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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated condition characterized by profound fatigue that persists for more than six months. It is often accompanied by cognitive difficulties, muscle and joint pain, depression, poor sleep quality, or other nonspecific symptoms (Cella 2011; Jones 2011; Ciccone 2010). Between one and eight million people in the United States are believed to have CFS (Jason 2013; CDC 2012; Dinos 2009).

There is no clear cause of CFS, though numerous factors may contribute (Cairns 2005), including viral infections (Henderson 2014), nutritional deficiencies (Brown 2014), hormonal imbalance (Van Den Eede 2007; Aschbacher 2012), and immunological disturbances (Brown 2014). Concurrent psychological abnormalities have been observed among individuals with CFS, but the nature of the relationship remains unclear (Wessely 1996; Yoshiuchi 2007; Hickie 1990).

CFS can be a debilitating condition (Cairns 2005). Many people with CFS have difficulty working, attending school, exercising, and carrying out daily activities (Ross 2004; Anderson 1997; Taylor 2010). Sadly, conventional physicians often overlook this condition, and as many as 80% of individuals suffering with CFS may not receive an accurate diagnosis (Ward 1996; Griffith 2008; Nacul 2011). Worse yet, it has been estimated that achieving an accurate diagnosis of CFS may take as long as five years from the onset of symptoms (Brown 2014).

CFS is a multifactorial condition and requires complex management, which must begin with a rigorous clinical evaluation to rule out other possible causes of fatigue (Brown 2014; Teitelbaum 2001). Once the diagnosis has been established, an effective treatment strategy must take into consideration the medical, nutritional, physical, psychological, and social needs of each patient (Griffith 2008; Brown 2014). Unfortunately, the conventional medical establishment often fails to provide this kind of comprehensive care for individuals with CFS.

However, emerging research has led to the development of a number of novel treatment strategies that may benefit those with CFS. For instance, in one study, 15 individuals who met diagnostic criteria for CFS were treated with the antiviral drug valacyclovir (Valtrex) and 93% of them exhibited a positive response, suggesting that viral infection, and possibly post-viral alterations in the host’s immune system, may represent a piece of the CFS puzzle (Henderson 2014; Montoya 2013; Stringer 2013).

In addition, evidence suggests that individuals suffering with CFS may attain some benefit through the use of natural, integrative interventions including magnesium (Cox 1991), NADH (Santaella 2004; Forsyth 1999), L-carnitine (Plioplys 1997), D-ribose (Teitelbaum 2006), B vitamins (Maric 2014), omega-3 fatty acids (Behan 1990), melatonin (Van Heukelom 2006), and probiotics (Sullivan 2009). 

In this protocol you will learn about the complex nature of CFS and several factors that may contribute to its onset. You will also learn about the treatment approach typically taken by conventional physicians and how a more comprehensive, integrative approach may be necessary if CFS relief is to be achieved. You will read about several novel and emerging therapeutic strategies that may ease CFS symptoms, and a number of natural interventions that may benefit those affected by CFS. ​