An Irish doctor has come up with a successful treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) with an eye to eventually finding a cure for the condition that some doctors believe can be treated with anti-depressants.
Dr. Derek Enlander, born in Belfast and a resident of the U.S. since 1966, told the Irish Voice on Monday he is extremely concerned about the attitude many doctors have towards CFS, otherwise known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and sometimes referred to as the invisible disease.
“This is a very sad disease that is not recognized and treated,” said Enlander, who practices internal medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and serves as president of the Israel Medical Research Foundation.
Enlander, through his website, www.enlander.com, describes CFS as “a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity.”
Enlander said there is little recognition for the syndrome here in the U.S., and far less in Ireland.
“No one is treating this disease in Ireland,” he said.
“They (doctors) are saying basically that people are depressed and they imagine they are sick.”
Enlander, who graduated medical school at the age of 17, was offered a fellowship to Stanford University Medical School and came originally to the U.S. for one year. Stanford extended the fellowship for four years.
He came to New York as assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, and then associate director of nuclear medicine at New York University.
Due to popular demand, Enlander, who still holds British and Irish medical licenses, goes back to Northern Ireland at least once a year to see patients.
It was during a trip home several years ago that his interest in CFS developed.
Enlander, physician in waiting to the British royal family and to several members of the British government during their visits to New York, was asked by a childhood friend to help him deal with the then virtually unknown condition CFS. The disease had caused his friend to curtail his lucrative real estate practice.
Enlander’s interest was piqued at his friend’s unknown condition, and from there he took it upon himself to seek out the best possible answer and treatment for the disease.
The more he researched this illness, the more interested he became in it.
“I was completely intrigued by this illness due to its highly unusual effects on patients, its lack of consistency and seemingly affecting so many aspects of the body, and the lack of objective testing evidence when clearly these patients were so very ill,” said the doctor.
Now, 15 years later, Enlander is making a name for himself throughout the world for the research he has completed and treatments he has made available for patients suffering from CFS.
Enlander initially designed an injection that he has been treating patients with, and more recently he began supplementing the injection with a substance called immunoprop, an immune system adjuvant.
“The treatments act on the immune system because we believe that ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is an immune system dysfunction,” said Enlander, adding that to date 65% of his patients “actually recover from the treatment.”
The cause or causes of CFS have not been identified, and no specific diagnostic tests are available, but Enlander’s study brings him to believe that the disease comes from the XMRV virus in the body. XMRV is a retrovirus, a member of the same family of viruses as the AIDS virus.
“We don’t know where the XMRV virus comes from, but it’s seen in CFS patients all the time,” he explains.
Enlander further adds that there is an interrelationship between CFS and Fibromyalgia (FMS), pain in the muscles and joints.
“I do believe that CFS and FMS are related illnesses,” he feels.
Not stopping with just a treatment, Enlander promises to keep investigating the disease until more in depth knowledge about it can be discovered leading to further treatments and a possible cure. He is currently embarking on a new research project into the disease.
Enlander, who has a practice in New York City and Long Island, is world renowned for his research and treatment of CFS and often communicates with his patients via Skype.
“I see patients from all over the world. Patients have come from Singapore, Peru, Jordan, Israel, Ireland, France, England and Germany,” he adds.
Enlander said most of his patients are women.
“Seventy-five percent of patients are women and we don’t know why, but it’s certainly not because they are imagining it,” he said firmly.
Worldwide, 17 million people have the syndrome, including at least one million Americans and 12,000 people in Ireland.
Enlander sees patience with CFS at his offices in Manhattan and Long Island. To make an appointment call 212-794-2000, or visit www.enlander.com.