I appreciate the frustration and difficulties you may be going through if you are battling CFS and fibromyalgia without financial resources to pay for formal treatment. When I had CFS/FMS, it left me homeless and sleeping in parks for much of the year while also knocking me out of med school for the year. I know it's even harder for many of you who also have a family to care, which I didn't.
Because of this, I've done several things to make help available to those on tight budgets:
- At my Vitality101 website is a free online Energy Analysis Program that can analyze your symptoms (and even blood tests, if available) to help you optimize energy. After using this, you can bring the recommendations to your family doctor to help with apply the treatment protocol — and you can do much of it on your own.
- If you have prescription insurance, much of the Energy Analysis Program program can be done with prescriptions instead of natural therapies (Medicaid covers most needed prescriptions). If you don't have prescription insurance, and your income is low, you might be able to obtain the medications you need from can be obtained for free from Partnership for Prescription Assistance. You can also get tremendous discounts on prescription medications by using GoodRx (they also have a free smartphone app for this). Using their free coupons will lower your price to what the medication should cost — often lowering the price as much as 95%!
- The key tests that are needed include blood count (CBC), ESR, general chemistry, free T4 level (thyroid test), vitamin B12, Ferritin, and DHEA-S level. Although many other tests can be very helpful, one can often rely on symptoms alone to make the other treatment decisions. If your insurance doesn't cover lab tests, many labs offer a 50% discount for payment when blood is drawn (you should ask about this before you go in).
Low-Cost Ways to Apply S.H.I.N.E.®
The key to getting well is "S.H.I.N.E.®"—Sleep, Hormones, Infections, Nutrition, and Exercise as able. Below are low-cost ways you can follow the S.H.I.N.E.® protocol:
Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) and Elavil (amitryptaline), although more likely than some other medications to cause side effects, are inexpensive. Desyrel (trazodone), Neurontin (gabapentin) and Ambien (Zolpidem), in generic form, are also reasonably priced. These 5 can be very helpful for sleep, and your doctor is likely to be comfortable prescribing the first 4 of these. Terrific Zzzz™ and Revitalizing Sleep Formula herbal mix, melatonin ½ mg, calcium and magnesium are also low cost. All of these can be combined as needed.
Thyroid, cortef, DHEA, and estrogen (by prescription) can also be found at fairly low prices.
The most severe cases of CFS/FMS are often accompanied by what is called orthostatic intolerance (OI/POTS/NMH). Increasing salt and water intake and wearing a pair of medium pressure (20-30 mm) compression stockings (preferably thigh high) when you're up and around can result in marked improvements in stamina. (Download this in-depth information paper on orthostatic intolerance.)
Diflucan generic is $70 for 6 weeks (using GoodRx to get free discount coupons on medications, along with shopping at Costco, can result in excellent prices). Doxycycline is also low cost (minocycline can also be used). Low-dose naltrexone can be markedly beneficial, and you can order it for about $0.75 a day from Skip's Pharmacy (by mail).
To simplify nutritional support, I recommend the Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder. 1/2 scoop a day is enough, so it can be done for about 50 cents a day (the same as the cost of 1/4 cup of tea or 3 cigarettes a day). Ribose can be bought at about eight cents per dose by using S.H.I.N.E.® D-Ribose (after using it three times a day for three weeks, you can often drop it to one time a day). Vectomega once a day is a relatively inexpensive way to get fish oil (one tablet replaces 7 typical big fish oil pills).
If you purchase any of these using the monthly auto-ship program at EndFatigue.com you'll get an additional 20% discount over the already heavily discounted prices there.
Exercise (as able)
Free and priceless! Simply walk as feels comfortable.
For pain, Curamin and Topical Comfrey (TraumaPlant) can be very helpful and an excellent value. The medications Neurontin, Flexeril, Zanaflex and tramadol are also available in very low-cost generics, and are often as (or more) effective than the expensive medications.
Although some of the treatments for these syndromes can be very expensive, it's possible to do key parts of the treatment protocol in an affordable manner.
Though many researchers patent their treatment protocols, I donated the patent for mine to the public domain to ensure that it can be applied by any doctor at no extra cost.
I know it's hard, but I also know you can get better. Start with the info here, do the free online program, read my book The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. We, and many others, are working hard to make effective treatment available for everyone.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.