Breakthrough for chronic fatigue sufferers

As a result of the pioneering work of Dr John McLaren Howard (seen here receiving the Maberley Medal from the British Society for Ecological Medicine for his outstanding laboratory work in the field of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine), a breakthrough has occurred for chronic fatigue sufferers. It can now be shown that the extreme fatigue experienced by CFS/ME sufferers is a direct result of mitochondrial dysfunction (i.e. dysfunction in the energy production mechanism of our bodies' cells).

British medical doctor, Sarah Myhill MB BS, a specialist in nutritional and environmental medicine, has issued a press release announcing the publication in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine of an original article entitled ''Chronic fatigue syndrome and mitochondrial dysfunction'', the abstract of which appears below. It gives details of a biochemical test that has been developed, which can measure energy supply to cells and therefore fatigue levels in people with CFS/ME.

Not only is this test useful for diagnostic purposes, but also, as stated in the abstract, ''the individual factors indicate which remedial actions, in the form of dietary supplements, drugs and detoxification, are most likely to be of benefit, and what further tests should be carried out''.

For too long now, sufferers of CFS/ME have been fobbed off or told its all in the mind, and prescribed anti-depressant medication. Sometimes they've even been told to pull themselves together and stop imagining things. For many years CFS was actually considered psycho-somatic.

Dr Myhill, one of the authors of the paper, has said that “This test represents a huge breakthrough in the diagnosis and management of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic-encephalitis''.   

Dr Sarah Myhill

Click here to download Press Release by Dr Sarah Myhill.

Reference: Sarah Myhill, Norman E. Booth, John McLaren-Howard. Chronic fatigue syndrome and mitochondrial dysfunction. Int J Clin Exp Med (2009); 2: 1-16.


This study aims to improve the health of patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) by interventions based on the biochemistry of the illness, specifically the function of mitochondria in producing ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency for all body functions, and recycling ADP (adenosine diphosphate) to replenish the ATP supply as needed. Patients attending a private medical practice specializing in CFS were diagnosed using the Centers for Disease Control criteria. In consultation with each patient, an integer on the Bell Ability Scale was assigned, and a blood sample was taken for the “ATP profile” test, designed for CFS and other fatigue conditions. Each test produced 5 numerical factors which describe the availability of ATP in neutrophils, the fraction complexed with magnesium, the efficiency of oxidative phosphorylation, and the transfer efficiencies of ADP into the mitochondria and ATP into the cytosol where the energy is used. With the consent of each of 71 patients and 53 normal, healthy controls the 5 factors have been collated and compared with the Bell Ability Scale. The individual numerical factors show that patients have different combinations of biochemical lesions. When the factors are combined, a remarkable correlation is observed between the degree of mitochondrial dysfunction and the severity of illness (P<0.001). Only 1 of the 71 patients overlaps the normal region. The “ATP profile” test is a powerful diagnostic tool and can differentiate patients who have fatigue and other symptoms as a result of energy wastage by stress and psychological factors from those who have insufficient energy due to cellular respiration dysfunction. The individual factors indicate which remedial actions, in the form of dietary supplements, drugs and detoxification, are most likely to be of benefit, and what further tests should be carried out.

To find out more about nutritional and environmental medicine, also referred to as ecological medicine, please go to the British Society for Ecological Medicine's homepage.

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