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Nutritional Strategies for Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  [ 880 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • April 20, 2000

SUMMARY: As of yet, there is no one known cause for CFS. It is possible that there is more than one contributing factor to its development, which leads some to believe that there are a number of ways to go about alleviating its symptoms and addressing its root causes. Suspecting that a multiplicity of factors may contribute to the development of CFS, a researcher suggests a strategy of nutritional as well as vitamin/mineral supplementation is in order.

Upon reviewing literature on the subject, the researcher finds appropriate supplementation would include vitamins B and C, magnesium, sodium, zinc, L-tryptophan, L-carnitine, coenzyme Q10, and essential fatty acids. While the deficiencies appear to be caused by the illness, rather the illness caused by any dietary problems, the deficiencies in turn complicate and delay the healing process for CFS.

It is difficult to rule out what the researcher calls "marginal deficiencies" in the dietary area. In addition, it is unusual to have an adverse reaction to this kind supplementation. For these reasons, the researcher feels justifies in recommending a trial period for high-potency supplements to assess the therapeutic benefits to CFS.

ABSTRACT: Despite considerable worldwide efforts, no single etiology has been identified to explain the development of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It is likely that multiple factors promote its development, sometimes with the same factors both causing and being caused by the syndrome. A detailed review of the literature suggests a number of marginal nutritional deficiencies may have etiologic relevance. These include deficiencies of various B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, sodium, zinc, L-tryptophan, L-carnitine, coenzyme Q10, and essential fatty acids. Any of these nutrients could be marginally deficient in CFS patients, a finding that appears to be primarily due to the illness process rather than to inadequate diets. It is likely that marginal deficiencies not only contribute to the clinical manifestations of the syndrome, but also are detrimental to the healing processes. Therefore, when feasible, objective testing should identify them and their resolution should be assured by repeat testing following initiation of treatment. Moreover, because of the rarity of serious adverse reactions, the difficulty in ruling out marginal deficiencies, and because some of the therapeutic benefits of nutritional supplements appear to be due to pharmacologic effects, it seems rational to consider supplementing CFS patients with the nutrients discussed above, along with a general high-potency vitamin/mineral supplement, at least for a trial period.

Source: Werbach MR, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine, correspondence address: 4751 Viviana Drive, Tarzana, CA 91356. "Nutritional Strategies for Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," Altern Med Rev 2000 Apr;5(2):93-108, PubMed.

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