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Adrienne Dellwo

Probiotics as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment

By June 1, 2009

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TREATMENT BRIEF: A Brain-Gut Connection? Probiotics are getting a lot of attention as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS). Some doctors use them in their experimental treatment protocols, they come up frequently in forums and chat rooms, and now we have a few studies on them as well.

Evidence for Probiotics

A recent study out of Toronto shows that probiotics simultaneously improved intestinal levels of beneficial bacteria and lowered anxiety levels in people with ME/CFS. The researchers say this provides evidence of a gut-brain interface that may involve microbes in the intestinal tract. This kind of interface could help explain why so many people have both ME/CFS and irritable bowel syndrome. A small Swedish study showed that regularly eating probiotic-containing yogurt improved cognitive function in nearly half of participants, and researchers describe the improvement in a few as "dramatic." However, it didn't change intestinal bacteria levels or improve fatigue or physical function.

As with everything else, probiotics seem to work to some degree in some people with ME/CFS. It's another thing to research and talk to your doctor about.

It's certainly easy to eat a probiotic-containing yogurt or to take supplements, such as acidophilus. Just make sure you track any treatments and dietary changes so you can see whether they're making you better or worse.

Have you tried probiotics? Did it work for you? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!


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June 2, 2009 at 1:33 pm
(1) Caroline says:

OH MY YES! Our son’s Vidazorb probiotics have our life as a family! Our little boy is four and suffered from severe Eczema since he was a baby. Nothing worked for him. He was looking and feeling terrible and all doctors could recommend was high doses of potent drugs including steroids. His body became addicted to them and he had to be weaned off. It was a very scary time for us and very hard on him. Our prayers have been answered through our probiotic for sure. He is now a healthy and happy boy with minimal flareups. He is just so much better….thank you for educating others on how awesome these are for our health. Our whole family is taking them now too!

June 3, 2009 at 12:07 pm
(2) PB says:

I’ve suffered from ME/CFS, IBS, Spastic Colon and Diverticulitis; as well as other autoimmune diseases all my life. The pain with the colon problems have been so severe at times that I have stuffed a wash cloth or towel in my mouth so that I could scream without others hearing me. Five years ago my primary sent me to a Holistic Doc who suggested Activia Yogurt at night and taking a probiotic in the morning. Within three days the pain and cramping subsided. Experimenting I have tried stopping the regimen. Only to have the pain, cramping, bloody diarrhea and bloating to start in again. By day three I was adding a second Activia just to settle my stomach. I still have break through every once in a while but nothing like before. I have also discovered Keifer, a smoothy like drink that is loaded with 10 different probiotics. It works great and really seems to shorten my flares, allowing me to eat sooner. And it comes in several flavors too!

June 8, 2009 at 9:08 pm
(3) steve says:

I have CFS and have had it for about ten years. Over the past year, I’ve been experimenting with a combination of probiotics and D-Ribose supplements. I noticed a gradual improvement over time. I altered the routine and started deteriorating. The second time, I stopped taking both and within two weeks, I was back to my original condition. I am finding it takes a considerable amount of time to ramp back up but am feeling better.

No question, in my case, probiotics has helped significantly.

October 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm
(4) Katie says:

I was diagnosed with Post Viral Syndrome/M.E./CFS about 2 years ago. I only started taking a Probiotic supplement four months ago as a trial, and have noticed significant improvement in my well-being. I originally developed Post Viral Syndrome after a severe viral infection where I was prescribed 4 courses of antibiotics by doctors/hospital over a very short period of time.

April 11, 2013 at 8:25 am
(5) Laura says:

Gary Huffnagle, who does medical research on probiotics, wrote a popular book The Probiotics Revolution.
He does suggest that probiotics could help with CFS, at least the kind that involves immune activation. He recommends 20-30 billion CFU/day if you’re trying to address a health problem.
Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus are the specific strains that may help with allergies and autoimmunity.
If it helps, it seems to help on a timescale of months.

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