Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a long term condition with poorly understood causes, and a wide range of symptoms. It is sometimes also referred to as postviral fatigue syndrome. It can affect anyone, including children, although it is more common in women, and tends to develop between your mid-20s and mid-40s.
Symptoms: The severity of these can vary from day to day, or even withing a day.
- Constant extreme tiredness or exhaustion
- Feeling tired after resting or sleeping
- Prolonged recovery time after physical activity
- Sleeping problems, such as frequent waking during the night
- Problems with concentration, thinking and memory
- Mood swings
- Muscle and joint pain
- Sore throat
- Flu-like symptoms
- Nausea and dizziness.
Chronic fatigue syndrome usually starts after a viral infection such as influenza or glandular fever. The virus which causes glandular fever has been found in some CFS/ME sufferers. CFS may also occur after a bacterial infection. However, in others, there are changes in the immune system and the composition of the muscle cells. Stress, hormonal imbalances and genetic factors are also considered to be amongst other possible causes.
In Chinese Medicine the exhaustion is considered to be a weakness of Qi and a Blood deficiency, as well as a Damp-Heat problem. A Chinese Medicine practitioner would tonify the Qi, nourish the Blood and try to clear the Damp. Chronic fatigue syndrome exemplifies the differences between medical systems.
While the debate about chronic fatigue syndrome continues among some Western practitioners, a Chinese Medicine practitioner will check the pulse and the tongue, diagnose the syndrome and decide which pattern of disease that each particular case conforms to.
Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with TCM
In general, Chinese Medicine treatment will be aimed at helping the immune system to fight back, and a course including both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is likely to be recommended. Recovery can take from three to six months in the case of young sufferers, but it is likely to be slower and longer-term in older patients.
Recent research has concluded that Chinese medicine and acupuncture are effective in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. This provides some hope for patients as the conventional medical treatments available for CFS are non specific and offer little in the way of generating substantial changes to patients lives.
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