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Chronic Fatigue: What To Do About It

Chronic Fatigue:  What To Do About It

Being tired all the time is no way to live. Especially in your high-risk job. Let’s break down what Chronic Fatigue is and how to fix it (including one method that has a 90% success rate).

What It Is
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) basically means that regular, everyday tasks make you tired. And resting doesn’t help. For example, do you wake up and feel just as tired and achy as when you went to bed?  Are you unfocused and fatigued in the middle of your day?

Some common symptoms of CFS include: sleep issues, joint pain, the sore throat that never goes away, headache, depression, achiness, bowel issues (aka hot belly), short-term memory issues and brain fog. “Chronic” means you’ve had these symptoms for weeks or more. Do you have a Costco-sized bottle of Ibuprofen in your duty bag? This may be a clue.

The Cause
Nobody really knows what causes CFS.  The speculation is it has many causes but one common ending: you feeling like dog crap. But what is known is that your immune system plays a big role in it. Think of your immune system as your body’s police force patrolling the streets. If your force is weak sauce, the streets are open to rioting.  This called “inflammation” which means you have an overactive immune system (your little Police force is fighting something inside. A LOT).  Chronic inflammation = disease like CFS.

What To Do
Here’s a strategy that has had a 90% success rate. It’s called the S.H.I.N.E. protocol: Sleep, Hormonal support, Infections, Nutritional support and Exercise.  It’s a simple and inexpensive method.  But yes, it requires some changes.

Let’s briefly touch on each.

 – Sleep
If you don’t sleep well you will obviously feel exhausted. The goal is getting deep, restorative sleep every night for 7-9 hours. Taking pharmaceuticals for sleep gives you the illusion that your sleep is improving. But it’s not. You won’t fall into that restorative phase (R.E.M.) plus they can be addictive.  Ditch the drugs and try natural supplements. They are powerful, inexpensive and more merciful to your body.

Some famously effective sleep supplements are: Valerian, Passionflower, L-theanine, Hops, Magnesium, Lemon Balm, 5-HTP, Vitamin B6 and Chamomile.

Don’t hit up Amazon and buy all these ingredients separately.  Try a reputable product like ‘Revitalizing Sleep Formula’ by Integrative Therapeutics, “Relaxing Sleep” by Herb Pharm (a great one if you wake up at night) or a favorite of many in the Law Officer audience “REST” by BluArmor. They contain very specific doses to help you fall and stay asleep.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements as they may interact with your medications. As you know, more is NOT better.  Herbs are extremely powerful (think ephedra) and need to be treated with respect like any other drug.

 – Hormonal Dysfunction
Thyroid, adrenals, estrogen and/or testosterone dysfunction are all factors that may contribute to CFS.  Hormones are too wide a topic to be covered here. But keep in mind that your hormone levels may need to be addressed down the line.

 – Immune Dysfunction
Infections (viral, parasites, candida) are a big factor in CFS. In fact, another name for CFS is ‘Immune Dysfunction Syndrome’.  Some infections may require treatment. But by fixing your sleep and diet, your immune system will strengthen and fight these infections. Thereby resolving itself. Let’s move on.

 – Nutrition
People with CFS or often nutritionally deficient. Have you heard the word “mitochondria” before?  They are in your cells and turn nutrients into energy for your cells. Which means energy for you. So support these guys with the right nutrition.

Make sure you take a high-quality multivitamin  to plug any gaps in your diet. Eat more nutrient-rich, less-processed foods.  Wean off the energy drinks. And break-up with sugar. It’s a direct road to fatigue.

Dehydration is an energy killer. Although drinking water is not sexy, it’s a game changer. Try using ’Waterlogged’, a free app that tracks your H2O intake and reminders to drink your daily quota.

 – Exercise
Balance people. Too much and you increase inflammation (I like Crossfit too). Too little and you become stagnant and even more tired.  A good rule is to get in that killer workout 3-4 days a week with active rest 3-4 days a week (walking, hiking, yoga, swimming).  You bought the Fitbit. So use it already.

When To See a Naturopathic Doctor
Two other causes of CFS are: food allergies or toxin overload. Both can be uncovered through lab testing and corrected with a targeted diet/supplementation plan.  Naturopaths can also check for hormone dysfunction.

If you feel these simple steps above didn’t make a difference seek professional help.  Remember the goal. To stay safe and alive, and have the energy to enjoy the things that are important to you.


references:

Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2012.

Murray MT, Pizzorno J. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Third Edition. Simon and Schuster; 2012.

Giloteaux, L., Goodrich, J. K., Walters, W. A., Levine, S. M., Ley, R. E., & Hanson, M. R. (2016, June 23). Reduced diversity and altered composition of the gut microbiome in individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. https://microbiomejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40168-016-0171-4

Mitochondria. (n.d.). https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/mitochondria-14053590

 

About The Author

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Janine Henkel is insanely passionate about nutrition and is #1 fan of Police Officers. After almost 20 years in Law Enforcement and lecturing her co-workers about their eating habits, she retired and founded OnPointNutrition.Org, a nutrition consulting business designed with First Responders in mind. Janine holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition, is a Certified Personal Trainer and U.S. Marine Veteran. You can usually find Janine geeking out on technical books. Or enjoying the outdoors with her 5 year old son while trying to pull off the ‘cowboy hat with vibrams' look.

  • Midwest cop

    Well with all the fuss about the CFS label put aside, I applaud Law Officer for putting this article up. Its plain to me this that it is directed at people who work stressful jobs at night and suffer from ongoing sleep deprivation. As a 19 year police veteran, with all of that time spent in patrol and nine years on night shift I have struggled with sleep deprivation most of my career. It’s not the damage from fighting with drunk drivers or getting my head cracked open from the guy who took my nightstick away from me, its the years of poor sleep that’s the hard toll. Most people who have never done this work have no idea how hard it is to stay alert when you are operating on three hours of sleep because admin has scheduled a mandatory training during day shift hours, Court appearances which are on day shift hours, and the jerk neighbor who has to mow his lawn every other day at 10 am. I wish I’d known more about these tips when I was still on nights.

  • Janine

    Thank you everyone for the incredible feedback, both good and bad. I very much appreciate it and am flattered that you took the time to read this article (yes, I sincerely am). I wanted to apologize for the confusion and to those suffering from debilitating and painful CFS. This article was meant for those just in the beginning stages of CFS. Police Officers work tirelessly on the job and some then workout 6-7 days a week, creating inflammation and don’t allow their bodies to rest. As you understand, rest is important and chronic exercise can impede healing. So my goal was to encourage those feeling fatigued to rest more and incorporate gentle things like walking or swimming into their lives. And “killer workout” is whatever that means to you, not me. It can be simple walking to Zoomba to whatever makes you feel active and good. Arthur Boorman, the disable gulf war veteran, comes to mind when I think about this. He was disabled, unable to walk and started very slow with yoga, but it was “killer” to him. Since some of you suffer from severe CFS, maybe you can offer some insight into things that Officers can do to prevent it from reaching these levels where you cannot even get out of bed anymore. Again, my apologies as these suggestions were targeted towards Officers on the job who may be in the beginning stages of CFS. My purpose is to serve them and make sure they have healthy, safe careers so that they may enjoy things that are important to them. Thanks again for all the valuable comments and for reading this as well. It’s a wonderful learning experience for me and I promise to be more specific in my next article. Cheers!

    • Law Officer

      Listen for a great podcast next week featuring Janine.

    • Valentijn

      The best thing people can do with mild or new onset of ME/CFS is not push themselves, and to rest as much as they can. There is no form or stage or severity of ME/CFS for which exercise is helpful. A great many exercise trials have proven that is ineffective, and many other research teams have found that exertion provokes a pathological reaction.

      I’m curious – was it the name of “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” that made you think it’s a mild a simple problem for which you are qualified to give medical advice? Because exercise, in the context of a disease defined by exercise intolerance, is most certainly a medical treatment, and an extremely dangerous one at that.

  • christie

    some great ways to get started on reducing inflammation in the body! First Responders are often over-worked and need more focus on self-care. Although this article is geared towards chronic fatigue, the protocol suggested could be applied and improve a number of health conditions.

    • Valentijn

      Though ironically not ME/CFS, the disease named in the article. Exercise is proven to make patients worse, and most of the nonsense about diet and such has been shown ineffective.

  • Julie

    Great advice. Thanks for the positive suggestions!

  • Law Officer

    Let’s be clear here. There is a small but loud voice that hears the word “Naturopathic” and starts banging on the keyboard. Someone even thinks the author recommends “CrossFit” which she clearly doesn’t. While I’m glad our article on CFS hit a few message boards, we guarantee that the suggestions can help and keep in mind, they are suggestions and not medical advice. If you come to our little place on the web and take it for medical advice, that is a problem. The good thing is that we are committed to helping our first responders and this will not be the last time you hear from this author and others. So thanks for reading and we hope you stick around because there is much more to come….

    • Not this again

      Uh, go back & read what it says about exercise. This is dangerous. It’s why the Institute of Medicine said the disease should be renamed to reflect its main symptom–relapse from exercise. There’s a slew of papers that back this up, including reviews. How many cites do you want? Someone writes something up who has no idea what’s going on with PACE? Do you even know what that is? What is written here about ‘too little (exercise) and…’ and ‘killer workout’ is contraindicated, no different than offering wheat products to someone with celiac. Those of us angered by this either have been damaged beyond repair because we exercised ourselves into permanent debility, or came just short, since the whole world seems to think it’s such a great idea, but know people who did. And that damage leaves people completely unable to move, to feed themselves, to live independently. So you might want to consider walking back that guarantee, medical advice or not…heck, I’m fairly sure even Teitelbaum wouldn’t offer a ‘guarantee’ on his silly vitamins.

    • Star Man

      Does it not bother you that the exercise “suggestions” in this article could prove fatal for some patients? Because it bothers me.

    • Valentijn

      Are you also unbothered by the gross factual inaccuracies about the disease itself?

    • Keiran Moon

      We are not a small voice! We are a thunderous collection around the world and we are making our selves heard. What you need to take as feed back on the article is that it was badly researched, and written with no thought about how actual survivors of this condition would feel when reading it.

      Please do not offer advice if you do not expect people to scrutinise it or to consider taking it. People are desperate to feel better as there is no known cure for M.E. and people clutch at any thing they think may help when in fact what you are suggesting here would be very dangerous for most M.E. Survivors. Perhaps a warning to seek medical advice should be considered if you do not want people to act on your suggestions without medical opinion.

      What you have here are people who actually live with this debilitating condition offering you honest feedback. As you and presumably the writer of the piece do not have, or have not had M.E. perhaps the strength of opinion you can see here should show you that the article is not in keeping with the experience of those who actually have the condition. No one here would not welcome greater knowledge of M.E in the public sector but please make that knowledge fair, reasoned, informed and safe.

  • Valentijn

    This article contains an unfortunate mix of absolute ignorance about ME/CFS, and dangerous medical advice. ME/CFS is characterized by a pathological reaction to exertion, which has been documented in numerous studies. Large patient surveys show that even gentle exercise is harmful, and some even suffer permanent harm. Is this website willing to pay the damages awarded in a court if an ME/CFS patient follows the above medical advice and ends up permanently incapacitated? This is just grossly irresponsible.

  • Spoondiferous

    This article is dangerous. You wouldn’t advise someone with Alzheimer’s or HIV to run more marathons, relax by doing some hiking and eat more fruit, if they want to be cured. Ms. Henkel clearly has no understanding of ME whatsoever and should be investigated for claiming to be qualified to give medical advice to the seriously ill. A ‘clinical nutritionist’ is not a doctor, neurologist, rheumatologist, or endocrinologist. You can ‘qualify’ through all kinds of quack, online ‘schools’ and all it means is that you can advise on a balanced diet.

    Anyone recommending you see ‘your naturopathic doctor’ has no business giving medical advice and being a personal trainer or US Marine veteran is completely irrelevant. I can only think she has suffered one too many bumps to the head during her military career and it has caused delusions whereby she believes herself qualified to give medical advice to the seriously, chronically ill.

    This is irresponsible publishing at its very worst.

  • Not this again

    Yeah, this is pretty horrendous. SHINE Protocol? Teitelbaum, really? Ugh. How many years is it he’s been promoting one study in a defunct journal with how many respondees in the first place?

    Anyone who can’t take the time to see that it’s now pretty widely known that exercise is damaging to ME patients shouldn’t be writing about this stuff. It’s literally dangerous.

  • Star Man

    One of the worst ME/CFS articles I’ve read recently. The exercise advice alone could seriously injure or kill some ME/CFS patients.

  • Rick Falls

    Anyone who is dealing with this debilitating problem might want to check out this Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1876612205945545/ Some of the results and testimonials are impressive.

  • Jane doe

    The author of this article obviously does not know much about CFS. A person with CFS cannot exercise 3-4 days a week or “do Cross-fit” unless they want to end up confined to their bed for the next two months.

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