To B or Not to B
: A Fresh Look at Chronic Fatigue
by Vic Shayne, Ph.D.
So many people these days (especially women) are suffering from chronic fatigue that one might call this phenomenon an epidemic. Chronic fatigue syndrome is not really a disease, per se, but rather a set of symptoms that are so great in number that patients frequently are told by their physicians that they are hypochondriacs. Or, chronic fatigue is commonly blamed on the Epstein Barr Virus. Not able to catch this sickly tiger by the tail, patients often are referred to a psychiatrist to deal with the complexity of emotional upset.The question persists: Is it really possible to have so many symptoms and still be sane? Does chronic fatigue cause mental problems or do mental problems cause chronic fatigue? Although there is no denying the connection between the body and the emotions, several biochemical researchers have discovered that a single thread of commonality runs through each chronic fatigue case, despite the seemingly erratic patient complaints.
Although not a mental disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome leads its sufferers to a state of mental or emotional crisis. Unable to get relief from their doctors for this mysterious "plague," patients often beg their physicians to prescribe antidepressants, relaxants, pain relievers and other drugs to allay the disturbances that get in the way of leading a life of normalcy.
Some common complaints associated with chronic fatigue syndrome include mental confusion, constant exhaustion, forgetfulness, depression, sleeplessness at night and sleepiness during the day, physical fatigue, soreness, frequent sickness, mental irritability, crying spells, loss of sex drive, indecisiveness and more. With such an extensive array of symptoms, it is no wonder why both doctor and patient are led to believe that this syndrome is probably more mental than physical in nature. But wait a minute...
Dr. Richard P. Murray, of the Biomedical Health Foundation in Ormond Beach, Fla., over the course of his 40 years of biochemical and nutritional practice, has found a remarkable parallel between what has been labeled "chronic fatigue syndrome" and a lack of the vitamin B complex. (Note that "vitamin B" refers to food-based nutrients and not the kinds of vitamins that are sold in health food or drug stores).
One of the greatest errors in thought is that people in the United States cannot have a vitamin B deficiency because of all the foods that are "enriched" with this vitamin. However, enriching pasta, bread and other foods with synthetic sources of vitamins is not a solution to the vitamin B deficit. Without vitamin B in its whole, food-based form the biochemical needs of human physiology cannot be met.
In 1947, Tom Spies, M.D., discussed the deficiency of vitamin B1 as resulting in one or more of the following: constipation, weakness and fatigue, irregular pulse, exhaustion, itching, mental confusion, heart murmurs and muscle soreness. Other deficiencies described in biochemical textbooks include instability, forgetfulness, difficulty in orderly thinking, uneasiness, vague fears and so forth.
Vitamin B3 deficiency often causes numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, loss of appetite, lethargy and mental confusion.
The list of symptoms of vitamin B complex deficiency does indeed resemble the mysterious chronic fatigue syndrome enough to speculate that the disease is not so mysterious after all. In this day and age of processed, milled, heated and devitalized foods finding their way into the average American diet, the incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome should come as no surprise. And the attempt to rectify this deficiency should not be to reach for over-the-counter, mail-order or health food store supplements, because, according to biochemical researchers such as Dr. Richard Murray, Dr. Judith DeCava and Dr. Royal Lee, among others, the body certainly knows the difference between synthetic and fractionalized supplements and the real food itself. (The words natural, pure and enriched do not denote that vitamins are real.)
Back in 1984, Dr. Murray prophetically wrote, "The end result of food devitalization, synthetic enrichment, bureaucratic newspeak and proliferating pseudo-nutritionists will be a daily increase of vitamin B deficiency syndrome cases. Most will be made worse by taking megavitamin therapy. When the adrenals cannot compensate, the victim will be unable to further cope with stress ... and adrenal exhaustion will present the finality - the nervous breakdown."
During World War II, in the South Pacific, American military personnel discovered first-hand what today may be called chronic fatigue syndrome. It was called Beri-Beri, which translates to "I can't, I can't." Beri-beri was reversed with vitamin B.
(Reprint, article by Vic Shayne, Ph.D., Clinical Nutritionist and co-director of the Holistic Health & Counseling Center in Carefree: Box 17482, Boulder, CO 80308. 1-888-595-4752.)
Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.