Ari Whitten is a Scottsdale, Arizona naturopath who runs the Energy Blueprint website. He’s done an amazing number of podcasts with alternative health practitioners. If you’re interested in alternative health, his website is a good resource. I find that Whitten asks good questions.
His May 28th interview with JE Williams, “Common Viruses That Can Trigger Chronic Fatigue (CFS)/ Myalgic Encephalomyelitis │The Best Viral Infection Treatment Approach“, was fascinating simply because this Williams is so darned honest. Williams is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and the author of the 2002 book, “Viral Immunity: A 10-Step Plan to Enhance Your Immunity against Viral Disease Using Natural Medicines“, who’s been treating ME/CFS/FM patients for decades. (He’s also done fieldwork in some really exotic places. Williams is now partially retired.).
Williams starts off by flat out stating that when he first saw chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia patients, he (mostly) believed them, but in truth he really couldn’t relate.
I believe that these, most of them, had a real problem. I had already been working with this for approximately 10 or 12 years. Some of them did improve, so depression or neurotransmitter dysregulation was part of that, but most of them didn’t. I still was not sure. I was male, the CFS patients were mostly women. I didn’t relate. I could treat, I could examine… I wasn’t sure, real or not real, and how could they be that tired, how could they be that weak, the things that they complain about. It wasn’t just tiredness like you would take a nap and you recover from it. They also were weak. Weak meaning difficulty picking up things or lifting or vacuuming and getting tired from vacuuming.
Then, on a trip to the Amazon, Williams got sick – really sick. He got so sick that when he got home he was so weak he could hardly move – and THEN he could relate.
I was so weak, I couldn’t hold a pencil. It literally would tip out of my hand like that. I would be at my desk like this, and I would watch the pencil just go like that, fall down on my desk. I was weak and tired. I couldn’t wash my dog. I’d be in bed for the rest of the afternoon. My god, this is how chronic fatigue people feel.
It took him years of using natural therapies to mostly recover, but mostly recover he did. He still has to pace himself but he can exercise. Since then, Williams has treated thousands of patients and he’s focused a lot of attention on treating pathogens both with drugs and naturally.
His symptom profile of a virally reactivated ME/CFS/FM patient is a pretty general one: someone with a fever or low grade fever, sensitivities or allergies, constant fatigue, generally not a sore throat, gastrointestinal problems, low diversity gut microbiome, not helped much by probiotics, but sometimes helped by prebiotics.
After Ari asked him how helpful antiviral therapy really is, Williams gave a devastatingly honest answer. This doctor who has devoted his career to helping this group of patients still finds this disease “very difficult to treat”.
Well, Ari, that’s the difficult part. If it worked so well, we’d have less sick people. What you have in these cases is ambiguous symptoms that as a rule don’t lead to a classical disease diagnosis, right?… Then we start from there, which makes it very difficult to treat from my experience.
ME/CFS, he says, is really very resistant to therapy! Go figure! Well, we know that, but having a doctor actually state it is incredibly refreshing. Williams’s goal is not to make people well – he does do that at times – but for the most part, to get some benefit for his patients.
The other classical characteristics of ME/chronic fatigue is that it’s resistant to therapy. You have ambiguous symptoms on the one hand, you have resistance to therapy on the other hand. What I want to do is bring some sense to a path so that I can get some benefit for that patient. That’s my model … I wish I could say (it works well in) a lot of cases, but I can say it works well in some and a few patients respond really well.
In a flash, Williams highlights the dilemma that many patients face. Could they be the one? The problem is that determining if they are the one is not going to come cheap. The long list of traditional and alternative approaches this functional doctor uses is large and varied – he’s clearly done his homework – and is going to cost a pretty penny. Even with that, success is not assured I suspect that few people can afford such a comprehensive approach to their illness.
Near the end of the podcast or article, you’ll find out about a typically complicated case of ME/CFS which had what Williams called a “reasonable” result. It took time, trial and error (Williams called her case a “curvy straight line”) and she never recovered, but she was 60% better – a good result in ME/CFS/FM.
- Listen to the Podcast or read the Ari Whitten / JE Williams Interview here.
- Check out other podcasts by Ari Whitten.
- Check out JE WIlliams website and his interesting blogs.
Take the Alternative Health/Functional Doctor Effectiveness Poll for ME/CFS/FM
A huge question facing many ME/CFS/FM patients is how much to spend on potential treatments. With no FDA-approved drugs and a limited number of prescription drugs (which have their own co-pays) available, the list of treatment options is pretty small – until, that is, one steps into an alternative health/functional medicine practitioner’s office.
There, one is often met with a huge number of possible tests and treatments – all of which need to be paid out-o- pocket. Because experts are rare, travel costs can come into play as well. Because ME/CFS/FM are complex disorder,s it may take time (and more money) for the practitioner to get a handle on your case. The point is is that stepping outside of the traditional medicine model is always expensive – sometimes very expensive.
Some people have an easy decision – they simply don’t have the money. Others are in good enough shape financially that medical costs are not a real problem. Many others, though, are faced with some gut-wrenching decisions. Should they risk their financial resources in hopes of getting better (and getting back to work) or should they give up their search for health and shield their finances?
This poll was borne out of those questions. It should be noted that this is not a scientific poll. To get that, we would have to include a representative sample of patients from alternative health/functional doctors. Plus, we’d have to identify our practitioners. Our sample isn’t representative at all: it doesn’t include many people for whom these treatments worked really well and who then went on with their lives, and it includes all sorts of practitioners. In short, there’s really no way to tell how you’d fare with any particular practitioner from this poll.
The Alternative Health / Functional Medicine Practitioner Effectiveness Poll
For the purposes of this poll, I define alternative health / functional medicine doctors as doctors or professionals (e.g. naturopaths, osteopaths, doctors of oriental medicine, etc.) for whom alternative health treatments make up a substantial part of their treatment regimen, and who provide their clients with a wide variety of alternative health treatment possibilities.
Some people have seen many alternative health practitioners. This poll asks about your experience with one practitioner – the one who helped you the most. At the end, it also asks how much out-of-pocket money you’ve devoted to becoming healthy, and how many of these practitioners you’ve seen in your search for wellness.
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