Board certified internist Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, whose research, clinical protocol, and bestselling books have transformed the lives of thousands worldwide who suffer from chronic pain and also chronic fatigue sat down Salonpas to discuss his treatment protocol for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FMS):
Tell us about your own experience with CFS?
I came down with a severe viral infection, which I call the “drop dead flu,” while in medical school. Months later, I was still nonfunctional. Although the labs showed a severe viral infection, it could not identify the type. I was then told I had “med student syndrome” (a euphemism for depression) when they couldn’t find anything else they could treat and the symptoms persisted.
Since I was paying my own way through medical school (my father died years earlier), I was also unable to continue my job as a Children’s Hospital nurse that was paying my bills. I found myself homeless and sleeping in parks.
But it was as if the Universe hung a “Holistic Homeless Medical School” sign on my park bench. A remarkable array of healers came by and taught me bits and pieces of different areas of the healing arts. If they happened to have some pizza with them, I also got to eat. I cobbled this information together and developed a protocol that helped me to recover.
This allowed me to return to medical school where I got honors in medicine. When choosing my specialty, I decided to be a “generalist, ”choosing Internal Medicine to do this. This has allowed me to draw information from a wide array of specialties in developing treatments for CFS and fibromyalgia. I have spent the last 43 years developing, researching, treating, writing about, and training physicians on effective treatment for CFS and fibromyalgia
Why do you think chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia remain undiagnosed with so many people?
They are very complex conditions impacting major control centers in the brain and energy production in each cell. Because of this, CFS and fibromyalgia impact multiple different systems (brain, heart, gut etc.). Most physicians are simply (and understandably) not willing to take the time needed to understand this complex area. Meanwhile, there is no simple diagnostic test as well. Once a diagnostic test for this develops widespread acceptance, then things will change.
Do you think that CFS and fibromyalgia still suffer from a stigma of not being ‘real illnesses’?
Yes. To put this in perspective, Multiple Sclerosis used to be called “hysterical paralysis.” Then Medicine developed a test for this condition, and countless women went from being neurotic to having an illness.
When I was in medical school, the same thing was happening with lupus. I still remember the day that somebody walked into the classroom excitedly and announced the “LE Prep” test had been discovered for people with lupus-like symptoms. Suddenly, millions of women again went from being neurotic to having a “real” illness.
The same thing happened in the past for rheumatoid arthritis. We are on the verge now of this happening for CFS and fibromyalgia.
You may notice, that all of these conditions affect predominantly women. This is the case for most illnesses that affect immune function, as a woman’s immune system has to be very different commands to be able to carry a baby for nine months without rejecting it. The medical establishments bias against women (despite half physicians not being female) can be seen in the medical word “hysteria.” This word comes from the Latin “Hystero,” or uterus.
How is a diagnosis of CFS accomplished? Similarly, how is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
These conditions are best diagnosed simply by looking at diagnostic criteria. To make this very easy, people can do a five minute free quiz at www.vitality101.com/cfs-fms-checklist . It will quickly tell them whether or not they have CFS and/or fibromyalgia.
In your landmark study, hypothalamic dysfunction was suggested in Fibromyalgia (FMS) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This dysfunction may result in disordered sleep, subclinical hormonal deficiencies, and immunologic changes. What is the SHINE protocol entail that helps improve patient’s symptoms in FMS and CFS?
The SHINE Protocol is a comprehensive approach geared to optimizing energy production, and eliminating the factors that drain energy. This results in an average 90% increase in quality of life in fibromyalgia and CFS. It stands for addressing Sleep, Hormones/Hypotension, Infections, Nutrition, and Exercise as able.
For those who cannot afford to seek medical help, can CFS/FMS sufferers undergo the SHINE protocol on their own?
Our goal has been to make effective treatment available for everybody. This illness financially devastates so many people, and this financial devastation is compounded by disability companies often refusing to pay for the disability, hiring physician experts to say that there is no such thing as CFS or fibromyalgia or that is a psychological condition, or that the person is malingering because there is no specific test.
So about 20 years ago I designed and patented the first computerized physician. My goal was specifically to have this be widely available so that everyone could get the help they need. We initially charged $300 to do the program, but told people that if they couldn’t afford they could do it for free. 80% of people wrote back that there were financially devastated and couldn’t afford it. So my wife and I made the decision to make the program free to everybody.
This has now morphed into the Energy Analysis Program, which can review anybody’s symptoms, and even lab tests if available, to determine the most likely cause(s) of their energy drain. It will then tailor a protocol to optimize energy production. Much of this, the person can do on their own. The free quiz can be found at www.vitality101.com/energy-analysis-program
Which of your books do you recommend that CFS/FMS sufferers read?
The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia, Made Easy! is recommended. In September 2020, the new edition of From Fatigued to Fantastic! will be out, and I highly recommend that.
Please describe a typical day in your life; from when you wake up to when you retire.
I usually get up about 7 AM. I enjoy a cup coffee while reading books on personal and spiritual growth (currently enjoying rereading the Conversations with God books). I have a breakfast of granola cereal, do my morning meditations, and hit the walking trail with my wife. About 10 AM, I start my work day. This can either be doing client visits (I don’t like the word “patient.” I find it is meant to be disempowering. As in the question “who’s the doctor and who’s the patient?” sometimes used when people disagree with the physician’s recommendation). During the day, I’m usually answering several media queries, often doing a webinar or radio show, answering questions from the public and other health practitioners, and writing articles. I am currently writing three books (almost done! 🙂 in the last half of 2019. Currently, I am completing the next edition of From Fatigued to Fantastic! This will be available September 2020, and has been the best selling book of all time on CFS and fibromyalgia.
I’m usually done work about 6 PM. Then I usually go out for dinner (I am a Mexican food addict😉 and hang out with my wife Laurie for the rest of the evening. I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy in the evenings. I travel from Hawaii to the mainland about every 6 to 8 weeks or so for lectures, media appearances, etc.
Meanwhile, I am also running our family foundation. We currently have a project called The One Minute Fix which be will be launching in the beginning of 2020, which can fix our broken political system. It is powerful yet elegant in its simplicity. Could make a good blog in itself 🙂
Then I return to my wife, home and cat in Hawaii., Which is basically like going to heaven, but skipping the messy dying part! I must admit. I love my life!