Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a severe and sometimes debilitating syndrome with many symptoms, including recurrent fatigue, sore throats, low-grade fever, lymph node swelling, headache, muscle and joint pain, intestinal discomfort, emotional distress, and loss of concentration. When the syndrome was first being discussed, many infectious agents were thought to be at hand. One in particular, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), was placed at the forefront. Other agents included the cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis. These viruses are able to establish a life-long latent infection in the body after the initial infection. This latent infection is normally kept at bay by a normal immune system, but with CFS immune system abnormalities are seen. These abnormalities include a decreased number of natural killer (NK) cells, and a reduced ability of lymphocytes to respond to stimuli. NK cells have the ability to destroy cells that have become infected with viruses. When they are dysfunctional, EBV is able to take hold and replicate. Another theory to explain CFS and fibromyalgia is the oxidative-inflammatory disease model. This cycle involves two reactive oxidant compounds, nitric oxide and peroxynitrite. These molecules were found in excessive levels in those with CFS and fibromyalgia, which may contribute to the symptomology of these two illnesses. Nitric oxide and peroxynitrite act as potent oxidants in the body and cause substantial damage to tissues.
Fibromyalgia shows a substantial overlap of symptomatology with CFS. The only difference in diagnostic criteria is that Fibromyalgia contains a musculoskeletal pain component. Usually the diagnosis is dependent upon the practitioner consulted. Although Fibromyalgia has similar symptomology as CFS, it is driven primarily by maldigestive-generated toxins, in addition to poor oxidative metabolism and possible increased levels of oxidants, such as nitric oxide. This allows the tissue to accumulate lactic acid causing muscle pain. With proper treatment, improvement should be expected.
There are many therapeutic considerations to look at for treating Fibromyalgia and CFS. Underlying health problems can exacerbate and even create obstacles to cure. These include depression, stress, impaired liver function and/or environmental illness, excessive gastrointestinal permeability, impaired immune function and/or chronic infection, chronic Candida infection, food allergies, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, and decreased adrenal function. Depending on the underlying cause of the syndrome, there are many approaches toward healing, which include high dose vitamins and antioxidants, herbs such as Eleutherococcus senticosus and Glycyrrhiza glabra, and elimination of food intolerances and allergies.