Seleno Health is the brainchild of founder Dr Corin Storkey, a New Zealand born scientist with 15 years of academic and research experience, specialising in antioxidant biochemistry, medicine and health. Following his own personal experience with overcoming Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) his goal is to enrich the lives of others and inspire them to achieve better health with natural supplements and health education. Through research, education and engagement he hopes to answer the question – how to beat chronic fatigue syndrome. This is Corin’s story:

How I got chronic fatigue syndrome

It was 2002, I was a budding young scientist studying for my honours year exams in Wellington, NZ. For me, exams and grades were everything, I was an extremely high achiever and a straight ‘A’ student. I had won scholarships, awards and was “destined for great things” according to my professors. I was a true scientist: rational, organised, methodical, in control, and very sure of myself. I was a workaholic and felt like it was my job to ensure everything in my life ran smoothly, from my work to family, to relationships, it was almost like I felt responsible for the happiness of others. Stress did affect me but i felt my body was strong, i was able to cope and that i would always be fine despite putting my own health way down on my list of priorities. 

It had been an incredibly stressful year with the pressure I had put on myself to succeed, which was compounded by my pending application to study for a Ph.D. at a reputable American university. I was spending about 25-35 hours per week in the laboratory, 20-30 hours per week studying, and the remainder of my time was spent teaching, working in a clothing store and trying to earn enough money to get by. As the end of the year beckoned my body began to show signs of cracking, with constant headaches, worsening insomnia, increasing fatigue, and emotional swings that affected my mood and balance. What I didn’t know or realise was that my body was stressed, and I mean really stressed. I was on the verge of a breakdown and was just managing to teeter on the edge of functioning long enough to get by. I always thought i'd be fine i'd just need a nice holiday at then end of this all and then i'd be back to normal.

One memorable day after arriving home late from university I remember feeling strange like I wasn’t connected like my head and body were not on the same wavelength. I was dizzy, exhausted, numb, and started to lose control of my body. The next thing I knew I was lying on the floor shaking uncontrollably, having passed out. The ambulance that was called checked me over and said there was nothing wrong and couldn’t identify a cause except that it must have just been a panic attack bought on by exam stress. Over the coming weeks, my health rapidly deteriorated, I began to feel exhausted, tired, anxious, unable to sleep, then unable to get out of bed in the mornings. It was a nightmare, and the thought of it affecting my exams made it even more stressful for me. I had hit the bottom layer of the “downward spiral” and my body had begun to give up from the prolonged stress. I ended up just managing to complete my exams before I completely shut down and was forced to move home and go on a sickness benefit, unable to function. It became so bad that even a walk to the shops ended in me collapsing again and being taken to hospital. It was fatigue like i had never experienced, there was nothing left in the tank and every time I tried to push myself i would collapse again. I tried so hard to shake it off but i couldn't, everything i tried seemed to have no benefit or even make it worse.

During the months that followed, I had three more trips to the emergency department, countless blood tests, and specialists examining me for everything. Each expert prescribed a different drug, my neurologist gave me pills for migraines, my cardiologist gave me pills for tachycardia, my GP gave me pills to help me sleep and anti-depressants to enhance my mood. With each test, I kept hoping for a reason or an answer, something they could identify, so that they could find the magic tablet to fix my problems. As a scientist, I had always believed 100% in the health system and conventional medicine, I put all my faith in their hands and was sure eventually they would find a solution.

My list of specialists and medication for chronic fatigue syndrome treatment

After almost 15 months of waiting the only answer I received was “you have chronic fatigue syndrome” (CFS). I didn’t even know what this meant and after researching it I realized it meant nothing…it was just a label, a label saying you don’t have anything we can diagnose using conventional medicine. “You have physical symptoms for some reason but nothing seems to be detectably wrong with you”. It is a syndrome of exclusion. For me this came with an eye opening revelation - the conventional western health system has flaws when it comes to “non-specific” disorders or other non-genetic, auto-immune conditions, they don't really know anything. By breaking down the body into systems and refusing to see the whole picture they were limiting their ability to treat the root problem and only masking individual symptoms one at a time, leaving people like myself stranded, depressed, hopeless and even suicidal with no prospect of solutions. 

How the Western health system attempted to manage my CFS. Looking only at independent symptoms.

Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms:

When people ask what it was like at that point in my life, I find it hard to describe, it was like a hazy memory. All I can remember is that it felt like my body had a horrific flu, completely exhausted, in pain, fatigued, aching, with the feeling of not having slept for days, where my body and mind were no longer connected. Mix this into a melting pot with the anticipation you get before giving a big talk in front of a large group of people, anxious and uneasy and add the frustration of collapsing every time you try and do anything, fear of it never going away, depression from not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and a complete feeling of helplessness. All the while people wondering why you don't just get up and about, not being able to see or feel your pain. Further to this I had no immune system, I was constantly sick with colds and flu, a shingles outbreak, unexplained rashes, and a severe bout of toxoplasmosis that left me debilitated.

My body had practically died and I was barely managing to function, all my joints and glands ached. The worst thing of all was that I was so tired yet I couldn’t sleep and when I finally did sleep it felt like I never had once I woke. I was on autopilot, while I waited for something to change. I don’t know what I was waiting for and it’s hard to remember a lot of what happened those days. There were times when I felt like there was no point, no hope, and nothing left to live for. After months of struggling and collapsing, I made a promise to myself as I was fighting through the tears, that if I ever got through this I would make sure I put my health and happiness first. I think for me the symptoms were very severe and debilitating, more so than most. Although there is no blueprint it is worth noting that everyone experiences chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms differently and some may be affected more severely than others. Anyone who has experienced chronic fatigue though for surely would be able to relate to my situation in some way or another.

The array of drugs I was placed on for CFS by different doctors. All of which gave no relief or worsened my health.

How the body feels for people with chronic fatigue.

What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

The question what is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a difficult one to answer due to the nature of the condition and how it affects different people in different ways. In summary, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a debilitating condition of previously thought to be unknown cause in which sufferers feel extreme fatigue, muscle and/or joint pain, swollen glands, headaches, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, un-refreshing sleep and post-exertional tiredness (PEM) without relief. It is currently diagnosed by the process of exclusion in which all other known fatigue causes are ruled out and there is no widely accepted Western therapy. Over the last few years several key studies have begun to shed light on this once unknown condition and mechanistic models are now finally providing answers to the questions that the Western health industry has struggled to explain about chronic fatigue syndrome – CFS.

Chronic fatigue syndrome treatment

How to treat chronic fatigue is a complex and personalized holistic problem. A chronic fatigue syndrome treatment plan needs to approach the condition from all angles. As a scientist I was torn, I had always seen alternative medicine as ‘quackery’ and although I didn’t believe in it I was so desperate for help I was prepared to try anything. For me my journey to recovery all began with a trip to see an acupuncturist on recommendation of a friend. It was a weird experience for me, but one i forced myself to be open to. I remember at the consult hearing all about my kidney yang deficiency, spleen qi deficiency, liver qi stagnation, yin deficiency and all these terms i was completely unfamiliar with. It was alien to me but I listened and learned about the approach of traditional Chinese medicine and the importance of looking at the whole body, all symptoms both physical and mental. I also was educated about how different foods can either help or harm the various conditions I was told i had and how it is so important to understand the correlation of symptoms and moods and how to treat these holistically from the gut upwards. 

My acupuncturist beyond treating me with needles gave me a dietary plan of what to eat and avoid to improve my condition, told me the do's and dont's for people with my constitution and my symptoms and then most importantly prescribed me classes and segments of qigong. Qigong is an ancient energy art that works to harmonise the mind, body and breath with slow, meditative movement. It can be incredibly internal and mild on the body or, if required, more external and strength building. Qigong was an incredible tool and gift that allowed me to begin to build my body without burning out and combined with the dietary changes I was given I began experiencing very subtle changes, including noticing that I actually had a few good days per month following, where i didn't need 1-2 naps to survive the day. Things began to slowly change, however i wasn't exactly back to normal but at least I had started on a road to recovery. 

My next breakthrough came when I added in high doses of glutathione, Selenium, and micronutrients to rebuild my tired detoxification enzymes and support my liver function. I had done a lot of reading about the benefits of the glutathione system and how it can support those dealing with chronic stress and having taken supplements to build it for 2-3 months I can honestly say it did give me a boost, maybe 15-20% more energy than before and enough to allow me to be able to put my focus into other tools to assist my recovery. My incredible experience with glutathione led me to actually study this later in life during my PhD and is the reason i named my company - Seleno Health, as Selenium (abbreviated as Seleno) is the core active component of this system in the protective enzyme Glutathione Peroxidase (GPx).

GPx Cell Protect - glutathione booster and medicinal maca were my staple go to daily supplements during recovery.

My next breakthrough came when I added in high doses of glutathione, Selenium, and micronutrients to rebuild my tired detoxification enzymes and support my liver function. I had done a lot of reading about the benefits of the glutathione system and how it can support those dealing with chronic stress and having taken supplements to build it for 2-3 months I can honestly say it did give me a boost, maybe 15-20% more energy than before and enough to allow me to be able to put my focus into other tools to assist my recovery. My incredible experience with glutathione led me to actually study this later in life during my PhD and is the reason i named my company - Seleno Health, as Selenium (abbreviated as Seleno) is the core active component of this system in the protective enzyme Glutathione Peroxidase (GPx).

After this, the next level of success came when I discovered the healing power of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and in particular the amazing sacred medicinal root of maca from Peru that works in the ECS via indirect plant cannabinoids it contains. The Incan people of Peru had discovered this special high-altitude radish and through ceremonial preparation converted it into a powerful plant cannabinoid that has the ability to regulate our stress and endocrine systems of the body. The ECS and plants like maca are so effective at assisting the body to self-heal that they are considered sacred in the region they grow in the Andean mountains and are now being researched as central nervous system modulators to assist with all kinds of inflammatory stress disorders like chronic fatigue.

The next step in my health recovery involved getting back into healthy exercise using tools like heart-rate variability (HRV) to gauge my readiness to exercise without taking a step backward. Studies have shown that overexercise can induced post-exertional malaise (PEM), meaning you feel worse after exercising. So finding the right balance is integral to recovery and was one of the fine balancing acts i constantly had to fine tune. For me qigong and using HRV tools were the solution to getting my exercise program right and keeping my recovery on track. 

Finally, I started on a journey to change my sub-conscious mindset using tools like neuro-Linguistic programming (NLP) and cognitive behavioural therapy to remove the toxicity and PTSD I had festering from years of illness. This step was essential in keeping my from regressing and taking the speed in which i was improving to a new level. For those wanting to hear my thoughts on the changes that need to occur in the sub-conscious brain I suggest listening to an extract of my webinar on this topic. From everything I tried and learned I summarised it into a final 10 steps of recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome. It is important to note that everyone is different and no two people have the same requirements when it comes to overcoming complex conditions like chronic fatigue, however i believe a similar plan could really help improve the lives of some out there currently struggling. This generic plan can be found in more detail in our blog article here.

A summary of my approach to healing involving a multitude of holistic approaches.

Here is a list of some key changes that I bought about to improve my health:

I slowly withdrew all the drugs I had been prescribed, until my body was medication-free and all my symptoms were unmasked.

I embarked on a year-long gut healing regime and rebalancing my gut biome through nutritional therapy and gut healing supplementation. I eliminated all inflammatory and refined foods (including gluten, lactose, refined sugar, caffeine, etc) and focused on a low GI organic whole foods diet, rich in antioxidants. I introduced daily pre-and probiotics including fermented foods, broths, and other gut-healing approaches. And I applied eating principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine based on my constitution and underlying issues to heal my enteric nervous system and address the root of my inflammatory cascade.

I began a twice-weekly acupuncture treatment plan and I started practicing qigong and meditation to help balance my body and mind. It alleviated some of the symptoms I was experiencing, built stamina and strength, and made me feel more connected to my body. The more time I focused on internal and mindful health the more rapidly my body began to respond to holistic changes and improvements slowly began to show.

I attended neural linguistic programming (NLP) sessions to reprogram my subconscious mind and program myself consciously and subconsciously that I was healthy and able to achieve anything I put my mind to. I detoxified my mind from the negativity, toxicity, cynicism, frustration, and post-traumatic issues I had developed from years of illness.

I assessed all stress in my life and looked at ways of making health centripetal to my journey with better work-life balance, including a career change, with flexible working hours in an environment that was warmer and sunnier than I had previously been in. I put my health and wellbeing first, I stopped being the rock to everyone else and became the rock to myself.

I customised a nutraceutical plan based on my condition and symptoms, with a focus on gut healing, immune-boosting, and reducing levels of primary and secondary inflammation. Addressing my enteric nervous system, my gut-to-brain connection, my liver function, my HPA axis, and my immune system.

I started modulating my endocrine system using endocannabinoid regulators like therapeutic grade Peruvian Maca powder and other cannabinoid plants. Ancient traditional medicine used in Peru for hormone balance, adrenal fatigue, mental health, immune function, energy, and vitality. It helped further boost my energy, boosted my mental health – enabling me to come off my anti-depressants, improved my focus and concentration, and gave my body stamina.

The proud practitioner of Wu style Qigong. Beginning to feel more alive with energy and vitality as I changed my life.

Practicing the form called baduanjin (8 pieces of treasure). One method I used to slowly re-strengthen my body and rebuild fitness.

It wasn’t as simple as it sounds, as I still encountered many setbacks along the way, but over time I slowly began to notice myself having more “good days”. My sleep started to improve and I would occasionally wake up feeling a little rested. I could begin to walk to the shops without needing medical help. Once I had recovered to the point where I was able to function again I continued to place my health as a priority in my life to ensure that I never returned to the state I had reached. I learned to let go, to create realistic goals, to listen to my body, and to be mindful. It was a process and a journey that ended up re-shaping my health, my entire being, and my whole personality. 

I found that the Qigong and meditation gave me a deeper understanding and connection with my body, I began to “feel” myself and my health in a way I had never felt before. NLP helped me to remove negative habits, phobias and convince my body that it was well again and I need not fear relapsing. The supplements and dietary changes enabled me to build my immunity, repel infections and fuel my physical recovery to the point where I was able to begin to exercise normally. Maca and glutathione now act as my insurance policy from spiralling downwards again, it provides a platform to maintain my good health and well-being. Once I had constructed my ideal holistic health pyramid for recovery and was dedicated to following it I found that it took about 5 years of perseverance to be back to what I was before it all happened. All the while though working to reprogram my mind, my personality and creating a new, healthy me.

Everyone with chronic fatigue needs to hear this - the importance of changing the sub-conscious mindset

I went back to study again, but this time in a completely different way, with different expectations of myself. I completed my Ph.D. specializing in diseases of oxidative stress and the role of Selenium (GPx) in protecting our body. I was able to combine my newfound passion for health with my former passion for science in a more balanced approach. After some years of furthering my work in antioxidant therapies, I began a role in the pharmaceutical industry focusing on metabolic lifestyle diseases (diabetes and heart disease). Having seen the effects of drugs on patients with lifestyle disease I noticed similar trends for people with non-specific disorders (CFS, ME, fibromyalgia, auto-immune disorders). Patients who were able to achieve health success all shared the same characteristics: they were all motivated, educated, determined, engaged, and managed their health holistically. What I learned was that, for these people, the drug was only at most 50% of the solution, the other 50% was up to the person taking the drug.

My holistic recovery pyramid

After a trip to Peru where I met my partner Sally, I was inspired by the native healers and their holistic approach to health. I joined them to connect with maca in the Andean mountains, their most sacred plant, and learn about its traditions and healing powers. After my trip, I ended up quitting my job with the big pharmaceutical company I was working for and moved to Peru to begin a new adventure of connection to mother earth, myself, and the living world. My experiences in Peru led me to develop my company and philosophies around the sustainable use of sacred plants and the science behind them. With my partner Sally we began to bring maca direct from the farm in Junin (Peru) to the West with a scientific research program to better understand the plant and bring credibility to its uses. We donate profits back to help support our community and preserve the ancient traditions and spiritual practices surrounding maca as well as running annual retreats in the mountains to connect people to this incredible culture. It may sound challenging running your own business, but I can honestly say that I feel younger, more energetic, and healthier than when I was 18 years old. I have a strong immune system and rarely suffer from colds or flu. From my rock bottom days 14 years earlier I never imagined that I would reach this point in my life.

Recently I surfed the world's longest wave in Chicama Peru in a day that included 8+ hours in the water without any repercussions. I climbed to the top of Rainbow Mountain (5300m), literally on top of the world in a grueling 8-hour hike that left me breathless. I donated my services to help underprivileged children in Peru be inspired by the ocean with free surf lessons. I helped the people of Ecuador rebuild after their big earthquake. I traveled and experience all of the best that Latin America has to offer. All of this while running and maintaining a global health business that is specifically for people looking to take control of their health and happiness. For me chronic fatigue was a blessing, not a curse, it changed my life for the best and every day I wake up feeling content, inspired, and at peace knowing I have my health and happiness.

My new found passion for surfing. I could never have imagined being able to surf for 8 hours in a day without any problems.

Holidaying in Costa Rica. After a long hard journey I had made a full recovery, with more energy than I could ever remember. Enjoying my life, my health and my happiness.

From the last 15 years of experience in research, health and life I have come to the following conclusion:

“Health is a never ending journey, it is a mindset, a way of life. It is holistic, and relies on education, engagement, determination and a little discipline. There is no single magic solution. You control your health and only you can make yourself better. At the end of the day you need to find the right path for you and your health to reach a destination of true well-being, happiness and inner peace”

My company Seleno Health is a representation of my health journey. I now travel the world promoting health and well-being as an avid surfer and adventurer (Please follow me on Instagram and Facebook) I hope my journey inspires you to follow your own path to achieving better health, happiness and inner peace in your life.

Watch the FREE full webinar about beating chronic fatigue here

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