Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: An Ayurvedic Perspective
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) also known as Myalgic Encaphilits is a debilitating disorder associated with excessive exhaustion accompanied with many variable signs and symptoms.
The important symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include excessive exhaustion and fatigue, weakness, general body pains. The degree of severity may differ from person to person. Some cases of CFS suffer from symptoms that have been aggravated due to certain factors e.g. following stressful events. Some CFS cases suffer continuously from various symptoms even in absence any aggravating factors.
The cause of CFS appears to be unknown but is often associated with the beginning of an acute infection. Conventional medicine appears to have no "cure" as such. But there are many therapies and treatments for various symptoms, starting from antibiotics for infections to sedative drugs for sleep disturbances, exercises and special diets.
- Ayurveda views Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as an imbalance of Vata Dosha (space and air elements) in the body. Some practitioners also consider it as aggravated Pitta Dosha (fire and water elements).
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is also a result of accumulation of Ama in the body.
- Therefore it is a combination of imbalanced Vata (and Pitta) Dosha and accumulated Ama.
- Ayurveda suggests that fatigue is caused due to low gastric fire and weakness of the liver. It is this low or weak gastric fire that leads to Ama formation. And as we know Ama is the root cause of all diseases in the body. Therefore proper treatment of Ama will help a long way to treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
- As Vata is the main Dosha involved, all aspects that belong to Vata Dosha in the body also get imbalanced for e.g the nervous systems, sleep, bone tissue etc.
- Generalized aches in the body
- Stiffness Generalized fatigue
- Excessive exhaustion
- Chronic aches and pains including headaches and migraines
- Sleep disorder including severe insomnia
- Depression and psychological symptoms Numbness and tingling sensation
- Nerve related problems
Treatment: Ayurveda believes in removing the root cause of disease rather than just treating the symptoms. As a holistic health system comprising diet, Yoga, massage, detoxification, herbal remedies, meditation and daily lifestyle, Ayurveda improves not only a person's health, but also their well being, behavior and state of mind. This plays an important role in treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome because the root cause lies not only in the physical aspect of the disease but the mental aspect also plays a vital role. Ayurveda follows three important steps in treating any illness:
- Prevention Detoxification: Under this umbrella, the body and mind undergo a detoxification procedure to help remove all the Ama (toxins) from the body that lead the CFS. Ayurveda has gifted us with a very unique detoxification procedure called Panchakarma which involve five main actions:
- Therapeutic Emesis (Vamana)
- Therapeutic Purgation (Virechana)
- Medicated Enemas (Basti)
- Blood letting (Raktamokshana)
- Nasal administration of Ayurvedic oils and herbal preparations (Nasya)
From the point of view of Chronic Fatigues Syndrome, it may not be necessary to administer all the five Karmas or actions. The most important detoxification actions are therapeutic purgation to remove excess Pitta from the body, medicated enemas to remove excess Vata from the body. It is usually suggested that therapeutic emesis should not be given as this may imbalance Vata further in the body. Nasya and Raktamokshana are done depending on presenting signs and symptoms.
The most vital treatment is to remove Ama from the body and to strengthen the digestive fire. Following are some tips to help strengthen the digestive fire and hence remove Ama:
- Drink plenty of warm water during the day
- Avoid cold, heavy food articles like cheese, cold drinks and f