Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a relatively "new" diagnosis, and there are wide variations in point of view as to its causes and method of treatment. In addition to the symptom of fatigue, the condition is also characterized by mild muscle aches, congestion of the nasal passages, and sometimes nerve-related disorders such as sciatica and neuritis. Often accompanying the symptoms of fatigue are nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and irritability. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition that is related to immune deficiency and clinically associated with a lingering viral infection, systemic tissue "acidity", and a variety of liver problems. Therefore, the body's resistance is unable to restore a state of good health, and many uncomfortable symptoms linger for weeks or even months.
The Epstein Barr virus, or EBV, is often the causal factor in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. EBV is a type of herpes virus, and was first described in the medical literature in 1964. It has been estimated that this virus infects most of the adult population worldwide, although most exhibit no symptoms. It is only in recent years that many physicians are attributing a wide range of clinical complaints to this virus.
The diagnosis as well as the treatment of Epstein-Barr virus is a subject of controversy among many in the medical profession. However, from a clinical point of view, EBV can be effectively managed with diet, lifestyle changes, and natural therapeutics. One supplement which has shown promising results for my patients is the amino acid L-Lysine. As most of you know, lysine became a popular nutritional supplement several years ago as a result of the medical reports on its therapeutic use for the herpes simplex virus. As early as 1974, a research group published a study indicating lysine's effectiveness in suppressing recurrent attacks and speeding the healing time of the herpes virus. In these early studies on lysine, it was found that when the herpes virus invades a cell, it alters cell metabolism and results in the synthesis of proteins which are high in the amino acid arginine and low in lysine. From this data, it was postulated that a high lysine to arginine ratio in the cell could serve as an inhibitor to the virus. Studies on blood levels of lysine have supported this notion, as it has been shown that increases in blood levels of lysine have corresponding significant decreases in recurrence rate of herpes outbreaks. And conversely, the frequency of attacks increase as the concentration levels fall below certain levels in the blood.
In a later study at the Indiana University School of Medicine, subjects were given an average daily dose of approximately 1000 mg of lysine. 84% of those surveyed said that the supplementation prevented recurrence or decreased the frequency of infection. Whereas 79% described their symptoms as severe or intolerable without lysine, only 8% voiced these complaints when taking the supplement. 90% of those who did not take lysine indicated that healing took 6 to 15 days, but 83% of those that took lysine stated that the lesions healed in 5 days or less. This study reported overall effectiveness in 88% of the cases.
Although there are no published studies on the use of lysine with EBV patients, I have seen that it can be effectively used in the overall management of the symptoms. I have found that a between-meal dosage of 1000 mg, two to three times daily is beneficial.
Herbal medicine has a long tradition of application in the treatment and prevention of immune-related disorders; and viral conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are no exception. And the popular native American herb Echinacea is the place to start. Echinacea (E. angustifolia and E. purpurea) is considered to have anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties. It encourages anti-viral activity, as it increases the number of white blood cells that "engulf" microbial invaders such as those found in acute and chronic viruses. Although its mainstream use in America is increasing, Echinacea has been widely studied in Europe, where over 50 over-the-counter preparations are available to treat conditions such as colds and influenza.