Chronic Fatigue Syndrome



Chronis fatigue syndrome or CFS is a complex syndrome characterised by long term (6 months or more) severe or disabling fatigue with no other clinical explanation for the fatigue (such as influenza or other viral infection). The United States Centers For Disease control and Prevention (CDC) list the following as diagnosis for CFS:

  1. Severe idopathic pain lasting 6 months or longer
  2. Having 4 or more of the following symptoms;
    • Post-exertional malaise
    • Impaired memory or concentration
    • Unrefreshing sleep
    • Muscle pain
    • Multi-joint pain without redness or swelling
    • Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
    • Sore throat
    • Headache
  3. The symptoms must have persisted or been recurring for 6 months or longer and have not predated the fatigue.

In the past this condition was referred to as "neurasthenia", and more modernly "myalgic encephalomyelitis" or "post viral fatigue syndrome". 


Possible causes [1]:

  • Viruses
    • Epstein Barr (EBV)
    • Herpes simplex virus (HSV) (HHV-6)
    • Coxsackie B Virus
    • Human parvovirus (HPV)-B19
  • Bacteria
    • Mycoplasmal blood infections
    • Staphylococcus spp.
    • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
  • Fungi
    • Candida albicans
  • Immune abnormalities and inflammation
    • Increased levels of IL-1, IL-6, TNF-alpha, and TNF-beta have all been noted to be high in CFS patients. 
    • Reduced NK levels have also been noted in CFS patients. 
  • Pituitary and hypothalmic abnormalities
  • Circulatory abnormalities
  • Brain and cognitive abnormalities

Signs And Symptoms:

  • Chronic (>6 months) of diasabling fatigue
  • Mild fever
  • Sore throat
  • Painful lymph nodes
  • Weight gain
  • Exertional malaisse
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Light-headedness
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Visual impariment
  • Sleep disturbances

Special Considerations:


Therapeutic Aims:

1. Tone The Body Overall

Using adaptogen and tonic herbs, the bodies overall ability to resist and manage stress can be improved.

  • Adaptogens

2. Support The Adrenals


  • Adrenal Tonics
  • Adaptogens

3. Support The Immune System

Used to prevent recurring viral and bacterial infection common with CFS patients. When using tonic herbs, they are often contraindicated during infection, so preventing these infections are of utmost importance.

  • Immunomodulators
  • Immune Stimulants
  • Antivirals
  • Antibacterials

4. Reduce Inflammation

Downregulate cytokine production and other immune responses.

  • COX and LOX inhibitors
  • Antinflammatories
  • Immunosupressants (In some cases)

Herbs For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

CFS Sample Formula:

Dietary Considerations:


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: May 2017

Recent Blog Posts:


  1. Bone, K. (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy : Modern herbal medicine (2nd ed.). London: Elsevier Health Sciences UK.