Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Acupuncture
As the name implies, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a chronic condition that currently has no cure. Symptoms vary widely from patient to patient, with the only consistent sign being the chronic fatigue from which the condition takes its name.
As the disease has no cure, treatments are intended to help patients manage their symptoms. This can be difficult with Western medicine, however, because some common symptoms – fatigue, cognitive impairment, and food sensitivities – are difficult to treat with conventional therapies. Acupuncture has proven to be an effective alternative to manage these symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
The main characteristic of CFS is feelings of extreme fatigue that are not caused by an underlying medical condition. Rest does not make the feeling go away, although both physical and mental activity may make it worse.
Despite many theories, we don’t know what causes chronic fatigue syndrome. Patients seem to be hypersensitive to normal levels of physical activity but why this happens is unknown. Theories of what triggers the condition include:
- Hormonal imbalance, particularly those produced in the adrenal, hypothalamus, and pituitary glands
- Immune system impairment, as some CFS patients’ immune systems show slight impairment
- Viral infections, particularly Epstein-Barr, human herpes virus 6, and mouse leukemia
Anyone may be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, but it most often strikes women in their 40s and 50s.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of CFS vary and it’s important to note that not every patient experiences the same issues. The most common symptoms include:
- Feelings of extreme fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Frequent headaches
- Having a recurrent or chronic sore throat
- Muscle and joint pain that has no known cause
- Problems with memory or memory loss
- Sleep that fails to refresh or rejuvenate
- Physical exhaustion after physical or mental exercise that lasts for 24 hours or more
The nature of many chronic conditions – symptoms worsening over time and negatively impacting your daily life – often leads to secondary issues, particularly depression and social isolation. However, many patients also experience increased absenteeism at work and an inability to perform many of the tasks they used to. This just adds to feelings of depression and isolation.
How Acupuncture Can Help Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Acupuncturists attempt to restore balance to the body. They begin by determining where the imbalance lies, as this is the only way to determine where treatment is needed.
In chronic fatigue syndrome, there is a deficiency in the life force, qi. This force runs throughout the mind and body. Therefore, treatment must include both mind and body.
This meshes well with treating the symptoms of CFS, as even conventional medicine recognizes the mind/body connection in the health in these patients. Unfortunately, the most common Western treatments focus on drug therapies, which typically cause a variety of side effects, many of them dangerous. What’s more, not all of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are treatable with drug therapies.
To treat your chronic fatigue syndrome, your acupuncturist first determines where the deficiency resides, which means determining the levels of qi at a number of meridians. Typically, imbalance is found at the spleen and/or kidneys, but it may also exist in the meridians at the lungs or liver.
Next, your acupuncturist clears obstructions to the flow of qi, restoring balance and helping your body return to its natural state of health.
How Does Treatment Work?
The number of treatments required varies according to the patient. Not everyone has the same symptoms, after all. However, studies have shown that regular acupuncture treatments are effective in reducing the severity of fatigue and stress experienced by CFS patients.
Researchers attribute the improvements to elevated levels of endorphins, which in turn help increase white blood cell counts, leading to improved immunity. When acupuncture treatments are combined with Chinese herbal medicines that boost the immune system, effects are even greater.
What Happens When You Call Accurate Acupuncture?
For your first appointment, plan to spend between 60 and 90 minutes with us. We will discuss your medical history, experience with acupuncture, current issues, and what you hope to accomplish with treatment. We will also explain our procedures to help you feel comfortable and secure during your session.
It’s important to note that chronic conditions typically require a series of treatments before patients experience noticeable, lasting relief of symptoms. In other words, bring an open mind to your session and give the treatment time to work.
If you’re ready to learn more, feel free to call our office any time. Or, complete our contact form and we’ll answer your question and help you book an appointment.