Complementary Medicine

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Optimizing Blood Sugar Control in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Optimizing blood sugar levels can improve CFS/fibromyalgia symptoms

People with chronic fatigue syndrome often have difficulty regulating blood sugar (glucose), resulting in low levels in some CFS patients and elevated levels in others.

Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar levels are often caused by adrenal exhaustion. This is because when you're under stress your adrenal gland pumps out cortisol, triggering the pancreas to produce glucagon and, in turn, raising your blood sugar. If your adrenal gland is exhausted, cortisol production is reduced and your blood sugar can drop too low.

Symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  1. Irritability when hungry ("Feed me NOW, or I'll kill you" feelings).
  2. Low blood pressure, dizziness on standing.
  3. Recurrent sore throats and infections are also common from the low adrenal.

High Blood Sugar

Several factors can trigger high blood sugar levels. These include:

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  1. Excessive sugar intake. CFS can drive sugar cravings, and excess sugar can aggravate CFS - leading to even more sugar cravings!
  2. Low testosterone in men. 70% of men with CFS are in the lower third of the normal range for testosterone levels, and low testosterone in men increases the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
  3. Elevated testosterone in women. Paradoxically, elevated testosterone in women can cause the high blood sugar levels characteristic of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. A common cause for these high levels is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is a syndrome that can cause CFS/fibromyalgia. You should consider this possibility if you're a woman with elevated levels of testosterone and/or DHEA, facial hair growth, acne, and/or unexplained infertility. Treat PCOS with the safe, cheap and healthy anti-diabetes medication metformin and by avoiding excess sugar. Other treatments can also help, such as making sure your body is getting adequate levels of the glucose-regulating mineral chromium. Treating PCOS is not only effective for decreasing CFS/FMS symptoms, it can also resolve some cases of infertility.

In any of these three conditions optimizing blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity can improve CFS/FMS symptoms.

If you have low blood sugar, I recommend reading my article on Adrenal Exhaustion.

If you have elevated blood sugar (insulin resistance, diabetes), I recommend reading my article on Treating Diabetes Naturally.

 

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

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