Do you suffer from malaise, low energy, brain fog and a depressed mood? It’s not all in your head. You may have chronic fatigue syndrome, and there is A LOT that you can do to feel better and reclaim your energy
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex long-term disorder affecting over 2 million Americans that is characterized by extreme fatigue and malaise that doesn’t improve with rest.[i]
A whopping 90% of chronic fatigue sufferers are undiagnosed[ii] and may find it difficult to carry on with normal activities such as work, school and household chores. At least 1 in 4 CFS patients are house-bound or bed-bound for long periods of time due to the disorder.[iii]
The reasons behind the exceedingly low rates of accurate diagnosis for CFS include limited access to qualified health care, no definitive diagnostic method and a lack of awareness of CFS among health care providers.[iv] Due to limited training on the condition, health practitioners may dismiss symptoms as novel or consider them to be side effects of other, potentially undiagnosed, health issues.
While some studies demonstrate correlation between CFS and autoimmune system dysregulation,[v],[vi] the cause of CFS, also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), is still unknown.[vii]
There is no known cure for CFS, with treatment generally focusing on symptom relief.[viii] We’ve identified four of the best natural options for chronic fatigue syndrome to provide safe, effective support to revitalize your body and spirit.
1. Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NADH)
An essential element in the production of energy, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) is a coenzyme found in every cell in the human body. NADH is a critical factor in hundreds of metabolic processes, including healthy cell turnover (antiaging), converting food into energy and maintaining the integrity of DNA,[ix] an important factor in disease prevention.
NADH has been studied extensively as a therapeutic for CFS, including a 2004 study comparing oral NADH with conventional therapy consisting of nutritional supplements and psychological therapy for a period of 24 months. To rule out specific comorbidities, immunological parameters and viral antibody titers were also evaluated at baseline and each trimester of therapy. Patients who received NADH had a dramatic and statistically significant reduction in symptoms during the first trimester.[x]
Another trial on the stabilized oral form of NADH examined 26 qualified patients over a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Subjects were randomized to receive either 10 milligrams (mg) of NADH or placebo for a four-week period, followed by a four-week “washout” period, after which subjects were switched to the alternate treatment for a final four-week period.
Within this cohort of 26 subjects, eight patients, or 31%, responded favorably to NADH compared to just 8% (two patients) of the placebo group, with no severe adverse reactions related to treatment.[xi]
Astragalus is a traditional herbal remedy known for its adaptogenic qualities, meaning it can help protect the body from damage due to oxidative stress. A powerful antioxidant, astragalus is used to protect and support immunity, as a preventative against colds and upper respiratory tract infections, and to regulate healthy blood pressure, among other uses.[xii] Astragalus can even be applied topically for wound care thanks to antiviral properties.
A 2009 study focused on the herbal formula Myelophil, a combination of two traditional medicinal plants, Astragalus membranaceus and Salvia miltiorrhiza, a member of the sage family. The Myelophil extract was given to the treatment cohort in either low- or high-dose groups of 3 or 6 grams of Myelophil daily. A control group was provided with a placebo and all groups were monitored for four weeks.
Patients were surveyed for symptom severity and blood antibody arrays were taken to measure inflammatory cytokines, an important marker of disease symptoms. Results showed that even at low dosage (3 grams), Myelophil significantly decreased fatigue severity compared with placebo, though no changes in cytokine expression were noted.[xiii]
Probiotics have garnered the health spotlight in recent years, owing to their ability to support and protect the digestive tract. But probiotics can do more than improve gut health -- they may also boost your brain and improve your mood.
Brain fog is a key side effect of CFS and a potentially devastating one when it comes to impact on daily functioning. The same can be said for depression, another common hallmark of CFS. Studies reflecting the mood-boosting, clarity-producing effects of probiotics are cause for optimism for sufferers of chronic fatigue.
A 2018 study in the journal Beneficial Microbes points to the role gut microbiota may play in CFS and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), which shares many features of CFS. A systematic review of studies was performed in this meta-analysis, encompassing randomized controlled trials and pilot studies of CFS or FMS conducted between 2006 and 2016. The administration of Lactobacillus casei for eight weeks was found to reduce anxiety scores, while treatment with Bifidobacterium infantis for the same period reduced inflammatory biomarkers.[xiv]
Unhealthful intestinal ecology may play a role in CFS, as it plays a part in the health of the immune system. A 2009 study on probiotics’ effects on energy level and symptomology for CFS patients found that, after four weeks of probiotic supplementation with strains of lactobacillus, acidophilus and Bifidobacterium, patients reported improved neurocognitive functions, though fatigue and physical activity scores were not significantly affected.[xv]
4. Antioxidant Formulas
Supplementing with antioxidants is another way to boost your body’s defenses against the damaging effects of free radicals. By increasing the amount of antioxidant enzymes available to your cells, you may be able to prevent or even reverse the effects of oxidative stress that can cause systemic inflammation and fatigue.
Oxidative stress as a factor in CFS was studied by researchers using a mouse model that stressed mice via chronic swimming. Mice treated with melatonin -- a hormone with antioxidant effects -- carvedilol -- a medication that is 10 times more potent than vitamin E[xvi] -- were observed to have significantly reduced immobility periods each day.[xvii]
Similar results were observed when mice were administered an oral herbal compound (Withania somnifera (100 mg/kg), quercetin (50 mg/kg) and St. John's wort (10 mg/kg).)[xviii] These treatments further caused a significant reduction in lipid peroxidation, a sign of oxidative stress, and restored the GSH (glutathione) levels decreased by chronic swimming.[xix]
Heal Chronic Fatigue From the Inside Out
Thanks to the increased attention on gut health, there is now evidence that CFS is accompanied by a leaky gut. By healing your gut lining with a focus on nutrition and targeted supplementation, you may be able to eradicate chronic fatigue by the roots. Adding safe, natural options for chronic fatigue syndrome to your dietary regimen can support your body and help restore your energy to healthy levels.
To learn more about natural options for CFS, consult GreenMedInfo.com, the world's most widely referenced, evidence-based natural medical resource.
References [i] CDC.gov, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/about/index.html [ii] CDC.gov, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/about/index.html [iii] CDC.gov, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/about/index.html [iv] CDC.gov, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/about/index.html [v] Mol Neurobiol. 2014 Apr;49(2):741-56. doi: 10.1007/s12035-013-8553-0. Epub 2013 Sep 26. PMID: 24068616. [vi] Immunol Res. 2014 Dec;60(2-3):376-83. doi: 10.1007/s12026-014-8604-2. PMID: 25427994. [vii] CDC.gov, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/about/index.html [viii] CDC.gov, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20360510 [ix] Sci Rep 9, 13102 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-49547-6 [x] P R Health Sci J. 2004 Jun;23(2):89-93. PMID: 15377055 [xi] Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1999 Feb;82(2):185-91. PMID: 10071523 [xii] Mount Sinai.org, Health Library, Astragalus, https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/astragalus [xiii] Complement Ther Med. 2009 Jun;17(3):141-6. Epub 2009 Jan 23. PMID: 19398067 [xiv] Beneficial Microbes. 2018 Jun 15 ;9(4):603-611. Epub 2018 Apr 26. PMID: 29695180 [xv] Nutrition Journal. 2009 Jan 26;8:4. PMID: 19171024 [xvi] Congestive Heart Failure, 8: 173-190. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1527-5299.2002.00718.x [xvii] J Med Food. 2002 Winter;5(4):211-20. PMID: 12639396 [xviii] J Med Food. 2002 Winter;5(4):211-20. PMID: 12639396 [xix] J Med Food. 2002 Winter;5(4):211-20. PMID: 12639396