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a bogus, catch-all diagnosis?

Focus On: Chronic Fatigue SyndromeIt’s very common to see the terms Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) used interchangeably or synonymously on websites today. Some physicians and organizations consider ME to be a subset of CFS; one of several manifestations of the illness. Others view ME as a severe case of CFS, on one extreme end of a common spectrum. Still others, like Jodi Bassett of A Hummingbird’s Guide to ME, consider ME to be a completely separate illness from CFS, and consider CFS to be a man-made construct created in the US in 1988—a symptom of many different illnesses, with several distinct and unrelated causes. She explains:

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is characterised by (scientifically measurable) damage to the brain, and particularly to the brain stem which results in dysfunctions and damage to almost all vital bodily systems and a loss of normal internal homeostasis. Substantial evidence indicates that ME is caused by an enterovirus. The onset of ME is always acute and ME can be diagnosed within just a few weeks. ME is an easily recognisable distinct organic neurological disease which can be verified by objective testing. If all tests are normal, then a diagnosis of ME cannot be correct.”

Medical studies show that chronic fatigue may be due to vitamin deficiency, sleep disorders, depression, cancer, mental or emotional stress, multiple sclerosis, or a large number of other illnesses. Data shows that up to 20% of the population may suffer from some form of chronic fatigue, but according to specialist Dr. Byron Hyde, a diagnosis of CFS is, in fact, a misdiagnosis.

Dr. Hyde explains that the diagnosis of ‘CFS’ actually means that the patient has a gradual onset fatigue syndrome, which is usually due to an overlooked major disease, such as cardiac disease, malignancy, vascular disease, endocrine disease, pharmacological or immunization induced disease, or dietary dysfunction diseases.

In his groundbreaking book Mold Warriors, Ritchie C. Shoemaker, MD suggests that exposure to toxic molds may be a causative factor in many CFS cases.

Brain retrainers Ashok Gupta and Annie Hopper both theorize that chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by an impaired limbic system – the part of the brain that controls our unconscious “fight or flight” stress response. They say that an initial environmental stressor (like toxic chemicals, mold, viruses, trauma) causes the limbic system to go into overdrive, where it gets stuck, and then all the other body systems (detoxification, immune, etc.) are downregulated in the body’s attempt to manage the perceived ongoing emergency. They each independently developed a non-invasive treatment plan that includes neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), breathing techniques, and other therapies aimed at mediating the unconscious fear response.

Here at Planet Thrive, we agree that often “CFS” is not a final diagnosis, and in order to receive appropriate treatment toward recovery, a patient deserves the right to a correct diagnosis. We encourage anyone who has been given the diagnosis of CFS to investigate further to find out what the real cause of your symptoms might be.

For more detailed information on the complicated politics and history behind the terms CFS and ME, please see A Hummingbird’s Guide to ME and the other resources recommended below.

photo: © Lisa Vanovitch / iStockphoto.com

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Gupta ProgrammeDynamic Neural Retraining System™About.com: Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue

ProHealth.comDr. Shoemaker's ChronicNeurotoxins.comA Hummingbird's Guide to ME

Foggy FriendsNightingale Research Foundation25% ME Group

The Committee for Justice and Recognition of Myalgic EncephalomyelitisInformation on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)ME Action UK

ME Free For AllBorg of SpaceMyalgic_Encephalomyelitis-ites_United Yahoo support group

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment: A Treatment GuideOsler's Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome EpidemicMold Warriors by Ritchie C. Shoemaker, MDThe Clinical and Scientific Basis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Stricken: Voices from the Hidden Epidemic of Chronic Fatigue SyndromePathogenesisIn the Shadow of Memory

Dom's FMS/CFS Newsletter

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posted on June 8, 2009 |


  • Jeny

    August 8, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Is ANY “syndrome” a final diagnosis? Not in my book.
    Then again, neither is “ME,” until you can tell me what caused it.

  • earthwalker

    August 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    My thoughts exactly Jeny!

  • maría

    February 5, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Chronic Fatigue isn’t Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

  • earthwalker

    February 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

    That is exactly the point we were trying to make Maria!

  • Canaryalice

    May 25, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I believe it is a real diagnosis especially since reading Dr Bell’s book about it. Those most likely to get it are asthmatics.

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