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A Chinese Medicine Approach to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by Lygia Angel

Chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome is a disabling, poorly understood multi-system illness. In the United States it has been referred to as the “yuppie flu.” The symptoms are an array of neurological, nueromuscular, and immunological abnormalities combined with cognitive impairment, disabling fatigue, and recurrent bouts of flu-like illness. These can be either short and mild or prolonged and debilitating. Sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome experience mild fever, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, and chills accompanied by extreme fatigue and minimal exertion. Muscle pain, roaming arthritis, sleep disorders, dizzy spells, heart palpatations, headaches, bowel disorders spatial disorientation, memory loss, anxiety, depression, confusion, and fluctuations in weight and abdominal pain are some of the many symptoms. Disabling fatigue is the primary symptom experienced. Patients with this condition usually have a history of allergies. Most chronic fatigue sufferer are between the ages of 25-40 years of age. In Western diagnosis there are no absolute lab tests that confirm chronic fatigue and there is no specific western medical treatment for chronic fatigue. How Traditional Chinese Medicine Views Chronic Fatigue Syndrome In Chinese Medicine most chronic fatigue sufferers show that the liver and spleen are affected. The liver and spleen in Chinese medicine have different functions than western medicine attributes to the liver and spleen. The liver in Chinese medicine regulates the flow of the emotions, stores blood, regulates the flow of “qi” and moves all substances of the body. When the liver is in disharmony, “out of balance,” there is emotional depression, stagnation of energy flow “qi,” and stagnation of the system. So, there is an actual depression of the system. The spleen transforms and transports the nutrients and fluids of the body and dominates the muscles. If the spleen is affected there is muscle weakness. The movement of body fluids are also impaired. Arthritic symptoms or swelling of the joints would occur. Many other organs are also affected due to the imbalance of the liver and spleen. In Chinese medicine all organs and functions of the body are interrelated in maintaining balance throughout the system. So, when an organ is out of balance it affects another. Treatment with Chinese Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Chinese acupuncture and herbal medicine focuses on strengthening the body. It is not palliative; it does not cover up or give masked relief to symptoms. It aims to correct imbalances of the body and get the organs functioning as they should so the symptoms can dissipate. Healing Kris Oheheiser, a client of mine who suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome wrote the following: Over the past several years, I have been experiencing fatigue, constipation, depression, head aches, dizzy spells, recurring colds, and sinus infections. My doctor prescribed several different anti-depressants over time. They helped very little if any. I did not like the idea of being on any medications. My doctor had suggested I have a some what invasive test for my heart. I was having reservations about having this test and I spoke to my sister in law who was a cardiac nurse. She suggested before I go through the test to see her acupuncturist. So, on April 1, 2002, I started my first treatment. I felt immediate results. Instead of waking up after sleeping all day and night and sleeping more, I would get up and clean the house, go to the library, and do some shopping. My headaches have not bothered me for several weeks and I have more energy than I have ever dreamed possible. I think that the best thing that ever happened to me from acupuncture was my disposition. I have no more depression. I am not afraid to speak up. Lygia Angel is a licensed acupuncturist (LAc) and who is in the process of opening up an office in the Riverwest neighborhood. She practices Traditional Chinese Medicine (M.S.O.M. certified), including acupuncture, at The Riverwest Complimentary Health and Community Consciousness Center. For more information, call her at 562-0874. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 5 – May 2003
by Lygia Angel