Are You Suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Are You Suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

The CDC defines chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) as an "unexplained fatigue for at least six months, which is of new onset, is not the result of ongoing exertion, is not substantially relieved by rest, and hinders occupational, social, or personal activities."

It is most commonly associated with symptoms of:

  • Poor sleep that does not support proper function;

  • Muscle or joint soreness, particuarly in the back region;

  • Memory or concentration problems;

  • Headaches or dizziness;

  • Irritability or moodiness;

  • Sore lymph nodes in neck or armpit areas;

  • Sore throat

  • Inability to recover from injury or exercise

Chronic fatigue is a serious issue.

Currently the CDC estimates that up to 8 million people in the United States have CFS.  The real problem with this affliction is the plethora of potential causes, including viral infections (Henderson 2014), immunological issues, nutritional deficiencies (Brown 2014), hormonal imbalances, as well as environmental and lifestyle factors, so actually coming up with a solution to the low energy problem is often difficult.

To give an idea of the complexity, here is a short list of possible causes:

  • Allergies
  • Anemia
  • Blood pressure medicines
  • Cancer
  • Coeliac disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes or other metabolic disorders
  • Heart problems
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Persistent pain
  • Drug use

The worst thing about CFS is that it can be debilitating. People report difficulty working, interacting, concentrating on tasks, exercising, and generally carrying out daily activities (Taylor 2010). Add to this the fact that it is common for doctors to overlook it. A 2011 report suggested as many as 80% of those suffering with CFS may not be accurately diagnosed (Nacul), and another 2014 study estimated that an accurate diagnosis of CFS may take as long as five years from the beginning of symptoms (Brown). The current success of the medical establishment to deal with CFS is poor.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is hard to diagnose.

One of the main stumbling blocks to understanding CFS is that it can occur subsequently to or concurrently with other conditions that cause similar symptoms. Studies show that people with a broad range of concerns from fibromyalgia, to chemical sensitivities (Ziem 1999), cancer, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and even veterans returning from war (Kipen 1999), all exhibit the same symptoms as CFS.  

The current view of the most likely causes are:


Allergies may trigger immune dysfunctions that can result in CFS.

Food Sensitivities:

In a 2001 study, 90% of CFS patients who eliminated benzoates, nitrites and nitrates, food colorings, milk, and especially wheat reported improved energy levels and reduced fatigue.

Viral Infections:

Chronic viral infections impact the immune system, cellular and mitochondrial function, and decrease the  activity of natural killer cells (Bansal 2012).


A 2014 study found that individuals with high neuronal inflammation compared to healthy brains had symptoms of CFS (Nakatomi 2014). Evidence suggests that an inflammatory state in the body may heighten pain sensitivity and increase fatigue (Harrington 2012).

Cellular Dysfunction:

Mitochondria supply energy to our cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It is believed that any breakdown in mitchondrial function is associated with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.

Hormonal Imbalances:

Imbalances in hormones such as DHEA-S, pregnenolone, testosterone and estrogen have been linked to CFS.

Eliminating these as causes is the first step in enacting a solution. Resolving CFS must derive from awareness of the individual's nutritional, physical, psychological, and even social needs (Brown 2014.)

So what can be done to prevent chronic fatigue?

The very first thing to do is to get a full workup to discover if any of the major issues discussed above are affecting you. Blood tests, thyroid tests, blood glucose tests, and vitamin tests are all part of eliminating the physiological factors. Once you know the landscape of your biochemistry, you are well equipped to solve or at least narrow down the problem.

For example, if the root cause is a viral infection, a 2014 study showed that treatment with an anti-viral drug led to a 93% recovery rate for suffering CFS patients (Henderson 2011.)

If the problem is brought on by dietary deficiency, certain nutritional adjustments have had significant impact, including magnesium, L-carnitine, CoQ10, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, DMAE, rhodiola, and ginseng.

If the problem is based on a psychological issue, various therapies, including behavioral, can be applied with success (Moss-Morris 2013.)

If the problem is neurological, options are available like antidepressants and stimulants.

If the cause is hormonal, replacement therapies have been effective (Himmel.)

The key to resolving chronic fatigue, low energy levels, and the concomitant concerns is knowledge. There are so many factors that could be involved that taking the role of detective is crucial. Drill down through all these potential causes until you discover what is at the root of your problem.  Work together with your doctor, but take the initiative to look at every aspect of your life (in most cases you can't expect an easy solution from your physician alone.)

If you know your problem is dietary, which is one of the most common causes, a high quality energy support supplement that covers the critical nutrients shown to improve energy levels can be very helpful.

Related Posts: 
What are the Best Vitamins for Energy?
Caffeine Can Offer a Myriad of Health Benefits


The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.

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