Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Case History & Analysis #1
(Please print out this document and read it offline.)
(Updated: August 11, 1999)
Below is a case history of Beth, a wonderful 24-year-old young lady
who is using Holistic Healing techniques to recover from Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I met her in an ongoing Holotropic Breathwork
class and I thought that her case would be an excellent example of
how Holistic Healing involves more than just breathwork or any one
technique. It is true that in many cases, one technique such a
breathwork, acupuncture, natural foods diet, etc. can cause
significant healing and symptomatic changes. But in most cases,
it is necessary to consider a variety of issues and devise
a healing plan that will gradually build health over time.
Beth was kind enough to let me interview her as to her health history
and current practices. Below, I will briefly discuss the disease
progression and a variety of key aspects relating to Beth's overall
health. After this discussion, I will present a few treatment
ideas so that the reader can see some possible courses of action that
Beth might take in order to move towards a complete recovery from
CFS. A complete health history (physical, psychological, spiritual)
and physical diagnosis from a holistic perspective, beyond simply
naming the disease or syndrome, would be ideal in real-life treatment
situations. In many cases, however, an experienced holistic
healthcare practitioner does not have to know the complete history
of the patient in order to begin treatment.
- Disease Progression
In the Summer of 1990, after Beth finished her Junior year in High
School, she began to experience her first symptoms that were related
to the eventual development of CFS. She had regular episodes of
hunger no matter how much was eaten. It is as if she wasn't absorbing
the food she was eating. In addition, Beth experienced a back injury
that happened while running.
Intense Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) runs in her family. Beth started
to have PMS symptoms, but after taking a homeopathic remedy in 1990
which was intended to treat hives, the PMS went away and has never
returned. It is also of note that Beth experienced amenorrhea (absense of
menstruation) for 1-1/2 years during the time that she was a runner
in High School.
During the Summer of 1991 Beth began to experience debilitating
chronic fatigue which led to her sleeping for long periods of time
and quite often throughout parts of the day. Later that year, Beth was
put on antibacterial and antiprotozoal drug Flagyl for the treatment
of a suspected case of Giardiasis (an infection of the small
intestined caused by an intestinal protozoan). After the treatment
by the drug Flagyl, Beth suffered from severe insomnia such
that it regularly took 3-5 hours or more to fall asleep at night.
Even though Beth suffered debilitating fatigue, she could not easily
- Food & Nutrition
Beth was formula-fed (not breast-fed) as an infant. In that
period of time, the baby formulas still had the excitotoxin,
monosodium glutamate (MSG) and probably a number of other artificial
and unhealthy ingredients. As everyone now knows, breast feeding is
very important for passing immunity on from the mother to the child
and for assuring that the infant obtains a proper amount and balance
of nutrients. In addition to the formula feedings, Beth was given solid
foods starting at only six days of age.
During childhood, Beth's diet focused heavily on fruit, milk
(averaging 6 glasses per day), steak/chicken, prepared foods (e.g.,
macaroni & cheese) and some fresh and frozen vegetables. There was
very little candy or sugar-containing foods eaten. As far as
Standard American Diets (S.A.D.s) go, it wasn't bad in that there
was not a constant intake of sugary foods. But a lack of whole
grains and the very large amounts of dairy and fruit is clearly
not healthy from a holistic perspective.
Fortunately, it appears that Beth obtained an adequate level of key
nutrients such as protein and calcium so that severe deficiency did
not likely contribute to health problems. Although a moderate
deficiency in key nutrients may have limited the detoxification that
Beth was capable of during toxic exposures (to be discussed below).
Beth was told to drink alot of dairy after being diagnosed with
hypoglycemia. This is a very unhealthy practice not only because of
the hormones and traces of pesticides in milk and the homogenization
of milk, but it is generally unhealthy for most people to eat more
than small amounts dairy. As it turns out, Beth was unaware that
she was allergic to dairy foods. She also had difficulty with
digestion of foods.
In 1988, after reading the cookbook, "The Book of Whole Meals" by
Annamarie Colbin, Beth and her mother experimented with the dishes in
the cookbook and went on a modified Macrobiotic diet as expoused by
Colbin. By 1990, Beth completely stopped dairy intake and focused on
vegetarian dishes. However, in 1991 at college she ate quite a bit of
chicken. In 1992, Beth studied Japanese-style Macrobiotics at the
Kushi Institute in Boston.
Her current diet is primarily a Japanese-style Macrobiotic diet
- Whole grain dishes approximately 2 times per day
- Legume dishes approximately 1 time per day
- Alot of vegetables including leafy greens vegetables
- Fish approximately 1/4 pound 1 time every 2-3 weeks
- Beverages -- a small amount of spring water and occasionally banch tea or
- No artificial sweeteners, flavors, colorings, MSG, preservatives, etc.
- Approximately 75% of foods are organic
- Beth eats 2-3 meals per day.
Current supplements include:
- Liquid minerals concentrated from sea water
- Choline supplement
- Three grams of chorella mixed with 1/2-inch in a cup of aloe gel and sometimes
mixed with Swedish Bitters (Taken since April 1997.)
- Occasional B-complex
It is important to note that Beth's diet is not static. She uses her intuition
and research to make changes from time to time in her nutrition
plan and supplement intake. She appears to be reasonably adept at judging what
her body needs.
Toxic Substance Exposure
Aside from the toxic and unhealthy substances Beth ingested as part of
food (e.g., MSG), there were several ongoing toxic and unhealthy
exposures which likely contributed to developing health problems:
- The house she lived in as a child was treated with Chlordane.
Chlordane is an organochlorine insecticide that poisons the nervous
system and damages the immune system. Most uses were banned in
1988 although traces can be found in some milk, for example,
where it is used for cattle breeder pest infestations.
- There was shag carpeting put into the house when she was a child.
It was put into her bedroom and playroom and she was likely exposed
to common carpet neurotoxic and immunotoxic chemicals such as
formaldehyde and toulene for many years. Please see the
Toxic Carpeting Web Page for more information.
- There was a severe problem with mold in Beth's playroom. Even
after it was cleaned up to some extent, there was a mold problem.
Beth was allergic to mold.
- The lawn that Beth played on had been dosed with toxic chemical
- Fluoride treatments were given regularly in school. Recent
research shows fluoride to be neurotoxic, block the action of
key enzymes as it builds up in the body and cause lowered IQ
in some children. Please see the
Fluoride Web Page for more information. Beth uses Toms brand
- Beth has had only one cavity which was filled with a composite
filling. She has not needed any crowns, bridges or root canals.
- As a teenager, Beth was exposed to a large number of x-rays due
to numerous running-related injuries.
- Beth does not use perfumes or toxic personal care products.
- Beth does not spend long periods of time in sitting or standing
positions that tend to throw her structural alignment off. For
example, she does not work long hours at a computer desk in a
slouched posture which would could limit the movement of the
diaphram for long periods of time. As another example, Beth
does not wear high heeled shoes regularly which could affect the
alignment and health of the spine.
- It appears that Beth wears clothes primarily with natural fibers.
It is unknown if the bedding has been treated with formaldehyde
although it is probably not the biggest concern at this point
- Beth uses gas stoves for cooking. When heat is needed in the
colder months, the heating mechanism is natural gas.
- The living situation appears to be relatively toxic
It is important to keep in mind that the human body usually has
an amazing ability to detoxify from toxic chemical exposure. However,
continuous exposure or large, short exposures can begin to overwhelm
the detoxification channels and damage the immune system and
neurological system. Even in these cases, though, reversal of the
effects and healing can gradually occur.
Beth experienced a regular and large amount stress in Junior High
School due to working at and worrying about getting her school work
completed. She spent several hours every day working on her
In High School, Beth continued to push herself in school and pushed
very hard in training for running races (Track & Field and Cross
Country running). She would not feel satisfied with anything but a
very strong effort in training. She continued to perform training
runs even while recovering from numerous injuries such as shin splints,
hip and back disorders, etc. In High School, Beth was busy with other
extracurricular activities including music and skiing. She suffered
with extreme stress during the period of time that she filled out
college applications because she put alot of pressure on herself to do
In college, Beth understandably became very worried and felt stress
related to the severe health problems she way experiencing. She
stopped worrying about school work. She took steps to lighten her
workload during this period of time.
During childhood and through Junior High School, the stress that Beth
felt was primarily related to school and schoolwork. But after getting
sick she would always be able to find something to be worried about
and generate stress. It is quite common nowadays for persons to
develop habits of worry and stress in their lives.
Not long ago, Beth left her job thereby reducing her workload and
stress significantly. She still appears to feel some stress
related to difficulty accomplishing day-to-day tasks, but this is
Beth's mother did not have a cesarean section performed during
Beth's birth. Beth is fairly certain that no forceps were used
during the birth. There was anesthesia given to Beth's mother
during the birth process and it was a difficult birth. Beth was
often crying for food as an infant probably due to being
formula-fed and having difficulty digesting food and absorbing
Beth has an impressive memory of childhood events including those
which happened when she was an infant. It does not appear that she
suffered any regular or serious neglect or abuse as a young child.
It is possible, however, that there may have been very subtle and
ongoing neglect or abuse during these years. It probably should not
be automatically assumed or discounted.
Since Beth didn't have any brothers or sisters she received alot of
attention from her mother during the day. Her father would play
with her after work. By the time Beth was born, it seemed that her
mother and father were no longer in love, but were civil with each
other. The parents were never affectionate, but there was not any
violence or regular yelling.
Beth's father moved out when she was eight years old. She visited
him twice per week. Beth felt that her mother was extremely
over-protective and smothering. On the other hand, her mother
encouraged her quite a bit. There was a lack of emotional boundaries
between Beth and her mother. After Beth's father left, Beth felt
responsible for making her mother feel good about herself.
Throughout Junior High School, Beth was regularly treated in a
vicious way by many of the children in her class. People in the
class talked about her behind her back and isolated her.
In High School, Beth found many
friends who understood the importance of being respectful and caring.
She was not into partying, drugs or alcohol. She and her friends
were just into being themselves.
During her Junior year in High School, Beth's father remarried.
The remarriage created emotional distance between Beth and her
father, but she feels somewhat closer to him now. Also during that
period of time, there was a very difficult and emotional breakup with
By the end of High School, Beth developed CFS. She lived with
her mother for a year. Her mother had a difficult time dealing with
Beth being sick. Even though Beth's mother tried to be helpful, Beth
felt smothered and felt that there were still not enough safe emotional
boundaries between her and her mother. This caused significant
psychological distress which culminated with Beth moving out and
eliminating most contact with her mother.
For the past seven (7) years, up
until approximately one year ago, Beth was somewhat emotionally
numb such that instead of feeling an emotion when appropriate, she
would simply experience a numb no-feeling state. This state is sometimes
due to the feelings being too painful or unfamiliar to handle. Sometimes
she would feel anxiety. Any anger she felt was turned inwards at
herself. Recently, she started to be able to feel anger at others if
the situation warranted it. Sometimes she goes running to deal with
the anger that comes up.
Beth slept reasonably well during Junior High School despite the
stress she experienced. After the breakup with her boyfriend in
High School, she suffered from some insomnia. By the Summer of 1991,
Beth had debilitating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and was sleeping much
of the day. But she did not have any trouble falling asleep. At that
time Beth was given a treatment regimen of the drug Flagyl to treat a
suspected case of protozoan infestation, Giardia. Since taking Flagyl,
Beth has suffered from severe insomnia such that it would take 3 to 5
hours or more to fall asleep. It may be of significance that the course
of Flagyl was taken immediately after Beth started college and moved
into a crowded and noisy dormatory.
Currently, Beth is practicing a short qigong exercise before bedtime
which is a significant help to her in falling asleep. When the qigong
exercises do not work, she takes a Chinese herbal remedy prescribed
by her acupuncturist, "Root the Spirit". This herbal remedy helps
considerably and she finds that it works much better than valarian
root. Beth finds that the qigong and the herbal remedy help induce a
much better quality sleep than she gets by taking Melatonin.
Beth goes to bed between 10pm and 11pm and usually wakes between
6:30am and 7:30am.
Beth enjoys a variety of creative activities including making jewelry
(which she sometimes sells to clients), woodworking and a little bit
of sewing and drawing. For health reasons, Beth chose to cut back on
her work schedule at the craft store, but she still works there
occasionally and takes on some creative projects.
Friendship & Support
Beth has a number of close friends who are available to talk to about
various personal issues. However, there is still a feeling of
isolation in that her friends do not have a deep understanding of
what Beth has experienced in living with the CFS. Although sometimes
it is difficult due to lack of energy, Beth does make an effort to reach
out and keep in regular contact with her friends.
In High School, Beth ran for the Track & Field and
Cross Country teams. She enjoyed running emensly. She experienced
numerous running-related injuries during High School, but often
continued running while she had the injuries. She tended to push
herself to train very hard. As she began to experience CFS, Beth was
forced to stop running competatively.
Currently, Beth does some walking and short commutes by bicycle.
She is swimming in a local pond a few times per month. In
addition, because she loves it so much, Beth does do some running on
occasion (~3 miles). She may run three time a week for a while and
then stop running altogether for several months. She feels better
for a few hours after running, but the she often feels low in energy
for the next one or two days. It is important to note that Beth's exercise
activities vary considerably depending upon how she feels (as they
Beth grew up a Catholic, but she chose not to join the Catholic
church. She feels that she is in touch with her intuition and does
feel a connection to her "Higher Self."
Beth experiences a chronically tight diaphram which may be partially
due to the significantly emotional and physical stressful situations
that she experienced regularly during parts of childhood. This tends
to create a situation known as "body armouring" where there is
chronic and deep tightness in certain areas of the body. Chronic
tightness around the parts of the body related to breathing are quite
common in body armouring cases. Body armouring is commonly seen in
persons who have suffered from various forms of abuse or who have had
traumas or long periods of high stress. Beth also experiences tightness
on the back at the base of her neck and in the lower section of the
spine. I noticed a significant lack of chi (energy) movement from
the upper body into the pelvis and down through the legs and into the
ground. This lack of grounding seemed to be due to structural and
breathing issues. Finally, I sensed a possibility that there was
tightness in the throat and upper chest that contributed to the lack
of full, deep breaths during the course of the day. Beth is
Use of Holistic Healing Treatments/Practices
At night, before sleep, Beth often practices a short qigong energy
movement exercise which has helped to reduce the severe insomnia she
was experiencing. She has been practicing this exercise for
approximately 6 months.
Beth has acupuncture treatments once or twice per month (sometimes less)
and takes two prescribed Chinese Herbal Formulas which have been helping her
considerably. One is helping her with sleep and the other is helping
to reduce her hypoglycemia (chronic low blood sugar).
Occasionally, Beth will get CranioSacral Therapy treatment or a
shiatsu massage. She has to be careful not to get a treatment that
lasts too long or is too intense so that she doesn't feel adverse
Her yoga practice varies considerably depending on how she feels.
She has practiced very little
in the last month. Sometimes, however, she practices for 1/2 hours
to an hour, five times per week. Sometimes she practices twice per
week. Her yoga practice does include a final relaxation pose. She
does not use pranayama (yogic breathwork) as part of her yoga
For the last two years Beth has been part of an ongoing
Holotropic Breathwork group. She has participated in a total of 11
For the first two sesesions, Beth was still taking two college courses and
experiencing slight stress about getting things done. During the
first year of the breathwork group, Beth felt somewhat shy, but once
she spoke up, she shared quite a bit about herself.
In the first year, Beth was hypervigilent during the breathwork sessions
and felt that she had no "altered state" experiences. (Altered states often
occur and can promote healing during the Holotropic Breathwork process). She
did cry towards the end of several sessions out of a feeling of desparation.
She was somewhat disappointed about her lack of experiences and healing
progress during the first year.
During the second year, she also felt that she had no altered state
experiences. She had fewer emotional experiences. However, she feels
that the qigong helped increase her ability to look inside herself. In
order to experience the breathwork process more deeply, it is
necessary to feel safe to be with and look inside oneself. Beth
experienced more subtle changes during the second year of breathwork, but
she is not certain how much of those changes are related to the breathwork.
During the breathwork, Beth's nasal passages sometimes close up making
it difficult to breath through her nose. Beth felt that she often
"drifted off" away from the breathwork process even though she often
made some effort to use the suggested breathing techniques. When she
made herself keep up the effort of using the suggested breathing
techniques, she sometimes felt as though she was just going through
the motions. She also felt tightness in her neck and cranial base
during the breathwork sessions.
Currently, Beth is not sure if her body is ready for breathwork. She
wants a cathartic experience but her body closes up during the
sessions. She fees that the sessions may be too long for her and
that she wonders if she may do better in a one-on-one session.
Beth sees a wonderful psychotherapist/counsellor once or twice per
What follows is an analysis of Beth's health history and her current
practices as well as possible future courses of action that a person in
her situation might consider.
While it is never possible to know all the contribuatory factors in
the development of CFS, one can make some educated guesses as to a few
of these factors. It is not productive for a person with CFS to focus
heavily on the causes of the disease. The primary focus should be
on enjoying life as best one can and on taking steps to promote
healing and transformation. However, it is important from a public
health perspective to be aware of possible contribuatory factors to
chronic illnesses such as CFS. Below is a list of a few possible
- Difficulty absorbing nutrients during childhood.
- Excessive intake of dairy and fruit during childhood.
- Stress throughout childhood varying in intensity.
- Very difficult psychological issues including significant
difficulty in relationship with mother and father at
times. Understandably, some body armouring
seems to have developed because of this -- in the diaphram
(effecting breathing depth), base of neck, lower back,
and possibly the throat.
- The running may have been helpful, but excessive amounts
of running and running through injuries may have contributed
to chi (energy) blockages in the hips and legs. In addition,
running did not provide much upper body movement and exercise.
- The toxic exposures of chlordane, toxic carpeting chemicals, mold,
fluoride, and possibly other poisons likely contributed to the
development of CFS.
- Other things that may have played a part include the anesthesia
given to Beth's mother during the birth process and the Flagyl
that was taken by Beth.
- Severe insomnia after the CFS developed.
A few of the numerous possible current conditions which may be helping
to perpetuate the situation include:
Beth deserves considerable praise and admiration for the positive
actions she has taken over the last seven years. She appears to
have accepted her condition, but at the same time, has been willing
to look for and take positive steps to help herself heal.
- Inappropriate nutrition plan for this particular condition.
- Shallow breathing and diaphramatic tension
- Energetic (chi) blockages due primarily to structure and tension problems
- Unreleased and unintegrated trauma (birth, childhood, etc.) or stress
- Poor digestion (causing nutrient deficiency, absorption of intact proteins, etc.)
- Undetected allergy or intolerence (gluten, for example)
- Reactive hypoglycemia
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Enzyme inhibition (for various reasons) (e.g., blocking protein synthesis or
brain chemical production, etc.)
- Other endocrine disorders (e.g., infant excitotoxic damage from MSG, etc.)
- Undetected toxic metal or other chemical exposure (e.g., lead from hair dyes, etc.)
Beth has given herself a very healthy base upon which more profound
healing can take place. She has improved her nutrition plan
tremendously, reduced the stress in her life significantly, begun
experimenting with inner healing and transformational techniques
(e.g., qigong, breathwork), removed herself from exposure to most
toxic substances, taken steps to improve the amount and quality of
her sleep (using qigong and Chinese herbs), endeavored to get
moderate exercise, kept several positive friendships, kept her
exchange of chi (energy) with the Universe moving by using her
creative talents, and developed some form of spiritual connection.
She has also worked with several types of practitioners and
experimented with a variety of Natural Healing techniques to find
what works for her.
It is very important for readers to realize, however, that these
activities have occured over many years. It would be extremely
counterproductive for a person to attempt to make quick and similar
changes in multiple areas of one's life. In most cases, healing can
begin to take place by focusing on one or two of the appropriate
holistic healing fundamentals plus appropriate treatments with
experienced holistic healthcare practitioners. So, it is not
required or even necessarily helpful to attempt to quickly perfect
every area of one's life. After a period of adjustment, other areas
may need to be addressed with changes or treatments.
Keeping with the idea that small changes in this case would likely
produce better results, I will present some ideas related to
treatments which might be considered in a case such as this.
These ideas do not substitute for a detailed diagnoses and
recommendations by an experienced Holistic Healthcare
It should be noted that Phase 1 does not address all possible current contribuatory factors
discussed above. Phase 1 makes important adjustments in the nutrition plan, begins to address
the shallow breathing and diaphramatic tension (very important), begins to release chi blockages
due to structural problems, begins to heal digestive difficulties, and contributes to healing
of other possible factors such as candidiasis, hypothyroidism, endocrine disorders, etc. Should
these other factors be involved, it is possible that certain vitamins, mineral and glandular
supplements or herbs would be warrented for treatment. Such treatment techniques are beyond
the scope of this short analysis. Even if other treatment techniques were added, the nutrition,
breathing, energy and structural work, inspiration, and eventually deeper healing techniques
such as breathwork, etc. might still be considered an important part of the healing regimen in
cases where a more effective program and a more permanent cure is desired.
In summary, Phase 1 includes:
- Holistic Practices/Treatments
A series of
Integrated Awareness Table Sessions with an experienced teacher
may prove extremely helpful, especially when it comes to energy
and digestion ability in Beth's case. Eventually, Beth may choose
to consider a full Integrated Awareness Training/Healing Program.
This may allow, over time, the ability to make some of the suggested
Food & Nutrition changes below. Other holistic treatments
(Acupuncture, qigong, etc.) can be continued as desired.
- Food & Nutrition
Beth has made enormous positive changes to her food and nutrition
plan since 1988. She began these changes when she was still in
High School. To being to take control of her own health at this
young an age is quite admirable!
There are several significant changes to the current food and
nutrition that could be considered. Some of these changes
involve moving towards what has worked well in the long run
for many persons with CFS. Below are a few of the key ideas that
could be used to adjust Beth's current Japanese-style Macrobiotic
- More protein. There appears to be a significant lack of protein
in the diet for what I would consider proper for the treatment of
CFS. Over the short-run, this might not present a problem,
but over the long-run it will often delay healing of CFS. A
significant number of people with CFS have found that getting
plenty of protein in the diet to be helpful. Beth should strongly
consider adding small, regular amounts (~2-6 ounces) of fish
especially cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel and
occasionally a little bit of chicken or turkey at least four
times per week if not more often. (Fresh salmon and mackerel
contain important healthful derivatives of essential fatty
acids.) Extra protein can also be obtained by combining
easily-digestible beans such as mung beans with grain dishes.
Obviously, it is not necessary or desirable to ingest these
high-protein foods in large quantities, but it can be helpful
for many with CFS to ingest them regularly.
If Beth was allergic to fish, she could use a very small amount
of chicken or turkey instead. An important key is to let go of
theoretical rules to find the balance of macronutrients which
suits one's current condition. Meat consumption may be reduced
later on as health changes.
Ingesting meat with cooked greens, ginger, lemon, or
traditionally used spices can help make the meat more easily
digestible. The cookbooks listed in the
Resources section of the
Food & Nutrition article can be useful for recipies.
- Reduce whole grain consumption somewhat. After reducing the
grain consumption somewhat (to offset the increase in
fish/protein consumption and an increase in vegetable
consumption, be sure to add variety to the grains that are
currently ingested. For example, the use of slow-cooking
oatmeal and soba noodles can add variety and important
- Be sure to get plenty of essential fatty acids (EFAs) --
linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linoleic acid (LNA). The
interview did not discuss EFA intake in detail, but over the
last several years there appears to have been a significant
lack of LNA (and LNA derivatives) and possibly a lack of
LA in Beth's diet.
More information and product resources related to
Essential Fatty Acids can be found in the presentation by
Dr. Udo Erasmus at:
- Get plenty of fluids. This is very important for persons
with CFS. There is a short-term positive health gain that some
people experience when limiting liquid intake and eating a more
"contracting" diet (from a Macrobiotic perspective). But in
the long run I believe that the intake of plenty of fluids
to be very important, especially for those with CFS.
In Beth's case, she appears to have digestive ("Spleen")
weakness and "Dampness" from a Chinese Medicine perspective.
In such a case, it is helpful to avoid overdoing the consumption
of liquids during meals. Between meals a slightly lower than
normal liquid consumption might be warrented, but probably
significantly more than is current being ingested. I would
consider erring of the side of slightly too much rather than
too little liquid intake.
In addition, it may be useful to add a little spice and
variety by gradually incorporating non-Macrobiotic
beverages into the diet. Consider a little bit of herbal tea
on occasion if it does not cause any problems.
Or try some freshly-made vegetable juice, coffee
- Keep the salt (sodium) consumption at a small to a moderate level.
This is usually somewhat less than is common in Japanese-style
- The use of mineral supplementation is a good idea. It might
be beneficial to focus on supplementation and/or sources for
magnesium, calcium, and zinc. B vitamin supplements may be
necessary in some cases, but I would try to go without it
for now. The above-mentioned minerals and vitamins are
important co-factors in the metabolism of EFAs. I would not
recommend taking amino acid supplements in this case.
- Try to add food treats from time to time and keep a
relaxed and fun-loving attitude (to the
extent possible) while working with the food and nutrition
- Be very careful when using aloe internally for any length of
time. It is very Cooling (from a Chinese Medicine perspective)
and, on a medium-term or long-term basis, can lead to the worsening
of digestive problems (and other health problems that grow out of
a weakened digestive system). Some people mix it with some ginger root
(grated with juice squeezed out) to help add more energetic
balance to the mixture. Unless the intuition is demanding the
use of aloe, I would think it is best avoided by persons with
a weak digestion and/or Cold conditions (from a Chinese Medicine
- Since certain aspects of Chinese Medicine seem to be helpful
(qigong and Chinese Herbalism), it might be useful to read about
Chinese Nutrition theory in:
- Arisal of the Clear: A Simple Guide to Healthy Eating According
to Traditional Chinese Medicine
by Bob Flaws
Blue Poppy Press (1775 Linden Ave. Boulder, CO 80304,
303-447-8372, 102151.1614@CompuServe.COM )
- Breath & Movement Routine
The occasional yoga routine helps to reduce built-up
stress and tension. But in order to loosen chronically tight
areas of the body related to body armouring and to help promote
energy movement though the body, a more customized routine is
Before we get to the details of the routine, a short explaination
is warranted. Running can strengthen leg muscles. However, it is
more important for the leg muscles to be flexible and the joints
loose and relaxed so that chi (energy) can flow through them --
from the body into the ground and from the ground into the body.
It appears that legs and especially diaphram are chronically
tight so that the chi flow from the upper body through the lower
body and legs and into the ground is not sufficient.
Chi movement in the neck and upper back caused by stretching or
massaging these tense areas might, under normal circumstances,
be beneficial. However, in Beth's case, excess released chi has
nowhere to go because of chronic mid- and lower-body tension and
overheats certain organ systems (from a energetic perspective).
Looking at the cause and treatment of significant energetic
blockages from a structural/body armouring and breathing perspective
is different than might be done by a Chinese Medicine practitioner
(for example). An acupuncture treatment may lead to
temporary benefits, but structural/body armouring and breathing
tension issues will likely cause the chi imbalances to return
after a short period of time. In these types of cases, other
types of treatments are warranted in my opinion.
In order to handle chronic tension in the neck and
upper back that is causing significant discomfort for Beth, it
is very important to focus heavily on 1) loosening the legs
muscles and joints, hips, pelvis and diaphram, and 2) developing
the ability to send the released energy down through the legs and
into the ground. The simple Phase 1 routine will also include
exercises which will begin to address the body armouring in the
diaphram which is limiting breathing potential.
Transformational techniques such as
Breathwork may be one way for Beth to make deeper and more
permanent changes to chronic body tension, but for now, the
exercises detailed below are an important start. The short
routine presented below combined with the regular use of an
active meditation such as qigong can also continue to
reduce emotional numbness and prepare the body and deeper
healing and transformation.
While this routine may not be a perfect fit for Beth's current
needs, it is the routine I would start with if I were in her
situation. Changes can be made if needed. All exercises should
be performed slowly, gently and in a playful way.
- Ankles, knees and hips loosening exercises as taught in
Bioenergetics classes. It is basically a simple exercise
to move and loosen the ankle, knee and hip joints. This
will help the chi (energy) flow through the lower part of
the body. (Note: A full Bioenergetics class of 1-1/2 hours
may be too exhausting for Beth at this point.)
- Daily Breathing Routine from "At the Speed of Life" by Gay &
Kathlyn Hendricks. Learn the "Bouncing Ball" exercise so that
it is performed in a gentle, relaxed, fun way. (It is much
easier to learn the "Bouncing Ball" exercise with an
Institute teacher than from a book. Also learn to
bounce the ball diagnally. These exercises will help loosen
the diaphram and pelvis and help coordinate the movement of
the pelvis and spine with the breath.
- Use a blanket roll under the hips (on the upper part of the
sacrum) and very gently roll the pelvis around it. A blanket
roll is a roll of old, taped newspapers with a folded blanked
rolled around it into the shape of a cylinder (~2-8 inches in
diameter). Inhale as the pelvis slowly and gently rolls down
around the blanket roll and exhale as it comes up. Bouncing
the pelvis up and down in this position may be too much at
this time. This exercise will help loosen the pelvis so that
it can move easily with the breath.
- Four minutes of various Bioenergetic grounding exercises. Two
minutes performed after loosening the ankles, knees and hips
and two minutes before the Alternate Nostril Breathing. A
Bioenergetics can be helpful in learning to perform this
exercise correctly. Theses exercises will help move the chi
(energy) released from previous exercises through the body and
into the ground.
- Alternate nostril breathing exercise for five minutes as described
by Gay & Kathlyn Hendricks in "Conscious Breathing." Or use the
simplier, but still powerful version as taught in Issue #35 of
Yoga International Magazine (717-253-4929). This exercise
will help balance the activity of the different hemispheres of the
brain and help gradually heal the nervous system.
After becoming adept at the exercises, this routine should take
approximately 20 minutes. It is important to create a short routine
so that is easy to practice daily. There should be flexibility in
the routine such that other simple exercises can be added depending
upon how one feels. For example, if the neck is tight, gentle
stretching of the neck from shoulder to shoulder and moving the neck
in circles can done. Shoulder shrugs and rolling of the shoulders
can be performed. Loosening of the jaw, face, arms, etc. can be done
as long as the routine doesn't become so long that regular practice
If Beth is experiencing extreme fatigue or extremely busy during a
particular day, the routine can be skipped. A bioenergetic
grounding exercise can be performed while lying down with the feet
against the wall if desired.
Finally, it is important that Beth
allow herself to sigh, vocalize, grunt, etc. during the exercises
to keep the chi (energy) from getting stuck in the throat. In fact,
it is often helpful to practice grunting and sighing during some
of the exercises so that one gets used to giving oneself permission
to vocalize and be expressive.
One thing to keep in mind is that when one has a tendency to be
emotionally numb, the regular practice of these exercises can
very gradually change one's breathing patterns and open the person
up to fully experiencing life and feelings. Sometimes the feelings
that come up during the process of opening up can be happy and
joyous, but at other times there can be sadness, anger or fear.
These changes usually do not happen overnight, but tend to come
- Toxic Chemical Removal
Beth has done a wonderful job removing toxic chemicals from her
immediate environment. The only change that would be warrented
for Phase 1 would be to replace the toothpaste which has toxic
fluoride compounds and sodium lauryl sulfate with a safer
If she has not done so, Beth should take the time over the next
few months to read: "The Rebellious Body: Reclaim Your Life from
Environmental Illness or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" by Janice
Strubbe Wittenberg, R.N. This book is useful, inspirational
and discusses cases of people using natural healing techniques
to recover from Environmental Illness and Chronic Fatigue
- Self-Acceptance and Self-Love
Beth deserves to give herself regular pats on the back for having
done so many wonderful things for herself, for inspiring others
who are in a similar situation to use Holistic Healing techniques
for health improvement and for putting up with a moderately long
In a case like this, it is important to make gentle, slow changes.
Therefore, it would probably be a good idea to focus on enjoying life
when possible and using the ideas in Phase 1 for several months
before moving on to Phase 2.
- Holistic Medicine treatments
- Adjustments to nutrition plan
- Short daily breathing and movement routine
- Switching toothpastes
- Reading a book
- Regular self-love
Part of the recommendations in Phase 2 would obviously be based, to
some extent, on the outcome of Phase 1 suggestions. Were there
difficulties encountered or adjustments that needed to be made? Was
there a need or desire for more healing ideas? It is difficult to predict
what the best course of action would be without knowing the outcome of
Phase 1 activities. Assuming that Phase 1 went reasonably well, as
might be expected, some ideas for Phase 2 are presented below.
- Creative Expression
If Beth's health and energy level improved significantly over the
prior several months, it could be very beneficial to use some of
that energy in creative ways. That might include making crafts,
teaching a class or two, working at the craft store (especially
if extra money is needed) and doing other enjoyable and creative
endeavors. Beth has some experience with overdoing this type of
work and putting too much stress on herself. Therefore, it is
important, even if there is improved health and energy, to err
on the side doing too little rather than doing too much.
- Holistic Treatments
Continue previous holistic treatments that are helping and that
can be afforded. If it is feasible, consider adding the
- Consider the
Integrated Awareness Training/Healing Program
as it may help considerably with deep healing/transformation.
- Friendships and Psychology
Keep in touch with close friends and try to do enjoyable
activities with friends when possible. If possible,
keep seeing psychotherapist/counsellor on a regular
If emotions come up (joy, happiness, anger, sadness), try to
breath into them with acceptence. Other techniques such as
journal writing, mandala drawing, dancing, Bioenergetic
exercises, etc. can be used as an outlet of expression for
In summary, Phase 2 includes the following:
- Creative activities if energy allows.
- Additional Integrative Awareness Workshops/Programs.
- Keeping friendship and therapy support.
The possible courses of action for Phase 3 are considerable. So much
would depend on what was found to be useful in Phases 1 and 2. Once
it is known what was found useful and what difficulties were
encountered (if any), it would be much easier to devise a plan for
Phase 3. As a very general outline, here are a few
Breathwork -- Consider giving breathwork another try. I would
only consider this a viable option once improvements are seen in
Phases 1 and 2. On structural, energetic and general health levels,
Beth appears to need preliminary healing before the breathwork is
warranted. Even after some health improvements, it is important to
keep in mind that there still may be sessions where there is no
"altered state". Some ideas to consider for breathwork sessions
- Work with a practitioner with whom you feel very safe.
- Consider trying a breathing technique which is circular,
puts the effort on the inhalation and the exhalation
is automatic and without effort.
- Gently stretch, massage and relax any tense areas of the body
prior to the breathwork session, especially focusing on any
tension in the legs, hips and diaphram.
- Feel free to breath through the mouth. You can switch to
breathing through the nose at a late r date when it becomes
- Consider working with a practitioner or sitter who will
more actively remind you to breath.
- Realize that there will likely be alot of fidgeting and some
sleeping or "drifting off" as part of the process.
- Willingness is, in my opinion, an important part of
- Breakwork may not be the ideal option. Beth may want to onsider signing up
Meditation class instead. Such a practice can be quite healing.
- Sometime during the early Winter it may be a good idea to have an
environmental specialist check the levels of
and other chemicals near the cooking stove (after it has been
on awhile) to make certain that there are not low levels of
chemicals which might effect health. It is unlikely that there
is a problem in this case, but it would not hurt to check.
- Give to others -- Find a way to share what you have learned
with others who are receptive and in a similar situation. It
doesn't have to be a massive undertaking, simply the passing on
your experience to a few others.