Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

chronic fatigue syndrome, long haulers, covid 19 lingering symptoms, post-viral illness

Have you heard about COVID-19 “long haulers” and their post-viral symptoms?

And did you know there are similar responses from those with Lyme disease or other post-viral/ bacterial infections?

Other (some life-long) symptoms of post-viral illness include pain, swelling and headaches.

Most commonly, though, both long haulers and those who have suffered from Lyme or other viral infections are having to learn how to cope and live with:

CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts for at least six months and that can’t be fully explained by an underlying medical condition. The fatigue worsens with physical or mental activity. (SOURCE)

There is a debate among providers about whether lingering symptoms from Lyme disease, COVID-19, and other chronic viral infections may in fact be an abnormal immune response or whether they are evidence of a lingering virus or infection that requires further treatment.

There is a lot of hopeful research and work that can be done in this area – especially as we are seeing the immune responses of COVID-19 patients in real time.

We can learn things about those recovering from COVID-19 that help us provide better informed treatment options for post-viral symptoms in survivors of Lyme (or other chronic viral infections) – especially when it comes to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Here are 3 Things to Know from Lyme Survivors to Long Haulers:

1.BOLSTER YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM –Because we’re potentially dealing with both persistent infections and/or an autoimmune component, we will often use a combination of therapies that target underlying infections, along with modulating the immune system, in hopes of correcting the abnormal immune response.  Identifying and avoiding individual food sensitivities can also reduce the overall burden on the immune system.  

2. REPAIR YOUR ENERGY LEVELS – We use treatments that focus on building the body’s energy reserves, hopefully speeding up the recovery time. Herbs that help to restore both optimal energy levels and a more balanced immune response include:

  • astragalus
  • licorice
  • andrographis
  • cordyceps
  • rhodiola, and
  • eleutherococcus.

You should always contact your primary care physician to determine whether herbs and supplements are right for your condition, prior to taking them on your own. 

3. MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR LIFESTYLE – It is so important to REST! Trying to push through chronic fatigue and continue your normal work and lifestyle routines will undoubtedly slow down your recovery process. The psychological impact of not being able to function at a “normal” level often leads to feelings of failure, forcing patients to overdo it, which inevitably ends up prolonging their recovery.  Seeking the help of a mental health professional is extremely beneficial to combat the effects of chronic fatigue.

Even just a few adjustments in your daily routine can make a great difference in how manageable your post-viral symptoms are to live with. From long haulers to Lyme survivors, there is hope – even during the pandemic.

Please contact Dr. Matthew Fisel ND if you have questions about integrative solutions for your health care needs. He promotes health and healing on all levels, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, please call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment.

Digestive Health In Early Life Linked To Allergies

dandelionAs a naturopathic physician, I’m always paying close attention to the connection between intestinal health and systemic complaints. Allergies in particular are something that our profession has recognized as having strong ties to the digestive tract. When people present to my office complaining of allergies, one of the first things I ask about is whether or not they’re having any digestive symptoms. I also want to know about their history of antibiotic use, their diet, if they were breastfed as an infant, and whether or not they were born via Caesarean section. So, what do these birth-related issues have to do with someone’s current allergy symptoms? Well, we know that allergies are symptoms that result from antibody responses to antigens (dust mites, pollens, mold, etc.) that our body recognizes as foreign. But what your doctors don’t often discuss is why this occurs in the first place. [Read more…]

Does Arthritis Originate in the Gut?

I see quite a few patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune arthropathies, and what is the first thing I do?  Give them anti-inflammatory medications? Give them immune-modulaters? No! Chances are, their rheumatologists have already done this. The first thing I will always do with patients in this category is address their digestive health. What does digestion have to do with systemic inflammation? Everything! [Read more…]

Elderberry and Infections

As many of my patients are already well aware, I often rely upon Elderberry extract, especially in the treatment of influenza and other viral infections. This recent study demonstrates evidence as to why this treatment is effective.

In a study designed to examine the effects of a standardized extract of black elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) on 3 Gram-positive bacteria and one Gram-negative bacteria responsible for upper respiratory tract infections, as well as two different strains of influenza virus, the extract was found to possess antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive bacteria of Streptococcus pyogenes and group C and G Streptococci, the Gram-negative bacteria Branhamella catarrhalis, and human pathogenic influenza viruses. The results of this study suggest that elderberry extract such as the one used in this study may be an effective tool for helping to combat various types of upper respiratory tract infections.


Reference: “Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses,” Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, et al, BMC Complement Altern Med, 2011 Feb 25; 11-16. (Address: Institute for Medical Microbiology, Justus-Liebig-University, Frankfurter Strasse 107, 35392 Giessen, Germany. E-mail: Stephan.Pleschka@mikro.bio.uni-giessen.de ).

Flu and Elderberry

I almost universally recommend Elderberry in cases of flu and other viral respiratory infections. Here is some research that demonstrates it’s effectiveness:

According to a recent study, an extract of black elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) inhibited human influenza virus A (H1N1) infection in vitro. The IC50 value (i.e., the concentration at which the infection was inhibited by 50%) was 252 µg/ml. Two flavonoids isolated from the elderberry extract were found to bind to H1N1 virions and to block the ability of the virus to infect host cells: these flavonoids were 5,7,3′,4′-tetra-O-methylquercetin (Compound 1) and 5,7-dihydroxy-4-oxo-2-(3,4,5-trihydroxyphenyl)chroman-3-yl-3,4,5-trihydroxycyclohexanecarboxylate (Compound 2). Compound 1 and dihydromyricetin (the 3-hydroxyflavonone of Compound 2) were synthesized and shown to inhibit H1N1 infectivity in vitro by binding to H1N1 virions. Compound 1 had an IC50 of 0.13 µg/ml (0.36 µM) for H1N1 infection inhibition, while Compound 3 had an IC50 of 2.8 µg/ml (8.7 µM). The IC50 of the elderberry flavonoids compared favorably with those of oseltamivir (Tamiflu; 0.32 µM) and amantadine (27 µM), which are prescription drugs used to treat influenza.

 

The results of in vitro studies do not necessarily translate into clinical efficacy. In order for a compound to have an antiviral effect in vivo, it must be absorbed intact in amounts sufficient to achieve a virucidal concentration at the site of the infection. No data are available regarding the absorption of the antiviral flavonoids in elderberry, and the capacity of the human body to absorb other naturally occurring flavonoids has been found to be limited. However, in clinical trials, administration of an elderberry extract produced encouraging results in people with influenza-like illness.

 

Forty patients suffering from influenza-like symptoms during an outbreak of influenza B/Panama in 1993 were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, a proprietary preparation (Sambucol) containing extracts of Sambucus nigra L. and raspberries (Rubus idaeus L.) or placebo. The dosage was 30 ml per day for children and 60 ml per day for adults, and the treatment was given for three days. Twenty-seven patients completed the trial. After two days of treatment, a higher proportion of patients in the active-treatment group than in the placebo group had experienced significant improvement in symptoms (93% vs. 25%; p value not stated). Symptoms resolved completely after three days in 87% of patients receiving active treatment and in 33% of those receiving placebo.

 

Sixty patients (aged 18-54 years; mean, 30 years) who were suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 hours or less were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, Sambucol (15 ml 4 times per day during meals) or placebo for five days. The mean time until complete or almost-complete resolution of symptoms occurred was significantly less in the active-treatment group than in the placebo group (3.1 days vs. 7.1 days; 56.3% decrease; p < 0.001). No side effects were reported.

 

Further research with larger numbers of patients in whom the diagnosis of influenza is confirmed by laboratory studies is needed to confirm the results of these preliminary trials. The availability of natural substances should not deter people from taking appropriate precautions for preventing influenza (such as washing hands, keeping family members at home when they are experiencing influenza-like symptoms, and receiving vaccinations when clinically indicated). Nor should the availability of natural substances deter people from seeking medical care and taking medications such as Tamiflu when necessary.

 

Roschek B Jr, Fink RC, McMichael MD, Li D, Alberte RS. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry 2009;70:1255-1261.
2 Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, Manor O, Regev L, Schlesinger M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med 1995;1:361-369.
Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res 2004;32:132-140.