Moving Towards Medicine For The Individual

In my advocacy for M.E., I read a great deal of articles and view videos that are posted, shared, and recommended, on the Internet.  There is a plethora of information out there, for anyone who needs or wants to fill your brain.

The huge amount of material on the following topics of:

  • research;
  • experience (as a patient or caregiver);
  • what our governments are doing (or not doing) to fund further research;
  • how the global medical community is treating M.E. patients;

seems like going through reams of textbooks at times.

M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) is a complex chronic illness, consisting of many severe symptoms and sometimes incorporating other chronic illnesses and medical problems into the mix.

Today, I want to introduce Jeffrey S. Bland, Ph.D., who specializes in “Functional Medicine.”  He seeks to pinpoint and prevent the cause of illness, rather than treat its symptoms.  I do not adhere to all of Dr. Bland’s philosophies, but his explanation of the effect that exercise has on M.E. patients caught my interest.  One of the quotes from his book, “The Disease Delusion,” states:

“We can now start to see the future of health care and medicine more clearly.  We are moving from a medicine for the average to a medicine for the individual.”

This is a hopeful statement, and I will try to assume a positive outlook for our medical  future.

Dr. Jeffrey Bland

Dr. Jeffrey S. Bland


Dr. Bland’s quote that I show below is about poor exercise tolerance.  I found it to be particularly interesting because he explains how the M.E. patient’s body is affected by exercise; in that it has to do with the “energy producing machinery of cells in the brain, muscles and other tissues.”  I found his description clear.  I hope you do, also.  He refers to M.E. as “CFS.”

The one symptom that distinguishes CFS from other conditions is poor exercise tolerance.  Formerly enjoyable physical activities become exhausting, and even after modest exercise the individual with CFS is fatigued for more than a day.  This poor exercise tolerance, which has been identified as a disturbance in energy production and utilization by the body, is related to defects in the energy producing machinery of cells in the brain, muscles and other tissues.

Poor cellular energy production may also explain why chronic fatigue sufferers experience nervous system problems.  CFS patients have poor cognitive function, can’t concentrate on tasks and have brain biochemical disturbances that are revealed by SPECT scan.

Physiologists and medical scientists who have studied CFS find that the muscle cell mitochondria (the cells’ energy furnace) of the individual with CFS are changed in shape and function from those of people who don’t have this illness.  CFS sufferers’ mitochondria are swollen and have less energy-production ability, which may explain their fatigue and poor exercise tolerance.

In essence, a person who suffers from CFS is unable to support aerobic metabolism (metabolism in the presence of oxygen) effectively.  His or her cells, after even minor stress, begin to produce energy in the absence of oxygen.  Called anaerobic metabolism, this condition builds up acid debris in the cells, causing cells to become “poisoned” and reducing energy efficiency and function of the tissue or organ.

One body system that’s highly dependent upon proper energy production and utilization is the immune system, the set of specialized cells which help the body defend against disease.

The white blood cells of the immune system are active metabolizers, and debilitation of their mitochondria by conditions such as poisoning can result in poor immune function.  Poisoning of the white blood cells’ mitochondria may account for the immune abnormalities in the CFS patient.”


[image from jeffreyblanddotcom]


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