I first met Dan Neuffer, the author of CFS Unravelled, when he contacted me through this blog back in 2013. He told me at the time that he had made a full recovery from CFS by treating what he saw as the underlying cause of CFS: a dysfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).
When he first contacted me he had just published the first edition of his book on Amazon Kindle and set up the cfsunravelled website to offer hope and support to help other people recover more quickly. He was a man on a mission to spread the word, freely spending hours of his own time talking to suffering people all around the world, and was clearly a very genuine guy.
At the time I was dealing with a lot of anxiety and I remember Dan asking me:
“If you knew that you would soon make a full recovery, would you still be feeling so anxious?”
I found my occasional conversations with Dan tremendously helpful. I was impressed with both his zeal to help people who were still suffering and his analytical science-based approach to finding and addressing the root cause of this most perplexing illness. I bought and read the first edition of his book, and remember thinking “I wish I had this when I first got ill”.
Fast-forward to 2017 and Dan has created his own online recovery program called ANS Rewire. He’s also updated his book to the second edition, and sent me a courtesy paper copy since I had bought the first edition. He didn’t have to do that since Kindle gave me an automatic electronic upgrade, but he’s a generous guy.
I’ve just finished reading CFS Unravelled edition 2, and I highly recommend It. The central theory in the book remains that CFS is caused by ANS dysfunction which leads to a diverse range of secondary dysfunction symptoms. Recovery involves treating the underlying ANS dysfunction while also addressing secondary dysfunctions that keep the illness self-perpetuating. For me, this is the best theory I’ve come across for explaining CFS and this book describes it in just the right level of detail so that it’s credible but not overwhelming.
At around 250 pages, the book is refreshingly short. Yet it describes the background to CFS in Part 1, fleshes out Dan’s ANS hypothesis in Part 2, and gives lots of practical recovery advice in Part 3.
The recovery advice is centred on ANS Normalisation by addressing conscious and unconscious stress triggers, adopting a diet high in vegetables that minimises blood glucose spikes and toxins, using supplements conservatively to address mineral deficiencies, using exercise carefully and strategically, and adopting a lifestyle and outlook to facilitate recovery.
The pervasive theme of the book is all about balance, which makes sense since the whole aim is to rebalance your ANS so your body’s secondary dysfunctions can heal of their own accord.
I’ve pretty much integrated all the advice in the book into my life, and found the book a helpful reminder whenever I’m tempted to tear into some potato chips because I’m having a bad day and want comfort food, or I’m having a good day and feel like “celebrating” with some junk food. Potatoes are on Dan’s no-go list because of their impact on blood glucose, so this book reminds me to reach for a salad instead.
After many failed attempts at weightlifting, I’ve also come to the same conclusion as Dan that anaerobic exercises trigger the ANS and should be avoided until all symptoms are pretty much gone. It took me a long time to learn that lesson because I kept wanting to go back to the gym like I did before I got ill. Now I take the advice in this book as listen to my body instead wherever possible.
I could say more, but really my best advice is to read the book for yourself. It’s dirt cheap and you’ve probably already spent a fortune on your recovery. I can’t say I’ve fully recovered but I’m reasonably functional now and I attribute that to creating a lifestyle like the one described in CFS Unravelled and following most of its advice.
If you like the book and want more, you can also check out the ANS Rewire program. I haven’t seen what it contains, but given my experience of Dan and CFS Unravelled, I’m guessing it’s probably awesome.