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A Natural Approach to Healing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by Barbara Hepburn(more info)

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

All illness, both major and minor, is from a holistic point of view a combination of physical, emotional and spiritual imbalance. Each has a knock-on effect on the other. Therefore healing at any one level will help heal the other two. This creates an enormous and exciting choice of ways in which to heal, especially in the world of complementary therapies. I would mention however, that no matter how well qualified complementary therapists may be, like the medical profession, some will be more 'au fait' with the high sensitivity of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) than others. A good therapist will value their clients' insights and if necessary, precisely monitor fractional doses or treatments to be sure of the depth of sensitive healing response.

It is important to keep the vast array of choices in a positive framework of adventure, abundance, a Cornucopia over-flowing with new exciting opportunities to see, try or read – and with all the time in the world to do it. We entirely miss the boat to healing if we focus on CFS as a nuisance which is unfairly costing us money, wasting years of our lives and bringing nothing but pain. The spiralling pattern of the Cornucopia is for many traditional cultures, the symbol of abundance and thanksgiving for all life's experiences and their ability to help us grow.

The question begs 'How can I make changes when I am so exhausted and in pain, I can hardly brush my hair?' It is rather like the bad old music hall joke 'How do you eat an elephant?', the answer being 'One mouthful at at time'. One can't pressurise healing. The stress it creates is counter productive and exacerbates the source of the illness.

I literally began with one teaspoon of grated carrot every hour, a week later I added one teaspoon of brown rice per hour and then a teaspoon of fresh herbs. I refused to eat anything which wouldn't strengthen my immune system and didn't look back. My strategy snowballed and every week or so a small increase in new energy was invested into a more rounded strengthening diet.

Priority is a strong immune system – physically, emotionally and spiritually. A weak immune system may be under active or over active, it can even be a mixture of the two, over reacting to some things and reacting too sluggishly to others. An imbalanced immune system has forgotten how to discriminate and lost touch with its natural ability to 'suss-out' and utilise that which will enhance all that ones needs in life and those things which one would be better off without. This applies to the air we breathe, the food we eat, the way we relate to others, the physical boundaries we give ourselves to feel safe and the 'vibes' of all kinds which come to us consciously and unconsciously from outside of ourselves.

On an emotional level – if we constantly feel the need to defend ourselves physically, defend our home, defend our ideas, defend our right to live our lives the way we wish, defend our friends, defend our job, defend our financial position, defend our position in a relationship etc. we create an over active immune response. Whilst if we are unable to express how we feel, to adequately defend ourselves on many levels and retreat or give up constantly under a flow of real or imagined threat to our happiness and well-being, we create a reluctant, suppressed or inadequate immune response. Likewise if we can't say 'No'.

Shortly before CFS arrived, this level of our defence system will have been stressed and weakened our physical resources.
Having read this we may :-

A. Instantly seek to be aware of areas of our lives in which this applies and make changes – a more flexible and easily healed immune system.

B. Feel attacked and defensive, thinking someone is minimising ones illness or criticising and attacking ones lifestyle yet again! – an over active immune response.

C. Suppress initial anger and feel tearful. 'But it is impossible for me to change things. It is too difficult and I might lose so much' – a suppressed immune response.

When we make healing changes in our lives we rarely lose the things we fear losing – be it our dignity, honour, the love of a parent, the respect of the neighbours, our home, job or partner. The heavy outmoded load which we stop carrying and leave behind will always be that which we thought we wanted, but which in reality wasn't what we needed at all.

The reward and gift is a new peaceful sense of greater self worth.

On a physical level – Our immune system is also fed and created from the quality of our food. People with CFS are highly sensitive to all food. This means certain foods trigger distressing symptoms. However, the flip side means their healing process responds very readily to a well chosen strengthening diet.

Many people with CFS eat a diet which avoids certain allergenic foods; however, some foods to which we have a sensitive reaction may have, in fact, a healthy and beneficial detoxifying response. Focus on imaginatively eating an abundant cornucopia full of nature's colourful, fresh and healthy harvest, which will support, enhance and heal the immune system. Avoid thinking of a restrictive 'diet' which ones illness forces one to eat and which simply keeps certain symptoms at bay.

Harmonise yourself with the wisdom and rhythms of nature, eating what is naturally provided locally for each new season. This way we are not alone, our bodies are not working against nature and the Earth supports our health.

If we do not live in a country of our birth we need to eat a carefully balanced diet combining the freshest, healthiest and most nutritious foods from our adopted and native countries. This also applies to cultural or religious dietary needs. The wealth of basic survival skills which our forefathers and foremothers knew, is a valuable part of our individual inheritance.

Quality of food is important. Give preference to 'clean' non-polluted high mineral content food. Foods which are not riddled with hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, fertilisers, artificial preservatives and colourings, will give your body its best opportunity to recover from illness. Chew very, very well and don't watch TV or read whilst you eat.

People with CFS will become stronger, more optimistic and less in pain if they concentrate on a more savoury diet, rich in vegetables, whole grains, pulses, fish, nuts, seeds, herbs, seaweed, natural seasonings and natural beverages. These foods have a stabilising effect on blood sugar levels which are erratic in CFS. Whole grains, pulses, seeds and nuts contain a power-pack of 'ki' or 'life force energy' enough to grow a new healthy plant or tree. Such foods rebuild the reserves of 'ki' which are low during illness. Freshly harvested foods are also high in 'ki', whilst tinned, frozen or processed foods are deficient in 'ki', leaching vital life force energy from the body instead. Microwaves cook from the inside out dispersing vital 'ki' energy and are therefore not good in a healing situation. Electric blankets upset the bodies electromagnetic energy field and create a feeling of jitteriness.

Anti-nutrients reduce nutrient availability causing fatigue, stimulants exhaust flagging adrenals, acidic foods can be weakening and fats can induce stressful emotions. Therefore cigarettes, fatty foods, sugar, honey, chocolate, cheese, yoghurt, milk, butter, yeast extracts, alcohol, coffee, tea, pastries, biscuits, 'junk' foods, 'junk' drinks, even fruit, fruit juices and fruited herbal teas, can induce more pain, anger, weakness, tiredness and less enthusiasm to help oneself. The effect will be worse in winter or cold weather, when nature is expecting us more than ever to remember our natural survival skills and keep our gut warmed with seasonal foods and hot soups. Keep the cooling effect of raw foods for very hot days only.

A wholefood diet will contain natural fluids. However, many foods which have been dried, processed and baked – especially baked flour products – cause subtle dehydration. So too will strip lighting, TVs, computers, hot cars etc. To combat the symptoms of fatigue created by subtle dehydration – brain rhythms are especially affected by this – quantities of fresh spring water need to be drunk. Tea, coffee, alcohol, fruit juice or herbal tea will not rehydrate the body.

Eating fresh 'clean' food is a gift of health which we give to ourselves and also a gift of reduced pollution to the Earth. The material reduction in pollution from one individual may be small, but the gift of a deeper relationship with Nature is greater than can ever be measured.

Whenever you can spend time with nature, especially trees and enjoy fresh air, even if you have to be very sheltered from the light and sun. Nature will help to heal you, if you give Her the right chance.

On a spiritual level – Gurus have always understood how certain physical symptoms and illnesses are connected to incorrect dietary factors, incorrect breathing practice and incorrect meditation procedures. Only a chosen few would be taught meditation techniques. However, it has been predicted that such spiritual sensitivity would become increasingly naturally available to everyone, around the turn of the millennium. (Good breathing ensures a release of toxins from the body with each breath and internally utilises the healing force of 'prana' which is the life force energy in the atmosphere. Many qualified 'soft' martial art and yoga tutors teach beneficial breathing practices.)

Experienced esoteric teachers and healers can explain how to 'open-up' and 'close-down' spiritual sensitivity, in order that ones gift can be used appropriately to benefit others, but without the side-effects created by constant 'openness' and therefore over-exposure to Universal energies. CFS is a process which can easily happen with any kind of pronounced shock, for example a bad car accident, a very high temperature or severe viral infection. This means that non verbal messages from other people and places can manifest themselves in physical symptoms. A good healer or psychic medium utilises this by 'translating' the physical message into words, or knowing that a pain in a certain part of their own body means a similar pain in their client's body. They then know where to heal the source of the illness. This skill was valued in indigenous cultures in many different ways. For example the old Weather Woman who could forecast climate ahead would know there would be snow if her breasts secreted milk.

CFS is a new experience for everyone, therefore it will be wise to ensure that any spiritual teacher or healer you train with, understands your delicately poised sensitivity and helps you to explore how to protect and nurture it with wisdom.

I believe the seemingly 'abnormal' brain rhythms together with the physical and emotional sensitivities of CFS are a new part of the awe inspiring but perhaps misunderstood progression of evolutionary change. During this change we can be healthier than ever before, if we care for ourselves diligently, keep a good sense of humour and ground ourselves with peace and love

For further information

For further information, send a sae to Action for M.E., PO Box 1302, Wells. BA5 1YE. Tel: 01749 670799. A 24 hour recorded information line operates on 0891 122976: calls are charged at 50p per minute.

Also the ME Association has launched a programme of research into an effective treatment and cure. Funds are urgently needed to pay for this research and to provide support for ME sufferers.

ME Association, Stanhope House, High Street, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex SS17 0HA. Tel: 01375 642466.

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About Barbara Hepburn

Barbara Hepburn and her youngest son developed CFS in 1981. He was 6 months old.
She healed her own physical symptoms through a strongly healing diet, acupuncture and chiropractic help. Her son’s progress was slow. The light then dawned that she had only focused on healing the body and she gradually began or unravel the CFS saga – body, mind and spirit. Through understanding herself, she gained the insight to help her son.
The life changing experience of CFS led her into the field of healing, where she has worked professionally for about 10 years. Barbara’s specialised fields are Reiki, crystals, colour, dietary guidance, flower essences and past life insight. Barbara lives and practices in Oxfordshire. She has written a comprehensive book about CFS/ME which is travelling towards publication.

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