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Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome



To survive all animals require a Security Alarm System. This is based around the Hypothalamus in the brain stem. It was designed for reptiles with simple brains at least 150 million years ago. Then, the perception of threat came through the 'senses'. Eyes, ears etc. Homo Sapiens has inherited pretty much the same basic unit.

Unfortunately the Hypothalamus cannot register the difference between the internal threats (generated through our mental fears, anxieties and even exciting challenges) and real threats. It primes the body (muscle tension, raised blood pressure, different brain pathways and blood sugar etc) as though it was being physically threatened either way.

Man's capacity to generate hypothetical problems and his need to suppress basic instincts and emotions in order to have the protection of a community meant that he could generate 'all day' worries. Some of today's predators are the pressures of Time and the need to get things done. Others are the demands and opinions of other people.

Animal Physiology evolved to cope with a certain ratio of time in alarm against time spent doing 'maintenance'. The body is not designed to do both continuously for any length of time. The consequence of excess alarm is the gradual erosion of the functions of maintenance such as the digestive and the immune systems. 'All day' alarm or stress, as we know it, is not a good thing.


A frequent domino in the path to CFS occurs when prolonged stress brings about the collapse of the immune system. This comes about because the immune system, along with the muscles etc is primed for emergency. It is alerted to deal with wounds so it steps up activity. But this was not meant to continue day in and day out, and it eventually crashes. We are familiar with getting colds when we are 'run down'. This is the same but in CFS it is exaggerated in proportion to the degree of stress.


Anyone familiar with cats will have noticed that cats will crawl under the bed when they are ill.

The wisdom of their bodies is such that it recognises the danger of being out in the normal environment whilst ill. If it did venture out the cat would be the last up the tree and the most vulnerable to any pursuing predator.

Thus the remaining white cells struggling to deal with the infections caused by the crash in the immune system, release messenger molecules that suppress energy, sociability, appetite etc.

Another thing it does is to magnify the body's sensations so it doesn't go out too soon. The cat doesn't think this up itself. It is written into its make up.

Hypersensitive, feeling unsociable, just wanting to crawl under the bed covers? Recognise this?

It is the same with humans.


The crash of CFS usually occurs in a situation where the body has been in a prolonged state of stress – the body reads this as threat or alarm. Even if it is just the worry of studying for exams. One of the biggest mistakes that people make (including those in the Health Services) is to mistake it for an extreme form of that sort of tiredness that comes after not enough sleep or having done too much. This is so far from the truth. Suppressant chemicals are deliberately produced to interrupt the energy systems. A sort of safety valve when an upper level of threat or stress has been reached. THE BIG SWITCH OFF. The tiredness is not exhaustion. An ancient process in the body has been switched on to protect itself from overload. It is a deliberately protective thing. It is imperative to understand this.

Most of the CFS sufferers I have met have fallen into the category of being 'too strong for their bodies'. Striving to overcome the situation with 'Mind over Matter' just leads to a worsening of the spiral. Like struggling in sinking sands the harder you try the deeper you sink. A state of 'suspended agitation' is reached. Unfortunately this just keeps the body pumping out the suppressant chemicals.


As mentioned above, stress is treated by the body as though an external attack is imminent. Energy is taken away from maintenance such as digestion and repair and directed to the systems needed for fight or flight. The result when chronic is IBS, muscle tension/pain, racing brain, insomnia and so on. This leads to further complications. The lack of repair of the digestive tracts leads to the 'Leaky Gut Syndrome' overloading the liver, intolerance of drugs (including alcohol) and so on through other systems. A very physical process.


Because of the 'wheels within wheels' there are many different systems affected. This leads to multiple disciplines promising rescue. Each one is helpful but not the complete answer. This can lead to further disappointment and possibly even the 'Learned helplessness syndrome'. This is basically a state that occurs when you have been down so many routes and tried everything that everyone has suggested only to meet brick walls. The body then declares 'enough is enough'. It switches on a protection against further pain/disappointment. It happens to animals as well as humans. When the ancient protection system senses a state of being 'overwhelmed' it tends to direct you to hide.


With the understanding of the wheels within wheels a progressive approach can be constructed. The nutritional imbalance caused by the stress effect on the digestive system needs to be corrected. The liver maybe overloaded, the immune system in need of support. Shoehorns can be found to help switch the racing brain 'off' The nature of emotions can be understood and much is to be gained from learning to listen to your body. But most of all the over-active protective system needs confident, attainable stepping stones and strategies to allow you to push the boundaries out.