Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex and debilitating condition which continues to challenge physicians and researchers, both to come up with a clear understanding of its etiology, presentation and progression and to find a treatment protocol able to consistently provide relief from its many symptoms.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder in which the patient presents with a multitude of symptoms including, but not limited to, constant fatigue. This weariness persists regardless of the amount of sleep the patient has had and it is not directly attributable to any underlying pathology. Before CFS is diagnosed, the chronic fatigue and at least four other symptoms will have been present for at least six months (three months in children) and all other causes (e.g. hypothyroidism, cancer, infection, etc.) will have been ruled out by a competent physician (a diagnosis of exclusion). Most CFS patients are females between the age of 40 and 60, with most pediatric cases found in teenagers.
CFS is also sometimes referred to as ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Encephalopathy); CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome) and, since 2015, SEID (Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease). These terms alone indicate the systemic nature of the syndrome which can give rise to a host of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms.
Symptoms of CFS may include:
- Low energy levels and a lack of vitality
- Cognitive impairment, including poor memory function, reduced alertness and an inability to concentrate for long periods of time. This is sometimes described as a ‘brain fog.’
- Digestive disturbances like indigestion, belly-ache, diarrhea and constipation
- Problems with balance and co-ordination
- Muscle pain
- Swelling of extremities like edema
- Frequent headaches, often of a type not previously experienced
- Loss of consistent muscle tone
- Pale and dry skin
- Sleep disturbances including insomnia and ‘night terrors.’
- Compromised immune system, leading to frequent bouts of illness
- Allergies to new substances
- Depression and mood problems associated social isolation
- Enlarged lymph nodes- lymphadenopathy
- A general, all-pervading feeling of malaise
In addition to the above symptoms, many CFS sufferers may experience side effects to any medication they may be taking to manage those symptoms.
Current Treatment Options for CFS
There is no cure for CFS and while there are many theories as to its etiology – some more appealing than others – there is no widely accepted explanation, which further pushes back progress in making significant headways. A few CFS sufferers do find their condition gradually improving, but it lingers on for a long time and may never fully resolve. The prognosis for child CFS patients is better than that for adults.
Early diagnosis of CFS is a bonus and, as mentioned above, many CFS patients take medication for the management of symptoms. At present, early diagnosis appears to be one of the few measures that may make the most difference in this malady, since one is tackling symptoms earlier than later along the course of the condition. To help combat some of the effects of CFS, patients may be prescribed painkillers, antidepressants, sleeping tablets or a combination of these. In addition, CFS patients may be given vitamin supplements (e.g. Vitamin B12 injections); presented with exercise plans to follow; advised about lifestyle changes that may alleviate symptoms and even referred to counseling, with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in particular supported by evidence from randomly controlled trials. Counseling should, ideally, be on a one-to-one basis and provided by someone experienced in working with CFS.
Such interventions are not guaranteed to work and symptoms may even worsen for a while particularly in the short-term before the get better. This should be explained to patients at the outset to avoid misunderstandings. Even if patients do respond positively, the systemic nature of CFS means that problems may recur in different ways and other symptoms, leaving the patient frustrated and at a loss about what to do next. This is where regenerative medicine, and in particular stem cell therapy, may provide hope.
CFS and the Stem Cell Revolution
Whereas most cells divide into copies of themselves during cell replication, stem cells are particularly fascinating in that they can evolve into different types of cell depending on their type. Stem cells can be very broadly separated into embryonic stem cells (ESCs), found only within the cell mass of the blastocyst and somatic stem cells, found in various locations within the body including the bone marrow, adipose (fat) tissue, skin, brain, eye and lung. Umbilical cord cells are a special category of the embryonic variety of cells. Whereas ESCs are valued because of their totipotency (inherent ability to divide into any cell found in the adult body), somatic stem cells, though slightly more limited, are free of the ethical complications surrounding the use embryonic cells. In particular, autologous stem cell treatments – those which utilize the stem cells of the patient’s own body – are completely innocuous from a moral standpoint.
Stem cell treatments for CFS (and other systemic conditions) use autologous mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), taken either from bone marrow (bone marrow derived stem cells, BMDSCs) or from adipose tissue (Adipose-Derived Stem Cells, ADSC). The latter are becoming more popular since they are the most plentiful and can be more easily harvested than those in bone marrow. Further, the chances of better outcomes increase with the increasing quantity of cells, which makes adipose stem cells the preferred source for treatments, as offered by the Mississippi Stem Cell Treatment Center. Liposuction is also a more comfortable procedure than the extraction of bone marrow from the hip bones.
Whereas many of the headline-grabbing stories regarding stem cell successes focus on results from treatments delivered as part of highly specialized clinical trials, these are neither available nor suitable for CFS sufferers. However, there is a growing body of evidence to back up claims that MSCs can operate at a systemic level by exerting a anti inflammatory effect, by repairing damaged tissue (this happens naturally in response to any injury) and by modulating the immune, hormonal and circulatory systems. This is good news for CFS patients, since the harvesting and deployment of MSCs is currently being carried out in specialized facilities, like the Mississippi Stem Cell Treatment Center, throughout the United States. Patients interested in receiving stem cell treatment should, of course, thoroughly research the protocols and procedures involved, the facility and equipment used and the experience and competence of the team administering the treatment.
Stem cell treatment for CFS
How Stem Cells are Helping CFS Sufferers ?
While it is advisable to treat anecdotal evidence with caution (the Mississippi Stem Cell Treatment Center does not use anecdotes for marketing purposes), CFS sufferers who have undergone Stem cell treatment for CFS are reporting outcomes consistent with an overall systemic improvement. Recipients have reported a reduction in pain, including headaches, with some stating their pain has been eliminated completely. Other patients have reportedly experienced reduced swelling, improved co-ordination and higher energy levels and some have noted an improvement in their sleeping patterns. As research continues, both into the potential causes of CFS and into the efficacy of stem cell treatments for a steadily increasing range of pathologies, there is good reason for frustrated sufferers to be optimistic that a remedy may one day be found for this most enigmatic of syndromes.
Do you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome? Are you frustrated with your current treatment plan? To find out more about the Mississippi Stem Cell Research Center, our luxurious and state-of-the-art facilities and our pioneering autologous stem cell treatments, please visit our website at http://www.gulfcoaststemcell.com or contact us on (886) 855 4823.