What Are The Symptoms of ME/CFS?
ME/CFS is defined as:
What Causes ME/CFS?
There are so many different abnormalities in ME/CFS, which seem to point to the idea of a central abnormality which affects all systems in the body. I believe that the condition is caused by an abnormality in the brain, specifically around two brain structures, the “Amygdala” and the “Insula”.
The Amygdala is the part of our brain that is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, or the stress response. It is also known as the response of the sympathetic nervous system to threats.
From our published research which you can view below, it seems that this part of the brain gets stuck in a chronic state of hyper-arousal, quickly using up all the body’s store of energy. It also causes lots of secondary issues which contribute to a whole host of symptoms in the body such as brain fog, difficulty concentrating, muscle pain, and exhaustion.
This hypothesis serves as a potential unifying model for the various observations in patients.
Common Mechanisms That Cause Chronic Conditions
Muscular Fatigue & Pain, Aching Joints & Tender Points
The stress response is sometimes known as the “fight, flight or freeze” response. These responses, including excessive adrenaline, keep the muscles tense, and are only designed to be triggered for minutes at a time. This eventually causes downgrading of the system and inability to do simple tasks.
Relaxed muscles are in a state called tone, which is a state balanced between relaxation and contraction. Prolonged tension in muscles upsets tone and allows the chemicals of fatigue (e.g., lactic acid) to temporarily accumulate and disperse, causing aches and pain. Prolonged tension is initiated and maintained by the stress response, as the muscles are primed for reaction to dangerous stimuli. This is why you may suffer from aching limbs that seem to feel heavy and drag, but there may be nothing actually physically wrong with the muscles.
Excessive stimulation of the immune system can cause inflammation throughout the body as well as neuro-inflammation, further contributing to symptoms.
A few patients have found that magnesium supplements tend to help muscle tension. This is because magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant, and can be found in green leafy vegetables as well.
Immune System Symptoms, e.g., Sore Throat, Swollen Glands
The immune system is always in a state of delicate balance, ready to respond appropriately to a threat. However, if the perception of that threat is overstated, there may be some aspects of a reactivated immune response that is constantly on alert.
I will not go into the neurobiology of this mechanism here (it is commented upon in the medical paper). Suffice to say that, given that the original trauma often occurs in the presence of a severe virus/bacterial infection, it is no mystery that the body will retrigger immune defenses as a way of making sure the body survives, even if no viral threat exists. This can often feel like having flu or a slight fever, as well as swollen glands and a sore throat, and may be the effects of chemicals called cytokines, causing inflammation in the body and neuroinflammation in the brain. This conditioning is likely to be stored in the insula, and retraining targets the insula in persuading it that no further threats are present.
In some patients, this may result in a susceptibility to viral infections, and many of my patients report this. Others, however, may find that they do not have any more viruses than normal.
Exhaustion from Sleep Problems
Several studies have shown that insomniacs cannot get to sleep mainly because they are worrying about something, even if they are very tired. Studies also show that the amygdala is partly responsible for keeping people awake at night due to unconscious stress. ME/CFS/FMS patients have the same problem: Their minds are constantly being bombarded by thoughts telling them that there is an ever present danger that is unresolved, and so they find it difficult to get to or stay asleep.
When a mind and body is tense, sleep is interrupted and fragmented during the night. Studies have shown that interrupted sleep causes further aches and fatigue the next day. Overall, a prolonged stress response causing an interrupted sleep has adverse reactions on the body clock, and indeed some studies have shown a mismatch between temperature rhythms and melatonin secretion in patients. The mismatches in patients have been shown to be very similar to those suffering from stress and sleep deprivation, as well as PTSD.
Furthermore, it is the hypothalamus that regulates sleep rhythms, and it is precisely this brain structure which is being bombarded by signals from the amygdala.
How Can I Recover From ME/CFS?
Our highly successful and well known international Workshops, Home Study courses and Webinar series, have helped hundreds of people all over the world recover from ME/CFS.
The Brain Can Be Rewired For Health And Happiness
The brain is not fixed in its responses, it can be rewired. Neuroscientists call this “Neuroplasticity” and it is one of the hottest topics in science at the moment.
The Treatment Involves A Series Of Brain Retraining Exercises
These are designed to “retrain the Amygdala & Insula” and other parts of the brain that are stuck in a state of hyper-arousal.
What The "Brain Retraining" Treatment Involves
The treatment is online, drug-free, delivered step by step, takes about an hour a day and you are fully supported every step of the way. It has drawn inspiration from many areas of coaching and therapy, including NLP, Meditation, Timeline Therapy, Breathwork, Parts therapy, Visualisation, Inner-Child work, Holistic Health Practises and many more. We fit these tools under the banner of "Amygdala and Insula Retraining", or AIR Techniques.
We Value Holistic Health Practises As Part Of Your Healing Journey
The Brain Retraining techniques are coupled together with holistic health practises such as Pacing, Sleep, Nutrition, Mindfulness, Relaxation, Sunlight, Meditation to honour the whole mind. body and soul within the journey to health and happiness.