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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized primarily by profound fatigue, in association with multiple systemic and neuropsychiatric symptoms, lasting at least 6 months, and severe enough to reduce/impair daily activity.


The cause of CFS is unknown. Multiple immunologic abnormalities suggestive of viral reactivation syndrome have been reported, but no one source identified. Attention is given most to herpes (Epstein Barr Virus and Human Herpes Virus-6) and other enteroviruses, possibly in concert, possibly with environmental factors.

Several mechanisms have been proposed by researchers, including: Immune system activation, particularly by viruses; Oxidative stress and glutathione deficiency; Endocrine dysfunction, including adrenal fatigue, thyroid deficiency and hypothalamic-pituitary axis abnormalities; Neurotransmitter deficiencies; and Drug-induced fatigue.

Paul Cheney has proposed that CFS may be due to viruses, especially herpes viruses (like Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and human herpes virus 6), which make proteins that activates the T-helper 2 system. T-helper 1 cells target intracellular pathogens (organisms that invade cells), such as viruses. T-helper 2 cells target organisms that are found outside of cells. T-helper 2 cells are involved in humoral or antibody-mediated immunity and are triggered by interleukin-10 which is stimulated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, and allergens. Unfortunately, T-helper 2 activation suppresses T-helper 1 activity, particularly cytotoxic T cells and natural killer (NK) cells which are the main defense against viruses. In this way the viruses are able to ÒfoolÓ the immune system and remain untouched by the bodies natural defenses.

Dr. Martin L. Pall has proposed that chronic infections cause a chain of events leading to excessive inflammation and free radical production. Chronic infections induce excessive production of inflammatory cytokines, which induce nitric oxide synthase to synthesize excessive amounts of nitric oxide, which reacts with superoxide to produce the potent oxidant peroxynitrite (nitrogen dioxide), which acts to increase the levels of both nitric oxide and superoxide which react to produce more peroxynitrite.

Breaking the chain of inflammation caused by chronic viral infections would require a three-part protocol: First, the underlying viral infection should be addressed with antiviral supplements (such as ginseng, echinacea and lactoferrin) and those that shift the Th1:Th2 ratio (such as essential fatty acids and vitamin E). Second, inflammation should be reduced with anti-inflammatory agents (such as essential fatty acids and curcumin). Third, the nitric oxide system should be supported with supplements such as arginine, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), and folate.




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