Modern exhaustive diseases such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and are estimated to affect more about seven million US citizens. These syndromes are variously diagnosed, but always include depleted physical function, weakness, exhaustion and general malaise. Sleep deprivation (ironic as that sounds) is not uncommon. Natural treatments for modern exhaustive diseases are highly effective. For the person who understands how the body becomes depleted, the path back to full health is possible and likely.
Other symptoms of modern exhaustive disease include feeling tired for more than one day after physical or mental exertion, forgetfulness, generalized pain and aches, feeling tired after sleeping, pain and stiffness in joints or their surrounding tissues without swelling or redness, swollen or tender lymph nodes under arms, headaches of a new type, sore throat, visual disturbances, night sweats/chills, irritable bowel, dizziness and psychological symptoms.
These symptoms obviously are attached to many conditions of various types and make diagnose very hard. Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are two of the famed ‘garbage can’ diagnoses, which occur when there are enough symptoms without a known cause of a certain type piled up in a list (metaphorically in the garbage). Then you get a label. “Ahem, you have chronic fatigue syndrome!” the doctor announces with a smug smile. Actually, though, the diagnosis does not tell you anything about the condition, its causes or its treatments. Medical treatment (sadly, sometimes this is what natural treatments consist of also) is to give a stimulant for energy and various drugs for various symptoms.
In the next few paragraphs, we will discuss modern exhaustive disease from four natural healing perspectives. It is expected that the disease, being as broad and vague as it is, will come from various cause…indeed, it invariably comes from several causes all at once that are together in that person. Rare is the single underlying cause which leads to this level of disease.
Some experts feel that much of modern exhaustive disease is caused by viral infections, such as Epstein Barr which causes mononucleosis (mono). This is certainly a possible contributor and many herbs can be used to fight this kind of virus, either directly or through stimulation or feeding of the body’s own ability to fight off these invaders. Common herbs for this include honeysuckle, echinacea, garlic, hyssop and elderberry, lemon balm, golden seal, and usnea (my personal favorite).
Lobelia has long been used as a preventative against getting mono when it does start coming around. It is used as a tincture, a few drops every half hour or so. Mono is notorious for exhausting the adrenal glands, which will be discussed later.
Viruses are also very environmentally dependent (think about stress and shingles) and can work their havoc only when the conditions are right for them. Even a narrow improvement in blood chemistry and overall health might make life unbearable or at least not ideal for them. This means things like juice fasting, raw food diets, monodiets, relaxation exercises, physical exercise, etc. Of course, once you have a modern exhaustive disease, whatever you are going to do better not take too much effort or you might not do it at all, so that may narrow the options a bit.
Autoimmune Disease and Allergies
Some experts feel that modern exhaustive diseases are really auto-immune diseases. Far from incurable, auto-immune diseases are actually a sign of exhaustion of body faculties and some low-grade pathology going on in the body that constantly over-stimulates it. A colleague of mine deals with auto-immune diseases in her practice in Wyoming. She uses very careful dietary restrictions to avoid all reactive and irritant foods, and supplements with things that will build and calm the immune system while reducing inflammation overall in the body.
Inflammation in the gut would certainly lead to chronic fatigue as digestion depletes the body’s energy more than any other system. According to Dr. Paul Goldberg, digestion uses 80% of the body’s energy resources. Inflammation would also lead to interrupted digestion and eventual malnutrition. In my personal practice, I have become convinced that digestive irritation, inflammation and allergies were present for several years before any of my modern exhaustive disease clients developed their condition, even when their condition appeared to have been ’caused’ by a viral infection or physical injury. The problem with the gut is that the only sensory receptors on it are for stretching, so unless there is gas and bloating with the inflammation (a very late finding), the inflammation and malfunction go entirely unnoticed.
In training the immune system to calm down again, the gut is the key. Some 2/3 of the body’s immune system is in the gut. What happens there will train the behavior everywhere else. This means we have to learn to eat simpler and mostly foods that are not irritants and that leave no residue. Residue foods are processed foods,dairy and animal products, and all highly cooked foods that have particles artificially broken down or that produce by-products from their digestion, which get into the blood but cannot be used by the body cells.
These things sit in the blood and interfere with circulation, trigger inflammation, cause irritation and make the immune system hyper-sensitive. Raw plant foods never do this and are always safer, including fruit when it is eaten all by itself. Eating fruit away from other foods can be uncomfortable for modern digestive disease people at first because fruit can cause cleansing which stirs up toxins and debris that are scattered through the system. This does not last long and healing soon follows if the other rules are followed.
Exhaustive disease implies damage to the digestion, to the adrenals and thyroid, and to the immune system. Healing this is the slowest part, though not at all the hardest. There is a comprehensive article previously written by me on this site that discusses the thyroid and adrenal glands together and the instructions there will facilitate healing of those glands forthwith.
Healing the digestion is also not difficult and will often occur even without doing anything overtly. Often it will heal just by avoiding the irritants and stressors of the digestive tract as mentioned above and discussed in other articles. We do sometimes use burdock, comfrey leaf and nettle tea for the digestive tract from top to bottom. For these herbs to work their magic, it takes a rather large dosage, usually a quart of the combined tea per day. On madherbalist.com we have a printout that teaches how to make all sorts of preparations. It is free and is called the Preparations Printout. It tells you how to make a compound tea or a regular decoction, either of which will work. One can also make this tea (equal parts of each) and then concentrate it down into a syrup that could be taken in much smaller doses.
Some do not want the trouble, but I have found that part of the problem with modern exhaustive disease is that the individuals with it will not take time to learn to do things for themselves that connect them with nature and facilitate healing. Those who do can find a meditative healing and a deeper, unconscious connection being formed that pulls them, even in spite of themselves, toward forgotten health and harmony with life in the universe.
Probably the biggest challenge with modern exhaustive disease is the residual infection. This happens when a bacteria is capable of existing as a low-grade infection, or when there is a parasitic or protozoan infection. The infection gets into the tissues, frequently between the cells in what is called the interstitial space. This infection may be able to exist at a low enough level that it rarely escapes into the blood, usually just often enough to keep the immune system sensitized to that area. In response the immune system causes damage to the area via inflammation. Medical science erroneously calls this auto-immune disease.
Fortunately, the herbs before mentioned for viral infections also help with this kind of infection. Garlic, echinacea and cayenne make up my personal favorite approach to this type of infection. When I have a stubborn case (not that hard to spot, this will always show up as circles around the eyes and/or lipomas appearing out of nowhere and growing—it always leads to malnutrition and deep depletion of energy and health), I put them on a special program for it.
I have them eat very lightly only at midday for 5 days of the week, having no dairy, breads/cereals or refined sweeteners. Each of these evenings, they may have an all fruit smoothie or fresh carrot juice for dinner. They can have all they want for dinner, but just these.
When they start to get really hungry, I have them do the following savory mixture: *nutritional yeast 1/2 cup
*balsalmic vinegar 1 T
*nama shoyu 1-2 T
*raw red wine vinegar 2 t
*sea salt 1/8 t,
*fresh pressed raw garlic _ 4-6 cloves
*fresh chopped hot pepper of choice 2 inches
This is stirred up with a little extra virgin olive oil (just enough to make the whole thing sort of a paste) and this paste can be eaten straight or with cut vegetables. It tastes really great and on the person who has an empty system, it is effective for this type of infection.
The other two days per week, the person should try to not irritate the digestion with garbage and processed foods and should eat relatively light. The body needs to be a little short of GI stimulation for this all to work at all.
Generally, just this is enough, but if the person appears to have a lingering case, the gut is presumed to be under physical stress. In this case, visceral massage is done each day. This used to be a class I had to put on, but an adequate visceral (digestive) massage is done with a somewhat new weight loss program called T-Tapp. This has made my work a lot easier, although I do the work much slower and deeper than is done in this system.
Anyone wanting to recover from CFS will certainly need to work on several fronts at once. The above programs are time-tested and have shown themselves effective in a majority of cases. Other supplements (because of depletion) and therapies may certainly be needed and anyone who uses a program like that described above who does not rapidly get some improvement, should certainly seek out a practitioner who can help determine what is wrong in that particular case. Some modern exhaustive cases will need to do something extra for parasites (though the instructions in the last section above may get rid of a majority of them). This discussion will certainly help anyone trying to repair his or her own health and will lay out the difficulties that may be there on the journey to get well.
Kal Sellers, “The Mad Herbalist”