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When considering Chronic Fatigue, it helps to know where within our biological systems do we create energy?  And how do we create energy?
Mitochondria2

Mitochondria are rod-shaped organelles that can be considered the power generators of the cell, converting oxygen and nutrients into a substance known as Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP).

ATP is the chemical energy “currency” of the cell that powers the cell’s metabolic activities. This process is called aerobic respiration and is the reason we breathe oxygen.

Without mitochondria, humans and animals would likely not exist because we need large amounts of energy in order to survive. In fact, mitochondria enable cells to produce 15 times more ATP (energy currency) than they could otherwise.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as we have discussed is a multi-factorial health condition, with a number of imbalances contributing to the overall experience of CFS.  However mitochondrial imbalance can explain more than any other contributory factor Post Exertional Fatigue, which is a key player within differential diagnosis.

Mitochondria’s key function is the Recycling of ATP to ADP and back to ATP.

This cycle relies upon various nutrient substrates such as D Ribose, Carnitine, B3, Co-enzyme A, Co-enzyme Q10.  The role of these substrates is to move into the cell in the process of completing the important recycling metabolic process.

As the nutrients are harnessed, Adenosine Tri-Phosphate becomes Adenosine Di-Phosphate (ATP > ADP). This process actually releases energy, whilst becoming carbon dioxide and water.


Rate Limiting Factors

Firstly a deficiency in any of the substrates mentioned above create a BLOCK within the cycle.  Therefore nutrient deficiency plays into mitochondrial insufficiency.

And because Carnitine, Co-enzyme Q10, and other substrates result from a process called methylation (a biological process that will be expanded on in subsequent Blog posts), when a person under-methylates there is automatically a material deficiency regarding these substrates.

However, other things also BLOCK this cycle, like heavy metals, hair dyes, and excessive oxidative stress. Excessive oxidative stress destroys both the fatty membrane of the cells and the mitochondria itself.

Further to, there is a protein called translocator protein responsible for moving ATP and ADP from the mitochondria cell to the cytosol of the cell.  When mitochondria sense that ADP/ATP has been depleted, used up for cells function, etc, then this triggers mitochondria to produce more ATP. So this constant recycling occurs.

The key thing about those individuals who struggle with a rate-limiting factor is when they push through, meaning that they carry on doing exercise when or even in some cases just daily chores and tasks throughout their day, and they are not capable recycling the ADP to ATP then the body goes into emergency mode.  What this means is that the body then targets ADP to be broken down instead because there is not ample ATP because boundaries have been crossed.

ADP is then broken down to AMP, which is a purine and is lost to the system since it is then urinated out of the body.  Understood by leaders in the field of CFS to be a metabolic disaster.  This is where Post Exertional Fatigue comes from.  Usually, the person pushes through and can feel fine, and even feel fine the following day. But the day after that could be when they crash!!!

AMP cannot be recycled.  ADP then has to be built from scratch before it is then recycled to ATP.

However Mitochondrial function is not enough to create CFS on its own.  Rather understood a down-stream consequence of other factors. 

A key factor in how the disease is managed as well as forged is the personality type of the person.  If you are a perfectionist for instance who finds it hard to pace, then typically as soon as the person has some energy they use it up again. 

DISEASE DELUSION – Anna’s commentary

The father of Functional Medicine Jeffery Bland asks you to cast your mind back to the late nineteenth century and recall the diseases that brought fear and loss to many.. diphtheria, whooping cough, pneumonia, influenza, even plague routinely swept our county.

These diseases were the reality for many that decimated and destroyed our communities throughout our ages. At the time it was believed that noxious vapours from decaying matter were that cause, and to be avoided.

Scientists such as Lister, Koch, Pasteur revolutionised the way illness was perceived from the previous ages, which in turn transformed medicine.  Medicine no longer sought to avert the population from poisonous vapours, but to instead target and hunt for germs! And with that, the germ theory was born.

And so too was the age of antibiotics and vaccinations as these methods greatly succeeded in treating infectious diseases very well.

But!, did we get it 100% correct? 

On his death bed, Pasteur admitted that his germ theory was flawed.  Bechamp’s theory of environmental influence was to supersede Pasteur’s germ theory in practice at least. Which, translates into how the cell responds to its environment, whether it be the petri-dish or the body, it is the environment within which it is placed.  Also known as our Bio-terrain / body-terrain. 

As hygiene improved, so pathological disease did decline. But in tandem with vaccination, to considerably blur the picture.

Germ theory, although discredited, remained the model of allopathic medicine.

A new family of illnesses did also grow in prevalence and severity over the last 100 years.  These are Chronic Complex Health Diseases.  

Chronic Diseases are defined by their nature, in that they never really ever go away.  On the contrary, the picture deepens, as the individual becomes more susceptible to reaching a lowered state and thresh-hold to stress.  Over time the severity of symptoms often increases, disabling and draining the life out of every cell.


Chronic Complex Health Diseases are on the increase

  • Heart and blood-vessel diseases like type 1 & 2 diabetes, gout, high blood pressure, and dementia.
  • Autoimmune disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorders and autism
  • Digestive diseases: gastric reflux, duodenal ulcer, and inflammatory bowel
  • Bone loss diseases like osteoporosis
  • Obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma
  • Muscle pain and weakness from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
  • Kidney and liver ailments
  • Vision problems like macular degeneration and retinopathy
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • ME
  • Fibromyalgia

Chronic diseases are not self-limiting.  The common cold is self-limiting.  It runs its course and then it is gone.

Chronic diseases do not have a single cause.  And this is very important to understand, both within diagnosis and treatment.  Which is why General Practice medicine is so bad at dealing with chronic diseases.  When it looks for a single diagnosis and treatment or for a single organism it does not find the answer it seeks for.

Chronic illnesses have complex symptom profiles, with hard to specify causes of no single origin.

Which means that they don’t go away, rather too frequently they get worse and worse over time as we attempt to palliate but not successfully obliterate the condition.

Fortunately, the model of medicine that is becoming increasingly recognised and respected, Functional Medicine, looks at patterns, not pathologies.  Addressing dysfunctions that underly modern-day chronic diseases.  And fortunately offering a model of care that can prevent and even reverse these illnesses.

Functional Medicine looks at genotype predispositions via nutrigenomics and epigenetics.  It also considers interactions between our biological systems (circulatory, digestive, nervous, respiratory, etc) and well as endotoxins and exotoxin stressors found within our environment.

Functional Medicine understands that our biological systems function successfully in an orchestra, even to the brink of chaos, but that our robust adaptogenic capacity can become maladaptive and even collapse over time.  Some chronic diseases only manifest once we can no longer adapt healthily to stressors in a healthy hormetic capacity. Environmental toxicity and nutrient availability will have everything to do with how well we continue to adapt to stress.  Not forgetting our predispositions to stress, described by our inborn epigenetic enzyme deletions known as SNP’s, which shape our shape us, even before we interface with the increasingly toxic and stressful environments. 


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