A new study has shown that people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia have abnormal levels of specific gut bacteria – providing more evidence that the condition is ‘not in your head’.
If you are experiencing symptoms such as brain fog, severe pain, extreme exhaustion so extreme it is hard for you to get on with your life then it is likely you have CFS and or Fibromyalgia. Researchers have found that the same gut imbalances were common in people suffering with Irritable Bowels Syndrome (IBS) and CFS.
If your CFS / ME or Fibromyalgia symptoms came after a gut disturbance (maybe years before) such as IBS, bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhoea then healing your gut could be the key to your recovery.
During a consultation I often find that gastrointestinal issues are behind many chronic complaints and that symptoms of CFS / ME or Fibromyalgia are indeed linked. Priority is to heal your gut and create digestive wellness. The great news is that successful treatment often provides the cornerstone in your healing!
Alongside homeopathic treatment I use a functional medicine approach (‘The 4 R programme) to repairing your gut and restoring your body’s balance:
Remove the bad. The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the gut, such as inflammatory foods, infections, and irritants like alcohol, caffeine, or drugs.
Inflammatory foods, such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and sugar, can lead to food sensitivities. I recommend an elimination diet as the starting point to identify which foods are problematic for you, in which you remove the foods for two weeks or more and then add them back in, one at a time, taking note of your body’s response.
Infections can be from parasites, yeast, or bacteria. A comprehensive stool analysis is key to determining the levels of good bacteria as well as any infections that may be present. Removing the infections may require treatment with herbs, anti-parasite medication, antifungal medication, antifungal supplements, or even antibiotics.
Replace the good. Add back in the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption that may have been depleted by diet, drugs (such as antacid medications) diseases or aging. This includes digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile acids that are required for proper digestion.
Restoring beneficial bacteria to re-establish a healthy balance of good bacteria is critical. This may be accomplished by taking a probiotic supplement that contains beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species. We recommend anywhere from 25 -100 billion units a day. Also, taking a prebiotic (food for the good bacteria) supplement or consuming foods high in soluble fibre is important.
Providing the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself is essential. One of my favorite supplements is L-glutamine, an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the gut wall lining. Other key nutrients include zinc, omega-3 fish oils, vitamin A, C, and E, as well as herbs such as slippery elm and aloe vera.