I am a former Army Paramedic with an 18 year battle with debilitating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia and the following is the nutritional plan (including Immunocal ) that I used to overcome this condition.Less than 4 years ago, I was unable to sit comfortably for more than thirty minutes before becoming so fatigued that I needed to return home to rest. I was obese, lethargic, depressed, and susceptible to viral and bacterial infections which frequently kept me bed ridden, and I was unable to hold a job and was put on disability. MY experience and recovery from CFIDS/FIBROMYALGIA
In 1982, I was a, robust 32 year old with a young family making a good living as a commercial pilot, a job that I really enjoyed, and was living in Phoenix Arizona. I had secured this job because of my previous experience as an Army paramedic having flown on hundreds of medivac missions in Colorado in the late 1970s.
Life up until this time had been adventurous, but not overly challenging, and I had high hopes that it would continue as such. Then one day I woke up with what seemed like the flu… fever, muscle pain, headache, and profound, can’t-get-out-of-bed fatigue. I assumed that I would be ill for a few days and recover to normal function.
At the time I was working as crop-duster pilot, the busiest part of our season had ended and the other pilots could easily pick up my duties so I had the luxury of taking as much time off as I needed to recover. I wound up medically grounding myself for the winter because I couldn’t seem to shake the flu-like symptoms, and particularly the extreme fatigue, muscle and deep bone pain, and a weird feeling like my head was full of compressed air. I later identified that feeling as brain-fog, with symptoms much like attention deficit disorder that I had experienced as a teen.
By the beginning of the next season, I had recovered sufficiently to again pass my fight physical and resume flying, but I noticed that I didn’t have the resiliency as before. I could get my job done, but had little energy left for anything else. I would come home from flying, and spend a little time in the pool with my kids, and then I was basically done for the day, sleeping as much as I could before the next day’s work. Over the next several years the pattern of flu-like illness at the end of the spraying season continued to plague me, and I saw several Doctors, who after exams, and lab work for elevated pesticide levels pronounced me fit, and explained my fatigue as a normal symptom of the intense adrenal stress of flying high performance aircraft very close to the ground in a high threat environment 7 days a week for months on end. I accepted this, as the other pilots were typically tired, and grumpy at the end of the season, and we tended to avoid each other while we recovered. It’s just that it took me all winter to recover, and I wasn’t available for the infrequent winter flying jobs that we had.
Over the next couple of years, I developed severe allergic symptoms, and ended up having to take allergy desensitization injections, and non-sedating allergy medication during the day so that I could continue to work. Eventually the allergic symptoms became so bad that I was using an allergy inhaler, and prednisone and the fatigue and pain came back, and I was advised to move from the Arizona desert to my home in Ohio, where I had not previously experienced any allergies. My allergist found that one of my Immune system markers ( IGE) was the highest he had ever seen, and might be causing my fatigue, and other symptoms. I moved back to my home, and felt better, and was able to start another job as a commercial helicopter pilot in a less demanding setting, and for a couple of years, my health was reasonable, but with frequent bouts of viral type illness that would medically ground me for several days. Finally in Aug. of 1988 I was involved in helicopter crash that left me with severe injuries that required multiple surgeries, and 2 years of medications for pain, and infection to overcome. This dropped me down into a deep pit of fatigue, pain, headache, nausea, depression, ringing in the ears, brain fog and insomnia. The only answer that the medical profession had for me was large doses of anti-depressant drugs that did little help me, as the depression was not a psychological one, but was the result of the brain chemical imbalances cause by the underlying illness. I was only able to function at about a 10% level, in fact I became so disabled that I had to go on medical disability, and was not able to drive, or even walk out to my mail box. I had gone from a normally functioning vigorous young man to a guy who felt 100 years old with profound pain and depression/anxiety, insomnia, and all of the symptoms that one associates with a viral illness.
In the early years of my illness I diligently pursued the conventional medical route, seeing a variety of doctors with little resolution or relief of my symptoms. Most physicians seemed bewildered by my constellation of symptoms, and tried various therapies including antibiotics, betablocker drugs, anti-candida medication, adrenal hormones, and Ritalin. Eventually when these pharmaceuticals proved either ineffective or marginally so, my doctors began firing antidepressants in differing combinations and dosages at me. One of the tricyclic antidepressants Imipramine did seem to help with sleep, and marginally with daytime fatigue, but the side effects of 60 lbs of weight gain, and the feeling that I was going to pass out every time I stood up eventually left me more frustrated than before, and I discontinued the medication.
I came to the understanding that no one in the medical field could offer much hope, and indeed many physicians had grown frustrated in my lack of progress, and had consigned me to the "It's all in the Head" diagnosis bin.About this time, I began to read and study anything I could find on CFIDS/Fibromyalgia. I had a background as a paramedic, which had familiarized me with medical terminology, and a fundamental understanding of human physiology, anatomy, and and disease process. I had access a medical library at the local hospital, and spent many hours there pouring through medical texts, and periodicals, seeking the answers that could help me devise a treatment plan for myself.I began to put together a picture of the underlying mechanism of immune system disregulation, and the interruption of cellular metabolism that causes many of the symptoms, and suffering associated with CFIDS/Fibromyalgia.Although there doesn't seem to be a completely unified theory of the cause, indeed the pathway to cfids may be varied, but usually appears to include some kind of acute, or more likely chronic stress, and viral, or toxic challenge that stimulates the immune system into a state of hyperactivity where it is releasing chemicals called cytokines that cause the inflammatory symptoms.In addition, stress and illness deplete the essential bodily stores of glutathione. Glutathione can modulate, or turn down the immune response, and is also used in the liver to detoxify harmful substances that also contribute to the fatigue, pain, and neurological symptoms.
When the body is unable to properly detoxify itself, inflammatory substances like lactic acid, and phosphates can build up in the fascia and at the neuromuscular junctions causing the muscle pain, and trigger point tenderness that are diagnostic of fibromyalgia/cfids. In addition, there is usually a depletion of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that can give rise to brainfog, depression/anxiety, and lower the pain threshold so that pain signals are amplified.By restoring intracellular glutathione in the liver and immune system with the whey protein isolate Immunocal, the body is able to mobilize and break down toxins for elimination by the liver and kidneys, and bring the immune disregulation back into a more normal function. Glutathione is also a very powerful antioxidant with the ability to restore other antioxidants that have been reduced in the battle against the severe oxidative stress that usually accompanies these illnesses. Glutathione functions as kind of a three pronged attack against the underlying disease process, serving to gradually normalizing immune and neurological function.In addition to the central need to treat the underlying glutathione deficiency, I found that several other supplements were helpful in dealing with the pain and discomfort.
Most folks with CFIDS/FIBRO complain of a very troubling cognitive dysfunction commonly called " Brainfog" . For me personally this was one of the more frightening symptoms, actually mimicking Alzheimer's disease with acute short term memory problems and extreme difficulty in concentrating. I found that the amino acid L-Theanine to be most helpful with brainfog/ irritability. L-Theanine is a natural amino acid found in green tea leaves during the spring growing season and seems to act as a precursor for the neurotransmitters dopamine, and norepenephrine, which are brain chemicals directly related to cognitive function. 200 to 300 mg of L-theanine several time a day would give me 4 to 6 hours of relief, and I relied on it daily to help me function until my own brain chemicals recovered to normal levels. L- Theanine has an extremely low toxicity, and doesn't pose the addictive, or tolerance potential of some of the pharmaceuticals used to treat this problem.I found Passion flower herbal tincture to be very helpful in diminishing the muscle pain, and insomnia, and depression that can be an ongoing challenge for folks with CFIDS/Fibro.
Some sufferers find Magnesium malate 200 to 300 mg per dail relieves some of the pain and can help with sleep problems as well. Magnesium is used in the enzymatic conversion of food to energy in the Krebs cycle, and can help reduce muscle fatigue in some cases.I added 200 mg per day of Alpha Lypoic acid because it is both a fat and water soluable antioxidant, and also helps with insulin related hypoglycemic issues which I had in spades.I also took a liquid collagen product called Calorad at bedtime to enhance my sleep, and act as a potentiator for the normal Human growth Hormone that is released by the pituitary gland during deep stages of sleep. HGH is essential to immune system and muscle recovery, and collagen acts as a carrier molecule for HGH in a similar manner to insulin which helps glucose get into cells where it is used for energy. Dr Paul Cheney, the premier researcher on CFIDS/FIBRO, and one of the first doctors to identify an outbreak of a severe, and relapsing viral type syndrome in Incline Village Nevada feels that one of the essential components to recovery is HGH.
I continued several years in this agonizing condition until a friend of mine from church who has a Ph.D. did some research on a product called Immunocal that helps to restore a compound in the body called glutathione. He basically thought that most of my symptoms could be caused by an auto-immune inflammatory state that can result from depleted glutathione. Since glutathione is also used by the liver’s detoxification pathways, being low in it would mean that I was unable to properly rid my body of the toxins that had come from years of some very nasty agricultural chemicals (Organic phosphates like Methyl Parathion, and arsenic) that I had been exposed to on a daily basis while crop-dusting, as well the residue from the pharmaceutical drugs I had taken as a result of my crash, and subsequent anti-depressant medication. In the beginning I took too much Immunocal, and provoked a very uncomfortable detox reaction (Basically, a worsening of my already terrible symptoms) but this gave me hope that if I could get rid of these poisons in my system, I could eventually regain my health. This was the first glimmer of hope that I had seen in years, and though the detox was very brutal ( I was going much to fast for the toxic load that I had) I felt that I could eventually recover if I persevered, and allowed my body to detox, and immune system to be modulated by the glutathione I was restoring with the Immunocal. After I began to recover some of my energy, and cognitive function from the Immunocal I started researching everything I could online about other herbal and nutritional strategies to help with the lingering symptoms particularly the most troubling which were the brain fog and depression/anxiety, and a peripheral neuropathy in my feet that felt like I was standing barefoot on blacktop in August. The most helpful things for these symptoms were a non-alcohol tincture of Passionflower herb, and amino acid that is isolated from green tea called L-Theanine. During my recovery they were invaluable in easing the above mentioned suffering while my immune, nervous, and liver systems were rebooting with the Immunocal.
Today, I can do more in one day than I could accomplish in a year when I was so desperately sick. I can work, mow my lawn, lift weights, run a 10K, and basically do whatever most other 56 year old guys can do.