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The Definitive Guide to Chronic Fatigue and Alternative Treatments

sleepy-owlChronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a mysterious condition. There is no known cause. While the symptoms can be debilitating, there is no test to diagnosis it. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with CFS. And most sufferers are between 25 and 45 years old, although there are cases in childhood and middle age.

Some people with CFS live active lives while 25% of the cases are disabled. Sometimes the disease is persistent and other times there is a pattern of relapse and remission. No one knows how many cases there are of CFS because The CFIDS Association of America estimates that fewer than 20 percent of CFS patients in the United States have been properly diagnosed.

CFS has several names. It is called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).  No matter what it is called, the most effective way to manage chronic fatigue is with alternative treatments.

Chronic Fatigue and Alternative Treatments

The most successful way to manage fatigue is with alternative treatments. This includes everything from lifestyle changes to yoga to acupuncture. It is likely that you will need to experiment to find which ones work best for you. Chronic fatigue varies greatly from one sufferer to the next. Each person needs an individualized plan.

Lifestyle changes

Successful management of chronic fatigue requires a healthy lifestyle—basically everything you probably already know you should be doing. Taking care of yourself is the first step to reducing your symptoms.

  • Pace yourself. Avoid packing too much into your day. Keep an even, moderate pace to your daily activities.
  • Eat well. Avoid refined foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and saturated fats. Eat fresh vegetables, legumes, whole grains, protein and essential fatty acids (nuts, seeds and cold water fish).
  • Take supplements. Try magnesium, Beta-carotene, L-carnitine and Vitamin D. Some people have luck with Vitamin B12 (if B12 supplements don’t work, ask your doctor about getting injections). Other people have tried DHEA but this is a hormone, not a supplement, and should be taken with a doctor’s recommendation.
  • Sleep well. Get plenty of rest every day; consider regular naps or resting times.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Exercise regularly.

Yoga and Meditation

Many people find relief from their symptoms with a regular yoga or meditation routine. Yoga and meditation help reduce stress and some of the discomfort from your symptoms.


There are many herbs that might help manage chronic fatigue and reduce the symptoms. Often Ginseng or Echinacea are recommended.

While these herbs are good places to start, I highly recommend that you get herbal recommendations specific to your constitution. There are many Chinese formulas that address not only the symptoms, but the imbalances that are causing your condition.


Homeopathy is a great way to reestablish balance in your body. Typical homeopathic remedies for chronic fatigue include Arsenicum, Gelsemium, Pulsatilla or Sulphur. Like herbs, however, finding the right remedy for your body can be quite tricky. You will get better relief if you get a recommendation from a professional homoeopathist.

Chiropractic Adjustments

A chiropractic visit can relieve the muscle and joint pain.


Massage is a great alternative treatment for chronic fatigue. It helps you reenergize and cope with depression and relieves your pain.

Support Groups/Counseling

I highly recommend getting emotional support for chronic fatigue. Not only are you in extreme discomfort, but your condition can seem invisible to people around you. They may not know how to support you and may even question if you are sick. Also managing chronic fatigue can mean major lifestyle changes at a time when you feel depleted.


There are several acupressure points that may help relieve your symptoms. These points can help CFS in general, but it’s always good to get recommendations for the points that are best for you.

  • Stomach #36. Use this point to increase your immune function and get energy.
  • Kidney #3. This point fortifies the kidney-adrenal system.
  • Large Intestine #4. This point relieves pain.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) understands illnesses as patterns of imbalance. Because of this, chronic fatigue is not understood as a single disease. Instead, the symptoms of CF are the result of several different patterns of disharmony. The most common organ systems affected are the spleen, liver or kidney, but I can’t define CF as a single TCM diagnosis.

Your treatment is unique to you and your body. After I take your history, check your pulses and look at your tongue, I can give you a better idea of how acupuncture can help you. But in all cases, acupuncture can help relieve your symptoms and, even more importantly, build your health. Call me today so you can start to feel alive again.

Photo: By frank wouters from antwerpen, belgium , België , Belgique (uil) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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