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  SUPPLEMENTS


This is a collection of supplements that have commonly been used by people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The information supplied for each is given under headings that are relevant to that particular supplement.

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CAMOMILE TEA

What?
Camomile tea is an infusion made with a daisy-like flower.

Why?
Camomile is a natural source of the chemical ‘apigenin’ which calms the nervous system.

It could therefore be useful to help with a number of symptoms ranging from insomnia to anxiety to  upset stomachs.

Why Not?
Not a good idea if you are one of the very rare people who are allergic to plants of the asteraceae family like chrysanthemums or asters.

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Coenzyme Q10

What?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is important for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the fuel the body uses to function.

It is an antioxidant, which means that it can shield the body from harmful free radicals.

It conserves vitamin E, which is also an antioxidant.

Additional Information
It helps with cardiovascular (heart) functioning as it has a protective and strengthening action in all tissues.

It helps with the absorption of some nutrients into the body.

Sources
Beef, soy, mackerel, sardines, spinach, peanuts, soybeans and vegetable oil.

It can be synthesized by the body.

Deficiency
Deficiency can cause high blood pressure, heart attack, angina, immune depression, periodontal disease, lack of energy and weight gain.

Deficiency can be caused by poor liver function, when Q10 cannot easily be manufactured from the other Q-coenzymes. This production can also diminish with age.

Toxicity
Extreme dosages, above 600 mg per day, can cause headaches, heartburn, fatigue, diarrhoea, nausea and skin reactions.

Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers should not take it in supplement form.

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Echinacea

What?
Echinacea is a Native American medicinal herb, which is used as an immune system stimulant.

Echinacea uses polysaccharides to activate the immune system in many ways.

Why?
It has been shown to boost the immune system by:

  • increasing the production of T-cells
  • increasing levels of circulating neutrophils
  • improving leukocyte phagocytosis (the process whereby immune cells consume and destroy foreign infectious cells)
  • assisting antibody binding and natural killer cell activity

It is a natural antibiotic

It has been used to treat acne, boils and difficult skin conditions and may be helpful in treating chronic candida overgrowth.

Why Not?
This is not good for anyone who has any form of auto-immune dysfunction, which may include chronic fatigue syndrome.

Not good in the unlikely event that you are allergic to closely related plants such as asters, chrysanthemums, or ragweed.

It is probably best not used during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

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Enada NADH

What?
NADH (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) is the active (coenzyme) form of Vitamin B3.

This naturally occurring coenzyme is found in all living cells.

It is necessary for cellular development and energy production.

Enada is a supplement version of NADH

Why?
Studies show that Enada NADH may improve cellular energy, elevate mental clarity, improve alertness and concentration and act as a potent antioxidant and free-radical scavenger.

It is used to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

It is required for intra-cellular DNA repair systems to function effectively.
This would be useful in combating damage done by radiation, excessive UV light or chemical toxins.

NADH is used by the body’s immune system and is an antioxidant.

NADH may help in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and adrenaline.
Thus helping mental clarity, alertness and concentration.

Suffering severe long-term illness might cause levels of NADH to drop as would extreme exercise like running a marathon.

Toxins like food additives, certain drugs, antibiotics or those around us in our environment could reduce production of NADH in the body.

Why Not?
In a trial by 51 Action For ME readers, 23 claimed good results with increased energy and stamina and less 'brain fog'. In most cases these benefits lasted only as long as the participants took the supplement.
16 participants gained no benefit.
A quarter of the participants suffered adverse reactions such as increased dizziness, restless energy, insomnia, headaches, pain in arms or cognitive disturbances.
 
Similar results were returned by 112 people in a trial by the Sussex and Kent ME society.

As these trials were not double blind trials, these figures must be offset by the possibility of a placebo effect.

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Evening Primrose Oil

What?
Evening primrose oil is taken from the seeds of a yellow flowered plant.

It contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an essential fatty acid.

It has been used since the 1930s to treat eczema.

More recently it has been used to help with premenstrual syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.

Why?
GLA is used to make compounds that are used to combat inflammation.

Some studies have shown that evening primrose oil may have eased chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms above those of placebo groups.

Why not? 
Large amounts of evening primrose oil may cause headaches or gastro-intestinal upset.

It should be taken with caution by those that are pregnant or breast feeding or who are epileptic.

If taken in large amounts it may slow down blood clotting.

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Ginko Biloba

What?
Ginko Biloba is an Asian medicinal herb that has been used for over 4,000 years.

Why?
It has been used to help improve blood circulation, thus hopefully helping with cognitive functions, sensory efficiency, heart function and muscle efficiency.

Why Not?
It may rarely cause headaches or mild gastro-intestinal disturbances.

Large doses may cause diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, a rash and restlessness.

Do not use with MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) drugs, which are a type of strong anti-depressant.

Do not use with blood thinning drugs.

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Ginseng

What?
Ginseng is a traditional Asian medicine that has been used for the past 7,000 years and has been used for a variety of problems.

Why?
Ginseng has been used to help combat stress, failing memory, flagging vitality and fatigue.

It has been used to help the immune system and may even help detoxify the body.

It may be useful in sparing the use of glycogen (a sugar stored in the liver and muscles) as it increases the use of fatty acids.

Additional Information
It has been used to treat obesity, fertility and virility, athletic performance, increasing longevity, improving skin and muscle tone and improving metabolism.

There is also a female ginseng is also known as dong quai.

Why Not?
Excess amounts could be harmful to people with heart conditions, high blood pressure or who are hypoglycaemic (suffering low blood sugar levels).

Can cause insomnia, nervousness, diarrhoea, headaches and high blood pressure.

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Glutamine

What?
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body.

It is important for maintenance of the muscles, the digestive tract and white blood cells.

It is converted into glucose where needed.

It is essential for brain functioning.

It may help with depression, fatigue and auto-immune dysfunction.

Additional Information
It assists in maintaining the normal acid-alkaline balance in the body.

It is important for removing excess ammonia.

Sources
Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, wheat, cabbage, beets, beans, spinach, and parsley.

Deficiency
Deficiency is rare as it is abundant in most of the things we eat.

Deficiency may cause intestinal problems and diarrhoea, food allergies, inflammatory arthritis, fatigue, skin rashes, impaired immune function, poor wound healing and mucosal ulceration.

Toxicity
High dosages may cause an upset stomach or headaches.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

What?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat.

The fats in butter and lard are saturated and are solid at room temperature.

Monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, are liquid at room temperature, but harden when refrigerated.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated. They are liquid at room temperature or when refrigerated.

Every cell in our body has a cell membrane. This membrane is made mainly from fatty acids. The effectiveness of the membrane is affected by the majority of the type of fat that we eat. People with diets with a good balance of omega-3 fatty acids tend to have cell membranes that are more elastic and effective than those of people who tend to eat more of the solid saturated fats.

There is some evidence that cell membranes composed with omega-3 fatty acids may give more protection against cancers and especially breast cancer.

Additional Information
The three most nutritionally important omega 3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Alpha-linolenic acid is used to make EPA and DHA, although all can be derived directly from certain foods.

Alpha linoleic acid is broken down into EPA and DHA by certain enzymes in the body. This does not occur efficiently in some people.

EPA is also used to make certain compounds that provide an anti-inflammatory effect on our joints and prevent cardiovascular disease by improving blood flow.

DHA is the necessary for proper brain and nerve development.

Most people consume much less alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3) than straight linolenic acid (omega 6).
This has important health consequences.

The type of fat eaten in a diet determines the type of prostaglandins that are produced and an imbalance of one type over the other can be very damaging to health.

Prostaglandins help regulate many important physiological functions including blood pressure, blood clotting, nerve transmission, the inflammatory and allergic responses, the functions of the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract and the production of other hormones.

EPA and DHA are used to make series 3 prostaglandins
Omega-6 fatty acids are used to make series 1 and 2 prostaglandins.

Series 2 prostaglandins are believed to be unhealthy as they increase platelet aggregation and promote an inflammatory response.

Series 1 and 3 prostaglandins are believed to be beneficial as they reduce platelet aggregation, reduce inflammation and improve blood flow.
Series 3 prostaglandins also help combat cardiovascular disease.

Sources
Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Salmon, Cauliflower, cabbage, scallops, lettuce, sprouts, halibut, shrimp, cod, snapper, tuna, brussel sprouts, soybeans and lettuce.

Research indicates that omega-3s may be better absorbed from food than supplements.

In supplemental form, omega 3 fatty acids are available in soft gel form or as bottled liquids.
 
Flaxseed oil is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid. Cod liver oil is a rich source of its derivatives, EPA and DHA.

Omega 3 fatty acids supplements in oil form are highly sensitive to damage from heat, light and oxygen. It is best that they are refrigerated and protected from light.

Vitamin E as an antioxidant is often added to prevent the fatty acids from becoming oxidized (or rancid).

Deficiency
Deficiency can cause fatigue, dry or itchy skin, brittle hair and nails, constipation, frequent colds, depression, poor concentration, lack of physical endurance, joint pain and cardiovascular disease.

Toxicity
Too high an intake of Omega-3 fatty acids may lower blood pressure and thin the blood and stop blood clotting.

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Probiotics

What?
Many forms of beneficial bacteria can be found in the colon from lactobacillus acidophilus to bifidobacteria bifidum to candida albicans.

These bacteria are used to digest the foods we eat and extract nutrition from them.

Their numbers can be boosted by taking bacterial supplements called probiotics.

Candida Albicans can be quite prolific and aggressive and may even get out of control with a lowered immune system, leading to symptoms such as thrush.

Some believe that Candidiasis (the overgrowth of candida albicans) can cause many symptoms similar to those within chronic fatigue syndrome.

Why?
Ingesting probiotics that contain 'healthy' bacteria in the form of capsules or yoghurts may re-address any imbalance if you are suffering bowel problems.

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Propolis

What?
Propolis is a sap-like material found in the bark and leaves of trees.

Bees use it in the construction of their hives and find it particularly useful because it has antibiotic and anti fungal properties.
It also helps keep bacteria and other harmful things out of the hive.

Why?
Some evidence suggests that it may be possible that propolis could help the immune system.

Additional Information
Propolis is also believed to promote heart health, help against allergies and reduce the chances of cataracts.

Topically it may reduce inflammation and help with ulcers, superficial burns or scalds.

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St. John's Wort

What?
St. John's Wort, (Hypericum Perforatum) is a medicinal herb that has been used for the past 2,000 years.

Why?
St. John's Wort is used to treat minor depression, anxiety, insomnia, neurosis, neuralgia (nerve pain) and even tinnitus.

Additional Information
It has also been used to help with rheumatic pain and inflammation and to fight bacterial and viral infections.

It has been used to assist as an anti-inflammatory agent, a mild analgesic and as a mild diuretic.

Some women have found that it can help relieve PMS cramping.

Why Not?
Although it has few side effects some people may find it sedating.

Large doses may cause photosensitivity or may interfere with the absorption of iron and some other minerals.

It may interfere with some oral contraceptives and prescribed antidepressants.

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Tryptophan

What?
Tryptophan is one of 10 essential amino acids.

It is used to raise levels of the neuro-transmitter serotonin that is used for relaxation and sleep.

It helps you to sleep and can elevate your mood.

Additional Information
Tryptophan helps regulate appetite.

A small amount of tryptophan is converted into niacin (vitamin B3) in the liver.

Tryptophan, either in solution form or in tablets, has been used as a drug by practitioners to treat depression.

Sources
Meat (chicken, turkey, beef and lamb), fish (tuna, cod, halibut and salmon), shrimps, scallops, mushrooms, tofu, liver, soybeans, kelp, leafy green vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard and kale), eggs and milk are good sources.

Deficiency
Deficiency can cause depression, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, inability to concentrate, weight gain or loss and poor dream recall.

Vitamin B6, vitamin C, folic acid and magnesium are required for tryptophan metabolisation.

Toxicity
High dietary intake of tryptophan from food sources has not been known to cause any symptoms of toxicity.

 

 

 
     
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