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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fatigue

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CFS for short, is one of the most controversial disorders, it has flu-like symptoms, no apparent cause and no proven cure. CFS it marked by persistent, debilitating fatigue, as well as other unexplainable symptoms, such as; headaches, muscle aches and weakness, tender lymph nodes, sore throat, joint pain, sleep that doesn't lead to feeling refreshed, difficulty concentrating, post-exercise exhaustion that lasts for 24 hours, and short-term memory problems. There may also be a chronic or recurring low-grade fever.

Every year, 500 million Americans visit their doctor to seek treatment for fatigue, and at least 2/3 of the sufferers are white middle-class women.  Only about 10% of the people with fatigue actually have CFS. The others have what is referred to as "garden variety" fatigue, caused by too little sleep or exercise, poor dietary habits or other easily correctable problems.

Other overlooked causes of fatigue...

* Food Allergies

Chronic, mild food allergies can cause fatigue. Suspect allergies if you....

- Have dark circles under your eyes

- Are frequently irritable

- Feel foggy or depressed

- Have frequent infections or dry skin

Cravings for particular foods or cycles of energy and fatigue also suggest food allergies - especially to wheat and dairy products. These foods can cause the body to produce an energy-sapping morphine-like substance.

* Environmental Toxins

If you can't find another source of fatigue, you may be suffering from exposure to indoor pollutants. The usual culprits...

- Benzene - Found in linoleum and degreasers

- Formaldehyde - Found in carpets and drapes

- Lead - Found in tap water and house paint

- Nitrogen Dioxide - Released by kerosene heaters, gas stoves and furnaces

- Mercury - Found in dental fillings and some house paints

- Trichloroethylene - Used in dry-cleaning. Have your home tested for environmental toxins.

Your doctor should test your blood and hair. If traces of toxins are found, add the following to your diet; Selenium, Vitamin E, Beta-carotene, Garlic and Sodium Alginate. They help rid the body of toxic metals.


In many cases, fatigue is the result of eating too much sugar. Sugar and refined carbohydrates make your blood sugar rise. This signals the pancreas to produce insulin. Too much insulin leads to "hypoglycemia" (low blood sugar), which causes extreme fatigue.

Ask your doctor about taking ergogenic(energy-generating) dietary supplements, including Vitamin B-15, L-carnitine, Octacosanol, a wheat germ extract, and ginseng.

Nutritional Approaches

Although there is no known cure for CFS, certain nutrients in foods may help. Doctors stress the importance of a well-balanced diet.

  • Start with ample starches - Fruits and vegetables help to provide the carbohydrates the body needs for energy. They also supply the vitamins needed to resist infection.

  • Avoid alcohol - It lowers immunity, so should be avoided, and caffeinated drinks should be used in moderation to minimize sleep problems.

  • Eat to strengthen your immune system - Foods rich in zinc, such as seafood( especially oysters), meats, poultry, eggs, milk, beans, nuts, and whole grains, as well as foods rich in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries, melons, kiwis, broccoli, and cauliflower, may help keep the immune system working properly. A sound immune system can help ward off certain viruses, such as flu and colds that may possibly precede the onset of CFS.

  • Consume more fatty acids - Some of the symptoms of CFS include swollen glands and inflammation of the joints, which may be relieved temporarily by foods rich in essential fatty acids. These include fish, nuts, seeds, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, canola oil, wheat germ, and leafy green vegetables.

  • Take Magnesium - 90-95% of us are deficient in magnesium and chronic fatigue has been associated with magnesium deficiency.  Magnesium is associated with the contraction and relaxation of muscles, and getting more of the mineral may help alleviate muscle tenderness in people with CFS. Good food sources include sunflower seeds, avocados, and amaranth.

  • To treat hormone-related fatigue, reduce your consumption of alcohol, meat and dairy products. Eat more dietary fiber and less sugar and refined foods. Take supplements of "gamma linolenic acid(GLA). GLA is found in primrose oil, borage oil and black currant seed oil. All are available at health-food stores.


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