Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Back to Health One Step at a Time

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For myself and for many of our clients, learning how to effectively manage CFS/ME symptoms is only part of the path to recovery.  In our workshops, Pete and I often observe our clients and see the light bulbs ping on, as they realise how their actions, behaviours, beliefs and lifestyles have been aggravating their symptoms and as they learn what they can do to effectively impact on their symptoms.  It is a great feeling for us, and also for our clients who often arrive at the workshop the next day ready to take on the world.  But it is at this point that we often have to advise them to rein things in and it was the same for me during my journey back to full health. 

There comes a point in time when you can’t believe how good you are feeling, both physically and mentally and you just want to move the body that has felt so awful for so long and delight in the newly regained feeling of health.  However, it is important at this stage to remember that your fitness levels have been severely compromised for being ill for often a long period of time.  You can easily and quickly learn how to reduce and manage your symptoms to increase your health and well-being (our three day intensive workshops our testament to this) but getting your fitness levels back takes time.  During those long days and nights I spent feeling exhausted, achy and without hope, my  muscles were slowly atrophying though lack of use.  Lack of exercise meant that my vital organs were not used to capacity and so my fitness levels suffered.  Like any athlete who has not exercised for a considerable period of time, you cannot expect to run a marathon without building up slowly and this is exactly what I had to do.  It was frustrating at times, as my mindset knew that I was over ME for good, but my physical body just needed a bit of nurturing to get it back to full fitness.

So the journey to fitness would start with frustratingly very slow and short walks with Pete and our dog.  Pete would drive us to the local reservoir or woods and Pete would stride off into the distance, whilst I ambled on at the rear with Sky, our dog, running between us.  After those first few walks I felt like I had run a marathon, my body was so out of condition.  The normal fear would creep up on me; does this mean that I am relapsing?  It took Pete to help me take a breath and gain some clarity to realise that what I was experiencing was what any healthy but unfit person would experience under the circumstances.

I also struggled with thoughts of fear and guilt; ‘what if someone from work sees me?’  This is a really common thought pattern in our experience, which many people with CFS and ME experience during their recovery.  For me, using EFT and tapping on these feelings was really helpful and allowed me to enjoy my journey back to fitness rather than sapping my energy by focusing on negative emotions.  This is one of the reasons we teach you how to use EFT on our workshops as a tool to help you with similar thought patterns which may be impeding your recovery.

Over time, slowly and gradually the walks became easier and more effortless and I could feel my muscles gaining strength and my stamina increasing.  We have seen similar results with our clients; walking seems to be a great exercise to help us to regain our fitness levels.  There are lots of benefits associated with walking, including strengthening the heart and lungs and increasing overall fitness, as well as improving lower body muscle endurance as well as muscle strength.  But as importantly are the psychological benefits of walking.  When you walk your body releases a chemical called of serotonin, which is the natural feel good chemical.  There is also a release of feel good hormones called endorphins.  Both of which mean that you feel good at the end of a walk and should encourage you to keep going on your journey back to health and well-being 🙂

Debbie

Find out More:

Walking For Health

The Nutritional building blocks you need to understand to help you in your recovery from ME/CFS

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When I was recovering from ME, nutrition played an important part in my journey back to health.  Although what I did was trial and error and without the knowledge that Pete and I have since accumulated over the years, the focus on nutrition I adopted when ill and through my recovery has stayed with me now I am back to full health.

I would like to share with you some of the nutritional building blocks I put into place during my journey and also what we have learnt along the way. We cover this topic much more fully on our workshops in which you will get a comprehensive understanding on how to adapt your diet to maximise its health benefits, but the information here will go a long way to help you gain an overview of the importance of good nutrition and how it can help you support your body whilst you recover.

Nutrition plays two parts in helping you break the cycle of ill health.  A good understanding  of nutrition is important firstly to help you avoid foods that put additional stress on your system when your stress hormones are already on overdrive and secondly by teaching you how to support your body’s own ability to heal and thrive.

When your body is already fighting illness it needs nutritive foods to aid it in its recovery. There are some foods which rather than healing the body, put additional stress on the body and it is these foods that we should be ideally avoiding or at least reducing our consumption of (drastically!). Nutritional stressors include stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine, highly processed foods such as cakes, ready meals etc, sugar, refined grains such as white flour, products and white rice and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame; foods that put your body into a state of stress and toxicity. Moving away from such foods will give your body a better chance of focusing on healing, rather than having to digest and process foods which put a further load on an already compromised system.

The second aspect of nutrition which is vital is to include foods which are nutritious and support our health and recovery. To get right down to basics, the starting point should be a focus on our cells. Our body is made up of trillions of cells which can be thought of as the building blocks of our body. Cells are the fundamental units of life the bricks from which all your tissues and organs are made.  If your cells cannot operate efficiently, the functioning of your tissues and organs, which are built of your cells, will become compromised and ill health and dis-ease can follow.  It is therefore imperative to keep your cells nutritionally supported so that your body can heal and thrive.

For your cells to carry out their functions in supporting your body’s health and healing there are certain things the cells need for optimal health. To maintain cell health the cells need a variety of amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins and crucially also water. The best way to ensure that you provide the cells with their nutritional requirements is to drink 2 litres of filtered water a day (water, not tea, coffee etc!) and eat a balanced wholefood diet incorporating lots of fresh vegetables and fruit (ideally organic).

Your cells need a full spectrum of vitamins to enable them to produce energy and fight free radicals.  B vitamins are important here.  Additionally, as your cells are protected by a membrane which relies on a good supply of healthy fats, it is important that your diet includes fats such as omega 3 to ensure that the outer membranes of your cells are strong and  healthy.

Your immune system will also need help through nutrition during the time of healing and recovery.  Antioxidants including vitamins C and E are important here so including foods high in these vitamins is often beneficial.

During my recovery my focus was on organic foods with lots of vegetables and fruits, often blended into smoothies or juiced which were easily digested and did not overburden the body.  I personally also took supplements in the form of Vitamin D and Co-Q10 having read studies suggesting that they may also be beneficial in supporting the body when it is fighting ME.

This has been a bit of a whistle-stop tour through a few nutritional building blocks which I hope you have found useful.  If you feel that you would like to learn more about how nutrition can help you, do please sign up for our FREE webinar series which goes into more detail on this topic and others to help you on your road to recovery.

Best Wishes

Debbie

3 Common Mistakes Women with CFS make that Keep them Stuck Feeling Exhausted all the Time & Frustrated about the Future

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Pete Mulford Therapy and Coaching for Better Health

I really hope you will choose to register for this FREE webinar now because I must say I’m truly excited about what I am offering and I trust you will find it very useful to listen to and watch.

Discover what keeps you ill and the initial steps you can take right away to help you maximise your potential for health. It is a new improved format for us and the emphasis is on value value value! Some of the tips I will be giving away were part of our full programme that cost over £800. Now they will be  free for those that login on the night. The best part is that you will be able to use some of those tips right away.

I also plan to offer free downloads to help get you started. Feedback for those downloads has included the words  ‘fantastic’ and ‘amazing’ so be sure to download them yourself.

We (my wife Debbie while brining up our daughter, is still active behind the scenes ) have continually modified and improved the programmes we offer to those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS), Adrenal Fatigue etc.  I guess it is part of our nature, as professional teachers reflection is an important process, teachers are always reflecting on what has worked and what could be done better. We have approached our work with people like you in the same way. Our programmes have helped many people and with experience and reflection they have become better and better. What if it helped you too?

We have moved some elements of the programme into a webinar format, some of them FREE, so that you can begin to understand better how we can help you, and most people who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrcfsome (CFS), Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS), Adrenal Fatigue etc. There will also be one day workshops where you can experience the benefits of sharing a healing journey with others and of course there will still be the option of doing everything in one go at a residential venue if you prefer.

Just imagine being in more control of your symptoms, if you like that idea invest an hour or more on the 26th and register now.

Please share the event so as many people as possible will benefit.

Pete

Are your beliefs letting you down?

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I recently sat talking to a lady who had completed a free course for people with chronic health conditions provided by the local hospital. Her opinion was summed up as “It’s ok if you believe you can think yourself healthy”. It was not the time or place to question that, but it was interesting to hear her opinions. On the face of it the course had covered many of the things we include on our courses. However, this lady had obviously discarded much of the content as it had failed to open her mind to the possibility that her thoughts do effect her health.

The lady did go on to mention that at least one member of the group seemed to have their own agenda, interrupting others when they spoke and attempting to monopolise the conversation. This of course is the draw back of free courses put on by the public health system, by their nature they are open to anyone with the relevant condition, so it becomes a matter of chance whether you get a group of like minded individuals who support and revel in each others success or a group closed or scared of the fact that their thoughts and emotions effect their physical health.

Many people argue that if a process works it does not matter whether you believe in it or not, although that opinion is dis-proven by most drug research. For a change I wont go on to talk about the placebo effect but rather tell a story often told by those with an interest in hypnotherapy. In Auo. 23, 1952 the British Medical Journal printed an article entitled “A case of -congenital ictrhyosiform erythriodermia of brocq treated by hypnosis”. The article described how Dr Mason treated a boy who he believed had an extreme case of warts using hypnosis. The warts originally covered much of the boys skin, for example it was recorded that 80% of the boys arms were covered. However, 10 days after a session of hypnosis using suggestions that the skin would heal 95% of the arm was clear. Other areas of the body responded with vary success rates too. This in itself may not have surprised Dr Mason if it had not been for the fact that the boy did not have warts but a genetic condition known as congenital ictrhyosiform erythriodermia known at the time to be ‘untreatable’.

You have to believe to achieve
You have to believe to achieve

Interestingly I have heard it said that Dr Mason went on to try and help many people with that condition with far less satisfactory results. When asked about this Dr Mason believed that his lack of success with other patients stemmed from his knowledge that he was now treating a condition known to be ‘untreatable’ and the seed of doubt that created in his mind.

I do think that is a nice story and it goes some way to explain why we think belief in the process is important. Hence we do our best to ensure that by the time you get on one of our courses you have the belief that that you can improve and the course will help.

Helping people with CFS/ME

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Lets look at the science underpinning what we do. Because there is research underpinning our approach. Some of it mentions CFS while others mention ME but it is all relevant.

Whether ME and CFS are the same condition continues to be a contentious issue; there are those who state quite clearly that they are different. However, as frustrating as this is for those that believe and support this hypothesis, people in the UK are diagnosed by Doctors in the NHS where the guidance says ME and CFS are the same thing.  So any studies that apply to CFS may also apply to those diagnosed with ME/CFS in the UK.

The myth that mental stress cannot affect health is simply wrong and outdated. There is now significant amount of evidence (*1) suggesting that stress responses can cause immunosuppression and other types of immune dysfunctions. We are not saying ME/CFS in all in the mind, far from it, we believe that ME/CFS is a physical illness with biological markers (see our other posts). However, it has become well recognised that our thoughts do affect our physical condition and can result in those biological markers. For example studies(*2,3,4,5) have found links between markers of oxidative stress and psychological distress.  There have also been psychological factors correlated with DNA damage. (*6). Another study (*7) found that prolonged stressors interferes with our natural regulation of inflammation which is involved in many diseases. So there is plenty of evidence that mental stress, which is a thought process, physically effects us and long term is detrimental to our health.  Research like that mentioned above has fuelled many articles such as: Stress May Be Tougher on Women’s Hearts Than Men’s, Stress, Inflammation and Cancer, chronic stress damages our DNA and of course most relevant are the articles that state  physical, mental, and emotional stress exacerbate CFS(*8,9)  There are also studies that suggest that the biomarkers associated with CFS/ME could be perpetuated by chronic stress(*10) . Other studies (*11,12) point out that stress has also been shown to cause changes in the immune system through the alteration of the ratio of T cells, lymphocyte proliferation, natural killer cell number and activity, and antibody responses.  So the next issue is…

Can Changing thought patterns positively affect my health? This is often disbelieved by many CFS/ME sufferers as well as those suffering from other chronic illness, is becoming more scientifically believable all the time. The relatively new study of psychoneuroimmunology has shown that there is a relationship between the mind and the human immune system. For example one study(*13) found that the ‘relaxation response’ invoked by meditation, yoga, tai chi, Qi Gong or repetitive prayer etc positively affects DNA, with just 8 weeks of meditation changing the expression of 1561 genes. Many of genes expressed differently were were involved in cellular metabolism and in the body’s response to ‘oxidative stress’ and the researchers proposed that the ‘relaxation response’ via any method may counteract cellular damage due to chronic psychological stress. Another study(*14) found Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. However, while research suggests psychological stress is a perpetuating factors for ME/CFS (*15,16) studies on the effectiveness of various techniques to alter this situation are still in progress with various organisations working to gain more acceptable scientific evidence that support the vast amount of anecdotal evidence that is there.

Of course there are plenty of other hypothesis about CFS/ME, some believe its a virus, some beleive it’s caused by differences at a genetic level, but non of them have actually helped anyone recover. They are stuck studying the problem, rather than looking at similarities in those that have recovered.

So it seems that those sufferers of ME/CFS who are looking for more concrete evidence at this precise moment in time have to consider two options:  You need to ask yourself whether it is preferable to

1) remain in your current situation, waiting for someone to prove to you that their hypothesis for CFS/ME is correct, or
2) recognise that there is a scientifically justifiable benefits for our programme and find out more.

If you are one of those that would like to know more we often run free webinars.

References

(*1) Pruett, S.B. (2003). Stress and the immune system. Pathophysiology 9, 133-153.

(*2)Irie M, Asami S, Nagata S, Ikeda M, Miyata M, Kasai H, 2001 Psychosocial factors as a potential trigger of oxidative DNA damage in human leukocytes. Jpn J Cancer Res 92: 367-376.

(*3)Irie M, Asami S, Nagata S, Miyata M, Kasai H, Ikeda M, 2001 Relationships between perceived workload, stress and oxidative DNA damage. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 74: 153-157.

(*4)Irie M, Asami S, Ikeda M, Kasai H, 2003 Depressive state relates to female oxidative DNA damage via neutrophil activation. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 311: 1014-1018.

(*5)Epel E, Blackburn E, Lin J, et al, 2004 Accelerated telomere shortening in response to exposure to life stress. PNAS 101:17312-17315.

(*6) Biol Psychol. 2006 Jun;72(3):291-304. Epub 2006 Jan 10.
The relation between psychological factors and DNA-damage: a critical review.
Gidron Y, Russ K, Tissarchondou H, Warner J.

(*7)Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Doyle WJ, Miller GE, Frank E, Rabin BS, Turner RB. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 17;109(16):5995-9. Epub 2012 Apr 2.

(*8)Toni Whistler, James F Jones, Elizabeth R Unger and Suzanne D Vernon, Exercise responsive genes measured in peripheral blood of women with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and matched control subjects, BMC Physiology 2005, 5:5 doi:10.1186/1472-6793-5-5

(*9)Jens Gaab, PhD, Dominik Hüster, MSc, Renate Peisen, MSc, Veronika Engert, BSc, Vera Heitz, BSc, Tanja Schad, BSc, Thomas H. Schürmeyer, PhD, MD and Ulrike Ehlert, PhD, Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Reactivity in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Health Under Psychological, Physiological, and Pharmacological Stimulation, Psychosomatic Medicine November/December 2002 vol. 64 no. 6 951-962

(*11) Vegard B Wyller, Hege R Eriksen and Kirsti Malterud Can sustained arousal explain the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Behavioural and Brain Functions 2009, 5:10

(*12) Marketon & Glaser, 2008 [ref]Marketon, J.I.W., & Glaser, R. (2008). Stress hormones and immune function. Cellular  Immunology 252,16-26.

(*13) Dusek JA, Otu HH, Wohlhueter AL, Bhasin M, Zerbini LF, et al. (2008) Genomic Counter-Stress Changes Induced by the Relaxation Response. PLoS ONE 3(7): e2576. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002576

(*14) Richard J. Davidson, PhD, Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD,Jessica Schumacher, MS, Melissa senkranz, BA, Daniel Muller, MD, PhD, Saki F. Santorelli, EdD, Ferris Urbanowski, MA, Anne Harrington, PhD, Katherine Bonus, MA and John F. Sheridan, PhD Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation, Psychosomatic Medicine July/August 2003 vol. 65 no. 4 564-570

(*15) Maes M, Twisk FN. Why myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) may kill you: disorders in the inflammatory and oxidative and nitrosative stress (IO&NS) pathways may explain cardiovascular disorders in ME/CFS. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2009;30(6):677-93.

(*16)Maes M, Twisk FN.Chronic fatigue syndrome: Harvey and Wessely’s (bio)psychosocial model versus a bio(psychosocial) model based on inflammatory and oxidative and nitrosative stress pathways. BMC Med. 2010 Jun 15;8:35.

Further Reading
There is a nice blog on Edie Summers and her experience with CFS/ME <a href=”http://thedeliciousday.com/health/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cure/#comment-2200″>here</a&gt;