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New Diagnostic Tool for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

New Diagnostic Tool for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) affects 1 million North Americans (mostly women 40- 60) and leaves victims fatigued and often in pain, unable to think clearly and less able to take care of daily tasks. CFS seems to develop after an infection with a virus or bacteria, or even as a result of an imbalance in gut bacteria.  

Up to now the only way a doctor could diagnose CFS was to eliminate other causes of symptoms and see if your fatigue, unrelieved by sleep, persisted for six months. But a study shows a brain PET scan may identify people with CFS quickly and accurately. Turns out people with diagnosed CFS have widespread nerve cell inflammation, particularly in brain areas related to fatigue, pain and thought processing. No such inflammation is seen in PET scans of the brain of healthy folks.

While there’s no FDA-approved medication to treat CFS (meds just manage symptoms), there are dietary changes that may ease brain inflammation. Avoid saturated fats in meats, poultry skin and palm and coconut oil. Also, eliminate added sugars and sugar syrups; up your intake of omega-3s from fish like salmon and by taking a 900IU daily supplement of DHA algal oil; plus, eat cytokine-suppressing celery, artichokes and green peppers. Now that’s using your brain!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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