Fatigued to Fantastic: A Proven Program to Regain Vibrant Health
by Jacob Teitelbaum and Act (Editor)
Excerpt from: From Fatigued to Fantastic: A Proven Program to Regain Vibrant Health Based on New Scientific Study Showing Highly Effective Treatment for Chronic Pain
A curious thing happened during the rigorous process I went through to become a physician. By the time I completed my formal training, I presumed that if an important treatment existed for an illness, I had been taught about it. I understood that physicians need to keep reading to stay abreast of new information. But I knew that if someone claimed he or she could effectively treat a nontreatable disease, that person was a quack. If such a treatment existed, I would surely have been taught about it.
I was wrong.
Dr. Werner Barth, my rheumatology instructor, taught me many things. The most important thing he taught me, though, was to spend an hour a day reading the scientific literature. This has gotten me into all kinds of trouble.
When I first started my practice, patients would ask me if I knew about certain herbal or nutritional treatments for illnesses. One patient asked me if I had ever heard about using vitamin B6 for carpal tunnel syndrome. "That's nonsense," I answered. "If B6 cures carpal tunnel syndrome, don't you think I would have been taught to use that instead of to operate on people's wrists?" I said that I would look into it, however.
Joyce Miller, the Anne Arundel Medical Center librarian, has always been happy to obtain studies for me (and she has gotten many thousands over the years). When she did a literature search for vitamin B6 and carpal tunnel syndrome, she found a number of studies showing that 250 milligrams of B6 per day for three months, combined with wrist splints, often cures carpal tunnel syndrome. I thought that was curious. Over the months, this scene was played out again and again. I decided to keep notes on these rare "pearls" in a thirty-page spiral notebook. My notes are now over a thousand pages long.
After a while, I began to comprehend that, indeed, my professors had not taught me everything in medical school. As I continued my research, I realized that although our modern allopathic medical system might be the best in the world, it has its weaknesses. These days, it is rare (albeit wonderful) for a major medical development to come out of a doctor's office instead of a research center. This stems from a critical drawback in our economic system (and all systems have their drawbacks). In our current system, a treatment must be very profitable to be promoted. Experts estimate that it costs about $400,000,000 to develop a single new treatment and to get it through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process. Unless a medication or supplement is put through the FDA approval process, its manufacturer is banned from making any medical claims for the product. However, if a product is inexpensive and nonpatentable, its manufacturer will most likely not want to pay $400,000,000 to put it through the FDA process.
Vitamin B6 used for carpal tunnel syndrome is an excellent example. Treating carpal tunnel syndrome with B6 costs about nine dollars per patient. Vitamin B6 manufacturers would therefore find it impossible to recoup the cost of getting FDA approval for this treatment. Because of this, most patients instead spend between $2,000 and $4,000 to have surgery. This situation is the same for hundreds of other nonpatentable, effective, inexpensive, and relatively safe treatments. The FDA has even been fighting to make it illegal for stores that sell supplements to hand out copies of well-done scientific studies on the supplements!
The treatment approach that you will learn about in From Fatigued to Fantastic! is well grounded in the scientific literature. Dr. Janet Travel, professor emeritus of internal medicine at George Washington University Medical School, is considered the world's leading expert on muscle disorders. She served as White House physician for presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and authored the eight-hundred-page bible on treating muscle disorders entitled Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Although the research connecting fibromyalgia and myofascial (muscle) pain syndromes had not yet been done when she wrote her book, she investigated the perpetuating factors-that is, the conditions that keep the muscles from appropriately relaxing. In one chapter alone, she referenced 317 scientific studies that showed how important it is to treat these perpetuating factors. There is no lack of scientific basis for treatment, just a lack of awareness of the treatment, due to its relative inexpensiveness and nonpatentability.
Unfortunately, your doctor is likely to be unfamiliar with the research on effective treatment of myofascial pain and fibromyalgia. Your doctor may be hostile to the information presented in this book, considering it to be quackery because it was not covered in medical school. Or, your doctor may choose to disregard the information. On the other hand, your doctor might be open-minded (though reasonably skeptical) and will choose to explore the subject in more depth. If this last possibility is the case, the information and references in this book will give your doctor the scientific basis necessary to manage and optimize your treatment. Show your doctor Appendix A: For Physicians, which I wrote specifically for medical professionals, and Appendix B: Studies of Effective Treatment Modalities for Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia, in which I present the results that my research partners and I obtained in our recent study. These will be helpful to your physician.
The book in general, however, is for you, the layperson suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. After giving an overview of the possible causes and patterns of chronic fatigue states in Chapter 1, I home in on the specifics. In Chapter 2, I discuss nutritional problems. In Chapter 3, I focus on hormonal problems. In Chapter 4, I cover immune-system problems and infections, and in Chapter 5, I discuss fibromyalgia. In Chapter 6, getting eight hours of sleep a night and in Chapter 7 how to make your pain go away. Chapters 8 and 9 will teach you about natural remedies. In Chapter 10, I address food allergies, sinus problems, Chiari malformation, and several other possible troublemakers. In Chapter 11, I hope to reassure you that you are not crazy, and that your symptoms are real. And in Chapter 12, I try to help you find a physician who will treat you as a whole person, addressing both the physical and psychospiritual issues inherent in illness. Several appendices offer additional or supporting information.
I think you will find the material presented in this book to be as exciting as my colleagues and I find it. Knowing how problematic brain fog can be, I have tried to keep the text concise and straightforward. However, if you finish the book and find yourself wishing for more information, check Appendix I: Recommended Reading, as well as the Bibliography. Between this book, my website (www.endfatigue.com), my reference sources, and the books and articles I recommend for further reading, you should find the bulk of your most pressing questions answered.
I remember 1975. I was in my third year of medical school, doing my pediatrics rotation. I had always excelled, having finished college in three years. Now I was the second youngest in a class of over two hundred medical students, and I was continuing to excel. My approach to life was to move quickly-"full speed ahead." But then a nasty viral illness hit me and made it hard for me to even get out of bed for my pediatrics lecture. I cannot forget walking into an auditorium full of medical students, the professor saying, "Teitelbaum, why are you..." As he said "late?" I just about collapsed on the steps.
Although I was barely able to function, I spent the next four weeks working in the electron microscopy and research labs. The work I performed there was considered low key-good tasks for a medical student trying to recuperate. My brain fog made even these duties impossible, and by the end of the month, I was finding it impossible to even get out of bed before noon. I wanted to push forward and try harder. Though it was not what I wanted to hear, one wise professor advised me that this was not a time to push forward but a time to take a leave of absence and regroup. I am still thankful for this teacher's guidance.
My illness seemed to close a door to one chapter of my life and open up other doors to whole new possibilities of self-exploration. Taking off in my '65 Dodge Dart, I had the novel experience of having no agenda, no plans. I was to meet many teachers on my journey. Most important, I was taking time to get to know myself.
With my family's and friends' help and support and my own inner work, I recovered my energy and strength and went on to finish medical school and residency. Though I did well, I continued to intermittently suffer the many diverse symptoms seen in fibromyalgia. My experiences with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia left me with an appreciation of the impact of these illnesses. The symptoms that persisted-such as fatigue, achiness, poor sleep, and bowel problems-acted as the arena in which I learned how to help other people overcome these illnesses.
If you have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), or another disabling chronic fatigue state, you have been through a difficult journey. I remember being told that I was depressed. I was depressed. I was unable to function. Most people with chronic fatigue syndrome have to struggle just to get compassion and understanding.
Building on what I have learned since 1975, my research partner, Barbara Bird, and I initially completed an open study (in 1993) of sixty-four patients with disabling chronic fatigue. In 1999, we completed a randomized, double-blind follow-up study, and appreciate the assistance given by National Institutes of Health researchers in developing the study protocol. Mrs. Bird and I have treated thousands of other patients before and after the study. Over 40 percent of our patients have been cured-that is, their symptoms are no longer a major problem-with our treatment, while most of the remainder have shown significant, albeit incomplete, improvement. Only 10 to 15 percent have had no significant improvement. We have found that, on average, patients begin to feel better in about two months.
If you suffer from CFS, FMS, or ME, this book will provide you with the tools and information you need to move beyond fatigue and into wellness. If you are a physician, it will teach you how to help-often dramatically-your patients with chronic exhaustion, including those frustrating cases in which no treatment has thus far been successful.
If you have researched chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS-also called chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS), you will find some information here that is familiar, but you will also discover much that is new. For instance, Mrs. Bird and I have found that the key to eliminating chronic fatigue is to treat all of the underlying problems simultaneously. Most sufferers of chronic exhaustion have a mix of at least five or six underlying problems (out of dozens of possible problems), which vary from person to person. This occurs because each problem can cause several others. You may have found some relief in the past by treating one, or a few, of these problems; I think you will be happily surprised at what happens when you treat all your underlying problems simultaneously.
Certainly, we still have much more to learn in this area. However, we have now crossed a threshold and can effectively treat the illness. Many patients still obtain significant but incomplete relief. As new information surfaces, more and more people will hopefully join the ranks of those who find their chronic fatigue resolves with the proper treatment!
From Fatigue to Fantastic! by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. (c) June 2001, Avery Books, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc. Used with permission.
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