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Life is Only Once
Take Care of Yourself ... Be informed
Did YouKnow
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
May Be Related To The Bowels
hronic fatigue syndrome can be a
devastating medical condition.
Theories abound as to the cause,
including chronic viral and bacterial
infections, weakened immune system,
endocrine abnormalities and even
psychosocial etiologies (it’s all in your
head). The exact number of Americans
affected by chronic fatigue syndrome is
unknown but there are estimates of
between 3 and 3,000 cases of chronic
fatigue syndrome per 100,000 people
(3,000 – 3 million people affected in the
US). Although the exact cause has not been
determined, there is ample evidence that
chronic fatigue syndrome may be
related to another chronic medical
condition involving the bowel, leaky
gut syndrome.
hronic fatigue syndrome usually starts
after flu-like illness or a period of chronic
stress. It is generally defined as having at
least four of the following symptoms:
profound exhaustion after exercise,
impaired memory and concentration,
un-refreshing sleep, muscle and joint pain,
headaches, tender lymph nodes and
recurring sore throat without obvious
infection. Chronic Fatigue syndrome
patients often also have symptoms of
irritable bowel (in my experience – 100
percent), new onset food allergies and
chemical sensitivities and low blood
pressure with dizziness when standing
too quickly.
o medications seem to be effective and
the success of many nontraditional
medicine therapies is limited. Chronic
fatigue syndrome shares many symptoms
with chronic infections, but a causal
association with viral infections and lyme
disease is inconsistent. However, the
symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
do closely mimic the common symptoms
of leaky gut syndrome.
eaky gut syndrome is a condition where
the bowel literally becomes “leaky” and
toxins can be introduced into the blood
stream in high concentrations. These toxins
often come from bacteria and yeast and
can affect many of the organ systems.
Leaky gut syndrome is related to chronic
poor food selection, medications –
especially antibiotics - and stress. It is re-
lated to a condition called bacterial
dysbiosis, where “bad” bacteria colonize
the bowel and, in some cases, can result in
life-threatening illnesses. Symptoms of
leaky gut syndrome include fatigue,
muscle and joint pain, insomnia,
headaches, changes in memory and
irritable bowel symptoms. Irritable bowel
may actually be a mild form of leaky
gut syndrome.
n a recent medical publication (BMC
Medicine, 2010), the correlation between
chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic
inflammation associated with leaky gut
syndrome was explored. They discovered
that a chronic inflammation of the bowels
may be one of the foundation stones of
chronic fatigue syndrome. They also
suggested that inflammation may lead to a
“leaky” bowel and would be a likely
source for the introduction of inflamma-
tory and toxic compounds into the body.
These compounds can damage DNA and
inhibit energy production resulting in
fatigue, muscle weakness and pain and
changes in memory and cognition. Many
of these inflammatory and toxic
compounds cause many of the symptoms
of both chronic fatigue syndrome and
leaky gut syndrome. Therefore, a
reasonable argument can be made that the
root cause of chronic fatigue syndrome
may originate in the bowels.
lthough there are no specific tests for,
leaky gut syndrome can be diagnosed by a
simple urine test. Treatment for leaky gut
syndrome includes select dietary
supplements, changes in food choices and
other simple lifestyle adjustments. In my
personal experience, many people with
CFS and leaky gut syndrome can get
significantly better with this approach.
Patrick Massey MD, PhD is president of
ALT-MED Medical and Physical Therapy
and medical director for complementary
and alternative medicine for the Alexian
Brothers Hospital Network. He is a board
certified in internal medicine and
fellowship trained at the University of Ari-
zona Program in Integrative Medicine. His
web site is alt-med.org.
Patrick Massey MD, PhD
Medical Director,
Integrative Medicine,
Alexian Brothers Hospital Network.
President, ALT-MED Medical and
Physical Therapy
CFS
FOR YOUR HEALTH
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