Table of Contents
- What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
- Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Natural Treatments for CFS
- When to See a Doctor
In today’s non-stop, hectic culture, it can feel like being exhausted is a permanent state of being.
But you could be overlooking something that is causing your tiredness, something that goes beyond everyday stress.
You could be one of the estimated three million people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Because this disease is widely underdiagnosed, with a less than 20% diagnosis rate, read more to learn about the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and how you can treat this disorder naturally at home.
Our guide will help you understand what chronic fatigue is, how it impacts your body and daily life, and how you can treat this disease through diet, exercise, and other natural remedies.
Read on to discover how you can start feeling better, naturally.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Because chronic fatigue syndrome is so underdiagnosed, there are millions of people who suffer from this disease who are not even aware that they could be feeling better.
Chronic fatigue has a significant impact on the lives of sufferers, so recognizing the symptoms is an essential first step toward treatment.
There is no clear cause of chronic fatigue syndrome.
It is believed to be caused by a combination of factors, including biologic, psychological, genetic, infectious, and genetic.
Because the cause of this disease can be difficult to pinpoint, physicians often resort to treating just the symptoms.
Known also as post-viral fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, chronic fatigue is usually diagnosed once a patient has been suffering from symptoms for more than six months.
Unlike other fatigue-related diseases that improve over time, chronic fatigue syndrome does not usually change except with treatment.
There are a few medical treatments and prescription drugs for the symptoms of chronic fatigue, but these are less common than with other diseases.
Your physician will want to rule out other medical conditions with similar symptoms in order to diagnose accurately chronic fatigue syndrome.
Other ailments with similar symptoms include mental health disorders like depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse problems, morbid obesity, and illnesses caused by bacteria or viruses.
In addition to the profound physical impact that chronic fatigue syndrome can have on you, the emotional toll is equally troublesome.
Those who suffer from chronic fatigue are more likely to have strained relationships with loved ones, as you are constantly battling feelings of anger, anxiety, and guilt over your condition.
Many begin to feel hopeless over time when the disease goes untreated.
It is therefore even more critical to understand this disease.
Knowing the symptoms will help you determine whether chronic fatigue syndrome may be the cause of your discomfort.
Because chronic fatigue can have such a profound impact on your mental and physical state, it is important to understand how this disease manifests itself.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The name chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is indeed a perfect way to describe the major symptoms of this disorder, as severe tiredness and exhaustion are hallmarks for most sufferers.
But this disease can have other, equally serious symptoms.
The most common of these include:
- Restless, unsatisfying sleep that leaves you feeling tired;
- Prolonged exhaustion after exercise;
- Severe headaches;
- Pain in joints or muscles;
- Confusion and/or mental exhaustion;
- Problems with digestion;
- Night sweats and chills;
- Sensitivity to sounds, smells, and light;
- Psychological disturbances, sometimes severe;
- Swollen lymph nodes;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Cardiovascular distress.
The severity and frequency of these symptoms make living with chronic fatigue syndrome difficult for many people.
Getting enough rest will not cure this disorder, and because there is no one direct cause of the disease, patients can go a long time before they find a therapy or treatment that works for them.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy are the two most commonly-recommended therapies for chronic fatigue.
Many who suffer from this disease, though, have found success with other natural remedies, as well.
Here are the 11 most common and popular natural treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome.
Natural Treatments for CFS
There are many nutrients your body needs to work correctly.
When you do not get the right nutrients from the foods you eat, cell activity may decline, and your body may exhibit a whole host of symptoms to let you know you are not getting what you need.
In addition, treating your body with the proper attention to exercise and rest can alleviate some of the symptoms associated with CFS.
Learn more below about what foods, supplements, and lifestyle choices can help you feel better faster when you are living with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Get Proper Nutrition
Several vitamin and nutrient deficiencies have been linked to chronic fatigue, so ensuring you are getting enough of these essential elements is a good starting place for treating CFS.
You should have your blood tested for proper nutrient levels, including vitamins B6, B12, and magnesium.
Low levels of any one of these can trigger fatigue, and if you are low in multiple, a focus on healthier eating could be very beneficial to your treatment.
Vitamin B6 is one of several vitamins your body requires to help relieve and prevent fatigue.
B6 contributes to the health of your immune system, which can be important if your chronic fatigue is caused or made worse by a virus (1).
If you want to increase your vitamin B6 levels naturally, consider eating wild-caught fish, sweet potatoes, hazelnuts, garlic, bananas, cooked spinach, chickpeas, pistachios, turkey, and grass-fed beef.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for healthy cell function.
All your body’s cells use magnesium, and nearly 300 enzymes require it to function properly in your body.
Estimates report that over three-fourths of the population is magnesium-deficient.
Many who suffer from CFS are found to have low magnesium levels, as well as low red blood cell counts.
A UK study tested the impact of magnesium supplements on chronic fatigue patients to determine their effect on self-reported energy and pain levels, as well as emotional states.
Those who took the supplements reported improvement in all areas after six weeks, and their red blood cell counts had returned to normal levels (2).
Those with CFS can increase magnesium intake with foods like spinach, avocados, figs, yogurt, black beans, almonds, dark chocolate, and pumpkin seeds.
A diet containing these magnesium-rich foods may help improve your symptoms over time.
If you are deficient in Vitamin B12, you are more likely to experience poor focus, diminished energy levels, problems with memory, lowered motivation, muscle tension, and fatigue.
Since many of these mirror symptoms of CFS, making sure you are getting sufficient B12 could help relieve some of your chronic fatigue symptoms.
Estimates report that between 30-60% of people are deficient in Vitamin B12 (3).
Increasing your B12 levels can reduce depression, enhance energy levels, and improve your emotional state and cognitive function (4).
Since B12 is prevalent in animal products, those who abstain from eating meat or dairy of any kind are often the most likely to have a B12 deficiency.
Adding foods like tuna, raw cheeses, lamb, eggs, wild salmon, and beef liver to your diet can improve your B12 levels.
For vegetarians and vegans, supplements may be necessary for healthy hormone production and metabolic function.
While it is still unclear if chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by a virus, researchers do know that viruses can decrease your cells’ ability to make important fatty acids.
One research study confirmed that CFS sufferers who take supplemental fatty acids report significant improvement of their symptoms, but other studies have not been able to replicate these results (5, 6).
Fatty acids are available in foods such as wild-caught fish, for example, herring, mackerel, and salmon, as well as in items such as flaxseed, walnuts, almonds, hemp, olive oil, and eggs.
You can also get fatty acids from fish oil or primrose oil supplements.
The energy created in your cells’ mitochondria powers cellular functions.
Those with CFS are likely to have mitochondrial dysfunction.
When examining the brains of chronic fatigue sufferers, researchers have noted lower levels of glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant (7).
To boost your glutathione levels, consider taking alpha lipoic acid (ALA), CoQ10, or L-arginine supplements.
These can help improve your mitochondrial function, providing your body with more much-needed energy.
Address Sensitivity and Food Allergies
There is increasing evidence to support a link between CFS and food allergies or sensitivities.
Among those diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), most are likely also to have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
The link between these diseases could be food sensitivities and digestive problems (8).
If food allergies and sensitivities are producing inflammation or triggering some other metabolic dysfunction, these could be the cause of the symptoms of many disorders.
An important step to focusing treatment of CFS on food allergies is to have an Immunoglobulin test.
This test will determine any food sensitivities you may have, which you can then work on eliminating from your diet.
Common allergens and sensitivities include lactose, gluten, casein, soy, yeast, shellfish, tree nuts, or peanuts.
Eliminating these could help you improve your symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as those of other inflammatory diseases.
Be sure your Immunoglobulin G test includes a test for candida.
Candida albicans grows in your intestines, and an overgrowth of this fungus-like organism causes inflammation, leading to digestive problems and other health issues.
When patients changed their diets to reduce the presence of candida in their systems, 83% reported a reduction in CFS symptoms, as well (9).
Eating to control candida includes eliminating foods that provide fuel for candida growth, such as alcohol, sugar, grains, and fruit.
Eating foods like kimchi, yogurt, flaxseed, chia seeds, and green vegetables can also help you manage your candida levels.
Finally, eating foods rich in probiotics can help maintain overall gut health and keep your digestive system working properly.
Probiotics work to balance out harmful organisms in the digestive system, including the candida and H. pylori bacteria that cause ulcers and inflammation.
Probiotic-rich foods included fermented items like kefir, kombucha, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and yogurt.
You can also take supplements of acidophilus, but just be sure to look for those with live cultures to ensure you are getting the full probiotic benefit.
Improve Your Rest and Decrease Your Stress
If you live with chronic fatigue, you know that getting more rest doesn’t always help, but getting quality rest is essential.
Resting is not just about sleeping, and making sure your body and mind get rest throughout the day will be necessary for managing your CFS symptoms.
For some, it may be necessary to commit to a full day of rest each week to help your body recover and be ready for the week ahead.
This can also help you de-stress from life’s responsibilities.
A full day of rest can be perfect for handling the emotional toll that chronic illness takes, as well.
Each night when you go to sleep, be sure you have a routine that allows you to wind down from your day and prepare for rest.
Many with chronic fatigue syndrome experience problems with sleep, including insomnia, muscle spasms, restless legs, and sleep disruptions.
Giving your mind and body an opportunity to relax before bedtime can help with some of these sleep problems.
Evidence supports the elimination of interactive devices like smartphones, tablets, and TV at least one hour before bedtime (10).
Those who create this period of calm before sleep experience fewer disturbances and report more restful sleep.
Melatonin is a safe, natural sleep aid that can improve your overall sleep quality.
Melatonin reduces the amount of time needed to fall asleep and can help you stay asleep longer.
This natural supplement is available in most drug and health food stores, and many use it to improve their sleep.
The use of essential oils for aromatherapy has also shown promise for assisting with sleep.
Essential oils such as bergamot, lavender, sandalwood, frankincense, and mandarin are known to create calming effects and to induce sleep in some individuals.
The use of a diffuser to vaporize a calming blend of essential oils can create a relaxing aroma that can help you relax and sleep.
Trained acupuncturists use tiny acupuncture needles to manage your body’s energy, which is called your “chi.”
Regular treatments are known to help balance internal systems.
Those experiencing acupuncture report better sleep and less exhaustion (11).
Other traditional Chinese therapies and acupuncture techniques, such as warm-needling, showed improvement in patients’ mental and physical fatigue (12).
Consider Exercise Therapy
Those with chronic fatigue need to monitor their exercise to maintain proper health, while also not making fatigue symptoms worse.
Controlled intensity will be necessary to prevent exhaustion or prolonged periods of severe symptoms.
Some with chronic fatigue have seen improvement of symptoms with exercise therapy (13).
Short bouts of moderate exercise five days per week have led to reduced CFS symptoms in some patients.
Benefits of exercise therapy include improvements in depression, fatigue, and mental clarity (14).
Exercise therapy does not work for all chronic fatigue syndrome patients, though, and you should consult your doctor before starting this therapy.
Visit a Chiropractor
While going to a chiropractor isn’t technically a home remedy, it is a more natural alternative to traditional medical interventions.
A chiropractor can help alleviate pain in joints, bones, and muscles, which can reduce stress and inflammation in your body.
These negative processes can exacerbate CFS symptoms, so reducing these can lead to improvement in chronic fatigue complications.
Consume Beneficial Herbs and Plants
Astragalus root has anti-inflammatory properties, and also boosts energy and promotes vitality.
Those with severe CFS can benefit from bursts of energy, and also enjoy improvements in their immunity (15).
This traditional Chinese herb has been used for centuries to treat many diseases and fight off stress.
Ginseng has been used for hundreds of years to promote alertness and vitality.
In the modern world, it can help reduce stress, a known cause of chronic fatigue symptoms.
Those suffering from physical and mental exhaustion can take ginseng, which is a powerful antioxidant and is also great for improving fatigue symptoms (16).
Alfalfa has many benefits that CFS sufferers can enjoy.
This herb promotes hormone production, and since chronic fatigue syndrome often causes hormonal imbalance, alfalfa can promote normal system functioning.
Since alfalfa also improves digestion and boosts appetite, those with chronic fatigue syndrome will benefit from an enhanced energy to withstand fatigue (17).
Maca root has been used in South America for thousands of years.
Rich in B-vitamins, maca root can help regulate hormones, enhance vitality, and boost energy.
B-vitamins are critical for the effective functioning of your endocrine system by positively impacting the pituitary and adrenal glands.
CFS sufferers may be able to improve hormonal balance, increase energy, and promote healthy organ function by consuming maca root.
Bee pollen may be an unusual remedy, but because it is a perfect balance of proteins, enzymes, amino acids, and other nutrients, it has many health benefits.
Those who regularly eat bee pollen can combat the risk factors and associated symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Bee pollen can promote balanced energy release and overall health, which can be beneficial to those dealing with chronic fatigue.
Licorice triggers your body to produce adrenaline and cortisol, which are part of your body’s natural response to stress.
Eating licorice can boost your energy to combat fatigue, plus it provides a significant immunity boost.
Valerian root can promote sleep, which is helpful for relieving chronic fatigue symptoms.
Often found in chamomile tea, valerian works by increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain, which calms your nerve cells.
GABA is responsible for blocking the brain signals that lead to anxiety.
Valerian is most commonly-available in tea or capsule form.
Those with CFS should try valerian if insomnia is a significant symptom contributing to your fatigue.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort has been used for centuries to treat depression and anxiety.
It is also helpful for promoting proper sleep.
Those with CFS may find the mental boost from St. John’s wort to be beneficial with coping with CFS.
St. John’s wort can also be used to treat viral strains known for causing fatigue and exhaustion.
Treating CFS can seem like a never-ending battle, which is why it is important to involve your doctor and to maintain hope.
Be sure to consult your doctor if you are considering major changes to your lifestyle to treat your chronic fatigue syndrome, as some solutions may actually make your chronic fatigue worse.
The suggestions in this guide are meant to provide support for those suffering from chronic fatigue.
If your symptoms are not improving or are worsening over time as you use natural remedies, talk with your physician about alternative treatments.
Chronic fatigue does not get better overnight, and you may need to try many therapies before you find one that works for your symptoms and needs.
Remember to be patient.
Daily therapies at home may help relieve your CFS symptoms, but they may not work consistently.
When to See a Doctor
Living with any chronic illness can be difficult.
While it may seem frustrating, be sure to involve your doctor in your care and medical decisions.
You should always contact your doctor if your symptoms are new or worsening, if you notice severe changes in your mood or psychological functioning, or if you are having depressive thoughts.
Those with chronic fatigue are more likely to have other inflammatory or chronic conditions, as well, so discuss all of your symptoms with your doctor, as there may be other issues causing your discomfort.
Your doctor can help you to deal with some of the many challenges of coping with chronic fatigue syndrome, so be sure to involve them in your care.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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