By Dr Rajendra Sharma, a fully qualified doctor with a specialist interest in Integrated Medicine

Dr Sharma

Dr Sharma

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), has only been recognized by the medical profession in the UK since the mid-1990s. In fact, it was only in 2002 that it received official status as a condition. 

For a CFS diagnosis to be given, the patient’s symptoms must include fatigue or lethargy, and this must have been causing a 50 per cent loss of physical and social function, for at least six months.

Four of the following symptoms must also be present:

Physical: sore throat, persistent infections, swollen and/or sore lymph nodes, headaches and pain in muscles or joints.

Psychological depression: impaired memory or concentration, excessive sleep requirement, appetite loss or gain and agitation.

Unfortunately, a considerable percentage of doctors doubt CFS has a physiological cause and consider it a psychological issue. That said, stressful events, be they physical or psychological (such as professional, personal or social issues), may lead to CFS. Current conventional therapy revolves around graded exercise, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and anti-depressants. 

CFS can occur with no previous or obvious illness preceding it, although a majority of cases seem to follow an infection. CFS has been reported in association with dormant or persistent (chronic) viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus or herpes.

Poisoning from environmental chemicals such as heavy metals, pesticides and other organophosphates and environmental toxins have evidence of being associated with CFS. There is a higher rate of CFS in those working in jobs that have exposure to chemicals such as pesticides and recreational drugs

Published scientific papers since 2009 consider CFS to be associated with dysfunction of mitochondria -  small parts of cells that produce energy from sugar and oxygen.  It has been shown that energy, known as ATP, made by mitochondria, is associated in nerve pathways that transmit feelings of fatigue to the brain. 

CFS is higher in those who over exercise, lack sleep or have poor diets. 

Infection, injury, environmental factor, hormonal imbalance and psychological stress all create a stress/adrenaline response. This causes blood vessels to constrict and blood flow to diminish to parts of the central nervous system. Long term poor perfusion of oxygen and nutrients leads to fatigue and other symptoms.

There are no conventional tests that confirm a diagnosis of CFS. Functional Medicine measures cellular ATP production and also identifies deficiencies in specific nutrients needed by mitochondria.  Tests are also performed to measure environmental toxins that block these cell ‘batteries’ preventing normal function.

Scientific papers show imbalanced and unhealthy bowel flora balance is associated with CFS.


Dr Rajendra Sharma is a fully qualified doctor with a specialist interest in Integrated Medicine. He specialises in dealing with chronic illnesses including fatigue syndromes and cancer, and helping optimise healthy ageing. He is the author of the ‘Family Encyclopaedia of Health’ and ‘Live Longer, Live Younger’. See: