← Back to list of Topics


Fatigue: Acute and Chronic
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Medical Considerations
Fatigue, Different Types, Discussion
Major Causes of Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Chronic Fatigue and CFS Overview
Chronic Fatigue
Medical Considerations


Rest, Relaxation, and Reduce Stress: The American culture is one of wanting immediately, with lots of wants, a lot of push and push until you drop attitude that has been getting worse every few years. A lot of demands are placed upon us from seemingly every possible direction. Time management seminars teach us how to get more hours out of our day. Many of the European cultures are different. These cultures will take a two- or three-hour break in the middle of the day for food and rest. Many of these same cultures consider a six-week vacation per year normal. Many of us, especially in the American culture, will always have stress forced upon us. Just try to recognize and be aware of where your stressors are coming from, and consider if there is any way to either reduce or avoid those stresses that could take away from you, the beauty of life itself.

*Deep Sleep*

Relaxing Herbs: Valerian Root is an herb that is used extensively in Alternative Care Medicine to provide sedative and relaxation effects, as well as sleep promoting benefits for many patients. Passionflower, which is more widely used in Europe than America, may help combat Parkinson’s disease. (Reference: The Herbal Handbook, by David Hoffmann.) Many other herbalists also agree that Passionflower may help combat Parkinson’s disease. Passionflower contains two reportedly effective anti-Parkinson’s compounds, harmine and harmaline alkaloids. (Reference: The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, Ph.D., 1997, p. 353.) Passionflower has anti-anxiety and sedative effects. Lemon Balm and Skullcap are traditional herbs for calming the nervous system.
A good night’s sleep allows Alpha Brains Waves to become active, which is important for quality rest. Alpha brain waves are most active during the phase of sleep known as “Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or more commonly referred to as “Deep Sleep.”

5-HTP / L-5-Hydroxytrophan.: Serotonin is a transmitting compound in the brain that is an important initiator of sleep. The synthesis of serotonin within the brain is dependent on the availability of the amino acid Tryptophan. Some time ago in the USA, Tryptophan was sold as pure Tryptophan until about the same time the drug companies were starting to push Prozac. The fact that Tryptophan became illegal to sell at that particular time period is suspicious to many who value natural substances. Tryptophan was a direct competitor to the Prozac market. Tryptophan can only be legally sold now as 5-HTP (L-5-Hydroxytryptophan).
5-HTP Supportive Information.

*Nutritional Therapy*

Protein: To assure a complete array of all the amino acids, all the essential and non-essential, careful consideration must be made as to the quality of the protein consumed. The protein chosen should also provide maximum protein bioavailability. To achieve these qualities: First: the whey used for the protein must be from cows that were not fed any hormones! Second: The whey must only be processed under very low temperatures! Excessive heat denatures (damages) the amino acids.
For best health, it is also very advisable to combine your daily protein consumption with several, daily servings of both fruits and vegetables. Also, include a full spectrum of Omega 3, 6, and 9 essential fatty acids. Adding these two groups, the fruits / vegetables, and the fatty acids, in addition to daily protein supplementation, will provide you with the best possible nutritional foundation for sound health.

B-Complex: B vitamins have long been known as the “Anti-Stress Vitamins.” B vitamins are essential in providing support against anxiety and depression. The more stress we have in our lives, the faster the B vitamins are used up. This is important to understand, as B vitamins are also critical in: energy production; maintaining healthy nerve function; liver detoxification processes; healthy skin and muscle tone; and are essential co-factors in hundreds of other chemical reactions with the body. Homocysteine levels, when elevated, can cause stroke, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Homocysteine levels are reduced by proper amounts of B6, B12 and Folic Acid. B vitamins are important in the functioning of the liver and in energy metabolism. They are necessary for the formation of the red blood cells, numerous hormones, and specific neurotransmitters. Adding a full B vitamin complex, and or adding all the B vitamins separately, is part of the standard protocol in EDTA IV Chelation therapy. If high amounts of stress are present in your life, it is essential to increase the amount of B vitamins in your diet. You will not be able to get enough B vitamins in your food to meet your body’s physiological needs, when modern day stresses are prevalent in your life.

Multi-Vitamins: High quality multi-vitamin / mineral formulas are needed to add the necessary “co-factors” needed for enzymatic pathways. Organic chemistry studies (a requirement for medical school students), demonstrates that all enzymatic, energy, and virtually all biological pathways in the human body, need many nutrients, or co-factors, to properly complete each pathway. Shortages of needed nutrients results in dysfunction of the organs for which those pathways could not be completed properly.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E has been shown effective in suppressing free radicals. Studies have shown that mixed tocopherols have greater enhanced immune system benefits, improved antioxidant properties, and improved cardiovascular benefits above and beyond alpha tocopherol alone. A weak immune system can be one of the many cases of chronic fatigue.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C performs many vital functions within the body. It increases the strength and integrity of connective tissue including the inside of your blood veins, supports the immune system, fights viruses and some bacteria, functions as an important antioxidant and enhances adrenal gland function. Vitamin C was first discovered because of unresolved scurvy when sailors were out on the seas. Scurvy is the breakdown of small capillaries, or small blood vessels. Additional Vitamin C is needed during times of stress.

Liver Support: Your liver is primarily responsible for breaking down and packaging up toxins for transport out of you body. If your liver is not functioning at top capacity, then a build-up of toxins can occur. The first sign of toxin build-up is usually headaches and nausea. It is therefore essential to process, deactivate, package up, and then eliminate toxins. Your liver is also responsible for storing glycogen, which is converted into glucose (blood sugar) in times of need. Your liver can store up to about 24 hours worth of glycogen at any one time. Your liver is the second largest organ for good reasons.

Back to Top

Fatigue, Different Types,

There is a difference between: (1) Fatigue; (2) Chronic Fatigue; and (3) Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

“Fatigue” is just as it sounds: physical or mental weariness resulting from over-exertion. Unusually heavy exertion of the physical body, demands on the brain, and / or trauma to your emotional health, all contribute to varying degrees of fatigue. If the demands are not too terribly involved, recovery should be rapid, within a few days. Otherwise it could turn into Chronic Fatigue.

“Chronic Fatigue” is also as it sounds: A continuous, or long term, or chronic stressing of your physical body and / or your mental / emotional health. Recovery may never fully occur unless steps are taken. Also, chronic fatigue usually leaves your immune system more vulnerable to infections, particularly from viral infections. If the viral infection you acquire is from either the Mononucleosis or Epstein Barr Viruses, then you could acquire what is known as “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” Other viruses are also thought to cause CFS.

“Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” is a newly established name for a syndrome that causes the body to become severely fatigued, and remain so for a long time. It is a compounded health problem that takes normal fatigue, and then adds in a viral infection to greatly multiply the already stressful chronic fatigue problem. What is actually fatigued is the immune system. Examples of the culprit viruses are Mononucleosis or a Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus infection. This is called a syndrome instead of a disease because medically an absolute and conclusive cause cannot be identified.

Back to Top

Major Causes of Chronic Fatigue,
listed in order of most causative to least.

Preexisting physical conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Liver Disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

Prescription Drugs:

  • Anti-hypertensive drugs
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Birth control pills
  • Anti-histamines
  • Corticosteroids

Tranquilizers and Sedatives
Low Adrenal function
Impaired Liver function
Environmental illnesses
Impaired Immune System (*1)
Food Allergies
Nutritional deficiencies
Sleep disturbances

(1) Questionnaire for Recognition of a Weakened Immune System

a) Do you get more than two colds per year?
b) When you catch a cold, does it take longer than 5 – 7 days to get rid it?
c) Did you ever have mononucleosis?
d) Do you have herpes?
e) Do you have any chronic infections of any kind?

Back to Top

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can include the following:

  • Mild fever
  • Recurrent sore throat
  • Painful lymph nodes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Prolonged fatigue after exercise
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Migratory joint pain
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances (excessive sleep requirements or insomnia)

Diagnosis: Since the cause(s), as well as the exact characteristics, of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are still unclear, diagnosis is difficult and often made by the exclusion of other diseases. The presence of elevated antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus is probably the best way to confirm diagnosis. Diagnosis is also made according to a symptom pattern, which your doctor can go over with you.

Elevated levels of antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), is suggestive of either a Chronic Mononucleosis infection, or a recurrent EBV infection. These antibody titers have also been found in a number of other conditions. Most of these conditions are related to immunologically stressed and or immunocompromised conditions. These can also be found in otherwise healthy people. The relationship of EBV antibodies to these diseases raises questions about the involvement of EBV in developmental stages. It is unclear whether EBV is either a causative agent creating depressed immunity, or whether its reactivation is a manifestation of a previously existing malfunction of the immune system. Your doctor will have to work with you.

Other organisms proposed as causative agents in CFS:

  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Human Herpes Virus-6
  • Inoue-Melnich Virus
  • Brucella
  • Barrelia Bugdorferi
  • Giardia Lamblia
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Enterovirus
  • Retrovirus

The treatment should involve a comprehensive approach. Every attempt is made to enhance resistance of the immune system by optimizing overall health. The first therapeutic approach should be based on Hahnemann’s principle of “first and foremost, remove all obstacles to cure.” Hahnemann (*1) was one of the forefathers of homeopathy, a basic technique in Naturopathic Medicine. Benedict Lust (*2), who was a pioneer of Naturopathic Medicine, stated: “eliminate the poisonous products in the system, and so raise the vitality of the patient.” Both of these healers are emphasizing detoxification. The primary organs to detoxify in Chronic Fatigue are the Liver, Spleen, and Lymphatic system.

(1) Hahnemann discovered the principles of homeopathy in the late 1840s and became a major figure in the development of homeopathic medicine as it is used today. Homeopathy is one of the natural cure sciences employed in Naturopathic Medicine and is very widely used by both Naturopathic Doctors and Homeopathic Practitioners throughout the United States, Europe, and India.

(2) Benedict Lust arrived in the United States in the 1890s and began using the term “naturopathy” to describe the eclectic combination of natural healing doctrines. In 1902, Lust founded the first U.S. College of Naturopathic Medicine in New York City. That college taught a system of medicine that included the best of what was then known about nutritional therapy, natural diet, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, stress reduction and other natural therapies.

Back to Top

Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) Overview

A weakened immune system is a major cause in CFS.

Fibromyalgia and “multiple chemical sensitivities” have symptoms similar to CFS.

Chronic Fatigue can be caused by many other physical and psychological factors besides CFS.

The interplay or relationship between the “internal focus of the mind” and the physical health of the person, are the two primary factors determining the person’s energy level and emotional state.

The mind and attitude play a major role in the status of the immune system and energy levels.

Candida Albicans, commonly called yeast, is one of the most common findings in individuals with impaired immune system function. A Candida infection (severe overgrowth) can involve the large intestine, and / or it can get into and spread throughout the entire body. This is called a Polysystemic Candidiasis Infection. (“Poly” meaning many.)

Food Allergies: Chronic Fatigue was recognized as a major cause of food allergies way back in the 1930s.

Nutrients are very important and some are used in up to 300 different biochemical pathways in the human body. A deficiency of virtually any nutrient can produce symptoms of fatigue and cause the body to become more susceptible to infections.

Stress is with most of use everyday. Proper breathing, concentrating on allowing your stomach to enlarge (using your diaphragm); good posture; and bodywork; all help to relieve the effects of daily stress.

The herb Siberian Ginseng is an “Adaptogen.” It helps us adapt to our environment.

Back to Top

Amino Acid Tryptophan, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium
Supportive Information

Tryptophan is available as “5-HTP” or “L-5-Hydroxytryptophan.”

Serotonin is a transmitting compound in the brain that is an important initiator of sleep. The synthesis of serotonin within the brain is dependent on the availability of the amino acid Tryptophan. Tryptophan administration is indicated more for cases of sleep-onset insomnia, rather than for sleep maintenance insomnia. The mechanism of serotonin appears to shorten the time required to go to sleep. However Tryptophan administration at bedtime (3-5 grams) has also been reported to increase total sleep time and decrease awakening in numerous double-blind studies.

Since Vitamin B6 and Magnesium are important cofactors that ensure the conversion of Tryptophan to serotonin, adequate amounts must be consumed.

Other amino acids will compete with Tryptophan for transport across the blood-brain barrier into the CNS (central nervous system IE the brain and spinal cord). Therefore a full protein source should be avoided at bedtime if taking Tryptophan. Also, since insulin increases blood-brain barrier activity, consuming carbohydrates such as fruit or fruit juice should accompany Tryptophan administration.

Back to Top

DISCLAIMER This information is provided for Educational Purposes Only and has NOT been designed to diagnose, treat or cure any health conditions. Please consult a qualified Health Care Professional with Nutritional Training to diagnose your health conditions and avoid self-diagnosis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not evaluated statements about these health topics or any suggested product compositions.