Turmeric Relief for Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex, disabling condition that can last for days or years. There is no known cure and no specific treatment regimen, and the number of people diagnosed with CFS or its cousin, fibromyalgia syndrome, has grown dramatically since 2000. Conventional treatment is to manage the symptoms of CFS. (viii.1)

What do Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Have in Common?

The two conditions share the primary symptom of fatigue. Fibromyalgia is also characterized by widespread pain — a commonly reported complaint amongst people with CFS. (viii.2)

The two conditions also share many of the same possible triggers. These include problems with cell energy metabolism, allergic sensitivities, immune dysfunction, infections, and nutritional deficiencies. (viii.2)

According to one expert, fibromyalgia and CFS are part of a chronic fatigue spectrum that represents an "energy crisis" similar to a tripped circuit breaker in a house. It's caused by a dysfunctional hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls automatic functions in the body such as sleep, energy, temperature, and hormones(viii.3)

Turmeric compounds have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial benefits. Could these properties help people with CFS? Some studies suggest they could. (viii.4-6)

What Are the Causes or Risk Factors for Chronic Fatigue?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there isn't a diagnostic test for the condition. Rather, it's diagnosed by a group of mostly fatigue-related symptoms that occur at the same time without any other cause (such as another disease or from physical exertion). (viii.1)

The medical community still hasn't found the cause of CFS. However, they suggest that CFS may have multiple triggers, including: (viii.1-27)

Clinical research also suggests that too much bacteria seeping from the intestines (leaky gut) may also contribute to CFS. Damage from free radicals to DNA and mitochondria (the organs in cells that make energy) contribute to the development of chronic fatigue and related syndromes. Low levels of glutathione (GSH), a key antioxidant that the body makes naturally, may play a role in mitochondrial dysfunction and free radical damage. (viii.59)

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The most prevalent symptom of CFS is fatigue that isn't relieved by rest. Some CFS patients also have symptoms of low blood pressure and hormone imbalances(viii.1)

A Syndrome With Many Names

CFS has been called many things, including: (viii.8)
  • Chronic EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) syndrome
  • Post viral fatigue syndrome
  • Iceland disease
  • Royal Free Hospital disease
  • Yuppie flu

Other common symptoms include:

How Can Turmeric Help?

Animal and clinical studies indicate that compounds found in turmeric may be able to help with CFS:

  • In an animal model for CFS, curcumin was able to significantly reduce the onset of the condition. (viii.6)
  • Supplementation with curcumin and quercetin, along with other nutrients, significantly relieved CFS symptoms in 24 of 41 patients within 10-14 months. Some experienced complete remission. Participants in the clinical study had CFS for an average of almost 8 years prior to treatment. (viii.5)

Researchers suggest that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric's compounds are how they work. For example, they potently block NF-κB and TNF-α — two proteins shown to be linked to severity of CFS symptoms. Turmeric compounds also help boost immune function(viii.510-12)

Turmeric and its compounds help regulate hormone levels, which are often abnormally low in people with CFS. In addition, turmeric contains compounds that may help resist some of the causes of CFS, such as fungal infections. Turmeric compounds may also help combat metabolic syndrome and depression, two conditions that are frequently found in those with CFS. (viii.313-16)

Other potentially helpful turmeric compounds include:

Table VIII.1: Benefits of Turmeric Compounds for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Turmeric Compound How it Can Help

Alpha-linolenic acid (viii.4)
(an omega-3 fatty acid)

Although some clinical study results show no significant impact, some suggest supplementing with essential fatty acids may help improve symptoms of CFS. (viii.21)

Alpha-terpineol (viii.22)

  • Inhibits NF-κB, a powerful protein that triggers inflammation. (viii.23)

Ar-turmerone (viii.22)

Borneol (viii.22)

  • Inhibits activation of inflammatory NF-κB proteins. (viii.23)

Caffeic acid (viii.22)

Cinnamic acid (viii.22)

Curcumin (viii.22)

Eugenol (viii.22)

Ferulic acid (viii.39)

Fisetin (viii.40)

Folate (viii.42)

Geraniol (viii.43)

  • Blocks activation of NF-κB, a powerful protein that triggers inflammation. (viii.23)

Limonene (viii.22)

  • Inhibits NF-κB, a powerful protein that triggers inflammation. (viii.23)

Magnesium (viii.42)

Myricetin (viii.40)

Niacin (viii.46)

Quercetin (viii.40)

Resveratrol (viii.50)

Vitamin C (viii.46)

Vitamin E (viii.46)

Turmeric leaf

Whole turmeric oil

Whole turmeric rhizome

Such as those bacteria that cause certain types of pneumonia or Q fever. (viii.1)
Such as bornaviruses, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes virus 6, HIV, rubella, and common cold(viii.1)
Specifically, yeast infections caused by Candida albicans(viii.1)
Such as low cortisol, DHEA, and thyroid hormone, estrogen, and testosterone levels. (viii.1-3)

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