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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Epstein-Barr Virus - Natural help

A retired pharmaceutical and industrial chemist, author and historian specialising in military events.

Extreme tiredness

Extreme tiredness

Epstein-Barr virus

Epstein-Barr virus

A good meal for CFS sufferers

A good meal for CFS sufferers

Some suitable foods for CFS sufferers

Some suitable foods for CFS sufferers

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Very often a person who is feeling abnormally tired for no apparent reason should question their lifestyle and diet in the first place and make sure they are receiving the correct amount and type of vitamins and minerals and that their diet is not too high in sugars resulting in wild swings in blood glucose levels. In addition, food allergies can cause serious problems and rectification can give amazing results. Assuming all is well we can move on to the next areas to consider before deciding that we are dealing with true CFS.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) diagnosis is primarily by exclusion as there are no clearly definitive laboratory tests. The primary indication of CFS is severe, incapacitating fatigue. At the moment, diagnosis can only be made if the person has had severe fatigue for at least six months and other medical conditions have been excluded. In addition, the patient must show at least four or more of the following symptoms: problems with short-term memory or concentration; a sore throat; tender lymph nodes; muscle pain; multiple joint pain without swelling or redness; headaches; fatigue not eased by sleep and a feeling of malaise after physical exercise. The other similar medical conditions to consider and exclude are depression, M.E., candida infection or certain serious physical illnesses. If you suspect any of these then you should seek medical assistance immediately.

A great deal of medical research continues to look at the many possible causes for chronic fatigue syndrome. These have included genetic, infectious agents, along with immunologic, neurologic, and psychiatric conditions but no conclusions have been reached. It is known that this condition is a heterogeneous (composed of diverse parts) disorder possibly involving an interaction of biologic systems. Similarities with fibromyalgia exist and existing illnesses include IBS, depression, and headaches. Several other illnesses have symptoms that mimic CFS, including, Epstein - Barr virus, myalgic encephalomyelitis, neurasthenia, multiple chemical sensitivities, and chronic mononucleosis

Some patients with CFS appear to have a chronic enteroviral infection that can be detected by a stomach biopsy. Enteroviruses are acid and bile resistant and are suspected of being a common cause of acute gastritis. Some patients have been found to have persistent or intermittent, upper and/or lower gastrointestinal symptoms.

Emotional and sexual abuse in childhood is an important risk factor for CFS and should be considered sympathetically. In 2009 researchers found a virus in the blood of some people with CFS but these results are now disputed as no evidence was found of infection in others from the same study.

Epstein-Barr Virus

The symptoms of this virus can often be confused with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but this is the virus that causes mononucleosis although most adults have antibodies providing immunity. You may suffer fever, fatigue and weakness along with some other symptoms that are antibiotic resistant. Certain alternative treatments may relieve symptoms and many of those mentioned below will be suitable. Certain remedies in the case of both CFS and Epstein-Barr may be unsuitable and I have marked those known. Do not be tempted to take despite the warning.

NADH (Nicotinamide Dinucleotide Hydrogen) also known as Co-enzyme 1. This is an excellent remedy for people who are suffering from CFS or fibromyalgia. Its function is to carry the energy from the food carbohydrates, proteins and fats to the mitochondria. Here it is converted to ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which together with ADP (adenosine diphosphate) powers the muscles. In addition, sufferers of CFS and fibromyalgia produce insufficient NADH needed to produce the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine used to improve the thought process. In clinical trials, 25% of CFS/FM patients improved over 30 days when taking 10mg although it takes about 60 days to gain the full effect.

Spirulina – This is a microalga which can protect against DNA damage and the effects of ageing. It is full of chlorophyll, vitamins B12 and B5 (pantothenic acid) and proteins which can overcome depression and low moods often found in fatigue. In addition, it boosts the absorption of minerals calcium and zinc which are also low in fatigue conditions.

Malic Acid - This is most useful when the levels of the nutrient TPP (thiamine pyrophosphate) are low. This occurs in patients suffering from CFS/FM and can be even more effective if combined with magnesium

Glutathione – This is a protein produced in the liver to stop the destruction of natural killer cells. Repeated infections may indicate a deficiency which is often found in sufferers of CFS (chronic fatigue) To rectify this take a quality combined amino-acid supplement that includes glutathione. Dosage 250mg per day. DO NOT TAKE IF USING ASTHMA DRUGS.

Guarana - I am always wary of suggesting any stimulants natural or otherwise but this slows the assimilation of caffeine from coffee and a single dose can give increased energy for up to 6 hours. (Dosage 200-800mg per day).

Lysine – This amino acid is particularly useful for patients suffering from low energy following a viral infection. It also bonds with heavy metals in the body to reduce toxic levels and improve the immune system.

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Essential fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil or flax (1,000 mg 3 times per day with meals) and evening primrose oil (3,000 - 6,000 mg per day) may also help reduce fatigue, although study results are mixed. Essential fatty acids may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you also take blood-thinners such as clopidogrel , warfarin or aspirin.

DHEA, a hormone produced by the body that may improve energy levels (50 - 200 mg per day). Your body uses DHEA to make testosterone and oestrogen. It is truly a hormone rather than a supplement, and should never be taken without a doctor's prescription. Do not use DHEA if you have or are at risk for breast cancer, prostate cancer, or any other hormonally influenced illness. Do not take DHEA if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. People with diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disease, or bipolar disorder should not take DHEA. DHEA interacts with many medications, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.

Vitamin B12 Research has shown that 2,500 - 5,000 mcg by injection every 2 - 3 days for several weeks can improve energy in people who are not getting enough B12, but the work was inconclusive whether it will help in cases of chronic fatigue syndrome. Obviously, this needs to be discussed with your doctor. Oral supplements do not work as well as injections.

Vitamin D (600 - 1,000 IU daily). Although vitamin D supplements are not used specifically to treat CFS, not getting enough vitamin D may make symptoms worse

Beta-carotene Work suggests that 50,000 IU per day can strengthen immune function. Some studies suggest that smokers should not take beta-carotene. Beta-carotene may interact with some drugs used to treat high cholesterol.

L-carnitine (500-1,000mg 3 times per day for 8 weeks) may have an effect on energy production in the cells, but the scientific studies on this are incomplete. L-carnitine has been shown to alter blood pressure. Tell your doctor about any kidney issues you may have. People who take thyroid hormone or blood-thinners should ask their doctor before taking l-carnitine.

R-Alpha Lipoic acid. This product has very positive, albeit, anecdotal evidence of helping CFS and diabetic disorders.


Herbs that may help with symptoms of chronic fatigue include:

Ginseng (Panax ginseng) may help improve energy (100 - 300 mg 2 times per day). In clinical trials, a study found that ginseng and Echinacea increased the immune response in cells taken from people with CFS. But the studies did not include where people took ginseng only for CFS. Do not use Ginseng casually as it can increase the risk of bleeding, particularly if you already take blood-thinning drugs such as clopidogrel, warfarin or aspirin. Ginseng also may interact with several drugs, including those taken for diabetes or to suppress the immune system. People with heart disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, or those with hormone-sensitive cancers -- including breast, uterine, ovarian, or prostate cancer -- should not take ginseng.

Echinacea (Echinacea species) may help boost the immune system (200mg twice each day).There have been no clinical trials looking at Echinacea as a treatment for CFS in people. People with autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, should not take Echinacea. Under new EU regulations, Echinacea has now become controlled and is only available in lower dose tablets, not capsules at a significantly increased price.

Astragulus is a herb used to build the immune system (200mg twice each day) and has anti-viral and antiseptic properties. In addition, it may be helpful in the treatment of fatigue and weakness, symptoms that are common in Epstein - Barr virus.

Essential oils

Essential oils of jasmine, peppermint, and rosemary may help reduce stress when used in aromatherapy. Place several drops in a warm bath or atomizer, or on a cotton ball. Massage using two or three of the oils mentioned will help. Make up a massage oil using 2 or 3 of the following – Basil, Geranium, Rosemary, Pine, Nutmeg, Thyme or Marjoram. Blend with Apricot or Peach Kernel carrier oil or Rosehip/Argan oil if the skin is particularly dry or inflexible.

BA warm baths using 6 drops of a blend of Geranium, Marjoram, Thyme and Rosemary (reduce to 3 drops if skin irritation occurs). You can add Clove and Nutmeg to give some variation. Rosemary, in particular, is good for physical fatigue and Basil for mental fatigue.

To assist with calm and restful sleep use Lavender and Chamomile in an essential oil fan or burner.

All of the above are short-term aids to help with over-work, long travel or worry and should not be used as substitutes for suitable rest or reducing long-term workloads.

Ribose - Ribose is a kind of sugar that is used to improve athletic performance and the ability to exercise by boosting muscle energy. It has also been used to improve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, and coronary artery disease. It can help to prevent symptoms such as cramping, pain, and stiffness after exercise in people with an inherited disorder called myoadenylate deaminase deficiency (MAD) or AMP deaminase deficiency (AMPD deficiency) and McArdle's disease. As part of an imaging procedure used to measure the extent of damaged heart muscle in people with coronary artery has been given intravenously

Green tea extract and catechin ameliorate - Clinical trials have shown that this combination significantly improves recovery time from exercise.

Genetics - Results from a large study clinical trial, in 2006, of chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers suggests that there are specific genes and gene activity patterns that make some people more prone to develop the disorder.

Specific herbal exclusions - There are certain herbal remedies like comfrey, ephedra, kava, germander, chaparral, bitter orange, liquorice root, and Yohimbe that are potentially dangerous in high doses.

Studying the brain response. - The underlying neuronal mechanisms remain unclear when studying chronic fatigue syndrome. Using magnetic resonance imaging, voxel-based morphometry of sixteen CFS patients and 49 similar aged healthy control subjects .was carried out. It was found that patients with CFS had reduced grey-matter volume in the bilateral prefrontal cortex. This reduction was in proportion to the severity of the CFS and supported the lack of acetyl-L-carnitine, mentioned earlier.


Arsenicum Album This remedy may relieve certain symptoms of fatigue and weakness associated with Epstein-Barr and chronic fatigue syndrome.


Cranberries These berries are high in antioxidants, vitamin C and anthocyanins, which fight free radicals and enhance the immune system. As part of your diet cranberry juice may be helpful in fighting off the Epstein-Barr virus and for strengthening your immune system in general.

Fish Oil These supplements, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, may boost your immune system if you have Epstein-Barr virus. Take with caution as Fish oil can thin the blood causing slow wound healing and may contain higher than desirable levels of heavy metals. On balance it may be more prudent to use Flaxseed oil.

Avoid refined foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and saturated fats. Eat more fresh vegetables, legumes, whole grains, protein, and essential fatty acids found in nuts, seeds, and cold water fish.

Often we use stimulants such as coffee, tea, drugs and alcohol but these will only mask the cause rather than cure them.

Acupuncture by an experienced Oriental Medicine specialist could be of some benefit as can a course of treatment by a Reiki practitioner

Always take medical advice when dealing with CFS or Epstein-Barr Virus and use natural remedies to supplement conventional treatment. If you suffer any unusual reaction, irritation excess bleeding or rash stop the treatment immediately and contact your doctor.

© 2012 Peter Geekie


Rogers Baaku on December 19, 2016:

Thanks for ur good msg continue sharing infn with me too.

Peter Geekie (author) from Sittingbourne on May 12, 2012:

Thank you Angelo52 - essential oils have a calming effect and can gently overcome many problems.

Kind regards Peter

Angelo52 on April 05, 2012:

Nice. I like to use flower oils, like rose, jasmine, and lavender in a burner for aroman therapy.

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