New treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 25, 2013 at 4:43 p.m.

Sleeping Beauty recovered from an endless snooze with true love's kiss; Rip Van Winkle woke up after 20 years when (we suspect) he finally shook off his hangover; and Goldilocks was roused from her slumber by Little Bear shouting, "Who's been sleeping in my bed — and is still there?" But for the estimated 1 million North Americans, mostly women ages 40 to 60, with chronic fatigue syndrome, getting up and going each day isn't so easy!

Only between 5 percent and 10 percent of people with CFS recover from the wide range of symptoms that include fatigue, brain fog and everything from digestive woes to peripheral neuropathy and emotional problems. But new research shows that around 20 percent can recover when ongoing treatment from a medical specialist is combined with graded exercise therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.

GET starts with basic, low-intensity activity, like walking and/or stretching, and builds endurance gradually and progressively — never doing so much that it increases fatigue or worsens other symptoms. CBT offers goal-oriented guidance to change behaviors that may make CFS symptoms worse.

Even more people might find relief if they used both GET and CBT along with seeing a specialist, or if they continued those therapies for longer than the 14 weeks that the study did. And other ways to manage symptoms: Opt for an anti-inflammatory diet with lots of 100 percent whole grains and veggies, and make sure to take 900 mg a day of DHA omega-3 from algal oil and 420 mg of purified (has GOT TO BE purified) omega-7 daily.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit

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