NEWS FLASH – A Test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)

“We now have an objective measure of energy supply and therefore a test for one immediate cause of CFS/ME.”Sarah Myhill, MD

[Ed Note: As of April 30, 2010, we deleted the link once offered here to Dr. Myhill’s handout on mitochondrial failure as the central cause of CFS/ME, as in that handout she mentions the hypothesis that CFS may be heart failure secondary to mitochondrial malfunction. Until further clarification, it may be that the UK General Medical Council verdict of April 29, 2010 forbids Dr. Myhill to mention heart failure on her website.]

Jan 20, 2009 – The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine has published on line details of a biochemical test which measures energy supply to body cells and therefore fatigue levels in people with Chronic Fatigues Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). The scientific paper, entitled “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Mitochondrial Dysfunction,” is available here.

For treating the fatigue of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, doctors have been hampered by the lack of a good test. This scientific paper clearly shows that the fatigue of CFS/ME is a symptom of mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria are the biochemical engines within every cell in the body, which supply energy to that cell.

What is shown by this paper demonstrates that the more fatigued the patient, the worse is the mitochondrial dysfunction and vice versa. This means that we now have an objective measure of energy supply and therefore a test for one immediate cause of CFS/ME

This test has resulted from the brilliant and pioneering work of the internationally recognized Dr. John McLaren-Howard of Acumen laboratories. He has taken cutting edge research biochemistry and applied it to the clinical conundrums thrown up by the illness known as CFS/ME.

This test can help distinguish between those people fatigued because of a biochemical problem in their mitochondria and those who are fatigued for other reasons.

Other reasons include dietary causes (allergy and carbohydrate intolerance), hormonal reasons (such as borderline thyroid and adrenal function), poor antioxidant status, chronic insomnia, psycho-social causes such as anxiety, and other causes.

Many doctors are already using this test and hundreds of patients are already taking the necessary nutritional supplements to support mitochondria. Many of these doctors and patients have observed significant clinical improvements. For some their health is so much improved that they have been able to lead normal lives and return to the workplace.

Dr. Myhill, one of the authors of the paper, says:

“This test represents a huge breakthrough in the diagnosis and management of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. This illness has already been classified as a neurological disease by the World Health Organization under ICD 10 G93.3, but many doctors continue to treat CFS/ME as if it were a psychological condition. This has been enshrined in NICE Guidelines for treating CFS/ME because their recommendations are for psychological treatments including antidepressants, cognitive behavior therapy and graded exercise therapy.

“This is completely inappropriate for patients who have mitochondrial pathology and indeed is likely to make the mitochondrial pathology even worse.

“A useful analogy is to compare your body with your car. The mitochondria represent the engine of that car, the diet represents the fuel that goes in the tank, the thyroid gland represents the accelerator pedal and the adrenal gland the gearbox of that car. Using cognitive behavior therapy or graded exercise to treat a patient with CFS/ME is akin to beating up the driver of the car when actually the car needs a re-conditioned engine, suitable fuel in the tank, resetting of the accelerator pedal, a new gear box or whatever.

“This test invalidates the psychological model of CFS/ME and clearly establishes this illness as having a physical basis. Sufferers of CFS/ME have known this for many years, but now we have the biochemical basis to prove this.

“This study clearly shows that CFS/ME has a physical basis with the potential for correction through physical and biochemical interventions. Clinical experience has shown that the package of supplements to support mitochondrial dysfunction is effective and this will be the subject of further studies.”


Dr. John McLaren-Howard, [recipient of] the Maberley Medal from the British Society for Ecological Medicine for his outstanding laboratory work in the field of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. It is his brilliant work and skills which have made this research possible. He has developed many known biochemical research techniques and pioneered new tests for investigation of patients with fatigue syndromes and related disorders. These have proved vital in ascertaining the cause of disease. The ATP profile featured in this scientific paper is just one example of many cutting edge research tools which he has applied to establishing disease causation.

Dr. Norman Booth, a retired physicist from Mansfield College, Oxford University. Dr Booth has been responsible for ensuring the necessary academic rigor to ensure publication in this scientific journal. He prepared all the necessary graphs and illustrations which clearly show the relationship between mitochondrial function and levels of fatigue

Dr. Sarah Myhill, a clinical doctor with a special interest in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome/ME. She was responsible for collecting the original data from her patients, and from the biochemical tests, and noticing a relationship between the two.

We are all especially grateful to those CFS/ME patients and non-patients who all co-operated fully, without whom none of this would have been possible.


Dr. Sarah Myhill
Telephone 01547550331
Fax: 01547550339
Mailing Address: Upper Weston, Llangunllo, Knighton, Powys, Wales LD7 1SL, UK

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