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Complementary Therapies for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by John Halford(more info)

listed in cfs me long covid, originally published in issue 25 - February 1998

"My illness first started after a period of stress in September 1994, when I was overworking and not eating properly. I was sent on leave for a fortnight by the Army. During those two weeks I developed swollen and sore glands in my neck, jaw and in front of my ears, and also an extremely sore throat. I saw an Army doctor who told me it was 'just a virus and will pass', although he also remarked that he had never seen glands quite so swollen before. I arrived home feeling very poorly, and instead of gradually recovering, I progressively became worse. My symptoms now included debilitating fatigue, a constant ache and tenderness in my stomach, a persistent sore throat and I also still had terribly painful and swollen glands in my neck and also under my arms. Life became one massive battle just to get up in the morning, and I struggled to just complete one task a day e.g. cooking a meal. During this time I had repeatedly visited my GP (and also several locums) who all said they could find nothing physically wrong, and eventually after negative tests for glandular fever, they diagnosed ME/(CFS) and said there was nothing more they could do.

"By this time I was desperate, and I made an appointment with John Halford, who practices acupressure. Just to travel to the appointment was hard work, but after the first session the difference in how I felt was amazing. I continued for two more sessions, and felt better than I had for over two and a half years. As well as acupressure, John advised me to cut down on dairy products and sugar, drink lots of water and take two tablespoons of linseed a day. I also took olive oil with fresh lemon juice to detoxify my liver as recommended by him. These changes in my diet, combined with the acupressure cured me completely, and I now feel more healthy than ever before in my adult life."

Linda Duncan-Adams, who has permitted me to disclose her name, is 36 years old, had been in the Army as indeed was her husband. They have a four year old son. Linda retired from the Army in early 1995. She had not been well since September 1994. It was not until the 2nd of July 1997 that she first came to me for help. I saw her again on the 9th of July. She arranged another appointment for the 23rd of July which she cancelled as she was going to Kent and in any case she was feeling much better. After about a month I telephoned to see how she was and spoke with her husband who said she was really well.

ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Post Viral Fatigue syndrome, has had pages and pages written about it. Controversy exists between the medical profession as to whether it really exists as a separate illness. In descriptions it can take many forms but at the end of the day you have a situation very like the description written at the beginning of this paper. The World Health Organisation, despite current controversies, has now classified ME/CFS as a disease of the nervous system (International Classification of Diseases, No 10, ref, G93.3) and the Department of Health has officially recognised it as a "debilitating and distressing condition" (HC Debate, 13.11.91, Hansard col 582W). We have Oxford Criteria, U.K., Centres for Disease Control (CDC) U.S.A., Australian Criteria. . . They are all fairly similar and have in common "present for at least 6 months". Current research writes of "evidence of persisting or reactivated viral infection." Disturbances in immune function involving T cell subsets, natural killer (NK) cell activity, autoantibiotics, immunoglobulin patterns, and circulating immune complexes have been reported. The published findings are often conflicting, as sufficient case studies have not been made and comparable severity is hard to make.

I could write at length on what has been written by copying many studies made by eminent doctors who have looked at the many complex alternatives that might or might not trigger off CFS and similarly might or might not give CFS the ability to endure for many many months or years, or indeed for life and vary in its intensity and so on. . . but in this paper I wish to give a more optimistic view and that is why I am writing my own experience of the treatment of CFS and how I have in my own way had success in treating what may or may not be CFS.

In view of the fact that orthodox medicine is not yet able to provide any really effective therapy for CFS, many sufferers turn to alternative or complementary medicine almost as a last resort. Doctors say, and with some justification, that alternative medicine helps because the reason is that the sympathetic and optimistic attitude of the therapist rather than the value of the therapy is the reason for improvement or cure. Speculation and controversy continues to surround CFS: the question of viral infection, immune response failure, neurotoxins (pesticides, insecticides, hormone sprays, artificial fertilisers, and so on). With alarming regularity journals, both allopathic and alternative, produce the latest idea. Even this week I received a paper regarding a study which shows a defective RNase L enzyme present in the blood of CFS patients that does not appear in healthy controls. Robert Suhadolnink, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry in Philadelphia and his team are investigating this and I quote from a press release as follows:

"The findings. . . are based on data from a limited number of patients. However, larger studies are already underway and have attracted financial support from the National Institutes of Health. The newly discovered enzyme, which has a lower molecular weight than the normal enzyme found in the viral pathway in which this protein is active, may explain common observations in patients with ME:

• an inability to control common viruses (like Epstein-Barr virus and human herpes virus 6)
• an inability to maintain cellular energy."

The paper was published as Biochemical Evidence for a Novel Low Molecular Weight 2-5A-Dependant RNase L in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research, July 1997, 17: 377:385.

This research is to be applauded but meantime patients suffering with CFS go on suffering and I shall now turn to the methods I have used and found to be helpful.

I use the following therapies in my treatment of CFS:

Acupressure / Reiki

Acupressure balances the flow of energy in the meridians. I do not use acupuncture with needles as I find the use of my finger and thumb to be more sensitive. Years ago, before I treated people, I treated racehorses using acupressure as needles were not acceptable. I grew to trust my fingers. Acupressure tonifies or pacifies the flow of energy (Chi). It is similar to the tuning of the instruments of an orchestra, each instrument needs to be in tune with the others.

Reiki balances the "chakras" (balancing of the endocrine organs), and detoxifies the mind and removes stress. Reiki is a treatment patients learn to trust because they feel different after being treated. They learn how to draw on their own inner strength, their deep sub-conscious. This is where the pineal gland, the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and all the endocrine organs play their mysterious part.

You trust your doctor when he tells you to take an aspirin. You do so without querying where the aspirin comes from. Likewise with most pills a doctor prescribes. However, should you ask the doctor, "Where does the aspirin come from?". He may reply that it comes from the bottle, or from the pharmacist or from the pharmaceutical company or he may say that aspirin comes originally from the bark of the silver willow tree. Were you to ask him where the silver willow tree comes from he will not be able to answer other than to say that the silver willow is part of evolution or whatever. So with the flow of energy or Chi in the meridians, just accept that it is there and trust it. Reiki and Acupressure balance the flow of energy in the mind and in the body.


Detoxification of the body. Diet, breathing exercises, physical exercise, concentration of the mind and body, rest of the mind and body, sleep. Ensure all bodily functions work correctly, namely; perspiration, breathing, urinating, defecating. Cleanliness of the mind and body are of paramount importance in health.

This is the physical cleansing of the body. The food we eat should be correctly digested so that its goodness is able to enter the blood stream and feed the cells that join to become the total body. If the food is not of the highest quality and purity then the body is not able to utilise it to the maximum.

The air we breathe needs to be uncontaminated: fresh air of the highest quality. We should learn to breathe so that the lungs are made to work correctly and are exercised so that they perform the task of providing oxygen which enters the blood stream.

The water we drink or bathe in should not contain noxious substances. The human body is 70% water. Blood contains water and the blood stream and lymphatic system transport proteins, carbohydrates, antibodies etc. throughout the body. By drinking two litres of water a day we not only ensure that no part of the body is starved of water, but also we flush out the kidneys.

Having fed the body we need to use the body both mentally and physically so both mental and physical exercise have their essential role to play. The body and mind also require rest, relaxation and sleep.

The removal of substances the body has made use of and/or needs to expel is essential. Inner cleanliness is possibly the most important factor in promoting health and removing illness. Taboo subjects like sweating, urinating and defecating should be addressed without modesty. Let the body become like an unemptied sewer and disease will set in. I have found that in nearly all treatments I do, unless the patient has a clean body, both inside and out, the treatment will not succeed. Constipation is a disease of the present day and must be remedied. I do not encourage the use of laxatives. They irritate the colon and will do more harm than good. Constipation resulting from intestinal sluggishness responds to domestic treatments such as hot compresses, cold packs, massage and Manual Lymphatic Drainage. Sensible diet with correct roughage will help restore the peristaltic action of the gut. For home use, to get things moving, rather than clear the bowel with any form of laxative it is better take psyllium husks or whole linseed or use an enema.

I use colonic irrigations for my patients, as this not only cleanses the whole length of the colon but also gives a good indication of the condition and content of the colon. They give a picture of the state of the bacteria in the gut, the presence of candida, yeasts, mucus, fermentation etc. If the faeces in the colon have putrified and fermented, any nutritional elements present in it will pass into the blood stream as polluted products. What would otherwise be nutritional becomes toxic.

Toxaemia is a condition in which the blood contains poisonous products which are produced by the growth of pathogenic, or disease-producing, bacteria. Faecal incrustation of the lining of the colon prevents the glands in this lining producing the necessary intestinal flora, or lubrication. This intensifies a state of constipation and generates toxaemia. This directly affects the manner in which the immune system works and breakdown of an effective immune system will lead to disease.

Following a series of colonic irrigations where the incrustation is gradually removed, live yoghourt and/or acidophilus is taken to replace the flora in the intestine. Most important is that at the end of the day the natural peristaltic action of the muscles of the intestines is encouraged to perform correctly so that elimination takes place naturally.

I have dwelt on the subject of elimination as I consider it absolutely essential to the treatment of CFS and many many other serious pathological conditions.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

I use the Vodder method to move the flow of lymph correctly throughout the lymphatic system thus permitting the immune system to have free passage to all parts of the body. The technique for MLD is a very gentle form of massage as the flow of lymph is mainly just below the surface of the skin (epidermis), and the direction of massage requires not only the experience of how much pressure to apply, but also the direction of flow of the lymphatic system so that the drainage of lymph moves to the correct area on the body for the lymph to re-enter the blood stream.

MLD has a very relevant position in the treatment of CFS in that it transports antibodies around the body. If the antibodies do not have a free passage, then they are not able to perform their job correctly and combat infection. MLD is a skilled form of massage that should only be attempted by a therapist who has been trained how to do it, having had considerable experience and practice under supervision. It is a therapy that is not commonly used in this country but I believe will be more and more accepted as the effects of the treatment are demonstrated.

Cell treatment using trace elements

I use "Boue Marine" (mud from the sea bed containing a natural mixture of trace elements) gathered from the ocean bed in the Bay of St. Michel, Normandy, France. I have used this mud for over forty years and my conclusions are that new cells as they are formed are able to take up the necessary amount of each trace element, so that each cell is a better cell than one which does not contain this balance of trace elements. The better and stronger the cell, the better and stronger the whole body.

I also use a liquid form of trace elements which has been researched over the last forty years by the Centre for Trace Element Research and Application in Switzerland. The research has developed 13 complexes which are a synergy-matched combination of ionised trace elements to which high quality plant extracts have been added. They are used sublingually and are readily assimilated into the blood stream. Trace elements can be combined with any orthodox or allopathic medicine.


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About John Halford

John Halford has qualifications in Acupressure and Reiki and has been helping people (and animals) over many years. He has also studied Thalassotherapie in France and Hydrotherapy in the USA and England.

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