment variations in our heart rate. It does not refer to the variations of heart rate that occur with activity, illness or other factors. HRV refers to the subtle, rhythmic heart rate fluctuations that occur with respiration – when we breathe in our heart rate speeds up slightly and when we breathe out it slows down slightly. Low HRV is associated with increased sympathetic (fight/flight) nervous system (SNS) activity, and/or decreased parasympathetic (rest/digest) nervous system (PNS) activity, and is associated with chronic inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, chronic pain, and ME/CFS and FM. HRV Apps can take data from a heart band monitor and create a better picture of when the body is sympathetic and when it is parasympathetic. From this, with a health diary you can track progress, learn to see crashes, associate crashes with events and determine when and how much exercise is right for your body. For some this can be a great tool to help them find the balance between too much and not enough. To read more about HRV for CFS click here.

Exercise with CFS

The daily level of exercise can be determined by looking at dominant symptoms and/or measuring heart rate variability (HRV)

Step 6 – Supplements

Supplements are essential to a comprehensive, holistic recovery plan, however it is important to realise the limitations with any supplement regime. At best most supplement regimes will only offer 15-30% maximum of the required 100% to recovery. Instead of taking a pill for every symptom try to simplify your regime to a few key supplements that you cannot source effectively from your diet. Keep it simple and be specific and targeted. Always choose quality over quantity and try to find the right supplement for you body. Ensure you take it regularly and take time to allow it to work, most supplements take 6-12+ weeks to start showing effect, so be patient. Having tried almost everything I have listed a few key supplements below that I found stood the test of time and actually offered me significant assistance in recovery. As always do not just buy a pill and hope for a miracle cure, ensure you are integrating it with a holistic health plan to maximise the effectiveness. For those that do not follow this approach and integrate their supplements into a holistic management plan you may end up just wasting your time and money, it is like filling the bathtub with the plug out.

Supplements for chronic fatigue

A list of supplements that I found assisted my recovery from CFS

A list of supplements that I found assisted my recovery from CFS

  • Immunity to help fight colds, infections and flus

    During winter I found a lot of respite from cold’s and flu by building my natural immunity holistically from the gut to the brain. Some specific supplements I found helpful include GPx Cell Protect, Maca, Immunity FuelBone Broth and Zinc. In addition, when i found a sniffle coming on I would high-dose with a Medi-herb blend with wild basil, echinacea and andrographis. Andrographis helps to boost the immune system by stimulating the body’s production of antibodies and macrophages, which are large white blood cells that scavenge harmful microorganisms. It can help lessen the severity of cold symptoms such as sleeplessness, fever, nasal drainage and sore throat. In combination I also would take high-dose liposomal vitamin C during acute infection.

  • Cell metabolism to increase energy production

    I often take a B-complex vitamin to support my body during times of excessive stress. B Complex vitamins can help increase energy production and energy levels within cells. If energy levels are very low with lots of post-exertional malaise (PEM) then try adding in a Co-Q 10 supplement to reduce down cellular inflammation and improve mitochondrial function.

  • Muscular and stress to relieve pain and tension

    Magnesium is effective in supporting relaxation, soothing muscle tension and muscle tightness as well as for supporting a good night’s sleep. During times of worsening symptoms or stress supplementing magnesium can assist with symptom management. Try to find a chelated form of magnesium for better absorption. Also adding in Vitamin-D drops particularly in winter can assist to help regulate melatonin, calcium and improve sleep.

  • Digestive/gut health to balance the biome and heal the gut

    During times of chronic stress helping support digestion with digestive enzymes can offer improvements in absorption of vital nutrients and minerals. Plants like Slippery Elm contain mucilage which creates a slippery, nutrient rich coat through the whole digestive tract soothing the intestines, colon and urinary tract from inflammation. It is ideal to be taken daily for a few weeks at a time during gut healing. Another alternative during exacerbations of gut symptoms includes colostrum, which is rich in immune supporting ingredients, including a rich blend of proteins, antibodies, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. These help promote healthy immune function and intestinal health. Finally for rebalancing the gut biome and reducing gut inflammation I highly recommend Immunity Fuel Probiotic Superfood – combining 15 strains of live probiotics with certified organic whole foods. Immunity Fuel is a natural way to get both micronutrients, whole foods and probiotics all in one. It can reduce gut inflammation and bring balance back to the biome

  • Anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation and heal the gut

    Omega-3 is essential to normal cellular function, however it is one of the key chemicals we cannot make ourselves and have to get via our diet or through supplementation. Omega-3 supports cardiovascular, respiratory, brain and neurological function, mental focus, mood balance and immune health. It is often lacking in our diet and is difficult to regularly consume in natural food sources, often requiring supplementation, particularly during times of stress. The other essential component to a supplement regime for CFS includes the building blocks for the body’s natural antioxidant and essential co-factor – glutathione. Glutathione and it’s role is outlined separately below.

  • Adaptogenic endocannabinoid (ECS) and HPA regulators to calm the body’s overactive stress response

    To help bring balance back to the body’s natural stress response and promote regulation of the hypothalamus -pituitary – adrenal (HPA) axis plants like maca root and cannabis extracts can assist. Maca and it’s role is in regulating the body during stress is outlined separately below.

Step 7 – Glutathione

The body has developed a specialised system of enzyme-based antioxidants that offer superior protection from inflammation and oxidative stress compared to dietary and food based antioxidants like vitamin C. One key enzyme in this complex system known as glutathione peroxidase (GPx) for example can react almost 200x faster than other food based antioxidants and is more specific for targeting chronic stress. It can remove multiple oxidants and is rapidly recycled back to its active form by co-factors in your body like glutathione (GSH). GPx has 8 unique forms, each specific to a different system in your body (skin, muscles, heart, brain and stomach etc), so it can offer specialised full-body protection. The problem is that levels of GPx and GSH eventually decrease after times of prolonged or chronic stress and during illness or as we age. During these times our body may need to supplement our levels of GPx and its co-factor GSH to improve our health and re-balance our body. Supplementing GSH and GPx can offer significant relief from inflammatory problems associated with CFS and increase natural immunity.

Antioxidants - how they work

Glutathione and the glutathione systems offer superior protection from oxidative stress over food based antioxidants

To supplement the glutathione systems the body needs the building blocks, as it must be assembled in the liver where most of the activity occurs. GPx Cell Protect is a specialised, specific supplement to increase hepatocyte (Liver cell) production of the enzymes and co-factors required to build GSH and GPx. It is a unique formula of essential natural products that your body requires to build and recycle GPx. The formulation was devised following significant scientific research and has 3 key attributes. Ingredients were chosen to:

  • Boost your own natural levels of GPx

  • Protect your GPx from becoming inactive

  • Increase absorption of necessary components for building and recycling GPx

As a result of supplementation of these key nutraceutical components GPx Cell Protect® will increase your circulating levels of GPx and allow it to recycle more rapidly, ensuring it stays active for longer. The result is a significant reduction in the impact of oxidative stress, increased energy, enhanced natural immunity and gut and cellular healing.

To rebuild your natural defences against stress, fatigue and inflammation

Buy GPx Cell Protect
Buy GPx Cell Protect

Step 8 – HPA regulation and normalising adrenal function

Long-term dysfunction of the immune system and a prolonged stress response in chronic fatigue can cause dysregulation of the important hypothalamus – pituitary – adrenal (HPA) axis. As a whole, the HPA axis is a major part of the system that controls your physiological reaction to stress. The HPA axis also helps regulate a lot of other things in your body, such as your temperature, digestion, immune system function, mood, sexuality, and energy usage. The HPA axis plays a role in all central sensitivity syndromes, including the family of illnesses of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and several other chronic autoimmune conditions. Signs of HPA dysregulation include:

  • Autoimmunity/weakened immunity

  • Exhaustion and fatigue

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Struggling upon waking up

  • Substance dependency (caffeine etc.)

  • Brain fog or Dizziness

  • PMS – hormonal imbalances

  • Increased sugar and/or salt cravings

  • Anxiety/Depression

  • Irritability, short temper

  • Hair loss in women

  • Low libido in men

Brining balance back to the HPA axis is key to recovery and requires a multi-faceted approach to regulation. Outlined below are a few of my preferred methods to regulate the HPA axis and return a normalised response to stress within the body:

  • Acupuncture (1-2 times per week)

Acupuncture has long been used to manage and treat stress and assist with returning the body back to balance. Acupuncture points are believed to trigger the body’s regulatory mechanisms to release chemicals into the muscles, brain, and spinal cord. The chemicals either reduce pain and inflammation or stimulate secretion of hormones or other chemicals to initiate the body’s self-regulating systems. Therefore, acupuncture exerts a strong homeostatic effect to restore the body’s natural healthy balance. Studies have shown that acupuncture has a regulatory affect on the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and can positively alter brain chemistry to promote physical and emotional well being and can bring regulation back to HPA function. Acupuncture is drug-free and a simple and easy way to help the body heal from chronic fatigue.

acupuncture for chronic fatigue
  • Qigong (3-5 times per week)

Energy therapies like Qigong place great emphasis on the breath and mind to balance and direct energy within the body, to activate self-healing, and achieve homeostasis. Qigong is easy to do, easy to learn and has no harmful side effects and can balance our natural HPA function. My personal experience found qigong to be an essential tool to help me manage and overcome chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It gave me a stronger connection to my body and allowed me to truly feel stressors and energetic blockages that I could remove using the exercises. For those suffering from stress and/or poor health I urge you to investigate different forms of holistic medicine and find out what resonates with you.

qigong for chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Meditation (2-3 times per week)

By engaging and increasing the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system through meditation, the body can physically relearn what it feels like to be at peace, to be truly relaxed again. The longer we meditate, the more conditioned for relaxation we become and overstressed body systems can begin to rebalance, setting the stage for wellness and healing. Studies have shown that meditation can help regulate the HPA axis and reduce the body’s inability to deal with stressors. Mindfulness and meditation are key to all recovery plans from CFS, include 20-30 minutes of meditative practice 2-3 times per week as a minimum goal.

meditation for chronic fatigue
  • Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)(1-2 times per month)

NLP uses perceptual, behavioural, and communication techniques to make it easier for people to change their thoughts and actions. It is founded on the idea that people operate by internal “maps” of the world that they learn through sensory experiences. NLP tries to detect and modify unconscious biases or limitations of an individual’s map of the world. It operates through the conscious use of language to bring about changes in someone’s thoughts and behaviour. Some studies have shown it to be highly effective in improving quality of life measures. For chronic fatigue this is essential in helping bring about sub-conscious change to re-program “healthy” into the sub-conscious mindset. For me NLP was an amazing tool to heal the mind and start creating the person I wanted to become.

  • Peruvian Maca (Daily)

Maca is a medicinal adaptogenic root from the Andes of Peru that has been used for centuries to help regulate and balance the body during times of stress. The main medicinal properties of maca can be attributed to bio-active chemicals called macamides and macaenes that work in our endocannabinoid system. These metabolites are completely unique to maca and are responsible for most of its adaptogenic activity. Their formation results from a biochemical reaction that occurs during the drying and heating of maca. They work to preserve and increase levels of your own natural endocannabinoids in your brain like Anandamide by inhibiting an enzyme that usually breaks these down (FAAH). Endocannabinoids are natural, regulatory molecules that act like a switch in your body to reduce the negative impact of the stress response and enhance natural endocrine function. In essence, the macamides in maca build long-term strength and resilience to stress and bring the body back to a stable balance via the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Maca has the ability to regulate countless processes in the body including hormone production, pain sensation, metabolism, neurotransmitter production (serotonin), energy production, adrenal function, immune function, brain function and much more. It’s mode of action is unique, it is not a stimulant, it can be used for long-term sustainable treatment and it is well tolerated by most. Not all maca is equal and much available on the market is not therapeutic based on macamide levels. Also there are different colours and preparations that need to be matched to the condition being treated. So ensure you get a reputable brand by following our 5 step guide to maca, also ensure that you never consume maca raw as doing so can have a negative impact on your health. To learn more about which maca is right for you and how to prepare it visit The Maca Experts.

Through regulating the endocannabinoid system and HPA axis maca can have positive effects on many different systems in the body

To learn about treating chronic fatigue with maca

Click Here
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Step 9 – Reprogram the sub-conscious mind to be ‘healthy’

After years of illness the body and sub-conscious mind can often ‘become’ sick. It has known nothing but sickness and poor health for so long that it is filled only with dysfunction, stress, negativity, cynicism, toxicity, fear, paranoia, anxiety, sadness and instinctual behaviours of survival. Unfortunately the sub-conscious is beyond conscious control so no matter how much you think yourself well it can only bring a certain amount of change. People who enter recovery often find themselves being pulled back into the illness via the sub-conscious toxic spiral and find it very hard to escape. For me several key tools helped me on my journey to detoxify the sub-conscious and create a new ‘healthy’ me. A combination of meditation, qigong and NLP all assisted with re-writing my sub-conscious behaviours and imprinting health and well-being. All three act as mediums to engage directly with the sub-conscious and begin to remove and replace all the negativity that is housed there. By continually hammering positivity into the sub-conscious and creating a healthy mind I found the body began to heal faster and was less likely to regress once small progress was made. Although everyone is different and responds differently to treatments, i feel that if you can find the right practitioner and build your own path to better health all of the above can assist in reprogramming old ‘sick’ behaviours and stress responses with new ‘healthy’ behaviours. Remember you cannot still be the person that got sick but filled with frustration, anger, fear, and negativity. You need to become someone new on all levels. Chronic fatigue is a blessing on your life, not a curse, without it you would never have had the opportunity to seek a different direction and create a different world. Once your health is back on track you will be infinitely happier than you ever would have been before it.

Thoughts create vibrations that alter health

You have to rewire the behavioural circuits of the brain to be ‘healthy’ again

Step 10 – Create and shape your own individual health map

Everybody is different and what works for some may not work for others. This is why it is so important to construct your own individualised health map that encompasses what works for you and what is in the realm of possibility with your circumstances. Let the health map act as a guide as to what ‘healing’ and  ‘healthy’ look like for you then seek to follow it.

Holistic recovery plan

My individualised holistic health map for healthy living

An example of a typical day in recovery from CFS

On Rising

Breakfast

Lunch

Afternoon

Dinner

Step 11 – Reassess, repeat, persevere, persist, stay optimistic and keep healthy living as number one priority

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. Recovery is a mindset, a way of life and a journey. It is holistic, and relies on education, engagement, determination and a little discipline. There is no single magic solution. No one can tell you how to do it, you control your health and only you can make yourself better. If you still see chronic fatigue as a curse on your life then you are still far from the place you need to be. If you are the same person that got sick but just more cynical and toxic minded then you need to focus on change, personality change, mindset change and holistic change. 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. I hope my story and education can assist and inspire you to reach you health potential too!!

Learn more about chronic fatigue at one of our FREE online Webinars

Written by Dr Corin Storkey Founder and Director of Seleno Health. www.selenohealth.com

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