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About Me / cfs

ME has also been called post-viral fatigue syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis (myalgia means muscle pain and encephalomyelitis means inflammation of the brain and spinal cord) or chronic fatigue syndrome. Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is characterised by prolonged fatigue associated with a wide range of accompanying symptoms. Viral infection, stress and toxins could all be possible triggers.

Around 250,000 people in the UK have chronic fatigue syndrome.

Anyone can get chronic fatigue syndrome, although it is more common in women than in men. It usually develops in the early 20s to mid-40s. Children can also be affected, usually between the ages of 13 and 15.

 

Possible Symptoms

To be diagnosed with ME someone must have severe chronic fatigue for at least six months with no other medical condition identified as the cause. They must also have four or more of the following symptoms: Substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration; sore throat; tender lymph nodes; muscle pain; multi-joint pain without swelling or redness; headaches of a new type, pattern or severity; unrefreshing sleep and post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours.

Symptoms of ME are not improved by bed rest and can be made worse from physical and mental activity. Other symptoms could occur, including abdominal, chest or jaw pain, irregular heartbeat, night sweats, morning stiffness, bloating, diarrhoea, dizziness, nausea, tingling sensations and weight loss. Psychological problems, such as depression, irritability and panic attacks may also occur.

 

Western Medicine View

There is no particular treatment for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, as there is still not much known as to its cause. However, there are medicines that can be prescribed to relieve the symptoms: painkillers for muscle pains and headaches, for example, and antidepressants for depression. Behaviour therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, counselling and graded exercise may help. Reducing stress, eating a healthy diet and support groups also help many people with myalic encephalomyelitis.

 

Chinese Medicine View

Acupuncture has been proved - through controlled trials - to be an effective treatment for such common symptoms of ME/CFS as headache, joint pain, neck pain and insomnia. Acupuncture has also been shown to have a therapeutic effect on sore throat. The World Health Organisation recommends acupuncture for treating many chronically painful conditions*.


It has been found that there is a difference between 'true' myalic encephalomyelitis - as characterized by a persistent viral infection, and post-viral syndrome - as characterized by a disharmony of the internal organs following a viral infection. The main way to distinguish these two conditions is in the symptoms of muscle ache and a general flu-like feeling: in 'true' myalic encephalomyelitis these are very predominant and persistent. Also, in 'true' myalic encephalomyelitis the pulse has a certain full quality, which may be slippery or wiry. The three main conditions with which ME can manifest are: Residual Pathogenic Factor, Latent Heat and Lesser Yang pattern.

 

According to Chinese Medicine theory acupuncture, Chinese herbs and Chinese massage can be prescribed to relieve the symptoms of myalic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. ME can manifest itself with Excess conditions and Deficiency conditions - both of which are treated with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Excess Conditions: Damp-Heat in the muscles, Heat lurking in the Interior, Lesser Yang pattern. Deficiency conditions: Qi (the body's essential energy) Deficiency, Yin Deficiency and Yang Deficiency.

 

Lifestyle Advice

For personalised advice on diet and lifestyle, please ask the doctor during your consultation.

Please be reminded that we offer free online health advice.

 

*CLINICAL TRIALS

 

HEADACHE

Ahonen E et al. Acupuncture and physiotherapy in the treatment of myogenic headache patients: pain relief and EMG activity. Advances in Pain Research and Therapy, 1983, 5:571-576.

Loh L et al. Acupuncture versus medical treatment for migraine and muscle tension headaches. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 1984, 47:333-337.

Dowson DI et al. The effects of acupuncture versus placebo in the treatment of headache. Pain, 1985, 21:35-42.

Doerr-Proske H et al. [A muscle and vascular oriented relaxation program for the treatment of chronic migraine patients. A randomized clinical control groups study on the effectiveness of a biobehavioural treatment program]. Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychoanalyse, 1985, 31(3):247-266 [in German].

Vincent CA. A controlled trial of the treatment of migraine by acupuncture. Clinical Journal of Pain, 1989, 5:305-312.

Tavola T et al. Traditional Chinese acupuncture in the treatment of tension-type headache: a controlled study. Pain, 1992, 48:325-329.

Kubiena G et al. Akupunktur bei Migräne. [Acupuncture treatment of migraine.] Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akunpunktur, 1992, 35(6):140-148 [in German].

Xu Z et al. [Treatment of migraine by qi-manipulating acupuncture.] Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1993, 12(3):97-100 [in Chinese].

Weinschütz T et al. Zur neuroregulativen Wirkung der Akupunktur bei Kopfschmerzpatienten. [Neuroregulatory action of acupuncture in headache patients.] Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akunpunktur, 1994, 37(5):106-117 [in German].

Chen XS et al. [Observation of penetrating acupuncture treatment of migraine in 45 cases.] Shanxi Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1997, 13(6):32-33 [in Chinese].

Liu AS et al. [“Three Scalp Needles” in the treatment of migraine.] New Tradiitional Chinese Medicine, 1997, 29(4) 25-26 [in Chinese].

KNEE PAIN

Maruno A. [Comparative analysis of electrical acupuncture therapy for arthrosis of the knee.] Journal of the Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion Society, 1976, 25(3):52-54 [in Japanese].

 

Christensen BV et al. Acupuncture treatment of severe knee osteoarthrosis: a long-term study. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, 1992, 36:519-25 (also iUgeskrift for Laeger, 1993, 155(49):4007-4011 [in Danish]).

 

Berman BM et al. A randomized trial of acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy in osteoarthritis of the knee. Rheumatology, 1999, 38(4):346-354.

 

 

 

NECK PAIN

Coan R et al. The acupuncture treatment of neck pain: a randomized controlled study. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1982, 9:326-332.

 

Loy TT. Treatment of cervical spondylosis: electro-acupuncture versus physiotherapy. Medical Journal of Australia, 1983, 2:32-34.

 

Petrie JP et al. A controlled study of acupuncture in neck pain. British Journal of Rheumatology, 1986, 25:271-275.

 

David J et al. Chronic neck pain: a comparison of acupuncture treatment and physiotherapy. British Journal of Rheumatology, 1998, 37(10):1118-1132.

 

Birch S et al. Controlled trial of Japanese acupuncture for chronic myofascial neck pain: assessment of specific and nonspecific effects of treatment. Clinical Journal of Pain, 1998, 14(3):248-255.

 

 

INSOMNIA

Luo ZP et al. [Clinical observation of ear-acupressure treatment of insomnia.] Heilongjiang Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1993, (1):45-48 [in Chinese].

Zhang XF. [Ear acupressure in the treatment of insomnia]. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1993, 13(6):297-298 [in Chinese].

 

 

SORE THROAT

Gunsberger M. Acupuncture in the treatment of sore throat symptomatology. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1973, 1:337-340.

 

 

 

Case Histories

"I have been receiving treatment for approximately two years for M.E. There was an immediate improvement (slight) in my condition and I found significant improvement after two years. Progress was slow after the initial improvement but alongside Chinese massage I did improve."

Last Updated: December 13, 2012

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