Find out about the parasite we all need


The Good Life Letter 
22nd August 2010

  • Don't let your health end up in a bucket
  • Why you should demand answers from your GP
  • 5 ways to increase your energy levels

As a kid I used to love comics. The Beano, Dandy and
Beezer were required reading in my early years and, I
have to admit it, well beyond!

I even think the Numbskulls in The Beezer may have
sparked my interest in health matters. These were a
bunch of little men who lived inside the head of Edd Case
and were responsible for his movements, thoughts and

No, I haven't gone gaga today..... it's just that something
happened which reminded me of those innocent days - I
had one of those light bulb moments, you know when a
comic character has a bright idea.

Let me explain.

I was researching conditions which have very complex
symptoms, such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). In
particular I wanted to understand them from a patient's
point of view.

So often a patient who is given a diagnosis for one of
these syndromes gets no further help with any other
problems they have down the line.  Any other symptom
they complain of is put down to the syndrome, rather than
considered on its own merits.

In this way it becomes 'bucket' diagnosis, a handy place
for the medical profession to dump all the patient's
problems into; and one that they can then treat with
another bucket of prescription drugs.

It is not just these complex syndromes where this
happens either. As soon as you get a diagnosis for
anything at your GP, have you noticed how quick they are
to refer back to it at any other visit?

Why GP's are so quick to pigeon hole our health

To be fair to our overworked doctors, they need to decide
on a diagnosis and treatment for you in minutes, and
often have no time to consider further investigations.

So, if you are suffering from the symptoms that tick the
box for CFS, that's what you have - you might get a
referral for tests, but that's it.

I have a real problem with this. Our care should not end
at a diagnosis. We should be able to revisit the way we
were treated - have the opportunity for continued review
and research.  If we don't, how can we take advantage of
new evidence - or consider new symptoms in the light of
new knowledge?

The problem with CFS (and fibromyalgia for that matter)
is that no-one really understands why they occur. There
seems to be no single cause. This makes them difficult to
diagnose, but even harder to treat - typically sufferers are
given drugs to reduce pain, control anxiety and manage
depression. That's about it.

There are theories that a virus could be responsible, or
that the body's own immune response to infection may be
at fault, by causing inflammation of the pathways in the
nervous system.

Both of these theories, however, share a common root -
because they involve specific bodily functions they
involve a process which can be modified by modern drug
intervention, so that is where most of the big money is
going in medical research.

I, on the other hand, would like to return to the

Little independent creatures that operate the body and its
functions, working to provide energy and resources for the
body to use........ I know this all seems a fantasy, but it is

Look, I know there are no little men inside my head -
even I'm not that mad - but there are microscopic
organisms that are inside every cell in our body, known as

They are responsible for producing the energy that our
bodies need, and they have a fascinating story to tell. Not
least of which is the fact they are PARASITES.

Mitochondria are completely separate organisms from us,
they have their own genetic makeup, and we inherit them
in the womb from our mums. Don't you find this amazing?

I did, and now I needed to know more.

5 ways to better energy

It turns out that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the UK is
much higher in women aged between 30 and 50, and
often follows a previous period of illness or stress when
energy levels were low. Which made me think about how
this might somehow link to the mitochondria.  Can you
see the lightbulb?

In my research I uncovered a 2009 paper written by
Sarah Myhill and colleagues at Oxford University, which
had shown that the failure of mitochondria to produce
energy was directly linked to two of the key symptoms in

The research team identified that low stamina levels and a
very slow recovery from any level of exertion was due to
fatigue as a result of a lack of energy, which implicated
mitochondrial activity.

Until this paper had been published it had been assumed
that the metabolism of individual sufferers was normal,
and that either a physical or psychological reason existed
for the symptoms. What Ms Myhill was able to show,
however, was that only 1 person of the 71 patients in the
study had anything like normal metabolism.

So, if these 'Numbskulls' do have a part to play in the
development and progression of Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome, what can we do to keep ours in tip top

A natural approach to improving our energy levels would
benefit all of us, but has particular relevance for CFS
sufferers. Here's some of the ways you can build energy:

  • Increase the amount of vitamin B3 in the diet
    - this vitamin allows the mitochondria to work
    optimally. Good sources of vitamin B3 are
    mushrooms, tuna, halibut, asparagus, salmon, beef
    liver and Marmite.
  • Take L-Carnitine supplement - available at
    good health food stores, this supplement helps to
    transport fatty acids, a powerful energy source,
    into the mitochondria.
  • Take Co-Enzyme Q10 supplement - this
    naturally compound is responsible for controlling
    energy production in the mitochondria.
  • Use Ginseng - enjoy a refreshing cup of ginseng
    tea each day to increase energy levels naturally.
  • Get more essential fatty acids in the diet -
    These fats and oils represent those that the body
    cannot make for itself, and are therefore only
    available from what we eat. Oily fish, like
    mackerel, are rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils, along
    with other good sources such as and evening
    primrose, flaxseed, olives & nuts.

Dealing with any ongoing health problem is always a
challenge, but I would like to think that the least we can
expect from our doctors is that they keep an open mind,
and don't chuck us in a bucket.

When it comes to complex conditions like CFS, there
should be continual review - and the evidence is there
that improving energy levels has an impact.

So, it might be as simple as giving those Numbskulls a
helping hand.




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