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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Other Treatment

As with many conditions that have no clear cause and no effective medical treatment, there are many treatments outside of conventional medicine that some people recommend for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). None have been shown to be effective.

But there are safe nontraditional therapies—acupuncture, yoga, or massage therapy, for example—that can relieve pain and stress, ease muscle tension, help you feel better and healthier, and improve your outlook and quality of life.

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Important It is possible that the main title of the report Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

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Treatment choices

Some popular complementary therapies include:

Unproven treatments

There are many unproven treatments for CFS. Some of the more popular ones include:

  • Large doses of vitamins or minerals. But taking too much of certain vitamins and minerals can actually be harmful.
  • Diets that eliminate certain foods or ingredients (such as yeast, sugar, or food additives) that some people believe stress the immune system. Because the exact role of the immune system in CFS isn't well understood, there is no scientific basis for these remedies. But if certain foods seem to make your symptoms worse, there is no harm in avoiding them as long as you are eating a balanced diet.
  • Aloe vera juice.
  • Evening primrose oil.
  • Royal jelly (a bee product).

What to think about

None of these complementary therapies have  been proven effective in treating CFS, but some people have reported feeling better after using them. If you have CFS and are thinking about trying a complementary therapy, get the facts before you begin. Consider these questions with your doctor:

  • Is it safe? Do not use treatments that could harm you, such as unusual diets or excessive vitamin or mineral supplements. (A daily multiple vitamin is okay. Try to avoid taking more than 100% of the recommended daily allowance for any vitamin or mineral unless your doctor prescribes it.)
  • Is the product manufactured reliably? Vitamin and mineral supplements and herbal products are not subject to the same regulations as medicines. Ingredients may vary from one maker to another. Read the labels carefully and choose well-known brands you trust.
  • Does it work? It may be hard to tell whether a treatment is working. Keep in mind that when you get better after treatment, the treatment may not be the reason for your improvement. Symptoms of CFS often improve on their own, or the treatment may be causing a placebo effect, which makes you feel better.
  • How much does it cost? An expensive treatment that may or may not help you may not be worth the high cost. Beware of products or treatment providers who require a large financial investment up front or a series of costly treatments.
  • Will it improve my general health? Even if complementary therapies are not effective in treating CFS, some of them are safe and healthy habits that may improve your general well-being and may be worth trying.

Avoid products that claim to have a "secret" ingredient or that claim to cure CFS. Currently, there is no cure for CFS. Any benefit reported as a result of using a product is most likely due to improved symptom management, chance, or, possibly, the illness running its course.

For more information, see the topic Complementary Medicine.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 18, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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