Thursday 9 February 2017

On dietary and nutritional therapies for ME/CFS

ME/CFS in case you don't already know refers to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and, according to the findings reported by Nadia Campagnolo and colleagues [1], is in need of quite a bit more scientific investigation when it comes to the application of dietary changes and nutritional supplements to potentially alter the course of the condition(s).

Surveying the peer-reviewed literature "from 1994 to May 2016" the authors looked for peer-reviewed studies where "CFS/ME patients modified their diet or supplemented their habitual diet on patient-centred outcomes (fatigue, quality of life, physical activity and/or psychological wellbeing)." They found 17 studies that included 14 different interventions. Unfortunately they concluded that: "Many studies did not show therapeutic benefit on CFS/ME" alongside the observation that the methodological quality of the research in this areas 'could do better'.

But it was not all research doom-and-gloom as some approaches seemed to show promise: "Improvements in fatigue were observed for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydride (NADH), probiotics, high cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate, and a combination of NADH and coenzyme Q10." Without wishing to toot my blogging trumpet, some of these approaches have been discussed before on this blog (Coenzyme Q10 and NADH supplementation for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? and Coenzyme Q10 and NADH supplementation for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome continued) and beyond that, the target organ of something like the use of probiotics for CFS has made an appearance more than once too (see here for example). I might also add that just outside of the search dates used by Campagnolo et al was the suggestion that issues with a staple foodstuff - cows milk - might be over-represented in cases of CFS (see here) and that a milk-free diet could be useful [2] for some at least. By saying all that, I'm not giving any medical or clinical advice...

As science starts to move further away from the the biopsychosocial (BPS) model of CFS/ME (see here) and starts looking at genetics, biology and somatic disease processes with regards to the various presentations included under the banner of ME/CFS (see here) I foresee some interesting developments further down the line. Granted, dietary and nutritional approaches to CFS/ME are probably not considered 'mainstream' in terms of management strategies but that does not mean they aren't important or at least important in the context of a diagnosis of ME/CFS seemingly being protective of nothing. Central to any future studies in this or any related area is the idea that there may be lots going on under the 'plural' diagnostic umbrella of ME/CFS (see here). Indeed, something that even the PACE trial is starting to take on board [3].


[1] Campagnolo N. et al. Dietary and nutrition interventions for the therapeutic treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a systematic review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2017 Jan 22.

[2] Rowe PC. et al. Cow's milk protein intolerance in adolescents and young adults with chronic fatigue syndrome. Acta Paediatr. 2016 Sep;105(9):e412-8.

[3] Williams TE. et al. Heterogeneity in chronic fatigue syndrome - empirically defined subgroups from the PACE trial. Psychol Med. 2017 Jan 23:1-12.

---------- Campagnolo N, Johnston S, Collatz A, Staines D, & Marshall-Gradisnik S (2017). Dietary and nutrition interventions for the therapeutic treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a systematic review. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics : the official journal of the British Dietetic Association PMID: 28111818

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