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Acupuncture and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome



Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts for at least six months and that cannot be fully explained by an underlying medical condition. The fatigue worsens with physical or mental activity and does not improve with rest. Other characteristic symptoms include:

  • Problems with memory or concentration

  • Headaches

  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain

  • Dizziness that worsens with moving from lying down or sitting to standing

  • Unrefreshing sleep

  • Extreme exhaustion after physical or mental exercise

  • Sore throat or sore glands that are not swollen

  • Flu-like symptoms

The cause of CFS is unknown, although there are many theories ranging from viral infections to psychological stress, immune system problems, hormonal imbalance, and physical or emotional trauma. Some experts believe CFS might be triggered by a combination of factors. CFS can occur at any age, but it most commonly affects young to middle-aged adults, and women are diagnosed with CFS much more often than men.


Diagnosis and Treatment


There is no single test to confirm a diagnosis of CFS. Although, Physical examination and routine laboratory tests are required to rule out other possible causes of the patient's symptoms.

There is no cure for CFS. Treatment focuses on symptom relief. The most disruptive or disabling symptoms should be addressed first.


Western approach:


Many symptoms of CFS respond to medications.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can alleviate headaches, diffuse pain and feverishness.

  • Non-sedating antidepressants improve mood and disordered sleep and thereby attenuate the fatigue to some degree. For example, amitriptyline is a low-dose tricyclic antidepressant that may be prescribed to help ease muscle pain.

  • Antihistamines or decongestants may help allergic rhinitis and sinusitis.

Alternative treatments:


Many symptoms of CFS respond well to traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, moxibustion, Tui na massage, and a balanced diet.


In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurotransmitters. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for insomnia.


At Gathered Roots, we provide an affordable, safe and effective treatment to address your needs. A three-month program of acupuncture treatment, with a session once or twice per week, is recommended, followed by periodic visits, until all of the symptoms are gone. If a patient has had CFS for a long time (several years), the three-month treatment plan will need to be extended.

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