As I revealed in my recent video blog post, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia about six months ago. In this post I detail a range of health insights and breakthroughs I’ve used to get better (somewhat miraculously), while I’m still on the mend.
It appears that many of us are struggling with a growing range of health and energy issues – perhaps it’s a symptom of our times, the shadow side of instant connectedness, long work hours, and high-stress environments. Perhaps we’re evolving as a human species, and our bodies are struggling to catch up. Perhaps we just work too much, and need to take better care of ourselves.
The information below is for anyone dealing with health issues. If you are suffering from chronic illness, you may find some very useful resources here. Even if you are just feeling a bit rundown and over-stressed, there’s some useful resources here as well. If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, or you’re dealing with issues related to exhaustion, hormones imbalance, immune deficiency, or neurological challenges, you may find this information especially useful.
Disclaimer! I’m NOT a doctor or health care practitioner. Here’s what’s worked for me, somewhat dramatically (considering I couldn’t walk more than 20 feet and every inch of my body hurt just a few months ago). It’s important that you find qualified medical treatment to support your healing regimen. Many of the recommendations below must be managed by a doctor and regular blood tests. All of the products I recommend are based on my own personal usage.
I was lucky to have my chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia (CFS/FM) diagnosed in just 2.5 weeks from its sudden onset. This is unheard of, as I know many people who have struggled for months or years before even being properly diagnosed. I had the good fortune of meeting Dr Jacob Teitelbaum at an event almost 10 years ago. I remembered his name as a foremost authority on these issues.
Over the last 30 years, Dr Jacob Teitelbaum has developed a clinically proven protocol for treating CFS/FM. He’s written several great books helpful for anyone with chronic illness: From Fatigued to Fantastic, PainFree 1,2,3, and Beat Sugar Addiction Now. He is also the Medical Director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, and offers lots of free advice and information at EndFatigue.com.
His clinically proven protocol goes by the acronym of SHINE:
- Immune system
A lot of us don’t get enough sleep and we really feel it. I was always a deep sleeper until I got sick. Earthquakes, fire alarms, armagedon, you name it – I’ve slept through it. But when I got sick, insomnia and fitful sleep became a constant companion. It’s one of the biggest issues that prevents people with CFS/FM to get healthy. Here’s a couple herbal/homopathic remedies that really worked for me (and they’re all gentle and non-habit forming).
- Sleep Revitalization Formula by Enzymatic Therapy (herbal) – the one I use every night. (NOTE: It contains Valerian, rarely a stimulant for some)
- Pure Calm by Native Remedies (herbal) – tincture that I used to use every night, great during the day too if you need to seriously RELAX
- Triple Complex Nerve Tonic by Native Remedies (homeopathic) – great for general stress and overactive mind, great for kids too!
There’s no better signal of growing old, than problems with your hormone glands. Of course, our high-stress lifestyles means that many of us have endocrine system hormone imbalances especially with Adrenals, Thyroid, or Testosterone. Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia usually has a hormonol component. You also could have a hormone issues without CFS/Fibro.
1. Adrenal Fatigue is a common issue where your adrenals get fried from stress, coffee, and constant fight-or-flight engagement. When the body is stressed, it can wreak havoc on the immune, nervous and inflammatory pathways in the body. Optimizing normal adrenal function is essential to overall health. There are no pure adrenal hormones you can take, but doctors can direct you to take some of the pre-cursor building blocks like DHEA and Pregnenalone. They may also recommend an Adrenal Formula supplement that includes adaptogens like ashwaganda. I enjoy Adrenal Health formula by Gaia Herbs.
2. Thyroid imbalance is more common than people realize. Most doctors test just for T4 (thyroixin) when in fact most thyroid imbalances are related to T3 and reverse T3 conversion. There’s a simple blood test you doctor can order to check your T3 and conversion. There’s a grassroots movement away from T4 thyroid medication. In my case, my T3 conversion ratios where upside down from what it’s supposed to be. We used compounded Extended Release T3, which is also a core protocol for Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome, and I felt an immediate difference. Do you run cold? In other words is your body temperature below 98 degrees? If it’s closer to 97 degrees, you likely have a sub-clinical thyroid condition. A progressive specialist can treat this.
3. Testosterone levels easily drop when you get sick and as you get older. I’ve been taking the supplement Super Mira Forte with Standardized Lignans by Life Extension. This had made a big difference.
Again, many of us are struggling with compromised immune systems. If you deal with any sort of chronic illness, infection, or inflammation, your immune system is involved. Sinus infections and cuts that don’t heal are tell-tale signs.
1. Probiotics. They say that 70% of your immune system health is controlled in your gut. So that means what you eat (we’ll talk about that in the next section) and the general balance of your gastrointestinal system. Considering how Jamie Lee Curtis proudly discussed her pooping habits on television (Activia yogurt), you probably have heard of pro-biotics.
That’s the healthy bacteria in your digestive track that not only keeps you regular (thank you Jamie Lee), but regulates your immune system. Many probiotics don’t make it past the high-acid environment of your stomach to reach the gut where it’s needed. My doctor recommended the following probiotic which is clinically proven, comes in a convenient one-daily capsule, and doesn’t require refrigeration.
- Probiotic Pearls by Integrative Therapeutics – cheaper option but still good
- Probiotic Pearls Advantage by Integrative Therapeutics – I use this one cause they’re twice as strong (but more expensive)
2. Candida. This is what probiotics work to balance in the body. Reality is, most of us suffer from candida overgrowth in the digestive track due to our modern diets. It’s the leading cause of bloating, gas, indigestion, brain fog in the morning, et cetera. Candida is a yeast/fungus that feeds off of sugar. Yup, so if you suffer from major sugar and carb cravings, odds are that you’re feeding the beast of candida yeast in your digestive system.
No big deal, right? Except that candida overgrowth creates an immuno-suppressed state in the body, leading to other food allergies, inflammation, and many chronic illnesses. In my case, I’ve struggled with “systemic” candida overgrowth for years. Which means it’s not just in my digestive system, but throughout my body. I’ve done periodic candida cleanses (available over the counter) and gone on candida diets, but eventually the symptoms came back. Huge discovery – I’ve come to find research that shows that if your thyroid is imbalanced, it’s impossible to cure candida overgrowth. In other words, you have to treat thyroid and candida at the same time.
If you suspect you have candida overgrowth, it’s best to find a doctor to treat you. You must also change your diet to get rid of sugar. Doctors will start you with supplements, and maybe prescribe you medicine.
- Phytostan is over the counter – similar to prescription Nystatin
- Nystatin is the most common prescription – works at digestive track level (I started with this)
- Diflucan is more heavy duty prescription – works systemically across the body (I’m on this currently, but its hard on the liver)
Nutrition is a huge part of the healing process. The challenge is how much contradicing information you’ll find on the subject.
What’s made me get healthy is eating a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, paleo diet. Paleo diet (AKA caveman diet) is a popular diet that is modeled after what humans ate thousands of years ago before we started domesticating crops and eating so many grains. What I eat – (1) animal protein (grassfed and organic), (2) lots of vegetables, especially green ones, and (3) safe starches (sweet potato, occasional quinoa, occasional rice). I also adopted what is called a “free-glutamate diet” which removes foods like soy sauce, aspertame, vinegar, and preservatives which are all neuro-toxins when the body’s immune and nervous system are compromised.
Gluten-free means not eating any wheat, oats, rye, or barley. I’ve been gluten-free for a couple years, because I noticed I’d go into a fog every time I’d eat pasta, bread, pizza, etc…It was hard to give up these comfort foods, but I felt an immediate difference. Wheat obviously is the big daddy, cause it’s in so much of what we eat.
Why is wheat or gluten sensitivity on such an epidemic rise? Thanks to genetically modified wheat, which has twice the gluten than ancient wheat. I’ve also cut out corn, sugar, dairy, and most nuts – keys to getting rid of candida overgrowth.
A key part of nutrition, especially with CFS/FM is supplements. Here’s a list of key supplements that I take:
- Daily Energy Enfusion by Integrative Therapeutics (formulated by Dr Teitelbaum)
- D-Ribose (Corvalen) by Sedona Labs
- Mitochondria Ignite by ProHealth
- End Pain Formula by Enzymatic Therapy (formulated by Dr Teitelbaum)
- Magnesium/Calcium + by Rainbow Light
Medical and Healing Practitioners
- Dr Ricki Mitchell Specialist on thyroid, chronic fatigue, fibro, and candida. She splits her time between Maryland and NYC. She’s out-of-network, but really knows her stuff. Trained under Dr Jacob Teitelbaum. Her husband is an allergist, and they work out of the same office.
- Dr Polina Liss My primary care physician here in NYC. Dr Liss is a very progressive MD, takes just about every form of insurance, and for a primary care physican, she really understands issues related to hormones, immune system, etc…They also have a lab on-site for drawing your bloodwork.
- Dr Leroy Perry Legendary chiropractor to the stars and head of International Sports Science Institute in Los Angeles. Dr Perry figured out my core spinal instability, and made a huge impact on my lower back pain in just three visits.
- Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers While I haven’t interacted with these centers, this is a great resource for finding care on CFS/FM no matter where you live. Dr Jacob Teitelbaum is their national medical director so I imagine you’d be in good hands.
What’s worked for you?
This is far from an exhaustive list, even of my own health regimen. What has been key to your own healing and recovery? Please add your thoughts in the comments below. Also feel free to ask me any follow-up questions. Follow @getstoried on Twitter. Here’s to our collective health and healing!