Chronic Fatigue Isn’t “All in your Head”

Here’s how to beat it—naturally

(DGIwire)   For years, people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) were told by mainstream doctors that it was all “in their heads.” But in a new 235-page report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) asserted that this condition is indeed real.

As one of the authors of this report bluntly put it, “It’s time to stop saying that this is just a figment of people’s imagination. This is a real disease, with real physical manifestations that need to be identified and cared for.”

In fact, chronic fatigue is absolutely rampant in this country. Current figures estimate between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans currently have this illness. But a staggering 84% to 91% of them are not yet diagnosed.

In order to help mainstream doctors diagnose it accurately, the IOM report established the following checklist of symptoms:

  • Extreme fatigue that lasts more than six months and isn’t brought on by excessive exertion or alleviated with rest
  • Inability to engage in previous occupational, educational, social, or personal activities or levels of interaction
  • Extreme malaise or fatigue (often described by patients as a “crash”) after minor activity or exertion
  • Feeling unrefreshed by rest (even substantial amounts)
  • Cognitive impairment or brain fog

Headache Other symptoms include gastrointestinal and urinary problems, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, and sensitivity to external stimuli.

It’s a very familiar list to prominent Manhattan-based physician Fred Pescatore, M.D.

“I’ve been treating patients with all of these symptoms for decades,” says Dr. Pescatore. “And I’ve seen some of the devastating effects this condition can have on people’s lives—especially when it gets brushed off by mainstream medicine. People who suffer these symptoms can potentially lose their jobs, health insurance, marriages, and even homes—all because their illness is considered a function of psychology rather than pathology.”

In fact, in an effort to shed the previous stigma attached to the catch-all term “chronic fatigue syndrome,” the IOM even wants to change the name of this disorder—to “systemic exertion intolerance disease” (or SEID).

They believe this term is not only more accurate, but helps convey just how serious the condition really is.

Unfortunately, there’s still no consensus on a single cause of SEID. But the IOM found evidence linking the illness to immune dysfunction (especially diminished natural killer cell function), and infection (particularly Epstein-Barr Virus).

Which means, when it comes to treatment, one of the best places to start may very likely be with your immune system. But, as Dr. Pescatore explains, the immune system is very complex. It’s made up of billons of cells. And they all need to be working in perfect harmony in order to keep you healthy.

“Haphazardly throwing popular ‘immune boosters’ into the mix can tip this delicate balance dangerously off kilter,” warns Dr. Pescatore.

According to Dr. Pescatore, the best approach to supporting your immune system is multi-tiered, encompassing every aspect involved in immunity.

Some of the top immune supporting supplement recommendations he offers his patients include:

  • Dimethylgycine HCl. This is a naturally occurring amino acid and antioxidant. Research suggests that it may help optimize both your humoral and your cell-mediated immune responses. According to Dr. Pescatore, this keeps your immune cells and your antibodies on guard—offering two layers of defense. He recommends 250 mg per day.
  • Larch tree extract. Larch tree extract contains significant amounts of arabinogalactins—polysaccharides that offer strong immune support. In fact, clinical research shows that taking high doses of larch arabinogalactan may raise your odds of staying healthy by more than 50 percent. These results aren’t surprising, since studies also show that arabinogalactins call your natural killer cells to action. And these cells are your immune system’s first and most critical line of defense. Dr. Pescatore generally recommends around 200 mg per day.
  • Maitake D-fraction.® This powerful mushroom extract may help support all of your immune system’s key players—including macrophages, T-cells, natural killer cells, and interleukin-1 and -2. In Dr. Pescatore’s experience, 20 mg per day is a good general dose.
  • Beta 1,3 glucan. These are sugars extracted from the cell walls of baker’s yeast. And clinical studies show that supplementing with beta 1,3 glucans offers crucial support to a stressed immune system. Dr. Pescatore recommends 70 mg per day.
  • Olive leaf extract. Extracts from olive leaf deliver a long list of phytochemicals that may help keep your immune system primed. That’s one reason why it’s been revered in the Mediterranean as the secret to good health since Biblical times. Dr. Pescatore generally recommends 100 mg per day.

Dr. Pescatore’s other core recommendations for immune health are AHCC (500 mg, twice per day), vitamin D3 (at least 5,000 IUs per day), and a good, multi-strain probiotic (one in the morning and evening, on an empty stomach).

But Dr. Pescatore has also found that extreme, chronic fatigue can often be tied to another condition, called adrenal burnout.

“This is one of the most common diagnoses I make,” asserts Dr. Pescatore.

The modern face of chronic fatigue

In the simplest terms, adrenal fatigue is a group of signs and symptoms that occurs when your adrenal glands aren’t working properly. Exhaustion sets in when stress overwhelms these glands.

In Dr. Pescatore’s clinical experience, there are usually two tell-tale signs of adrenal fatigue.

“The first is that most people suffering from burnout depend on coffee or other forms of caffeine or stimulants to get going in the morning and to make it through the day,” he says. “The second is that the patient routinely wakes up around 3 or 4 in the morning.”

But you should also take note if you’re experiencing one or more of the following symptoms on a regular basis:

  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Trouble waking up in the morning, despite a reasonable bedtime
  • Generally feeling rundown
  • Tough recovery from stress or sickness
  • Cravings for salty and sweet foods
  • Peak energy and alertness after 6 p.m.

These are all signs that your adrenal glands could be suffering.

Eight natural weapons in the fight against fatigue 

When it comes to restoring adrenal function, Dr. Pescatore’s first recommendation is to focus is on your diet. “You’ve got to eat like a caveman in this situation,” he says.

To do that, he advises cutting out all sugars and grains and eating a diet based primarily on vegetables and protein.

But Dr. Pescatore indicates there are also some effective ways to promote adrenal health through the use of nutritional supplementation. He recommends a list of eight critical supplements to all of his patients battling adrenal exhaustion.

  • This natural hormone helps support the adrenal gland and to give it some much needed rest. Dr. Pescatore does caution that there are people who shouldn’t take DHEA—like those with hormone-related cancers, pregnant and lactating women, and men with an elevated PSA. Of course, you should check with your personal physician.

Dr. Pescatore recommends anywhere from 5 to 50 mg per day, depending on the case.

  • Rhodiola rosea. This is an herbal adaptogen that helps support the adrenal gland. Research shows that Rhodiola can increase your body’s resistance to a variety of chemicals and other biological and physical stressors. Dr. Pescatore recommends 30 mg of Rhodiola, three times per day. 
  • Schizandra chinensis. This is another adaptogen that helps to stabilize the adrenal gland and acts in much the same way as Rhodiola. Dr. Pescatore recommends 60 mg, three times per day.
  • Ashwagandha extract. This herb is also an adaptogen, offering your body a buffer against stress and bringing you back into balance. Studies in mice show it can support your immune system. It may help to improve learning and memory. And it can reduce anxiety and poor mood without causing drowsiness. Dr. Pescatore recommends 150 mg of ashwgandha, three times per day
  • Eleutherococcus sinensis root extract. This is another adaptogen, and is also known as Siberian Ginseng. Dr. Pescatore recommends 150 mg, three times per day.
  • Panax ginseng. This is another classic adaptogen. Dr. Pescatore recommends 50 mg three times per day.
  • Phosphatidylserene.  This is a component of your cell membranes—and particularly your neurons—so it works a little differently than the other adaptogens. It doesn’t alleviate stress. It helps to keep your cells healthy and functioning their best. Dr. Pescatore recommends 50 mg, three times per day
  • Licorice.   This is a detoxifying agent. Dr. Pescatore recommends 10 mg, three times per day.

Dr. Pescatore notes that he has successfully used this protocol for hundreds of his patients. However, he does warn that it can take several months for it to take full effect.

“But if you stick with it,” he says, “it will give your body a fighting chance to beat fatigue—and regain the energy and vibrance you’ve been missing.”

SOURCE:  “Panel Says Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Is A Disease, And Renames It,” NPR (, 2/11/15