Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is always at least in part, if not entirely, brain-based. As the brain degenerates, brain cells develop poor endurance for ordinary tasks. In essence, they begin to fatigue, and if the brain fatigues, the entire body fatigues. In these patients, even trivial stimulation to the brain triggers exhaustion. What is trivial stimulation? Well, for instance, reading causes them fatigue, as does driving, or being in a loud or noisy restaurant. Watching an action movie with lots of quick flashing lights and constant screen changes fatigues them, as does the drama of the movie. All of the various inputs to the brain overwhelm the degenerated and exhausted neurons so that they fatigue quickly. Consequently, the brains output to the rest of the body is compromised and the entire body fatigues as well.

What caused the degeneration…name it. Yes, “adrenal” fatigue is part of it. But so are gut infections (H-Pylori that causes ulcers, yeast, parasites, S.I.B.O.), high or low blood sugar, leaky gut, food sensitivities (yes, gluten), vitamin D deficiencies, B-12 deficiencies, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, and mitochondrial dysfunction – the list goes on. The brain needs proper glucose, oxygen, a lack of inflammation (immune or otherwise), and proper stimulation in order to prevent degeneration. And stimulation only strengthens weakened brain function in the absence of poor blood sugar, poor oxygenation and inflammation all of which are caused by all of the above. So poor brain chemistry and even a tiny bit of stimulation to a brain equals CRASHING, or in this case, FATIGUE.

From a neurological perspective, depression is now being tied to over-activation of the fear center of the brain and underactivation of the memory area of the brain. The fear center and the memory center are in a “tug-of-war” with one another, and in the case of depression, the fear center is winning. It is the frontal lobes that have involvement in keeping the fear center in check.

For instance, we know that men need sufficient testosterone and women need sufficient estrogen for good frontal lobe function and a deficiency in these hormones alone can cause depression. Neuro-chemicals called neurotransmitters significantly influence frontal lobe function. If these neurochemicals are deficient or their pathways are not functioning properly, then that can cause depression. Many other factors can affect front lobe firing and disable the frontal lobes ability to respond to proper stimulation to build positive neuroplasticity. These are just two examples, illustrating how antidepressants are not the entire answer.  They also have been shown to grow new brain cells in the memory area of the brain, allowing the memory area to shut off the fear center.

Chronic gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, acid reflux, constipation, burping, gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome are a third common clinical presentation of brain degeneration. Brain issues aren’t always the cause of gastrointestinal problems. But when gastrointestinal problems seem to be irresolvable, breakdowns in brain function should be considered. In fact, some scientists are now questioning whether we should term Irritable Bowel Syndrome “Irritable Brain Syndrome” due to the fact that the majority of factors that are wrong with IBS patients are neurologically based rather than fecal problems in the gut.

Your brain outputs normal communication to the body through brainstem constantly. Normal brain firing stimulates the center of the brainstem to control heart rate, breathing, digestion, and other vital functions to keep you alive. The output occurs via the vagus nerve which branches out like roots of a plant from your brainstem to your intestines. When the vagus is working well at the job of transmitting just the right amount of information from the brain, a person has good bowel movements, good enzyme outputs from the pancreas to properly break down foods, and overall good digestion. When the brain is poorly functioning due to degeneration and inflammation, or over functioning due to a chronic fight or flight syndrome (which is separate from the vagus and causes a stressful chemical reaction in the gut), output through the brainstem in the vagus is lower and thus so is its firing rate. With less vagal output, people can suffer from poor digestion, constipation, and an inability to tolerate many foods because they can’t digest them. This is the patient who has advanced dietary knowledge, eats a gut healing diet, takes digestive enzymes, and other digestive herbs and nutrients, had lab panels done to assess the health of the digestive tract and yet nothing she tries can bring relief. If this is you – look to the brain.

These are just three of dozens of conditions that become chronic because this symbiotic connection between the brain and the body is generally ignored. In general, when brain function improves through specific brain exercises and eliminating blood sugar imbalances, immune inflammation, and decreasing stress hormones, it’s also common to see many of a person’s other bodily functions improve.  We see this when they gain more energy, have more motivation, and enjoy better relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.