Chronic fatigue syndrome is real, experts (finally) tell us

Chronic fatigue syndrome affects millions of Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's good to see chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) treated as real by the American medical establishment. Chronic fatigue syndrome once was "thought by some doctors to be a psychological problem or even a excuse for malingerers." Patients with diffuse complaints were thought to be concocting psychosomatic symptoms, then covering up emotional difficulties with a New Age label. The news conference by the Centers for Disease Control gives chronic fatigue syndrome at last the legitimacy it deserves.

Reuters reported: "Up to 80 percent of people with chronic fatigue do not know they have it, the CDC said. Its causes are unknown but it can cause profound exhaustion, sleep difficulties, and problems concentrating and remembering.Flu-like symptoms, including pain in the joints and muscles, tender lymph nodes, sore throat and headaches are also common."

The CDC's statement notes: "Diagnosis is primarily made by taking a patient's medical history, completing a physical exam and lab tests to rule out other conditions." CDC's Gerberding said: "The CDC considers chronic fatigue syndrome to be a significant public health concern, and we are committed to research that will lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment of the illness."

The CDC also mentioned alternative therapies used to treat chronic fatigue: "Patients should be advised to avoid herbal remedies like comfrey, ephedra, kava, germander, chaparral, bitter orange, licorice root, yohimbe and any other supplements that are potentially dangerous."

Antidepressant drugs were mentioned as potentially helpful "not only improve mood, but may help with sleep and pain," but mention of the herbal supplement, St. John's Wort, is not on the list. On the positive side, "reducing stress, dietary restrictions, gentle stretching and nutritional supplementation" are all noted. Presumably yoga would be subsumed within this list as well.