Overcoming ME/CFS

After learning from their doctor that there is no cure for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis /Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) most patients start looking for treatments outside of conventional medicine. ME/CFS is a complex chronic condition and many patients suffer from a myriad of symptoms. Their medical practitioners may prescribe medications to help relieve some of their symptoms, but for most patients, their doctors do not understand this illness and do not have the time to listen to them. They eventually turn to integrative or alternative medicine.

Alternative Therapies and Therapists
ME/CFS recovery requires a lot of diligence, commitment, and patience. Integrative or alternative therapies, generally, do not help you return to your pre-illness condition but they do help you manage your symptoms. Finding therapies that relieve the symptoms and increase the time between relapses can often change ME/CFS from a totally disabling illness to a manageable ailment.

Some people heal themselves using mind-body techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique, Reverse Therapy, Tapas Acupressure Technique, Reflexology, etc. There are also training programs such as Light Therapy or the Amygdala Retraining Program that have been known to help. There are others who prefer centuries-old practises such as meditation, yoga, tai-chi, qi gong, and even massage therapy and reiki to help calm the mind and the body. Many others seek the help of naturopaths, homeopaths, osteopaths, acupuncturists, hypnotherapists. It is well known that the mind is capable of unlocking innate healing abilities. Within us is already everything we need to recover and many therapies, carefully and intelligently delivered, hold the key.

My tips for recovering from ME/CFS
Depending on how severe your illness is, it’s important to set reasonable goals for recovery. You are more likely to recover some semblance of your former life with a treatment plan that includes the following :

1.Choosing good food and drink 
The very first thing I did after I got sick was see a nutritionist. I had digestive and intestinal problems so I knew I had to look into my food intake. I had always been a pretty healthy eater but I found out I had to completely eliminate sugar, caffeine, alcohol, white flour, wheat and processed foods. I also started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables- especially leafy green ones-  and nuts and seeds. I made sure I drank at least eight glasses of filtered water daily. And, of course, I started taking daily vitamins, minerals and fish oil/EFA supplements.

2. Sleepless in Seattle… or in Montreal
The second thing I knew I had to resolve was my sleeping problems. When I fell ill I wasn’t sleeping very well. In fact I was only able to sleep 3-5 hours a night. I knew I had to find a solution for my insomnia in order to start feeling better. Instead of taking the sleeping pills my doctor prescribed I decided to take a more natural approach. I found an amazing product called 5-HTP which helped raise my serotonin levels. Within a couple of weeks my insomnia was gone. There are many other natural products which aid in restoring sleep patterns. Consult a naturopath to help you with this.

3. To exercise or not to exercise…
It’s important to move in order to get rid of toxins which stagnate in our cells. But it’s just as important not to overdo it or else you will relapse. This is a fine balancing act.

Once your body becomes stronger start an exercise program and little by little stretch the boundaries of what you can do.

4. Rest and meditate
In his comprehensive website Bruce Campbellexplains how important it is to take what he calls ‘pre-emptive’ or planned rests, even when we start feeling better. These are daily scheduled rest periods taken in order to help prevent symptoms. This makes a lot of sense to me because the goal here is to shift away from living in response to symptoms- the cycle of push and crash– toward consistently planning your life. Also, rest for people with ME/CFS does not mean sitting down to read a book or watch television. Both these activities stimulate your mind. Rest means lying down in a quiet place with your eyes closed.

Meditation is another activity that helps calm the mind and restore energy levels.While some people may have visions of monks dressed in brightly coloured silk brocade robes in far off lands sitting together in silence, meditation is the cultivation of a calm and positive state of mind. It is the cessation of the thought process and is the only real antidote to stress, anxiety, confusion, dissatisfaction, and negativity that plagues our modern world.There are different forms of meditation and you can reap its benefits in just 5 minutes!

5. Treat symptoms and infections
It’s important to treat the symptoms of ME/CFS and new infections in order to help your body restore its energy production. Ask your medical practitioner to help treat your symptoms such as pain, and deal with new infections promptly. This will help your body become stronger.

6. Create a daily  health log
In order to be able to recognize your limits and understand what helps you recover you need to keep records. This is a crucial part of getting better. Having systematic notes about your life enables you to see patterns and to identify links between your actions and your symptoms. You can create a simple health log which will only require a few minutes to complete each day. For more information about health logs take a look at the CFIDS/Fibromyalgia Self-Help program, created and directed by Bruce Campbell.

7. The chicken came first – God would look silly sitting on an egg!
I hope this made you laugh, or even smile a little.                                    Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine. We all know that it’s good for your health. There is now scientific  evidence to prove that laughing improves health. It has been shown to reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, increase muscle power and boost immunity. Simply put, laughing every day will improve your health. So watch comedy, do happy things with your friends and family, and most importantly, replace negative thoughts with positive ones and keep people who generate negative vibes at bay!

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