You’re probably well acquainted with the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), otherwise known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or post viral syndrome. If not, the predominant complaint is extreme exhaustion and weakness even after the slightest exertion. This is often accompanied by muscle and joint pains, headache and a low grade fever. You may also find that sufferers complain of an inability to concentrate, memory loss, a sore throat, insomnia and painful and mildly enlarged cervical or axillary lymph nodes.
The condition itself is notoriously difficult to treat and can persist in some cases for decades. Some herbal medicines and nutrients such as carnitine and evening primrose oil may be of benefit, but homeopathy has a definite role to play in alleviating if not eradicating the symptoms. The usefulness of homeopathy in CFS has been confirmed by 2 clinical trials1, 2 and a number of notable authorities in homeopathy3-10 have mentioned remedies that you may find useful. Following is a list of suggested homoeopathic remedies for the symptoms seen in this condition, along with some of their more relevant differentiating symptoms.
It should be noted here that those with this condition rarely respond to the classic “fatigue” remedies (Gelsemium and the acid remedies for example). In fact the homeopathic treatment of CFS often follows quite a tortuous path and it is rare that one remedy alone will provide a permanent solution. As with many homeopathic cases, the prescriber should be prepared to change the remedy or potency as the progress of recovery, along with emerging new or old symptoms dictate this.
Characterised by poor memory, weakness and exhaustion, headache, throat pain and enlarged cervical glands.
Sufferers often complain of feeling as if they’ve been beaten up. Arnica corresponds to an aggravation from exertion, recurring fever, joint pain and a headache as from a nail being driven into the head. Arnica may benefit in this case from alternation with Hypericum.
Great prostration with mental weakness and burning pains, characterise this remedy. Alternating restlessness and exhaustion with anxiety, joint and muscle pain, weakness from exertion, fever, insomnia and restless sleep, headache and a swollen and painful throat may be seen here.
Occasionally useful where there is weakness with slight fever and symptoms are worse from physical exertion. A headache and sore throat may also be seen here.
Obesity, head sweats and coldness are often seen in those who find this remedy useful. Complaints are worse from exertion and there is muscular weakness, poor memory, poor sleep, headache, intermittent fever, joint pain, sore throat and swollen cervical glands.
It’s often noted that in those needing Calc phos, their complaints are worse when thinking about them. Relevant symptoms that may be noted include weakness and fatigue, poor memory, poor concentration, joint pain, sore throat, and a headache in the occiput or near the sutures.
Characterised by a feeling of coldness in the body, yet they cannot bear to be covered, the Camphor type may also exhibit extreme exhaustion, poor memory, a mainly occipital headache, fever and a sore throat.
The symptoms here include swollen and indurated lymph glands, great weakness, a headache that feels as if the skull was being blown apart and night sweats.
The applicability of this remedy is often indicated by a desire to be constantly fanned. There may also be poor memory, weakness of the extremities, an occipital headache and a sore throat.
China types with this condition are often very sensitive to touch and this may coexist with debility, night sweats, muscle pain, insomnia, joint pain and a throbbing headache. There’s often a marked periodicity of symptoms with this remedy.
Poor memory, headache, joint pain and ailments that are worse from exertion may be seen in those who have a need for this remedy.
Iris v. is often thought of clinically for migraine headaches, and for CFS will be useful where there’s fatigue with irritability, mental exhaustion from overwork, a sore throat and memory weakness.
Nervous prostration often prompts thoughts of Kali phos. Where this occurs with fatigue with trembling, restless sleep, occipital headaches and muscle fatigue upon exertion, Kali phos can be very useful. It is best used in taking the case forward rather than curing it.
Those who will respond to this remedy often exhibit ailments that begin on the left side and then move to the right. In CFS sufferers, look for poor memory, headache with pressure or burning of the vertex, difficulty sleeping, swelling of the axillary glands and a sore throat.
Oversensitive, angry or irritable are words often used to describe the person who requires this prescription. Fatigue with irritability caused by overwork, a frontal or occipital headache, sore throat, joint pain, muscle tension and sleeping difficulties will help to confirm the utility of Nux vomica in CFS.
Another small remedy that’s occasionally indicated, especially when accompanied by left-sided migraine, muscular weakness and sleeplessness.
A client mentioning a craving for ice cold drinks and food may prompt thoughts of Phosphorus. Specific CFS symptoms that may also indicate the need for it include debility which is worse from exertion, loss of memory, a headache over one eye, sore throat and sleeplessness.
The symptoms that correspond to Phos Ac include listlessness and apathy, emotional and physical exhaustion, poor memory, difficult concentration, a headache in thetemples and vertex, joint pain and a low grade fever.
Those needing this remedy may be heard to complain of feeling worn out mentally and physically, they feel exhausted after the least exertion, especially mental exertion and may also suffer from sleeplessness and occipital headaches.
Nervous fear and restlessness may be seen here and those symptoms specifically indicating a need for Scutellaria in CFS include ailments worse from overexertion, poor concentration, disturbed sleep and frontal headaches.
Defective nutrition and its related ailments often characterises the need for this remedy. Specific CFS symptoms seen here include exhaustion caused by overwork, poor memory, glandular swelling, “sick” headache over usually settling over one eye and restless sleep.
A weakness of the chest is often seen here, as is weakness from the slightest exertion, headache or migraine felt in the frontal or temple area, night sweats and a sore throat.
Like many of the acid remedies, fatigue and exhaustion are frequently experienced by the person needing Sulphuric acid. Restless sleep, a sore throat and a headache of the occiput or right temple may help to guide the prescriber to this remedy.
The Tuberculinum type is often emaciated and takes cold easily. They may suffer from a poor memory, weakness, night sweats, joint pains, swollen glands, periodic headaches extending from the right eye to the left ear, insomnia and a sore throat. Most symptoms, including weakness, are aggravated by the slightest exertion.
Zincum met is often considered where there is restlessness of feet or legs. This remedy type also exhibits a poor memory, mental exhaustion, sleeping difficulties, weakness, headache felt in the occiput or temples, poor sleep and a sore throat.
- Awdry, R. Homeopathy and chronic fatigue – the search for proof. International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1996, 14: 12-16.
- Weatherley-Jones E, Nicholl JP, Thomas KJ, et al. A randomised, controlled, triple-blind trial of the efficacy of homeopathic treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. J Psychosom Res. 2004 Feb; 56(2):189-97.
- Clarke Dr JH, A Clinical Repertory to the Dictionary of the Materia Medica, Health Sciences Press, England, 1979. ISBN 0-85032-061-5.
- Dewey Dr WA, Practical Homoeopathic Therapeutics, 2nd Edition, B Jain, New Delhi, 1991. Book code B-2189.
- Knerr KB, Repertory of Hering’s Guiding Symptoms of our Materia Medica. (1997, B Jain, New Delhi). ISBN 81-7021-241-3.
- Lilienthal S, Homoeopathic Therapeutics, 3rd edition, 1890, Indian Books and Periodicals.
- Morrison R, Desktop Guide, Hahnemann Clinic Publishing, California, USA, 1983 ISBN 0-9635-368-0-X.
- Vermeulen F, Concordant Materia Medica, Emryss bv, The Netherlands, 1997 ISBN 90 76189-02-1.
- Murphy R, Homeopathic Remedy Guide, 2nd Edition, H.A.N.A. Press, Virginia, USA, 2000. ISBN 0-9635764-0-2.
- Von Lippe A, Key Notes and Red Line Symptoms of the Materia Medica, IBP, New Delhi, 2001, Book Code No IB0579.