Unproven remedies for chronic fatigue syndrome

There are many unproven treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Some of the more popular ones include:

  • Large doses of vitamins or minerals. Usually, you can get all the nutrients you need by eating a balanced diet. Taking a daily multiple vitamin-mineral supplement can help make sure that you are getting the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals. Try to avoid taking more than 100% of the RDA for any vitamin or mineral unless your doctor prescribes it because 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 is not well understood, there is no scientific basis for these remedies. However, 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, and other herbal therapies.
  • Royal jelly (a bee product).

None of these remedies has been proven to cure or relieve the symptoms of CFS. Some of them may even be harmful.

No special supplements or diets have been proven effective in treating CFS. The best diet for people who have CFS is one that is low in fat and includes plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. This is the same diet recommended for most healthy adults. Many people find it difficult to eat a balanced diet. A daily multiple vitamin-mineral supplement can help make sure that you are getting adequate nutrition. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating.

Avoid products that claim to have a "secret" ingredient or that claim to cure CFS. Currently, there is no cure for CFS, and 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.

Last Updated: April 28, 2009

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