Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is also named M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). It is a disorder without clear definition and understanding in its pathology. Acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome whilst having few side effects. Many other names of disorders are overlapped with CFS, for example, Post-viral Fatigue syndrome (PVFS) and Systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).
The disorder is featured with consistent feeling of exhaustion or fatigue, or general weakness, which could not be relieved by good quality of sleep and rest. The fatigue ranges from mild, which is merely a persistent feeling of tired, to severe form of it that makes the sufferer in a disabled situation failing to maintain daily life independently. The condition could be lifelong, and pose serious damage to the quality of life of the patients.
The nature of this disorder is not clear yet, and several hypothesis were proposed including: viral infection, immune-disorder, hormonal imbalance, and psychological problems. Since there is no evidence of physical structural damage observed in this disorder, the diagnosis is an exclusive procedure of finding no other explanation of the fatigue. In plain words, only when all possible other causes of fatigue are cleared, the final conclusion could be drawn as CFS.
The conventional medical treatment is non specific as it could not identify the particular abnormality of the disorder to tackle. Painkillers, antidepressants, vitamins could be suggested. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and exercise therapy are considered to be more effective than drugs. With those conventional treatments, very few have come back to normal life.
As the result from conventional treatment is not satisfactory, many patient turns to Chinese medicine for help. There are evidence that Chinese medicine could improve the quality of life significantly, particularly when both Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are used together.
In the systematic reviews carried out by Chen et al (2010) and Wang et al (2009) it was concluded that both Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are effective in reducing fatigue and improving quality of life. And they are both safe to be used for long time management as few side effects were reported. Considering that the condition is a lifelong disorder, the safe approaches in Chinese medicine should used as a main treatment regime.
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Chen R, Moriya J, Yamakawa JI, Takahashi T, Kanda T (2010) Traditional Chinese Medicine for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2010 7(1): 3-10
Wang JJ, Song YJ, Wu ZC, Chu XO, Wang XH, Wang XJ, Wei LN, Wang QM (2009) A meta analysis on randomized controlled trials of acupuncture treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu (Research in Acupuncture) 2009, 34(6): 421-428