This week finds us right between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice.
Of course, the declining light and heat, with the lowering sun, also triggers physiological changes in millions of creatures.
Bats, snakes, and spiders — all popular Halloween creepy crawlies — are actually preparing to go into hibernation or “power-save” mode for the coming months. Their body temperatures will drop. Their metabolisms will slow. And their oxygen consumption will go down to minimal levels. This physical adaptation helps animals survive harsh winter conditions.
But a new study raises the extraordinary possibility that some humans also put themselves into a type of hibernation. Except in humans, this physical response may actually hurt health rather than help it.
Unraveling the puzzle of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM) remain two of the biggest mysteries of modern medicine. They affect more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. alone. Many people who suffer from CFS experience chronic fatigue as well as cognitive problems and headaches.
But doctors are so skeptical, they tell patients it is “all in their head.” This approach does not help make any progress against the condition. In addition, it shows sheer medical ignorance — since every medical condition is “in” both the head and the body.
Some new research, however, suggests that CFS and FM may be a kind of “human hibernation.”
CFS and FM shut down physical processes
For the new study, researchers at UC San Diego studied 612 different metabolites in 84 people — 45 with CFS symptoms and 39 without.
Those suffering from CFS had low levels of 80 percent of their metabolites as well as abnormalities in 20 key metabolic pathways. These findings suggest that CFS slows down metabolism.
The researchers said it actually resembles the “dauer state” in nematode lab animals. Nematodes enter this state when over-stressed by starvation, overcrowding, or toxic environments. Research biologists have intense interest in the dauer state because it represents a “non-aging” state when no cell death occurs.
This new theory may help shed new light on the mysteries of the condition. For example, it may help explain why many sufferers seem to come down with CFS after a triggering event such as an acute infection, exposure to toxic chemicals, or a traumatic injury, or other stress.
The researchers described this theory in humans: “Historical changes in the seasonal availability of calories, microbial pathogens, dehydration, and other environmental stresses have ensured that we all have inherited hundreds to thousands of genes that our ancestors used to survive all these conditions.”
When faced with environmental stresses, human cells also go into defensive mode and shut-down. Instead of maintaining highly sensitive and sophisticated metabolic pathways to carry out specialized cell and tissue functions, they shut down to the minimum metabolism required to just stay alive. After a few days or weeks of illness, starvation, stress, or privation, metabolism is restored again.
But what happens if metabolism never turns back on again?
The shut-down metabolism stays in a state with a “metabolic signature” similar to that of animals in hibernation.
Of course, as complicated as this may sound, the solution is to simply “wake up” the metabolism and place it back into balance by providing the right diet and dietary supplements.
Similarly, you must use techniques to keep the metabolism “awake” when restricting calories to lose weight. Natural physicians and practitioners know about these techniques and have been using them for years for CFS and FM patients.
Meanwhile, mainstream medicine continues to stumble around in the dark, not only for a cure, but even for the diagnosis!
Mind-body therapies work for CFS and FM
Mind-body therapies — such as acupuncture, hypnosis, and biofeedback, among others — can also help. My own research with Michael Jawer, shows your “emotional boundary type” strongly influences your chances of developing CFS and FM. Furthermore, your emotional type influences which mind-body therapy(s) will work best for you.
If you find yourself in “dire straits,” so to speak, or even in the dauer state, remember you don’t have to spend your “money for nothing” with mainstream medicine. You can get safe and effective natural solutions. And I will keep telling you all about them.
“Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Aug-Sep 2016; 113 (37): E5472–E5480