Metabolism and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalopathy (ME) is a debilitating condition which affects some 250,000 people in the UK or 1 million people in the U.S. The main symptoms include persistent mental and physical exhaustion that do not improve with sleep. There is often an unknown cause although it has been linked with post-viral illness. Sufferers of CFS have often had to battle with the stigma of some  healthcare professionals believing it a psychological condition more than a physical one and bets managed with CBT.

However research is now suggesting it may be to do with your body’s ability to utilise carbohydrate to generate energy as people with CFS may switch to using less effective forms of energy such as aminoacids. An unfortunate by-product of this is a build up of lactate which is perceived as pain.

The cause of this change may be in enzymes which are involved in a crucial metabolic pathway in the process of cellular respiration. The build up of these enzymes suppress a different enzyme called pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) which is part of the citric acid cycle. However it is important to not it isn’t just PDH which holds the key to CFS.

Other studies have shown there to be disruption to the immune system which attacks processes similar to the citric cycle and other amino acid changes which affects sugar metabolism in different ways. Overall it is much more likely that CFS isn’t a psychosomatic disorder and new treatments are needed to liberate those suffering with this disorder.