Recovery From ME/CFS - Part 2
Updated: Nov 1
“I’m lucky I can work from home. I take meetings lying on the couch and have at least one serious energy crash every day that lasts for 2-3 hours.”
Recovery from ME/CFS and Long Covid can happen. Over the next few weeks, I would like to present examples of patients who have recovered from ME/CFS. I hope you will benefit from seeing the treatments they used, and how they responded.
Read Part One - HERE
When I asked about her daily routine, Candace told me, “I awaken every day for work at 4:45 am and immediately have two cups of coffee, then another cup an hour after that. Sometimes right before work, I take a couple more shots of espresso.”
“I’m lucky I can work from home. I take meetings lying on the couch and have at least one serious energy crash every day that lasts for 2-3 hours. It’s usually accompanied by a headache. If I need to take a client out in the evening to close a deal, I really suffer the next day with a major crash.”
JK: OK… stop the tape! Where should I start? Candace is currently very fragile. If you abruptly remove one behavior, say eliminate the caffeine, without first putting in place additional supports, everything can collapse, and she might have a severe crash. Where do I start?
It’s important to not just throw treatments at symptoms, whether they be medications or even natural remedies. The key to a successful treatment and recovery is to first make the proper diagnosis and get to the root of the problem.
In Candace’s case, all her symptoms began in the wake of a serious viral illness ten years ago…the notorious Epstein-Barr virus. Considering everything Candace has experienced since this infection occurred, she definitely has a case of post-viral syndrome. But does this label get us any closer to fixing the problem? Is this the root of the problem?
Let me describe my definition of post-viral syndrome. It consists of a collection of symptoms, frequently severe and disabling, that occur immediately or shortly after a serious viral infection. These symptoms can persist for months or years.
The occurrence of post-viral syndrome with persistent symptoms, including fatigue, pain, post-exertional malaise and headaches, is not uncommon. The SARS epidemic in 2003 was also caused by a coronavirus. Researchers found that fatigue persisted in more than half the patients throughout their recovery: 64% reported fatigue at 3-months, 54% at 6-months, and 60% at 12-months.
Post-viral syndrome has also been observed in people recovering from Ebolavirus. Post-Ebola symptoms include fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain and sleep disturbances. These symptoms were found to occur in up to 28% of individuals.
Post-viral syndrome is now affecting over ten million individuals in the United States, in the form of Long Covid, and this is why this complex, disabling condition is finally getting the attention it deserves.
But why do some people get post-viral syndrome, such as Long Covid, and others do not, even though they contract the same genetic strain of a virus?
The answer to this question is what I call the ‘house of cards’ scenario. In individuals who develop post-viral syndrome, several imbalances are usually already present before the tidal wave of the viral infection sweeps through. They usually have symptoms that are subclinical or being ignored. It’s easy to ignore fatigue and occasional headaches when you’re in your twenties and thirties.
Many people are not as healthy as they think. They can have vulnerabilities which raise the chances they could develop post-viral syndrome. These factors include low thyroid or adrenal function, a low vitamin D level, insufficient restorative sleep, too much stress, excessive alcohol intake, a diet deficient in essential nutrients, a genetic predisposition or a combination of the above.
The point is this: The occurrence of post-viral syndrome is not only due to the viral infection. It’s just as much related to the underlying state of health of the individual when the viral infection occurs.
Candace’s Standard Lab Tests
Blood glucose – normal
Thyroid tests - normal
Liver function tests – normal
Kidney function tests – normal
Antibodies to tic born illnesses (such as Lyme’s disease) – negative
Vitamin D level – 29 (sub-optimal)
Ferritin level – 20 (sub-optimal)
Here are my recommendations to Candace at the end of her initial visit:
Keep a 5-day diet diary
You will receive a salivary hormone test kit in the mail. This will measure your level of adrenal hormones over a 12-hour period (cortisol and DHEA).
You will receive a comprehensive stool analysis kit in the mail. By analyzing a stool sample, I can evaluate the health of your gut microbiome and whether there may be hidden GI infections such as bacterial overgrowth or intestinal parasites.
Use the sinus nebulizer treatment we discussed to help cleanse and improve the health of your sinuses (see Appendix xx).
Support your immune system and mitochondria by taking the following supplements:
a. Mitochondrial Support Formula - take twice daily
b. Gentle Mitochondrial Stimulant (containing low dose caffeine) - take twice daily
c. Coenzyme Q-10 100mg – take twice daily
d. Vitamin D 5,000 i.u. – take twice daily (based on lab results)
e. Gentle Iron 25mg - take twice daily (based on lab results)
I started Candace on the above supplements based on her medical history and the results of her previous lab tests. However, I ordered several additional tests to further evaluate her health. These tests help me ‘look under the hood’ to better assess the status of her adrenal function, GI microbiome and any possible exposure to environmental toxins such as mold and pesticides.
While Candace has been able to significantly recover, there were a lot of curves in the road. I'll post the next installment of Candace’s story next Wednesday.
Read Part 3 - HERE
Please forward this blog to your family and friends.
Keep Hope Alive!
Jon D. Kaiser, M.D.
Appointments: (415) 381-7655