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Is There a Connection Between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Gut Bacteria

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome(CFS) affects over a million people in the States. While there is plentiful evidence that suggests that it doesn’t stem from psychological causes, a recent research uncovered a link between CFS and gut microbiome.


Scientists discovered differences in the variety of gut bacteria of a healthy and a CFS affected person.

However, they haven’t yet clarified if the differing character of the gut microbiome is merely a symptom of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or an underlying cause of the condition.

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

CFS is a condition characterised by profound fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, utter exhaustion after minor exertion (physical or mental), and brain fog (cognitive damage.)

The resultant fatigue is overwhelming and can hinder normal lifestyle. In addition to constant fatigue, the condition may also cause sleep disturbances, dizziness, weakness, memory issues, and lack of focus.

There is no standardised treatment for CFS. Often, stress relieving exercises help. The diagnosis is hard and based solely on symptoms which can easily be confused for general tiredness.

Scientists haven’t pinned anything down as a definite cause of CFS. Many theories revolve around viral infections, immune disorders, and nutritional deficiency.

Several pieces of research are being conducted in an attempt to establish links between CFS and blood pressure, sleep disorders, anaemia, metabolic issues, etc.

What Is Gut Microbiome?

A microbiome is a group of bacteria that lives inside or on your body as communities. These bacteria play a role in defining your immune resistance and affect the way you feel.

A gut microbiome refers to the bacterial communities found in human intestines.

The Research Details

Hundred people were recruited from 4 US cities. Out of these 100, one-half was healthy while the other half had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The researchers collected faecal samples and blood work from all the participants.

The samples were broken down and studied to identify the types of bacteria in them. They noted the following observations.

  • The CFS sufferers had different types of gut bacteria than the healthy ones.
  • The intestinal bacterial species count was higher in the people suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
  • Depending on how severe the disease is, the bacterial composition shifted.

The Scientists' Conclusion

Dr W. Ian Lipkin considers his experiment as an attempt to simplify the diagnosis of CFS, maybe even throw light on the causes of the condition.

He also believes that his analysis (and all in the series that are under work or yet to come) will help understand the compositional elements of a healthy microbiome. It would be helpful in recommending treatments for symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Jim Pagel, an associate clinical professor at Colorado Medical School System University, notes that microbiome abnormalities are only a fraction of the entire chronic Fatigue syndrome equation.

Pagel suggests waiting for a lot of research is required on gastrointestinal bacteria communities and diet regulations before a clear picture can be drawn. Citing causes and closely related factors that escalate the condition is not going to happen anytime soon.

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