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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome--
Symptoms and Top 10 Natural
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July 25, 2010, last updated September 23, 2014
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Many of us feel tired each day. Life is often stressful and we’ve
all got a hundred things to do before we can get to bed at
night. But for some people, tiredness is so severe that they can
no longer lead a normal life.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating condition
characterized by prolonged fatigue that is not relieved by rest,
and which is associated with a variety of accompanying

Chronic fatigue syndrome is also called post-viral fatigue
syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or, rather
dismissively, ‘Yuppie Flu’.

The Centers for Disease Control officially recognized chronic
fatigue syndrome as a condition in 1988.

How Many People Suffer From Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

It’s not easy to pin down the numbers of people affected by
chronic fatigue syndrome as the disease is often confused with
other conditions. According to The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, 500,000 Americans are affected.  And The
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association estimates estimated that
some 250,000 people in Britain are affected by chronic fatigue

Chronic fatigue syndrome is about as common in children
(particularly teenagers) as it is in adults. Women get chronic
fatigue syndrome more often than men do, according to a
1995 report on the condition, entitled "The epidemiology of
chronic fatigue syndrome", Epidemiologic Reviews.

Anyone can get chronic fatigue syndrome but studies show
that women are more likely to experience it than men, and
people who have extroverted personalities are more prone
than introverts to suffer from chronic fatigue, according to a
2014 study the University of Washington, Department of
Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, in Seattle.

What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is not your average tiredness. It is
severe and can drastically affect your life. Sufferers may be so
tired they can no longer attend school or work and social life
can be severely restricted. In certain cases, sufferers are
confined to bed.

In addition to fatigue, you may also suffer from swollen and
painful joints,
sore throat, problems sleeping, headaches, and
lack of concentration or
failure of memory. In addition, chronic
fatigue syndrome can cause abdominal pain,
bloating, chest
dizziness, nausea and irregular heartbeat amongst other
frightening symptoms.

Here is a big clue. Unlike regular fatigue or
adrenal fatigue,
symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are not generally
improved by rest.

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy Eases Symptoms

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychological talking
treatment that helps change your negative ways of thinking
into new feelings and behaviors. A therapist will work with you
over time to learn new ways of thinking and behaving which
boost confidence and self-esteem.

Although cognitive behavioral therapy deals with the brain,
this doesn’t mean that chronic fatigue syndrome is "all in your
mind".  Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you manage
your energy and activity levels and learn when  to say "no" to
unnecessary requests, how to set goals, set up a sleep routine,
and deal with negative attitudes.

In a 2005 study from the University Medical Centre in
Nijmegen, The Netherlands, 40 in 100 people who had
cognitive behavioral therapy showed improvement in their
levels of tiredness, feeling less tired at the end of treatment,
compared with 26 in 100 of those who did not take therapy.

And the improvement in your symptoms can be long term. The
study found that cognitive behavioral therapy improved
chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms 7 months after the
treatment when researchers checked back with the study

Can Resting Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Disappear?

Chronic fatigue syndrome does not appear to necessarily
improve with bed rest. Research is limited as to the
effectiveness of rest specifically for those with chronic fatigue
syndrome, although research on healthy people and those
recovering from infections shows long-term rest can actually
make people feel worse.

However, sleep can help minimize the symptoms associated
with chronic fatigue syndrome such as aching muscles and
headaches. Try to get into a regular sleep routine, going to
bed at the same time every night after a relaxing bath or hot
drink. Avoid lying in bed for the sake of it, as insufficient
activity can worsen symptoms.

Pacing Can Help You Manage Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Pacing means managing your lifestyle when you have chronic
fatigue syndrome, so you can find a way to be active while
also retaining energy for the rest of the day.

The idea is you manage your energy wisely and it will
gradually increase. Make sure you plan your day so you can
get plenty of rest after physical exertion and you will be able
to make better use of your energy.

Foods to Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

It makes sense for all of us to eat a healthy, balanced diet high
in fruit and vegetables, low in saturated fats and with a good
intake of slowly-absorbed carbohydrates.

Eating healthy is even more important for those with chronic
fatigue syndrome. If you have chronic fatigue syndrome you
may find your symptoms get worse if you are not eating well.

Some people with chronic fatigue syndrome experience food
intolerances for wheat or dairy, and may develop
bowel syndrome. It is worth keeping a food diary to rule out
certain trigger foods.

Certain special diets for chronic fatigue syndrome, however,
have attracted some criticism and are not entirely proven to be
successful. Some people may find diets such as the anti-
candida diet helpful but these diets can be very restrictive and
cause more stress than they prevent.

If you are a chronic fatigue syndrome sufferer who is
housebound and not getting much sunlight, the 2005 Dietary
Guidelines for Americans suggests you should consume extra
Vitamin D from food or supplements to prevent problems with
osteopenia and osteoporosis.

5. Alternative Therapies As A Remedy For Chronic Fatigue

Many people turn to alternative therapies such as homeopathy,
relaxation therapy, reflexology and acupuncture to relieve
their excessive tiredness. Anecdotal evidence suggests that
these remedies can be soothing, relaxing and helpful although
there is little scientific evidence to support them.

Several Chinese institutions have looked at acupuncture for
treating chronic fatigue syndrome. One 2001 study from the
Ju County Chinese Medical Hospital in Shandong looked at 50
patients who were divided into an acupuncture treatment
group and a control group. The study found, after one month
of treatment, a significant improvement in symptoms in the
group that received the acupuncture treatment.

Exercise Can Decrease Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to help chronic
fatigue syndrome. It’s important not to overdo it if you’re
starting an exercise program to relieve chronic fatigue
syndrome, but it can be an excellent way to feel better.

The key is to focus on gradual but progressive increases in
exercise with the aim of building strength and fitness without
falling into exhaustion and relapse. Depending on the severity
of CFS, you could choose walking and start with a few paces,
gradually increasing your effort and taking any setbacks into

One 1997 study from the National Sports Medicine Institute in
St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Medical School, found
gradual, sustained aerobic exercise was better than stretching
and relaxation for relieving chronic fatigue syndrome.

Another 2010 study from the RMIT University in Melbourne,
Australia, discovered that adolescents with chronic fatigue
syndrome who participated in resistance and aerobic training
experienced an increase in capacity for physical activity,
increased quality of life and lowered fatigue severity. You
should consult your physician before starting on any new
program of physical activity.

Dietary Supplements May Help Control Chronic Fatigfue

One small 2002 study from the University Medical Center
Nijmegen in The Netherlands, looked at whether a tablet that
contained vitamins, minerals and other nutritional components
worked better for chronic fatigue syndrome than a placebo.
The results were unclear, possibly due to the size of the trial.

Vitamin B12 has been shown to increase energy in chronic
fatigue sufferers, as well as beta carotene which strengthens
immune function, and Vitamin C which also promotes the
immune system.


According to the National Institutes of Health, we each need
about 6 micrograms of Vitamin B12 per day. Foods high in
Vitamin B12 include clams (84 micrograms for 3 ounces,
cooked), beef liver (70 micrograms for 3 ounces of meat),
fortified breakfast cereal (6 micrograms per serving), trout
(5.4 micrograms for 3 ounces) and sock-eye salmon (4.8
micrograms for 3 ounces).]

Evening Primrose Oil Could Help Relieve Chronic Fatigue

Certain studies have suggested that an essential fatty acid in
evening primrose oil helps treat chronic fatigue syndrome. A
1990 study published in the journal Acta Neurologica
Scandinavica looked at the effects of this treatment on chronic
fatigue syndrome and found that evening primrose oil
improved how people felt.

In the study, 63 people were given either a combination of
essential fatty acids from evening primrose oil or a placebo
over a 3-month period. At  the end of 3 months, with 8 out of
10 patients who had received the evening primrose oil
reporting feeling better.

Magnesium Can Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The mineral magnesium has been reported to improve
symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. One 1991 study from
the Medical School, University of Southampton, found that
chronic fatigue syndrome patients who had weekly injections
of magnesium sulphate were more likely to feel better after six
weeks than those who took a placebo.

Too much magnesium can cause diarrhea or interfere with
other medications, so check with a doctor before starting

Dark Chocolate Can Be Helpful For Chronic Fatigue

And now, here's another health benefit of chocolate.
According to a 2006 study from the Hull York Medical School,
dark chocolate could be responsible for improving symptoms
of chronic fatigue syndrome. Dark chocolate means chocolate
with a high cocoa content and little milk.  It was reported to
alleviate symptoms in a trial of 10 patients, with two of the
patients, who had been away from work for six months, being
able to return to work. Half received 45g per day of high cocoa
content dark chocolate while the other half received 45g per
day of milk chocolate which had been dyed to look like dark
chocolate. The substitute did not produce the same results.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromylagia--Are They
the Same Condition?

Doctors and scientists have long recognized that the symptoms
of chronic fatigue syndrome appear to overlap with those of
fibromylagia. Many in the research community now regard
these two syndromes as the same medical condition. However,
others view them as overlapping conditions. According to a
2012 historical study of these conditions by Dr. Adele
Blankfield of Australia, these conditions "constitute a definite
single syndrome" which many patients now prefer to call
"myalgic encephalomyelitis".

For both these conditions, researchers have identified the
importance of the amino acid trytophan as an important part
of the remedy. Our bodies need trytophan for many reasons
including maintaining a healthy nervous system. Foods high in
tryptophan include spinach, soy protein and egg whites. (Read
more about
fibromyalgia and an ideal diet to reduce

Fibromyalgia -An Ideal Diet / Why Am I So Tired? -
Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies / Sleep Help Center /
Stop Snoring /Snoring Linked to Stroke

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