Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can't be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but often doesn't improve with rest. While no one knows exactly what causes chronic fatigue and there isn’t a test to diagnose the condition symptoms include fatigue, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, and an inability to concentrate.
As tempting as it may be try to avoid stimulants like caffeine and energy drinks. These compounds stress the adrenal glands and, with regular use, may worsen your symptoms. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s also important to eat less saturated fat and animal protein (particularly red meat), limit dairy products, modify your use of oils and fats, and increase your consumption of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
If you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, it’s important to pace yourself and keep your activity level on an even keel. It’s also crucial to avoid overexertion and emotional stress. Learning to meditate, taking up yoga, or engaging in other forms of relaxation can be extremely helpful. Making sure you get plenty of sleep may also help. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Limit daytime napping and avoid alcohol and nicotine. Acupuncture may also help reduce symptoms. In a clinical trial of 45 people with CFS, those treated with acupuncture had better cognition and less fatigue than the control group.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine: is an energy producing amino acid that helps ease the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Clinical studies have found that acetyl-l-carnitine reduces both mental and physical fatigue while improving sleep and cognition. Typical dosage: 1,500 mg daily.
Ashwagandha: is an adaptogenic herb that boosts well-being, improves circulation, increases nutrient absorption, and helps the body use the stress hormone cortisol more efficiently so the adrenal glands don’t need to make as much. Typical dosage: 300 to 500 mg of a standardized extract daily.
Cocoa: polyphenols found in chocolate can improve the symptoms of CFS, according to a recent study at Britain’s Hull York Medical School. Ten patients who ate 15 grams of chocolate high in cocoa polyphenols three times daily experienced a significant improvement in tiredness and functionality compared to a placebo during the eight week trial. Typical dosage: 130 to 350 mg daily. You can also enjoy one ounce of the best dark chocolate you can find. Just be sure it contains at least 70 percent cocoa.
Iron: is a mineral often known to be low, especially in women. Our bodies need iron to help carry oxygen to our tissues. Studies suggest that low iron can cause chronic fatigue or make it worse. When looking at blood tests, remember to ask your doctor to check both serum iron, and ferritin, which is your stored iron.
Ribose: is a naturally occurring sugar that forms the backbone of the energy molecule that fuels the body on a cellular level. One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that when people with chronic fatigue syndrome took ribose daily, energy increased an average of 45 percent after only three weeks. Typical dosage: 5 grams, three times a day, for three weeks; after that, twice a day for immediate energy needs.
Rhodiola: has been shown in studies to improve cognitive function particularly during times of stress. It also elevates mood by facilitating production of serotonin. Take this herb continuously for several weeks or months, and then take a break of a couple of weeks before resuming use. Typical dosage: 200 to 600 mg of a standardized extract each morning, before you eat. As with other adaptogens, rhodiola may take three to four weeks of use before you notice an effect.