Cortisol Could Help Alleviate Suffering For Those With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia

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Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM) are two serious and debilitating diseases with no confirmed cause and limited treatment options. However, results of a new comprehensive literature study propose a simplified treatment process that could help alleviate symptoms for patients suffering from these diseases.

Kent Holtorf, M.D., medical director of the Holtorf Medical Group Center for Endocrine, Neurological and Infection Related Illness in Torrance, Calif., is advising a simplified treatment process that may help alleviate CFS and FM symptoms. From an extensive review of more than 50 published studies that assessed adrenal function in CFS and FM patients, Dr. Holtorf found that the majority of CFS and FM patients displayed abnormal adrenal function due to hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction. The comprehensive review also showed that the majority of patients could be treated for this adrenal dysfunction. Dr. Holtorf's analysis, recently published in the Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, demonstrated that patients that were given cortisol as part of a multi-system treatment experienced significant improvement in their symptoms.

"My review of existing studies suggests that a treatment protocol of early administration of cortisol may help improve and reduce the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia," said Dr. Holtorf. "This research provides a new understanding that treating the known causes of illness in CFS and FM can improve the symptoms and quality-of-life of patients who suffer from these conditions."

CFS and FM primarily affect women in their 30s and 40s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than one million Americans suffer from CFS while it is estimated that FM affects about 2 percent of the U.S. population. Unfortunately, both of these diseases are poorly understood by many physicians and there is no generally accepted test to accurately detect them. In addition, many CFS and FM patients express frustration because there is no clear treatment path for their conditions.

Dr. Holtorf's research was further confirmed in an observational study following the conditions of 500 patients from his clinic, where all of the patients were given cortisol as part of their treatment protocol:

-- 94 percent showed improvement by the fourth visit;

-- 75 percent noted significant improvement;

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-- 62 percent reported substantial improvement; and

-- Energy levels and a general sense of well-being for patients doubled by the fourth visit.

The effectiveness of this multi-system treatment was further confirmed through the analysis of the cumulative findings of over 40 independent physicians and over 5,000 patients.

As shown in the Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome study, cortisol doses of 5-to-15 mg a day have been shown to be safe, with little or no associated risk while having the potential for significant benefit for CFS and FM patients.

"Cortisol treatment carries significantly less risk and a greater potential for benefit than treatments considered to be the standard of care for both conditions," Dr. Holtorf explains.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a debilitating and complex disease characterized by profound fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. Persons with CFS most often function at a substantially lower level of activity than they were capable of before the onset of illness. In addition, patients report various symptoms, such as weakness, muscle pain, impaired memory and/or mental concentration, insomnia, and post-exertional fatigue lasting more than 24 hours. In some cases, CFS can persist for years. The cause or causes of CFS have not been identified and no specific diagnostic tests are available.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia or FM is a chronic pain condition characterized by generalized muscular pain and fatigue. Fibromyalgia typically involves pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons and related sleep and quality of life disturbances. This condition is often referred to as a "syndrome" because it is a set of signs and symptoms that occur together. The disease is often misunderstood because its symptoms are quite common; however, medical studies have proven that fibromyalgia does indeed exist.

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