For years, physicians told their (overwhelmingly female) patients, that patient complaints of skeletal and muscle pains, sleep disorders, overwhelming fatigue not improved by bed rest, brain “fog”, and lack of stamina, were “all in their mind”.
However once pharmaceutical medications were introduced into the market place to help decrease some of these symptoms, health practitioners started diagnosing these conditions as chronic fatigue syndrome, CFS or ME, myalgic encephalomyelitis.
Viral Involvement Controversial
In 2009, an article in the prestigious journal Science reported that 95% of subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome were infected with a specific virus and/or had antibodies to that virus. The investigational team emphasized that these findings did not prove that there was a link between this virus and chronic fatigue, but that the virus might be “a contributing factor”.
Late this past year, the editors of Science retracted the controversial article due to the poor quality controls, and omissions in the description of certain figures. Additionally, other laboratories have been unable to replicate the results.
This specific virus may not have been responsible for ME, but the concept is sound since other studies have suggested that bacterial and viral infections can trigger inflammatory immune diseases such as heart valve damage, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Autoimmune Inflammatory Conditions
Inflammatory diseases are often manifestations of an autoimmune inflammatory response. Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system “over-reacts” to a stimulus and attacks its own cells with excessive inflammatory responses.
Digestive Tract-A Large Immune Organ
The lining of the digestive tract is heavily populated by immune cells and is considered a major immune organ. Many CFS patients complain of gut dysfunction, and have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and with proinflammatory cytokine production.
Increase in Inflammatory Markers
Immunologically, individuals with chronic fatigue have increased blood levels of inflammatory compounds, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), and exhibit immunological abnormalities, including increased numbers of activated immune cells, and high levels of inflammatory cytokines, indicative of inflammation.
“… [T]he simplest way to think about … findings [such as these-HCG] is that people with increased inflammation–from whatever source–are more likely than others to develop a range of symptoms that frequently lead to a diagnosis of a condition such as CFS …” says William C. Reeves, MD, Chief of the Chronic Viral Diseases Branch, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “
Role of Immune Inflammation
Immune inflammation helps defend the body from infection and heals the body after injury. However, when immune inflammation is in “overdrive”, autoimmune and other autoinflammatory conditions result.
Making certain lifestyle changes will contribute to lowering the amount of inflammation in the body. These are: a) becoming physically active so that muscle contractions generate naturally-occuring anti-inflammatory molecules and b) controlling one’s weight to reduce the levels of inflammatory compounds being released by fat cells.
Other steps to consider are moderate exposure to sunlight (or taking vitamin D3 supplements), consuming omega-3, and adding hyperimmune egg to one’s diet.
Good health is determined by the balance between the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines produced by our immune cells; maintaining these immune factors in their appropriate amounts, is essential.