How to overcome ME/CFS

© B Rosen

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS, CFIDS or ME) is a very serious disease. It’s had very little attention from the scientific research world until recently.

This is despite the fact that ME/CFS is fifteen times more widespread than the polio epidemic was at its height.

I got sick with ME/CFS at age 22 (46 now). At age 22 I felt 90. I had glandular fever age 11 and my health deteriorated after that. This is about what finally worked for me and gave me some energy after thirteen years in hell as a zombie…

Tips for healing ME/CFS naturally…

The only thing that worked for me was supporting the body, mind and soul…

  1. Eat and drink the right stuff. Human food ONLY. VERY important. Fruits, veg, nuts, seeds, animal source foods. If you need help with a simple daily plan, then please see our chronic fatigue diet page. Drink 2 liters of filtered water every day.
  2. Stay away from environmental toxins such as exhaust fumes as much as possible. Remove all recreational drugs from your life… tea, coffee, cigarettes, alcohol etc.
  3. Exercise. Walk and build. I’m not talking about exercise in the normal way but move as much as possible. This is a fine balancing act. Without moving our cell waste stagnates in the lymph system and keeps us trapped in a downward spiral. Yoga is also great and leaves you with more energy than you started with. It works on all levels — physical, psychological and emotional — highly recommended for CFS/ME.
  4. Meditate, relax. These methods are wonderful and can be used with profit to spend all the time you will have lying in bed!
  5. Get organized. Get everything you’re worried about actioned (“What can I DO?”) or set for review. This way you prevent a build up of worries causing you stress (the LAST thing you need right now). Please don’t be too proud to ask for help; you need all the help you can get, and delegate as much as possible to free up what little energy you have for healing.
  6. Remove mercury. If you have mercury fillings, get them taken out by a specialist in this field.
  7. Sleep. This is tough and again it’s a balancing act. The thing is… if you have a little energy, use it to move gently… walking, doing your “things-to-do”, yoga/qigong etc, then as SOON as you feel off again… 20-30 minutes rest, then try a little more activity… so we have these rest/move cycles. Try to establish good QUALITY night-time sleep. Bed 10-11 o’clock and getting up before 9 o’ clock. This can give you up to 11 hours in bed but doesn’t allow long lie-ins that can disturb the circadian rhythms.
  8. Create a daily pattern. Establish all these things into a normal daily pattern — very important.
  9. Have good feelings. Good feelings heal. Watch comedy for laughs and stay away from ALL negativity… news, soaps, horror etc.
  10. Believe you will recover. Simply attach the quality of “true” to the idea so that it feels true.

Look to nature

Considering that there is no conventional medical treatment or cure for ME/CFS, I would urge you to look to nature, look to the healing power of body and mind. There’s soooooo much stuff “out there” to confuse you and you can spend YEARS going from medic to medic and trying all different “remedies” and methods.

This is what worked for me and I believe you have a good chance to get well if you get on the right track with the right mindset.

Beware relapse

If you support your body and immune system, it is possible to put ME/CFS into remission but beware… if your immune system is compromised again, you could relapse. Bottom line… do good things, avoid stress, stay on top.

My very best heart-felt wishes for your speedy recovery.

If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment below…

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Michael Kinnaird is the author of Happy Guide, the result of a 20 year exploration into what works for health and happiness.

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18 thoughts on “How to overcome ME/CFS

  1. This is a very interesting piece that fits well with what I’ve found so far.
    Brief story: I was diagnosed many years ago after a terrible bout of flu, then chicken pox (of all things!!). I had a litany of symptoms, from noise sensitivity to shaking all over and muscle twitches. I hung on at my job for a year or so but it came to a ‘push or be pushed’ situation at work. I left, realising that the job was probably why I was ill in the first place (it was a very high-pressured job) and after 6 months or so I started to improve. I’ve been plateaued since then, but last September, I got a virus, after which walking was difficult because I felt filled with sand. I saw a doctor who said I should ‘think positively and go for short walks’. I felt like punching her, I really did. But I figured I should do it because then I could go back to her and say ‘it didn’t work, now FIX ME’. But it DID work!! Before I went to sleep, and as soon as I woke up. I pictured myself going about my day, feeling great. Then I went for short walks with my husband. Within 2 days, the heavy feeling was gone! Since then, I’m a LONG way from cured but I do believe it makes a difference and I CAN exercise. The one thing I’m not sure about is whether I can be cured completely. Most days I’m around 80% but I can’t seem to break through that glass ceiling. Still, there’s always hope.

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    1. Hi Jessica, that’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m curious to know: did you make any dietary changes? Mike posted a CFS/ME diet here, if you’re interested in taking a look:

      https://happy.guide/2012/04/05/chronic-fatigue-diet

      It’s great that you got out of your stressful job. We have an article about the ideas of “success” that most of us are brought up with, and how damaging they can be. You might be interested in this too:

      https://happy.guide/2010/08/09/how-do-you-measure-success-in-life

      Best wishes,
      James

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi James

        I’m so sorry! I’ve been out of the ‘blogosphere’ for some time while I finished my university courses for this year, so I’ve only just read your post.

        Honestly, I can’t say that dietary changes made an obvious difference but there have been some small improvements that I do put down to certain diet-related things. I’m not sure how much use they’ll be though, if I’m honest. Still…here goes.

        A year ago I was diagnosed with something called Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disorder. Simply, this means the valve at the base of my oesophegus doesn’t close properly and I get bad acid reflux. Over the last 6 months I’ve noticed a correlation between it and my M.E/CFS symptoms. Whenever I ignore my LPR issues and eat/drink things that upset my stomach, my M.E/CFS gets worse. I don’t know why but there is a definite link there. Also, I’ve been taking high-strength cod liver oil capsules, a vitamin tablet, a Vitamin D3 tablet, and an amino acid complex capsule every day and I think this has made a small difference. I’ve heard of connections between increased protein intake and symptom relief so I’m trying that right now but nothing to report yet.

        Finally, and the thing that I’ve been slated for on the internet in the past for even mentioning, is mild to moderate exercise. I’m going to go a little on the defensive, just in case, and say I have been formally diagnosed with the M.E/CFS. I’ve been to a clinic for sufferers and they’ve given a second formal diagnosis. I definitely DO have it. Now, over the years I have found that doing nothing much more than resting makes my symptoms worse over time. But doing minor exercise (starting with short walks) and building up that exercise has made a bigger impact than anything else. By last Autumn I could play rounders for 2 hours each week and badminton for an hour each week. I can still exercise like this now. I’ve had occasional ‘troughs’ where things have worsened after an illness or a mental/emotional upset (the sudden loss of our cat in February threw me for a week or two), but overall I’ve stayed very consistent. Despite what people say, I’ve found exercise more useful than almost anything else so far.

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      2. Hi Jessica, good to hear back from you and no need to apologize! Hope the uni courses went well — I imagine it’s a relief to be finished? You certainly won’t be slated for expressing an opinion here :-) I couldn’t agree more about exercise and I’m sure Mike would say the same. Exercise, getting moving, was part of what gave Mike his life back after many years of ME/CFS. In fact it’s number 3 in the article above haha :-) As it says, it’s a balancing act isn’t it? You certainly don’t want to over do it. But we are built to move. If we don’t, our cell waste stagnates in the lymph system. So glad to hear you’re able to able to last for 2 hours at a time, that’s wonderful!

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  2. Hiya Mike. Long time no speak!! Wow I do like your new communication methods. I just wanted to add something which may or may not help others…..when on the Stone Age diet, if you suffer from a yeast infection of the gut, or leaky gut, eating fruit is not a good idea as it feeds the yeast which makes it very difficult to get more energy if you suffer from CFS as well. A sugar free, fructose free, gluten and dairy free diet are required. I have tried this, on and off for the last three years ( I was diagnosed with ME/CFS in 2009 although I have had symptoms since maybe 2007). I find it very difficult to stick to the requirements for long periods, but I have had success from time to time. Thanks for all your support since 2009 Mike. You saved my life in those early days when you told me to stick to a Stone Age Diet. It was the only thing that actually helped at all. I have slipped back and although I am back working part time and have a kind of balanced life, i know I need to go back to basics again. I am looking for inspiration once more Mike. The best inspiration can be found on your site Thanks again. Elaine

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    1. WOW thanks so much for the positive feedback, sometimes I wonder if I am doing the best I can to help with the emails and info I send out, because it can go a while without hearing back :-) Thanks for the info re fruit. Do you find that’s true even if you eat the fruit on its own? Back years ago when I was doing and studying a lot of raw food philosophy, a guy called Doug Graham who wrote the 80/10/10 diet, insisted that fruit is not a problem if eaten alone??

      Yes it’s about the basics isn’t it. So easy to stray from the path with all the temptations and social stuff going on. But I find that once you’re solid for a while and into those crucial good habits, it gets easier and easier… and you feel so much better too so the rewards start coming.

      Are you definitely signed up to the emails… I was just resending some invites and I saw that you hadn’t accepted yet?

      Thanks again for your lovely message!!! ~ Mike

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  3. Hey I defintely think i’m sufferig from chronc fatigue the fatigue is overwhelming sometimes I think death is next and its very hard for me to focus in my school work it started over the summer of 2011 (8TH GRADE) so what can I do to better myself to focus better or is it some way I can get homeschooled because it is very hard for me.

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    1. Hi Cathy,

      I recommend seeing your doctor for a diagnosis. Fatigue can be caused by a lot of things so it’s good to know what you’re dealing with. In any case, it’s best to support your body and mind with all the things in the article which are explained in more depth in the Happy Guide book. Homeschooling could be an option for you, if your fatigue is likely to be persistent/long-term — you’d need to sort that out with your parents.

      If you do have CFS, then I would urge you to focus right away on doing the right things to help your body recover.

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  4. Dear Mike,

    Thank you for this article! I’ve had ME for just over 10 years now, and have to say that I’ve been doing a combination of your steps. You mentioned that you had a food plan – would it be possible to have more information regarding this, please?

    Thank you again for your help.

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    1. Hi Georgia,

      A combination of steps is the way to go — a multi-pronged strategy :-)

      Diet advice depends on what you’re doing now and how quickly you want to go, but a good finish line for you would be to remove all grains and dairy foods gradually, and focus on natural human foods — fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, animal source foods like eggs, fish, poultry etc, all as high quality as you can afford — such as choosing free-range, organic, grass-fed when possible.

      A simple way to go is to have breakfast when you’re hungry… for me that was 11am which will give you extra detox time but it depends when you get up. Then have a fruit only meal for breakfast. Then lunch at 4pm, dinner at 7pm of fruit starter, then protein with a large salad/steamed, roasted or raw veggies/nuts-seeds and a dressing/dairy-free sauce. Have your starter say 30 minutes before main course. Another option for dinner could be meat or fish casserole (slow-cooked is good) which gives a ready-made tasty sauce with steamed vegetables, and fruit starter.

      As well as removing grains and dairy, be careful with nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant etc.

      If you want to take it a step at a time, then the diet in Happy Guide is a great first step, removing gluten grains and most dairy, and focusing mainly on human foods in a way that’s very socially acceptable. You could then take further small steps from there.

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