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Acupuncture for Chronic Fatigue (myalgic encephalomyelitis ME)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) causes persistent fatigue (exhaustion) that affects everyday life and doesn't go away with sleep or rest. For most people, symptoms will improve over time.

CFS is also known as ME, which stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis. Myalgia means muscle pain and encephalomyelitis means inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Both CFS and ME are commonly used terms (see box on this page). (NHS 2012)

M.E. is a chronic, fluctuating illness affecting 250,000 people in the UK. It may be diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS). M.E. symptoms may include persistent exhaustion, muscle and/or joint pain, sleep disturbance, feeling ’flu-like and having problems with memory and concentration.(Action for M.E.2012)


Symptoms may include persistent exhaustion (‘fatigue’), muscle and/or joint pain, sleep disturbance, ’flu-like symptoms such as headache, sore throat, painful lymph nodes, dizziness and/or nausea and problems with memory and concentration. M.E. affects people in different ways and to differing degrees. It’s a very variable illness and your symptoms can change over time.

Acupuncture treatment for chronic fatigue

Acupuncture may help to relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome such as musculoskeletal pain, headache, sleep problems, tiredness and depression by:

stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987, Zhao 2008).stimulating opiodergic neurons to increase the concentrations of beta-endorphin, so relieving pain (Cheng 2009).reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003).improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which can reduce swelling and pain.reducing insomnia through increasing nocturnal endogenous melatonin secretion (Spence 2004).

A holistic perspective

From very early times it was observed that people would suffer from conditions such as chronic fatigue. Interestingly enough it was noted that people who did not recover from illness developed symptoms similar to chronic fatigue.

Many questions will be asked about your overall health including

  • Sleep patterns- do you wake during the night?

  • Do you have night sweats?

  • Bowel movements-do you have loose stools/constipations

  • Do you get bloating after eating?

  • Do you get hot at night?

  • What makes your conditions worse/better?

  • Any major illness as a child or an adult?

  • Any operations or accidents?

Acupuncture Treatment

Treatment for chronic fatigue will usually be weekly to begin with and progress will be monitored at each session. It is always difficult to say how long treatment should last but as a rough guide somewhere between 6 to 10 treatments. You can always arrange a free 15 minute consultation to help you decide if acupuncture is the right choice for you.

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