Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Helpful Natural Supplements and Treatments


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also called chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome (CFIDS), is a condition characterized by a disabling fatigue that lasts for six months or longer. Besides the fatigue, symptoms may include low-grade fever, muscle and joint pains, swelling of the neck glands, sore throat, headache, poor concentration, memory loss, and sleep problems. No single cause has been attributed to CFS, although viral infections are suspected, including Epstein-Barr virus. An overactive immune system, food allergies, and adrenal gland dysfunction, are also considered as possible causes. More women than men suffer from CFS, usually between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. Depression or other illnesses should be ruled out. When there is more muscle pain than fatigue, the condition is reclassified as fibromyalgia (FM).


There are many natural supplements that may help with chronic fatigue. Consult with your healthcare provider to see which of the following supplements may be appropriate for you.*

*PLEASE NOTE: It is very important to make sure that supplements do not interfere with your medications or an existing health condition. First check with your doctor before trying any supplements.

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamin B12: This B-vitamin, especially in the form of intramuscular injections, seems to increase feelings of wellbeing in people who suffer from fatigue.

Magnesium: This mineral is required in hundreds of reactions involved in metabolizing food, and is therefore important in energy production. It also stabilizes ATP, a molecule important in energy metabolism.

Less Helpful: pantothenic acid, vitamin C.

Other Supplements

DHEA: This steroid hormone is produced in the adrenal glands, and some evidence shows that it can increase energy levels. (The body’s production of DHEA decreases significantly as we get older.)

NADH: This is the coenzyme form of vitamin B3 (niacin), and it is involved in producing the high-energy molecule, ATP.

Phenylalanine: This amino acid is converted to dopamine, an excitatory neurotransmitter, which can elevate mood and increase energy levels.

Less Helpful: carnitine, CoQ10, essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), propionyl-L-carnitine, tyrosine.


Licorice: Some people with chronic fatigue have low blood pressure, especially when they stand up (orthostatic hypotension). Licorice can increase blood pressure. (Do not use if you have high blood pressure.)

Less Helpful: astragalus, ginseng.


Depending on the symptoms, conventional treatment may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), MAO inhibitors, or antidepressants. Other possibilities include dietary modifications (reduced allergen content), cleaned home environment (reduced synthetics and chemicals), mild exercise, and meditation or other stress-reducing techniques.


Jellin, JM, editor. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2008.
John Pillepich. The Nutraceutical Reference Guide, 2005.


*First check with your doctor if you have a medical condition or are taking prescription medications.

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