Revisited: The Many Theories of M.E.

Bold black letters reading "revisited" in the centre of a circular black stamp, surrounded by ink splatters. The background is a pale photograph of a woman using a laptop while sat in a manual wheelchair.

Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Revisited series are available by clicking each number!

A lot has changed in the five years since I first created Diary of a Disabled Person, so I decided to take a look back at content produced in my first two years of writing and update some of my earliest articles. So, in no particular order, let’s revisit The Many Theories of M.E (originally published 13th May 2018).

It is somewhat depressing that in five years, few developments have been made in our understanding of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E). We are still unsure as to the causes of the illness, and the physiological mechanisms behind the condition remain unknown to us, let alone any potential treatments or cures. There have, however, been some interesting scientific theories to recently emerge.

The observation that many cases of M.E occur after a severe viral infection has not escaped the notice of scientists, and several medical journals have published articles that propose an auto-immune basis for the disorder triggered by a viral infection. A search for the terms “pathophysiology” and “myalgic encephalomyelitis” in Google Scholar brings up several articles and literature reviews highlighting that increased levels of antibodies specifically targeting human cells are often observed in M.E patients, such as Wirth and Scheibenbogen’s 2020 article “A Unifying Hypothesis of the Pathophysiology of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS): Recognitions from the finding of autoantibodies against ß2-adrenergic receptors”.

A year later, Wirth and Scheibenbogen also reported that M.E patients can have musculoskeletal disturbances that could give rise to common symptoms such as increased pain and fatigue, quite possibly arising due to the aforementioned auto-immune responses.

Another group of scientists explored the possibility that micro-RNA, a small strand of a molecule similar to DNA that may elicit an immune response, may play a role in the disease and even had the potential to act as a diagnostic measure (Nepotchatykh et al., 2020).

As to which part of the body falls foul of the potential auto-immune response, the general consensus seems to be that the central nervous system bears the brunt of the damage. In particular, a relatively robust review of brain scans of M.E patients points towards issues such as sluggish responses dependent on blood oxygen levels, slow metabolism in the brain, and other such abnormalities (Shan et al., 2020).

This is but a small selection of articles recently published in scientific journals concerning M.E in recent years. While no solid conclusions can be drawn just yet, it is becoming clearer that M.E is not a psychosomatic or even completely imagined illness, but a simple malfunction of physiology just like any other disease.

As callous as it sounds, with the recent influx of people suffering from long-COVID, a condition which bears many similarities to and is quite possibly M.E under a different name, research into this disease may receive better funding and more resource allocations in the coming years. Studies currently ongoing such as DecodeME, investigating the potential for genetic components to the disease, may also uncover interesting findings.

My hope is that, eventually, medicine can no longer brush M.E off by blaming laziness or a need for attention, but I also know that it will take more than scientific evidence to destigmatise the condition. We are a long way off truly understanding this disease and the lack of progress is frustrating, but the science is now very definitely on our side.

References:

Nepotchatykh, E., Elremaly, W., Caraus, I. et al., 2020, Profile of circulating microRNAs in myalgic encephalomyelitis and their relation to symptom severity, and disease pathophysiology. Scientific Reports(10).

Shan Z.Y., Barnden L.R., Kwiatek R.A. et al., 2020, Neuroimaging characteristics of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS): a systematic review, Journal of Translational Medicine(18).

Wirth K., Scheibenbogen C., 2020, A Unifying Hypothesis of the Pathophysiology of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS): Recognitions from the finding of autoantibodies against ß2-adrenergic receptors, Autoimmunity Reviews(19/6).

Wirth K., Scheibenbogen C., 2021, Pathophysiology of skeletal muscle disturbances in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Journal of Translational Medicine(19).

5 thoughts on “Revisited: The Many Theories of M.E.

  1. Hello again.

    This is seriously interesting, thank you. You may not believe, but I worked out what was going on with ME in late 2020 or in 2021. It may not be all the answers but I consider explains the basis for many issues.

    I have referred in another comment to my health so perhaps this may be of interest to you. In 2018, July I woke up with a facial palsy on my left side. I was eventually diagnosed, falsely as I have mentioned, with a cancer.

    In September 2020 I worked out the real issue was sodium nitrite (E250), which is legally allowed in small quantities in food, principally bacon and cured, typically pork based, meats. Some smoked fish may have it too.

    This led to the production via cooking of nitro-samines which is far more toxic than sodium nitrite. In essence neuro-toxins will block the electrical impulses to nerves so you lose control or suffer fatigue. I have been struggling for some time with fatigue and I suppose you might call this ME as a consequence. I am still active/mobile although my balance is affected. I am deaf in my left ear.

    The immuno-therapy I had in fact contained neuro-toxins among other things (what the active ingredient is I have no idea the manufactures won’t tell you, let alone the NHS).

    Following my research I now realise most big pharma drugs are neuro-toxic. Even the water supply has things like chlorine and even worse fluoride, all neuro-toxic.

    These all combine to a lethal cocktail for the unwary. We are being poisoned to death with these wretched things.

    Trying to detoxify is an uphill struggle but is achievable but one needs knowledge and wisdom to do this. I am trying to ensure I know all I can to help myself and others.

    So I hope this of use, feel free discuss if you wish.

    Yours

    Baldmichael

    Like

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