by Dr. Lawrence Wilson

© December 2010, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.


All information in this article is for educational purposes only.  It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.


A new understanding of chronic fatigue syndrome and its causes involves what is called mitochondrial dysfunction.  This is an important and interesting way of understanding chronic energy loss, but not a complete approach.




The mitochondria are small structures within each cell of the body.  Here the body changes various food components into the final refined fuel product of the body.  It is akin to an oil refinery in which the “crude oil” of proteins, sugars, starches and fats are changed into the “refined gasoline”, which in the body is called ATP or adenosine triphosphate.

ATP is a very potent, high-energy, phosphorus-containing compound that the body uses as its basic fuel to power all of its internal body functions.  It is quite an amazing transformative process to convert fatty acids, primarily, along with some glucose and amino acids, at times, into this very high-performance molecule called ATP.  One of the triumphs of modern biochemical science was the discovery of this molecule in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Producing ATP is the single most important function of the mitochondria.




Exactly how ATP is produced is a matter of speculation.  However, it is clear that a number of steps are involved.  These steps are collectively called the energy cycles of the body.  They are also called the glycolysis cycle and the Krebs or carboxylic acid cycle.  These cycles are explained and diagrammed in every decent biochemistry textbook, so I will not repeat them here.

Essentially, a number of enzymes and nutrients are involved in a type of recycling process that takes the glucose and fatty acids and moves them into enzymes that convert them to ATP.  The ATP is “used up”, and in this process it is changed to a used up form called ADP or adenosine diphosphate.  Then this “spent fuel” is recycled back into ATP once again.  This process takes place many times a second in the body cells.




The main causes of mitochondrial dysfunctions are familiar to anyone who reads this website.  They include:


Š           Nutrient deficiencies.  This is probably the main problem.  It is like an oil refinery that simply does not receive good enough crude oil to process.

Š           Toxic metals that are present in enzyme binding sites in the mitochondria.

Š           Toxic chemicals that can impair mitochondrial activity.

Š           Infections with viruses that infect the cells and render the mitochondria inactive or less active.

Š           An oxidation rate that is too fast, too slow, or in sub-oxidation (a four lows pattern on a hair mineral analysis).  This is a very critical imbalance that affects the mitochondria quite directly.

Š           Yin or yang imbalances.  These are subtle imbalances that often depend on physical and biological qualities of the food one eats, but not specifically its nutrient content.  For example, it has to do with eating too much raw food, and lack of meat and eggs, in most cases.  This slows the mitochondria for subtle reasons.

Š           Other subtle types of transmutational or other imbalances that may be influenced by radiation poisoning, for example, or subtle electromagnetic imbalances in the body.  While these are not well understood, they do occur.




This is simple.  If the body either does not produce enough ATP, or if the ATP is defective in some way, or if it is not recycled fast enough, one’s entire energy supply is affected.  This will not only affect a person’s basic vitality and adaptive energy level.  It will actually affect every single body function because every body function is subtly “powered” by ATP.  So this is why mitochondrial dysfunction is actually a critical factor in our health.

Note that mitochondrial dysfunction is only one cause for impaired energy production.  The mitochondria are just the last step in what I have called the energy pathway of the body.  The earlier steps in the path include eating the right food, digesting the food, absorbing the nutrients from the food, transforming the nutrients in the liver and elsewhere, and moving them into the cells of the body.  This brings us to some problems with the current focus on mitochondrial dysfunction.




Since energy production in the body requires that every step of the production of energy in our bodies function well, nutritional balancing always considers every single one of these steps.  They include, for example, one’s diet, digestion, absorption of nutrients, nutrient antagonists and irritants to the digestive system, liver function, metal toxicity, chemical toxicity, and many other imbalances that occur in almost everyone such as infections that affect digestive health or liver health.

            While the awareness of mitochondrial dysfunction is excellent, it is not enough just to focus upon it in a healing program.  In fact, it is often a distraction for several reasons:


Š           The diet is primary, as it supplies the raw materials.

Š           Digestion is primary, as otherwise the food is somewhat wasted.

Š           The transformation of the food in the liver and to some degree in the intestines is also critical.

Š           Other health factors such as enough rest and sleep, enough of the right type of water, and other health factors are equally as critical in some cases, such as cleaning the colon and raising the vitality level.


As a result, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to consider the whole person and a complete healing program, rather than waste time and money on fancy tests and products designed to target mitochondrial dysfunction only.


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