The best ways to help yourself,
then, are rest and diet, as discussed previously. However
outside help and support are available. There is not yet
a cure for M.E., but there are various "treatments",
some of which could be worth trying. The main problem
is that what works for one person will not necessarily work
for the next, and many of the treatments are not available on
the NHS and can be expensive.
a) Thyroid and Adrenal Treatment - As mentioned earlier, there
are those who believe that a significant problem for many M.E. sufferers is an
underlying metabolic dysfunction, resulting in hypo-thyroidism and/or hypo-adrenalism
(or "low adrenal reserve"). Treatment aims to remedy these deficiencies and is at
three levels. Firstly, nutritional supplements to try and booster thyroid and adrenal
function (e.g. vitamin C, the B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, co-enzyme Q10, liquorice).
Secondly, the use of glandular concentrates, which contain a concentrated form of the
thyroid and adrenal hormones from bovine sources. Thirdly, hormone replacement
treatment. For thyroid problems, this means using the synthetic hormones thyroxine
(T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3) or the use of natural Armour thyroid. For adrenal
function, hydrocortisone. These are not given in "mega doses", but in low,
physiological, replacement doses. For most people, as long as they are not too badly
affected, treatment at the first and second levels are likely to be all that is needed.
However, for those who have been ill for many years and who are severely affected,
then level three may well prove to be necessary.
b) Magnesium Treatment - Magnesium is the 2nd most common mineral in our cells, and is necessary for normal
muscle function. It occurs naturally in green vegetables,
grains, nuts and soya. A study carried out in 1991 among
a group of M.E. patients showed that many of their symptoms
were similar to those found in people suffering from magnesium
deficiency. The treatment involved a weekly injection
of Magnesium Sulphate, injected intramuscularly, lasting for
6 weeks. The magnesium is best not taken in tablet form,
as it is thought that most people with M.E. will not absorb
it properly if taken orally.
In the study about 80% of sufferers improved: some benefited
straight away; others needed to complete the course before feeling
any real effect. However in follow-up trials the results
haven't been quite so impressive!
The treatment is said to be without side-effects, as long as you have no history of heart or kidney problems and it should be available on the NHS from your G.P. Alternatively, the treatment is available privately, but this would be expensive. It is not a cure for M.E., but if a blood test shows that magnesium deficiency is a problem for you, then it could well help. (If you have a blood test to look for magnesium deficiency, make sure it tests the red cell magnesium level, as this is the best indicator of any deficiency.)
c) Anti-Candida Treatment - Candida Albicans
is a yeast which exists in the gut of all of us. In some
people it gets out of hand, and needs to be bought under control.
There are many factors that can cause the spread of Candida,
including the over-use of antibiotics and steroids, and a diet
high in sugar. Although Candida can be a problem in its
own right, it would seem that many people with M.E. (some would
say at least 50%) have some sort of Candida problem.
Some blood tests are now available which can help to confirm
a diagnosis of candida overgrowth (eg the "Gut Fermentation
Test" - not as bad as it sounds!), but are usually only available
privately. Actually, the simplest way of determining whether
or not you have a Candida problem is by treating it to see if
you feel better!
The main part of any anti-Candida programme is to go on the
anti-Candida diet. This is a yeast and sugar free diet.
All types of sugar and sugar-containing foods should be avoided;
yeast and refined flours are also out; mouldy and fermented
foods ought to be avoided as well. If you follow these
measures, as well as the diet described in section two, then
you should be well on the way to bringing any Candida problem