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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Role of Homeopathy

The author describes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and its homeopathic treatment.

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.

Ammonium carb

Characterised by poor memory, weakness and exhaustion, headache, throat pain and enlarged cervical glands.

Arnica

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.

Arsenicum album

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.

Beryllium

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.

Calc carb

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.

Calc phos

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.

Camphor

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.

Carbo animalis

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.

Carbo veg

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

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.

Hypericum

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 versicolor

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.

Kali phos

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.

Lachesis

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.

Nux vomica

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.

Onosmodium

Another small remedy that’s occasionally indicated, especially when accompanied by left-sided migraine, muscular weakness and sleeplessness.

Phosphorus

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.

Phosphoric acid

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.

Picric acid

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.

Scutellaria

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.

Silica

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.

Stannum met

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.

Sulphuric acid

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.

Tuberculinum

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

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.

References:

  1. Awdry, R. Homeopathy and chronic fatigue – the search for proof. International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1996, 14: 12-16.
  2. 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.
  3. Clarke Dr JH, A Clinical Repertory to the Dictionary of the Materia Medica, Health Sciences Press, England, 1979. ISBN 0-85032-061-5.
  4. Dewey Dr WA, Practical Homoeopathic Therapeutics, 2nd Edition, B Jain, New Delhi, 1991. Book code B-2189.
  5. Knerr KB, Repertory of Hering’s Guiding Symptoms of our Materia Medica. (1997, B Jain, New Delhi). ISBN 81-7021-241-3.
  6. Lilienthal S, Homoeopathic Therapeutics, 3rd edition, 1890, Indian Books and Periodicals.
  7. Morrison R, Desktop Guide, Hahnemann Clinic Publishing, California, USA, 1983 ISBN 0-9635-368-0-X.
  8. Vermeulen F, Concordant Materia Medica, Emryss bv, The Netherlands, 1997 ISBN 90 76189-02-1.
  9. Murphy R, Homeopathic Remedy Guide, 2nd Edition, H.A.N.A. Press, Virginia, USA, 2000. ISBN 0-9635764-0-2.
  10. Von Lippe A, Key Notes and Red Line Symptoms of the Materia Medica, IBP, New Delhi, 2001, Book Code No IB0579.

About the author

Robert Medhurst

Robert Medhurst

Robert Medhurst BNat DHom DBM DRM DNutr is a qualified Naturopath & Homoeopath with 28 years of clinical experience and currently practices in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. He has written many articles and lectured on homeopathy throughout Australia and the U.S. Robert previously operated several natural therapies practices in Sydney and was involved in teaching and research. He was formerly the Expert Advisor on Homeopathy to the Federal Government of Australia, Dept. of Health & Ageing. He specialises in homeopathy and is the author of The Business of Healing, the definitive guide for clinical practice establishment and management. For more information see adelaidehillsnaturopath.com.au. Robert Medhurst is author of the recently released : The Concordant Clinical Homeopathic Repertory

Leave a Comment

6 Comments

  • Information useful, like a pocket calculator. What can be the remedy if there is listlessness arising out of insomnia with no other pains/aches?

    • Insomnia certainly would make a person listless. Basically, you’d need to find out why the person has insomnia and take a detailed case of it. For example, “Why do you have insomnia? When did it start? What was going on in your life around that time? What does your insomnia entail? Do you have a regular bed time?” and so on. If someone just tells you he has insomnia, that’s not enough; that really tells us nothing.

  • A well written article on CFS. It will be of much use for me in treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I expect more such articles .

  • I use a constitutional approach so I am looking for the indiosyncracies and the constitutional picture. However I have found Carcinosin quite often indicated in these cases to the point where I am considering it as a useful intercurrent remedy to boost the action of the constitutional if this is not giving the desired result.
    An important focus for prescription at any time and particularly with CFS is to look at causative factors. This does not necessarily mean the theoretical research and conclusions the patient has come up with which may be so detailed as to blind the practitioner to the real cause.
    I find a painstaking chronological exploration of health chronologically matched to life conditions in the lead up to symptoms developing can be invaluable. The causative factors may be physical, emotional or mental, usually a combination.
    The personality profile of the CFS sufferer is very similar to our understanding of Carcinosin: History of strict parenting or institutionalization including boarding school, the desire to do things extremely well and a lifelong tendency to push beyond the physical resources of the body (reminiscent of the Tubercular type). This is combined with a great sensitivity emotionally as seen in a love of animals and environmental consciousness. These individuals may feel overwhelmed by the plight of helpless creatures and the planet.

  • I found the Materia Medica differentials too repetitious.
    One keynote from a remedy was not enough to see that it is truly a possible indicated similar. Perhaps space doesn’t allow for a more extensive discussion. Carsinosin is a good suggestion as well as some Hydrocarbon remedies. Thank you for the research.

  • In regards to “The condition itself is notoriously difficult to treat and can persist in some cases for decades.”

    This is wrong. It is incurable. I have had Chronic Fatigue Symptom for over 50 years.

    There are people who have “Chronic Fatigue” but that is a waste basket illness. These are the people who get cured. Many people who claim they have CFS don’t have the disease.

    The best diagnosis for CFS is to get a low cost ciguatoxin test. It will be much cheaper and way more accurate than $5000+ worth of other tests.