Complementary Medicine

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Some Perspective on the XMRV Virus

Is XMRV just the latest CFS "infection of the month?"

In a recent newsletter I discussed the XMRV virus and the research on its role in CFS. I offered my concern that the buzz may actually be causing some to miss the larger picture of what is happening in CFS, with XMRV simply being one of many infections and problems in this illness. It’s certainly not my intent to dash hopes. Rather, my intent is to offer perspective from over 30 years experience, so that people can use all the tools that can help them get well.

We have been treating viral infections (and many other infections) as one of the cornerstones of resolving CFS for decades. The recently reported research on the XMRV virus, while a useful new finding that will help in our efforts to find effective CFS treatments, is in essence but one more documented infection.

Our research shows that 91% of patients treated with the SHINE protocol improve, and many get well. Remember that the “I” in SHINE stands for Infections — with multiple treatments that help treat viral infections (such as XMRV) included. Following the more complete treatment approach that SHINE addresses is what represents real and proven hope.

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It’s good when discoveries are made that point to new infections that are relevant to CFS. And when this happens, we expand our treatment coverage to include them. I look forward to seeing if antivirals active against XMRV offer additional clinical improvement in CFS. But we choose to not be distracted to reduce our focus to only a single infection type, when there are so many that we can effectively treat to help you get well now.

The XMRV research also offers other benefits, such as attracting media attention, and helps make it even clearer how real and devastating CFS is. This may offer a bit more to silence the nitwits who like to claim CFS is all in your mind (though I would not count on it, as they have ignored reams of earlier research showing CFS/FMS to be very real illnesses). My concern is that this not blind us to the rest of the research in the field, which would cause much harm to those with the illness.

My take may not be popular with some folks right now, but it is based on a broad perspective gained by 30 years experience in the field. It may not be what is most popular today, but it is my responsibility to offer it in my role as your advocate. With effective treatment already available, and this new XMRV viral research offering yet another reason to be hopeful, that’s not a bad thing.

In addition, the SHINE protocol includes “I” for infections, and is part of my program, and the program used at the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers nationally. SHINE includes many antiviral therapies that likely help against XMRV, as well as other viruses. Especially helpful to many patients are the IV therapies.

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., internist and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic!, researches treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia.

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