Nutritional therapy's approach to chronic fatigue syndrome is twofold. It works to strengthen the health, in particular the immune system, and to eliminate any dietary items that might be causing or aggravating the condition.
The most basic prescription is to eat an unrefined whole-foods diet, high in complex carbohydrates and fiber and low in sugar, fats, and protein (especially from animal sources). Adding raw garlic to the diet is also suggested for its potential to fight viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Eliminating caffeine because of its negative effects on the adrenal gland is also important.
An investigation into any food allergies or sensitivities that may be aggravating the symptoms is also recommended. An elimination diet will identify any culprits. In an elimination diet, frequently eaten foods and common food allergens (such as milk) are avoided for approximately two weeks. Foods are then reintroduced one at a time, making note of any change in symptoms. Foods that bring on or worsen symptoms should be avoided.
The following specific supplements can support the activities of the immune system and adrenal glands and are, therefore, frequently prescribed to people with chronic fatigue syndrome:
- vitamin C
- pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- magnesium (especially mixed with malic acid)
- adrenal extract
An overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans has been linked to some cases. This yeast normally lives in the body, but certain factors (such as repeated treatment with antibiotics) cause it to multiply beyond healthy ranges. A diet free of sugars, including corn syrup, honey, dairy products (lactose), and fruit, is typically part of the program to treat yeast overgrowth. Products with baker's yeast, alcoholic beverages with brewer's yeast, and other aged or fermented foods are also to be avoided. Adding an antifungal substance such as garlic, caprylic acid, or grapefruit seed extract may also be useful.
A sample nutritional prescription for chronic fatigue syndrome might include a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement, adrenal extract tablets, and/or magnesium and malic acid supplements.